The move by the secretary of Defense to buy US fighter jets is scandalous in many ways: it is a bizarre Signal in the Corona-Krise.Er contradicts the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a resolution of the Bundestag. It would bind Germany even more long-term to a US war course to be rejected. It is an Affront to parts of the SPD and to the entire parliament. And it supports a general attitude per military.
The fact that Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) has expressed an interest in the purchase of 45 fighter jets from the manufacturer Boeing, according to media reports, has rightly made some waves in recent days. According to this report, Kramp-Karrenbauer is said to have informed the US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper that the Bundeswehr intends to purchase 30 F-18 Jets of the type Super Hornet and 15 of the type Growler. The Ministry of Kramp-Karrenbauer had informed the responsible officials in the Bundestag about the multi-billion dollar project.
In the meantime, this scandalous project – in terms of content and Form – has been put into perspective by the Ministry of Defense: Kramp-Karrenbauer is finally planning, in addition to the 45 US fighter jets, the procurement of new fighter aircraft of the type Eurofighter, according to a paper from the ministry to the defense committee of the Bundestag. Today, Wednesday, Kramp-Karrenbauer must explain her questionable advocacy for the interests of the US defense industry before that defense committee. However, Kramp-Karrenbauer’s transatlantic lobbying and The Associated moral, political, military, and legal problems would also be little changed by the additional order of European aircraft – the so-called “Split” solution.
Trampled on political, moral and strategic principles
First of all, there is the general and fundamental question of the meaning and the alleged “compulsion” to armament and the consequent expensive and morally questionable “updating” of the acquired military equipment. Thus, the central and large-scale “Argument” for the procurement plans now being discussed is that the current fleet is “ageing”.
But even if one should not fundamentally close oneself to a military attitude and logic to be questioned: in addition to the principle pacifist concerns, there are numerous concrete problems. The acquisition of the US Jets would also be politically and strategically rejected: a further and long-term commitment to the war course of the US is the completely wrong Signal in a time of the looming multilateralism. The danger of falling (or remaining) in the wake of a US course to be rejected against China and Russia via military technology is great.
The attempt to force such a strategically controversial decision in the shadow of Corona is also morally very questionable. In addition to the formal impression of a shabby angular move, voices now point to the bizarre contrast in content between the current social needs and caesura (with the corresponding costs) on the one hand and the billion-dollar arms plans on the other. Thus, German Foreign Policy headlines the process: “weapons instead of masks”. And the Left demands: “surcharges for hospital staff instead of purchasing US nuclear bombers.”
“Nuclear participation” in US weapons is illegal and unwanted by Parliament
In addition, the “nuclear participation” allegedly sought with the purchase of the US Jets is legally illegal and parliamentarily cynical: on the one hand, the Bundestag demanded in 2010:
The German Bundestag calls on the federal government (…) to make a strong commitment to the American allies for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Germany.
This decision alone should make the debate about “participation” in US nuclear weapons stationed here against the will of the parliament superfluous. In addition, there is the view of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which prohibits both the stationing of weapons in Germany and the “participation” of Germany in it. In this treaty, the nuclear powers have committed themselves not to transfer nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states and the non-nuclear states have committed themselves not to get such weapons into their hands:
Article I Each nuclear-weapon state that is a party to this agreement undertakes not to transmit, directly or indirectly, nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices or the power to dispose of them to anyone, and neither to support nor encourage nor induce a non-nuclear-weapon state to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or to obtain the power to dispose of them.
Article II Any non-nuclear-weapon state that is a party to this agreement undertakes not to accept, directly or indirectly, any nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device, nor to manufacture or otherwise acquire any nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device, nor to seek or accept any support for the production of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
Transatlantic connections in the Bundestag?
To these political, moral and legal problems comes the handling of the CDU with the coalition partner SPD and a general disregard of the parliament. For example, the move by Kramp-Karrenbauer probably contradicts coalition agreements with SPD group leader Rolf Mützenich, as reported by “Zeit”. On the other hand, “however, there have recently been confidential consultations with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and vice chancellor Olaf Scholz (both SPD).” This practice is not only a parliamentary Affront by the CDU. The process is also a sign that there are still supposedly strong US connections in the Bundestag. And he can give hints to which people (also in the SPD) these connections could lead.
Because of this dissension towards the transatlantic question, the SPD repeatedly makes a tragic figure when it comes to positioning itself for war and peace – most recently when it comes to the question of the deployment of the Bundeswehr in Iraq.
Many media stack deep
Although the process around the US Jets could briefly break through the corona dominance of the reporting, the media handling remains unsatisfactory. The political and strategic issues addressed in this Text are not adequately addressed. To soften the drama of the Episode, a central media message is that the current discussion is “actually an old hat”. In addition, the claim that the current aircraft fleet is “outdated” is accepted without criticism. And also the questionable current interpretation, according to which the simultaneous order of Eurofighters would indirectly neutralize the Problem with the US Jets, is not questioned. The “Tagesschau”, which sees no scandal but a “classic compromise”, should be cited here as a representative of many large media outlets.":
“As the Ministry of Defense envisages the succession plan for the weak-aged tornadoes, the sparrows have been whistling from the rooftops for a long time: not the Eurofighter alone should replace the outdated fighter aircraft and not the US-American F-18, but both models, in different functions. ( … ) No, what was announced on Tuesday was really no big surprise. With a classic compromise, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wanted to end a debate that had already occupied her predecessors de Maizière and von der Leyen.”
Even the Greens and the FDP are more critical: “if the letter should contain legally binding provisions or even represent a relevant Letter of Intent, it would be really scandalous,” said Tobias Lindner from the greens of the ARD about the actions of Kramp-Karrenbauer. And even the FDP speaks according to the media of a " constitutional breach”.