German foreign policy differs from German domestic policy in that it does a lot of things right. In these fateful days, Germany appears clear in its external affairs, resolute in its practical implementation, and avoids appearing as a perpetual antagonist, particularly in the Eurozone.
Such praise requires justification. Here are the five arguments why the Federal Chancellor, the Finance Minister and the Foreign Minister are currently cutting a good figure on the international stage.
1. Solidarity with Israel can be experienced
Olaf Scholz assumes his role as a diplomatic authority in the Middle East. The reason of state regarding Israel’s right to exist is not just asserted, but lived. The Bundeswehr is helping to combat enemies with Heron drones.
Scholz is the first president after the Hamas terrorist attack and one day before Joe Biden in Israel. Last week he said in the German Bundestag:
“In such difficult times, there can only be one place for Germany, the place alongside Israel.”
Criticism of Israel is largely absent from the Greens, even before an imminent invasion of the Gaza Strip. Baerbock, who was in Israel last week, explained that the country has a “duty to protect its citizens.” Suddenly there is that clarity that has often been missing in recent years.
2. The transatlantic friendship is renewed
In September, Baerbock was in the USA for three days – not only in Washington, but also in Texas and on the right-wing populist Murdoch channel Fox News, i.e. in front of a less balanced audience. Your message:
“I would like to make our common bridge across the Atlantic even stronger and more future-proof.”
With Pistorius – after all, someone who served in the Bundeswehr – Scholz has presented a defense minister who is also respected in the USA. For the first time since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the two percent target is being pursued seriously. The 100 billion dollar program to rearm the Bundeswehr has impressed the Americans.
3. Ukraine can rely on German support
In the USA, Trump, in Poland Morawiecki, in Hungary Orbán and in Slovakia the election winner Fico railed against support for Ukraine. And Joe Biden is initially freezing precisely this aid money for Ukraine for domestic political reasons. It’s different in Germany: There, all traffic light parties are unequivocally committed to the Ukrainians’ fight for freedom. Scholz and Baerbock make it clear several times a week:
“We stand firmly on Ukraine’s side.”
This mantra can also be proven factually. Scholz doesn’t always deliver straight away, but he almost always delivers in the end. After the USA, Germany is Ukraine’s largest supporter with more than 20 billion euros. The Bundeswehr has delivered, among other things, Leopard tanks and Gepard anti-aircraft tanks.
4. Despite tough rhetoric, pragmatism prevails in China policy
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock dared to call Chinese leader Xi Jinping a “dictator” on US television. That was truthful, but undiplomatic. However, the federal government’s China strategy was more moderate than anything the USA is currently issuing on this topic:
“China has changed – and that’s why our China policy must change too.”
The Foreign Minister makes it clear that we do not want to and should not decouple ourselves from China. Despite the harsh words towards Xi Jinping, she summarizes the foundation of German China policy in a realpolitik credo as follows:
“We need China, but China also needs us in Europe.”
5. Germany takes the EU’s debtor countries into consideration
Lindner has decided on a new flexibility in dealing with the European debt states, a kind of light regulatory policy. When reforming the debt rules at the European level, which are currently being negotiated, he wants to combine austerity with realistic guidelines so that Greeks, Italians and Spaniards have a chance of returning to the path of fiscal virtue.
According to the Stability and Growth Pact, new debt may, among other things, amount to a maximum of three percent of gross domestic product in normal economic times. The national debt must also not exceed 60 percent. Only 14 out of 27 countries in the EU currently adhere to both quotas.
Lindner is now prepared to allow further debt and wants to prescribe a reduction in debt levels “in proportion to economic performance”. This means that Germany is back in the discourse and is moving away from the image of the taskmaster. German financial policy has become – and this can be criticized, praised or simply stated – more European.
Good to have a government that sets priorities in external affairs
Conclusion: In times like these, when autocrats are gaining strength around the world and there is a smell of gun smoke in Europe and the Middle East, it is good to have a government that is able to set priorities in external affairs despite all the party quarrels at home.