What’s behind Germany’s new, more pugnacious attitude? So far two ministers in Angela Merkel’s new cabinet have taken very public pot shots at key Western allies. First, Thomas De Mazière, the Defense Minister turned Interior Minister, took aim at allied criticisms of Germany’s foreign policy:
In a dig at Britain and France, Mr de Maizière said: “Germany needs no lectures from anyone in Europe about the nature and extent of our international deployments – not even from France or Britain.” The former defence minister said that Germany had an “ongoing commitment” to Afghanistan that was more comprehensive than any European country apart from Britain. Germany still has some 4,000 troops in Afghanistan, and the UK has about 5,000, whereas France has withdrawn most of its forces.Germany is the third biggest troop contributor to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan after the US and Britain. The current Bundestag mandate allows for the deployment of up to 4,400 Bundeswehr troops in Afghanistan, where German troops have suffered 35 combat fatalities.
Rejecting suggestions that Germany was overdependent on export-led growth, Wolfgang Schäuble, the finance minister, said expansion was being led by domestic demand. “This is the driver,” he said. […]Mr Schäuble said the two men had not met to “give each other lessons” but to develop “mutual understanding”.
In our review of 2013, we argued that Germany had emerged as the dominant power in the European Union, and that it would have more say than any other country in charting Europe’s course in the year to come. Judging by the new attitude, we suspect the Germans feel this way too.