German Defence Chief Warns Europe Against ‘Detaching From America’ & NATO in Wake of Afghan Debacle
17:55 GMT 21.10.2021 (Updated: 18:58 GMT 21.10.2021)
Following the unexpected 15 August collapse of the Afghan government and defence forces, European nations led by France began pushing for more “strategic autonomy” for the continent militarily from the US-dominated North Atlantic Alliance, and began talking again about the creation of a separate “European army.”
German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has criticised European officials and governments pushing for European defence integration, stressing that the bloc could not defend itself independently against its potential adversaries without American help.
In a thinly veiled attack against French President Emmanuel Macron, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell and others who have recently brought up the need for more “sovereignty” and “autonomy” for Europe on defence matters, Kramp-Karrenbauer told Politico Thursday that if these words mean “detaching ourselves from America, then I think that is the wrong way to go.”
“There is a lot of talk about European autonomy, or sovereignty, or – as I prefer to call it – more ability to act from the European Union in security and defence. People are asking why we were not in a position to hold the Kabul airport ourselves,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said. “We have to say quite openly: without the capabilities of the Americans, we, as Europeans, would not have been able to do that,” she added, referring to the chaotic evacuation of Kabul.
Discussing the recent conflict between France, the US, the UK and Australia over the AUKUS security pact, which robbed Paris of a submarine contract worth over $65 billion, Kramp-Karrenbauer defended the agreement as a “bilateral question of armament between two states” and asked France to "get over" its grievances so that the West can jointly tackle China.
18 October 2021, 12:26 GMT
“Because in view of the challenges that China poses for us, I believe it needs the full force of the West. What we cannot afford right now is to be divided on this,” the minister said. China, she suggested, is a problem that the Western alliance will have to “deal with” in a manner beyond “the question of national interests” of each individual state.
“In the big picture, it is about the question of how the world order and our ways of life will be shaped and possibly changed for the future,” Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed.
29 September 2021, 00:19 GMT
Kramp-Karrenbauer is meeting with her fellow defence ministers at NATO’s two-day ministerial meeting in Brussels Thursday and Friday. The meetings, the first face-to-face interaction of its kind since the fall of Kabul in mid-August, are expected to discuss “lessons learned” in Afghanistan, as well as new warfare technologies, including cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence and big data. The alliance plans to hold a formal summit in Madrid, Spain in June of next year.
Kramp-Karrenbauer and her fellow currently ruling Christian Democrats are considered likely to become the opposition later this month after the next government is formed – likely consisting of the Social Democrats, the liberal Free Democrats and the Greens. Germans went to the polls on 26 September for legislative elections, with the Social Democrats narrowly overtaking the CDU/CSU coalition, while the Greens and the Free Democrats took third and fourth place, respectively. CDU leader Armin Laschet decided to step down from the party leadership over the party’s poor showing.