Europe Inside Out

Why Germany Broke Defense Taboos

Episode Summary

Judy Dempsey and Sophia Besch discuss the major shifts in Germany's security and defense policy, which have been spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Episode Notes

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Zeitenwende speech in February 2022 laid the groundwork for a transformation of Germany’s foreign and security policy. One year in, how much has Berlin’s positioning on Russia, energy, and defense changed?  

Judy Dempsey, a nonresident senior fellow at Carnegie Europe, and Sophia Besch, a fellow in the Europe Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, sit down to unpack Germany’s traditional approach toward the military, current security and defense policies, and future relations with the United States, Russia, and China.  

[00:00:00] Intro, [00:01:45] Present State of German Defense, [00:12:29] German Defense Prior to 2022, [00:23:02] German Security Relations in the Future

Sophia Besch, December 21, 2022, “EU Defense and the War in Ukraine”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  

Judy Dempsey, January 10, 2023, “Germany Must Move Past the Crossroads,” Carnegie Europe.  

Sophia Besch and Sarah Brockmeier, March 9, 2022, “Waking a Sleeping Giant: What’s Next for German Security Policy,” War on the Rocks.

Sophia Besch, January 2023, “To really modernize its armed forces, Germany needs a long-term increase of its defence budget,” 49Security.  

Sophia Besch and Liana Fix, November 21, 2022, “Don’t let Zeitenwende get derailed,” War on the Rocks.

Sophia Besch, “Ukraine’s Silver Tank? | The World Unpacked,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  

Judy Dempsey, January 24, 2023, “Europe Waits for German Leadership,” Carnegie Europe.  

Judy Dempsey, January 26, 2023, “Scholz’s Tank Decision Upends Germany’s Long Affair with Russia,” Carnegie Europe.

Episode Transcription

Europe Inside Out
Episode #7: Why Europe Germany Broke Defense Taboos
Featuring: Judy Dempsey and Sophia Besch


Judy Dempsey

An end of an era, an epochal tectonic shift.

These are some of the phrases that have been used to describe Zeitenwende, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s speech, delivered in February 2022, which promised a dramatic change in German defence policy as well as in Berlin's leadership.

But what has Scholz delivered on this pledge for Germany, to be the guarantor of European security? Are there clues in the country's past that shine light on Berlin's capacity and ability to lead? And what will Europe's role in a contested geopolitical landscape look like?


Hello and welcome to Europe Inside Out. This is the monthly podcast from Carnegie Europe about the continent's greatest foreign policy challenges.

My name is Judy Dempsey, and I'm a nonresident senior fellow at Carnegie Europe and editor of Strategic Europe.


Judy Dempsey

This episode of Europe Inside Out is about German defence and its metamorphosis over the past year.

I am joined by Sophia Besch, a colleague and fellow in the Europe Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, where Sophia researches European foreign and defence policy. Prior to joining Carnegie, Sophia was a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform in London and in Berlin. She's in an ideal situation to give the transatlantic view and the German view to complement how I see things.

Sophia, welcome.

Sophia Besch

Thanks so much, Judy. It's a pleasure to be with you.

SECTION 1: The Present State of German Defense

Judy Dempsey

Now, you may be wondering why are we focusing on Germany. Well, the main reason is the speech Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave just a few days after Russia invaded Ukraine over a year ago. That was last February. The speech called Zeitenwende... It shook the German political establishment and actually surprised Germany's allies. It was at the time considered a break with Germany's traditional cautious attitudes toward defense, toward security, toward the military. And its decades-long support of Russia, and indeed, its long opposition to exporting or giving weapons to conflict zones.

So a year on—a year is either short or long; however you look at it. A year on, Sophia, maybe you could spell out what's left of the Zeitenwende?

Sophia Besch

If we're casting our mind back to the speech that Olaf Scholz gave a year ago, he did speak about Zeitenwende, but he did actually not talk about it in relation to German foreign and defense policy. Instead, what he did say was he was using Zeitenwende, so this idea of the sea change, to describe the Russian invasion and the gravity of the changes in the political situation in Europe.

When he was talking about German foreign and security policy, he was instead talking about a caesura, a break, right? And this caesura, this break in German foreign and defense policy that Scholz talked about in his speech, I think, affected two collective German convictions, right? One, that armed conflict is inherently futile and that military power is no longer relevant. And two, that a European security architecture could only be built with Russia. Both of these were no longer tenable, I think, in the face of the war.

But words matter, right? And Zeitenwende has grown to mean many things over the last year. So I just wanted to go back to the basics to start out with and say that Zeitenwende for Scholz was what was happening around Germany. And in response to that, he made some concrete announcements.

He made announcements on Russia policy, on energy policy, and on defense policy, and we're focusing on defense here, but the other two are really important for context. On Russia, Scholz basically acknowledged that Putin could not be trusted and was not willing to engage. And that's really significant because it's breaking with one of the main tenets of Germany's Russia policy, this idea of change through rapprochement, that through military diplomacy and economic interdependence, de-escalation and a better relationship with Russia was possible. Where are we on this promise? I mean, we certainly have a contentious debate over Russia's policy in Germany domestically. But in terms of measurable indicators, if we look at sanctions, if we look at humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine, I don't think that Germany has gone back to its Russia policy of the past, right? So we have seen a sea change here.

When we talk about energy policy, basically pre-Zeitenwende, Germany had effectively reinforced energy dependence on Russia for decades and had not done enough to diversify its energy supply with the invasion. But then, particularly when Russia cut off gas supplies to Europe last summer. There was a real realisation in Berlin how vulnerable this made Germany. And we have to say that within a year, the headline news is that Germany has become independent from Russian energy without catastrophic short-term implications to its economy. And even though the government has made some really painful decisions—postponing the coal phase-out ,prolonging the running time of nuclear plants—I think we have to consider that the Zeitenwende on energy was smooth because it fit with the government's previous priority, which was this idea of ecological transformation.

And then, finally, defense policy. There were announcements on arms deliveries which broke with this decade-long taboo in German domestic policy over not sending weapons to conflict zones. There was the announcement of a 100 billion euro special fund to reach 2% of defense spending GDP year by year. Additional deployments to NATO's Eastern Front, replacing the Tornado jets with the F-35 to continue nuclear sharing. Where are we on that front? I mean, the special fund will help Germany reach 2% at some point, but so far, there are no plans for a regular budget increase after that five-year fund runs out. We've seen that defense procurement processes, true to their infamous reputation, are really slow and inefficient. Only a tiny fraction of the special fund has actually been spent so far. There's an obvious lack of qualified personnel in the armed forces, and in the defense ministry and our defense minister, Christine Lambrecht, was forced to resign. And even though there were many arms deliveries, Germany was often seen as hesitant on that front.

If you're comparing the defense policy of Germany over the course of the last year to German defense policy pre-war, yeah, then the changes are dramatic. But if you compare it to the changed security environment in Europe and the threat environment that Germany is facing, then they feel insufficient. And it feels like, after this initial urgency, the pace has certainly slowed.

But I mean, Judy, you are based in Berlin, and can you just talk a little bit about how this policy is being perceived there but also perceived by Brussels and others in Europe?

Judy Dempsey

Yeah. Thanks. Sophia, before I do this, I would really encourage our listeners to read your recent analysis on this topic. They're linked here.
So there's a lot of suspicion among Germany's allies. Is Germany serious? Will it commit to the defense? It's been very slow in sending military equipment to Ukraine. It's got terrible relations with Poland. It's a bilateral issue because there are a lot of historical leftovers to be dealt with in Poland. But what we're all waiting for, actually, in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is what is going to be Germany's policy towards the EU? Is it going to be more integration, or is it going to be a big competition between the member states which really do lead the power, or the Commission, the executive authority of the EU? Actually, this is about the future of Europe, and I think President Zelensky of Ukraine is right. The outcome of this war in Ukraine will determine the future security and stability and economic and political direction of Europe. That's why I think Chancellor Scholz's speech is very important. The outcome of the war in Ukraine could be the game changer on, on Europe as a union, Europe as an integrated project, Europe relations with its Eastern European partners, and above all, of course, the big transatlantic relationship. And we really have to come to this, this issue of relations with Washington. Sophia, you're sitting there and how does Washington see there's so many mixed signals now coming from Washington.

Sophia Besch

There's certainly a bit of a dissonance over how Washington is portraying its view of Germany and how Germany is portraying Washington's view of Germany. We have to say that the Biden administration came in certainly with hopes to repair the relationship with Berlin, right? After four years of Trump, that relationship had arguably reached a new low. And so they were, I think, happy and relieved to hear that Zeitenwende speech and to hear especially that Germany was going to make changes on those material issues, like the 2% of defense spending that had for so long been a bone of contention in the transatlantic relationship and are sort of the golden ticket, right, for European allies to raise their relationship with Washington.

And then, yes, we've seen, a certain degree of resignation over what is perceived as Germany stalling, Germany hesitating over arms deliveries. Most recently, with a whole conversation around the Leopard II tanks where the Chancellor Scholz stressed repeatedly that Berlin would not go it alone.

And something that you heard a lot here in DC then was that Germany was basically refusing to show leadership. And I think that Washington is often now looking elsewhere in Europe for leadership. I mean, the visit of President Macron to DC was really notable in this context.

But I think what I'm really noticing when it comes to this question of how does Washington see Germany, is that it's a clash in ideas of what leadership looks like.

Scholz often invokes this idea of zusammenführen, which is a play on words, right? Leading together in a group, leading from the middle. But it can also mean uniting, bringing together. Actively forging alliances. And in our example case of the Leopard II tank deliveries, I think critics here in Washington would argue is that what Germany did was to wait for the US to take the risk before acting. Scholz would argue that what Berlin is doing now is lobbying countries, European countries, which had promised tanks but are now not forthcoming to actually deliver them. Trying to facilitate those deliveries, forging alliances. Delivering late, but delivering this idea of German leadership that Berlin is trying to present, which sometimes, I think, gets lost in translation here in DC.

Judy Dempsey

This is German leadership and leading together, and so on. It becomes a bit of a mantra. Successive German leaders seem to say this, but I think we we get to the crux of the issue here with this Zeitenwende speech, because Germany actually has led Europe over so many decades, but economically. This is the economic powerhouse of Europe, and through its economy, it can actually influence things. It can influence change. It can influence policy. What it hasn't done is led from a strategic and political point of view on the future direction of Europe, largely because it used its economy in its relations with Russia, in relations with the EU, its relations with the United States, relations with China, and it never actually underpinned its economic prowess and its economic power with strategic leadership. And I think this is a big gap still in the whole German debate of its role and its function inside the European Union.

Sophia Besch

What you're alluding to, Judy, now, and I think something that I often hear in Europe is Berlin does not lead, but it pursues its interests, and it's shaping Europe as a function of just how big and economically important it is by pursuing its interests, right? Christine Lambrecht actually, I think in the sort of offhand remark, said this once by saying that Germany leads even when we didn't intend to lead, right? But I agree with you that strategic and security defense policy, German leadership has been particularly absent. This idea of not going at alone, acting in alliance, acting through NATO, acting through the EU because of its history, but also b cause they believe that this is better policy-making, right? And, of course, that has been enabled by the United States security guarantees, which have allowed Germany to take this quite abstract theoretical view of security and defense policy.

SECTION 2: German Defense Prior to 2022

Judy Dempsey

Both of us understand the role of history and the pacifist culture, and what happened after 1945, and the division of Germany and the reunification and so on. But I would pose an argument when it comes to defense and security policy that all these changes really didn't change the German attitudes towards security and defense. Largely because, as you mentioned, the United States security umbrella, which exists to this day. So here we are in 2023 with the whole international rules book being torn up, with a war on the continent of Europe, and I think when it comes to defense, Germany really now has to take a stand that defense is not a dirty word. Yes, you're right. It has to be in coalition with other partners. I think this is a good thing, given Germany's history, but no member state can afford to go alone financially or politically or militarily. But at stake is how this coalition government in Berlin communicates to the public how the status quo ante is over. And now, Germany has to move ahead to reconstruct or redefine its whole political and defense structures inside the European Union and with NATO. The old order for Germany is gone, and it must be quickly replaced.

Sophia Besch

This is not the first time that we have heard declarations of intent that Germany will change, right? I think especially about 2014 here, when a few German politicians made announcements, above all President Gauck at the time, at the Munich Security Conference in 2014, that Germany would take up more international responsibility, right? And then, too, people got really excited and said, this is the moment where Germany will step up. And it stayed really abstract, right? That whole conversation stayed really theoretical, really abstract. We didn't see the material changes. We didn't see, as you said, the cultural mindset changes that were required. And I think one big factor in that was that Chancellor Merkel stayed largely out of that conversation, right? She in fact, stayed so much out of defense and foreign policy that when she said one sentence in her famous beer tent speech when she said that Europe would have to take its fate into its own hands to a certain extent at some point. There was so much tea leaf reading over this one sentence just because she didn't give us very much more than that. This was not her legacy, defensive foreign policy. Maybe I'm being optimistic, but I do think that with this speech, the Chancellor and his whole government has personally taken responsibility for these changes. It's certainly not the project that this government would have chosen for itself. Right? It's a green, liberal social democratic government. They wanted to focus on demographic change, digitalisation, decarbonisation. But I do think it's the project that they will be measured by, and I think that they realise that they will be held responsible for this. So I do think that there is a slight change here.

What I would agree with you, though, is that so far, we're not seeing enough guiding of the strategic conversation in Germany to really translate these caesuras, these realisations that Scholz was talking about, into day-to-day strategic discourse. Right. What we see all too often, I think, is German political elite still hiding behind this idea of a somehow inherently pacifist public, which I think sort of undersells the German public. I think if you start making the arguments, you can’t discount the priming impact of leadership on domestic discourse as well. So that's what I'd like to see a bit more.

Judy Dempsey

We mustn't forget the constellation of this coalition, the cautious Social Democrats led by Olaf Scholz, and there are pacifists being in there, and the old sentimentalism, nostalgia for the Eastern relationship with Russia. Then we have the Greens, the pragmatic Greens, who are absolutely heavily into defending Ukraine for human rights, for dignity, but for Europe, I mean, they are seriously European. And then we have the Free Democrats who have to pick up the bill, of course. But I think what is happening here, despite the lack of communication, and communication is also about leadership by Olaf Scholz, we mustn't forget that there's a younger generation who are extraordinarily active in civil society and and a middle... Middle generation too; they helped with the enormous numbers of Syrian refugees that came here in 2015. 1 million. The civil society was instrumental in.. helping, in welcoming them, in being open. And now we have at least a million Ukrainians fleeing the war in Ukraine. The outpouring of support, of government support, of officials, support of civil society, support for education, for training, the freedom to work, to freedom tough has been enormous. And I think this has dented the old outlook in the German society. Something is changing, and the society is galvanised. Of course, they don't want a war in the other Europe, but the war is happening in our neighbours. But the support for Ukraine is tremendous, and it's not actually declining. So the change is is being internalised. And I think there's a pressure from the public, if you look at the opinion polls, for more change. Come on, Germany, wake up. Take a place in Europe. We can afford it.

Sophia Besch

We're talking about changes, and we've sort of been putting everything in a historical context a little bit. So maybe we should come back to this idea of ostpolitik, which we've talked about already a little bit. We've invoked this idea of change through the rapprochement, which was really built on the lessons that Berlin learned from the Cold War times. Right. This belief that mutually beneficial economic relations can help transcend differences can help ultimately serve to de-escalate relations between Europe and Russia. And in its 21st-century iteration, that often meant a German insistence on multilateral diplomacy right. Through the Normandy format, through the Minsk format. Even when it became increasingly clear that the Kremlin wasn't actually responding, that the German offers were not actually reciprocated, that it became increasingly performative in these formats.

And I think, I mean, in Scholz's speech, he did say that not being naive means not talking simply for the sake of talking. Right. And that the dialogue requires a willingness to engage and that that willingness was lacking on Putin's side. And I think there is a serious rethink on Russia underway in Germany. I wonder how you think about this, Judy, but I particularly note this reckoning inside the Social Democratic Party, in particular, this real soul-searching with younger politicians like Lars Klingbeil, the SPD leader, acknowledging his party's mistakes and blind spots. And I think he said that in the search for what we had in common, we have too often overlooked what set us apart. Right. The question that I asked myself is whether Germany will be able to translate the lessons learned on Russia to other players and scenarios, notably to its dependence on China and its dependence on the US.

Judy Dempsey

The soul searching is taking place, but it's got to keep going and don't get complacent. I agree with you on this, Sophia. The dependence issue, this is really interesting and quite politically sensitive here. So, on the one hand, when the relations were so close with Russia, Germany became energy dependent with Russia in all sorts of ways, too. And there was a whole political network, social networks, trade networks, economic networks. It was so deeply entrenched over the decades, which made it very difficult for successive German leaders to break out of this. Now, assuming that this relationship is completely broken, is Germany then going to embrace China? Well, certainly, it seems that the political elites, at least the Social Democrats, maybe the Christian Democrats as well, and the economic elites haven't really fully learned the lessons of the price of economic dependence. Dependence is two-way. It leads to trade, it leads to business and others, but it leads to actually a kind of instrumentalisation from the security point of view of trade. And what do we have now in this situation in China? Chancellor Scholz recently went off on a state visit to China. It was quite controversial, actually. But he brought a huge economic delegation. Why? Because Germany relies on China for rare earth materials, for the economy, for exporting its automobiles and so on. And if Germany relies on rare earth materials for the transition to renewable energy, China holds the upper hand because it holds the majority, about 90% of the world's rare earth. So the lesson to be learned from this dependence is for diversification. And this is where the Greens come in. The Deputy Chancellor, Robert Habeck, he's the Economics Minister, and he is also the Minister for Climate, and he is now diversifying with Latin America and other countries to break the dependence. Dependence is a double-edged sword, and we have to be very careful of it. They have to be very careful on this growing dependence on China.

One other point the new emphasis on renewable energy and the whole emphasis on climate change will have to change the way the German economy functions. This is an economy which is backward in digitisation. It's backwards in artificial intelligence. It's backward in innovation. And to rely on China as your trade partner means you risk not actually innovating. So they have to be very careful on this. As for the dependence on the United States, we know we are dependent on the United States for the security guarantees, for the trade, for the multilateral order, for the West, for the idea of the West. And certainly President Biden has boosted this idea of the West coming together, although it is still very fragile given the number of growing authoritarian systems throughout the world. Nevertheless, we shouldn't view the relationship with Germany between Germany and the United States on dependence. We should view it as reciprocity and support and trying to modernise the multilateral system which Germany and the United States really need together to make the West broader and stronger.

SECTION 3: German Defense in the Future

Judy Dempsey

We've covered an awful lot of ground. We've been talking about the history of Germany's defense policies, particularly with regards to Berlin's relations with Moscow, and we've touched sort of on the future. Indeed. Who will Germany turn to as his next partner or as his main partner? I think it's pretty clear, but I'd like to expand the thought a little, Sophia. Where are we going in Germany's role in Europe, its options, its relations with Brussels and in London and indeed Eastern Europe? They're not what you call in good shape, nor are they with France. So I was wondering what's going on here. Is Germany actually going to use the big speech made last year to really now try to improve and consolidate and strengthen its relations with its immediate EU neighbours?

Sophia Besch

It's an excellent question, and I wonder if you're maybe better placed than me to answer it, because from the outside it seems that the relationship with France has been sort of a blind spot for this government in its first few months or in its first year in office. It was certainly remarked upon by Paris that the relationship with France didn't really feature in many of the sort of big speeches that the Chancellor gave, notably in Prague, that there was quite a bit of tension over whether Berlin was going to put forward a big vision for European defense that was different than the French vision for European defense, which I don't think that that actually happened. But France was certainly very aware that just through the material announcements, Berlin was putting itself in a position where it could influence the direction of European defense and security much more gravely than it had previously. And then the other relationship that is sort of in a dire state, I think, is the relationship between Berlin and Warsaw. Right. And I worry sometimes that it's a really difficult situation with the government in Warsaw, clearly politicising anti-German sentiment running up to its own elections, but also with Poland having some justifiable resentments and concerns over German engagement in this war and whether to trust the shift on Russia policy in Germany or not. So it's a relationship that certainly requires quite a bit of investment, particularly if Berlin wants to be that kind of linking power between the Western and Central and Eastern Europe that Scholz seems to want to position it as.

Judy Dempsey

The very interesting statistic is that bilateral German-Polish trade is actually so much higher now than bilateral trade with Russia. And by the way, this was happening over the last several years. This is a trend. So these two economies are so interlinked. Politically, it's a disaster because of the government in Poland and there's an election coming up and it's quite an anti-German government, but the society isn't. This is the good news. So my impression sitting in Berlin is that Germany cannot do this alone, because of the distrust of the Polish government. Its natural partner should be France. They have this so-called Weimar triangle where Paris and Berlin and Warsaw used to get together regularly and come up with lots of agreements and cooperation agreements and so on. But France is not particularly liked at all in Poland. Leaving that aside, actually, this gets back to the point that Berlin, even under Chancellor Merkel, did not work the phones with successive French governments.

The Franco-German relationship is a problem that Chancellor Scholz inherited. It's in really bad shape. They see things so differently. One is a military power, the other is an economic power. One is a nuclear power, the other is a huge trading power. One is on the UN Security Council; the other one isn't. I mean, they are chalk and cheese, but all the more recent for them, especially now, to really work together. And somehow, Chancellor Scholz and President Macron haven't clicked. But we need these two countries to actually force a change in Europe and we need these two countries to reach out to Central Europe. We do not want the Central Europeans, who are great Atlanticists, who are so pro-Ukrainian, who are doing everything for Ukraine, to actually not disengage from Germany and France but to make the European Union even more divided culturally and historically. This is a great chance for Berlin and Paris, and Warsaw particularly, to come together. I don't see it happening, but there's an opportunity.

Sophia Besch

In a way, I think a country that could potentially be a bridge builder if it invested a little bit in its credibility in Western Europe would be the UK. Right? Which we haven't talked about yet, but which is sort of naturally placed between, because it has really strong relationships with Central and Eastern Europe and needs to invest in its relationship with Paris and Berlin too. But we can draw this out on paper and I wonder if it will be reflected in politics as well. I certainly think that there's a realization in Paris and Berlin that they need to invest in that relationship. And some of it, I think, was down to just an issue of crafts. Right. This was a new government. A lot of the relationships weren't there yet.

Judy Dempsey

I agree, Sophia. The absence of the United Kingdom from Europe is a terrible loss. Actually, there was a kind of special triangle between Paris and Berlin, London and London's role in Eastern Europe and Central Europe. This is about cultural perceptions and history and how member countries can contribute to the whole construction of the European Union. And secondly, Russia's war on Ukraine has the potential for really fundamentally changing the security and defense architecture of Europe and of Germany. This is where we started with this discussion.

So. We end where we came in. How do you assess this Zeitenwende? How will it be viewed?

Sophia Besch

I would define the success of Zeitenwende as a transformation of German foreign and defense policy that is proportionate to the transformation of its threat environment. Right? And so I would put forward the argument that Germany needs to move on from the modus operandi of reactive change driven by external pressures, this idea of Zeitenwende happening around Germany, to pursuing internal change. And the material side matters here. It's necessary, certainly, to guarantee sustainable spending increases. But also, and we've touched on this throughout the conversation, we really need fundamental cultural and institutional shifts. In Berlin, you hear sometimes this idea of Zeitenwende in den Köpfen, in people's minds. But the change also needs to be reflected in strategic documents and bureaucratic reform to be sustainable.

So, looking ahead, I think there's really three measures of Zeitenwende. There's this idea of a cultural shift. So is the German strategic debate. Are German political elites able to translate that break in the collective belief that military power is futile into a new shared understanding of the nature of military power? The second measure to me is strategic, and we'll have two strategies released this year. Germany's first-ever national security strategy and a China strategy. There's been a really contentious process around both, but something to look out for, I think, when it comes to the fundamentals of these strategies is how they apply the lessons learned of this for and translate them to other regions and actors. And then, Judy, you did, I think, a really excellent job laying out how this can't just be about reducing vulnerabilities vis-avis Russia. It also has to be about reducing vulnerabilities vis-avis China and the US. And I worry that one lesson that Germany is currently learning from this war is that it can forever rely on the US as a sort of patriarchal security guarantor. And I'm not sure that that's actually true. The third measure, just to close on, is bureaucratic, which sounds really boring, but I think it's perhaps the most important, and that's about whether we're able to review the structures and the processes of Germany's defense bureaucracy, which is incredibly lethargic to make sure that they're appropriate to today's demands. Right. This is a bureaucracy that was set up for peacetime and still acts like it. Right. We've had delayed deployment deliveries, failure to order spare parts, inability to spend the special fund. There's not just one person at fault, its the whole system here. And the same goes for high-level decision-making structures where we've had the continued wrangling between the Chancellery and the Foreign Office.

It's this to me that I will particularly look to measure where Zeitenwende is in the future if we can come to more streamlined decision-making process and to much more faster acting and efficient defense bureaucracy in order to gauge the success of Zeitenwende in ten years from now.

Judy Dempsey

Thank you, Sophia, for this. This, I think, if you want to sum up, if the threat continues, Germany will change.

Sophia Besch

Thank you so much, Judy. I really enjoyed it.


Judy Dempsey

For those who are interested in learning more about German and European defense policy, I would encourage you to follow Sophia’s work on Twitter at sophiabesch. That's S-O-P-H-I-A-B-E-S-C-H. You can find me at Judy_Dempsey. That's D-E-M-P-S-E-Y.

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