America and Germany are both at a crossroads, says Elbridge Colby in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. America’s military can’t compete with China and Russia at the same time; it has to prioritise curbing Beijing’s “hegemonic ambitions” in Asia. But this shift “will inevitably create a void in Europe, which has relied on the US for its security for decades”. Europeans, then, will have to take responsibility for policing their own neighbourhood. And Germany is the “hinge” on which this future relies. “It is by far the largest economy and the most influential state on the continent” – and the only one that could feasibly develop enough military force to make up for the loss of American muscle.
But Germany is shirking this responsibility: it spends 1.4% of its GDP on defence, less than half the proportion West Germany spent during the Cold War. Not only has Berlin refused to join Britain and supply arms to Ukraine, it has also blocked countries like Estonia supplying Kiev with German kit. It needs to ramp up its defence spending and work with other Nato countries to defend against Russia. “Many Germans will say: That’s too hard. Or: That doesn’t fit our post-war culture.” But in this increasingly dangerous world, we all have to adapt.