In a paper titled “More Ambition, Please!“, the Heinrich Böll Foundation is calling on Germany to maintain US nuclear weapons in the country through NATO’s nuclear deal and increase the country’s defense budget, much to the dismay of the German Green Party.
In this appeal, the authors and signatories argue that the transatlantic relationship between Germany and the United States has eroded since Trump’s coming to power. Consequently, the country is now in need of a new consensus with the United States regarding its role in Europe. In this regard, Biden’s new leadership presents a unique opportunity “to focus on redefining and reinforcing the United States’ long-term role in Europe”.
Furthermore, according to the paper, “A deployable military gives weight to diplomacy, adds an indispensable contribution to transatlantic credibility, strengthens the deterrence capability of NATO, and consequently defends the freedom of German citizens”.
Nuclear-Sharing is a core element of strategic connection– Ellen Ueberschär, co-head of the Heinrich Böll Foundation
The appeal is noteworthy, in particular, because we can find among its authors Ellen Ueberschär, the co-head of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Germany’s Green Party think tank. The paper’s signatories also include ex-NATO officers such as Lieutenant General Heinrich Brauß and Brigadier General Rainer Meyer zum Felde. For the Green foundation, this ideological alignement with NATO officers is quite unusual.
On the other hand, other members of the German Green Party have been quite distressed over the attention generated by the call to renew the NATO agreement. Indeed, a nuclear-free Europe has traditionally been considered an essential goal for the German Green Party. “I am very irritated. That contradicts our basic program, said Agnieszka Brugger, the green defense expert and vice chairwoman of the parliamentary group, to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Indeed, Brugger had most recetly included nuclear disarmament as one of her party’s most central goals, but the opposite stance on this issue from Ueberschär is throwing her a curve ball.
Among the Greens upset over the appeal was also green foreign politician, Jürgen Trittin. He claimed in an article for the Süddeutsche Zeitung that Ueberschär’s plea “meets with the right wing of Germany’s foreign policy establishment”.
The call for increasing the government budget for the military was also met with resistance from the Greens as the proliferation of nuclear weapons could have dangerous consequences. “More international responsibility is often urgently needed and will also cost money. But it is wrong and dangerous to only understand it militarily and in the form of massive increases in defense spending”, said Brugger to the the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Thus, the initiative to renew the transatlantic alliance between the United States and Germany has created a wide divide between the Greens. The question around the military is particularly sensitive since the eradication of nuclear weapons is one of the party’s core issues. However, some see the NATO nuclear deal as the only answer to the threat that Russia poses to Europe. The party now needs to determine whether concessions need to be made on the issue or if it has to reinforce its position on the existing norm.