The Imperfect Union: Constitutional Structures of German Unification

By Peter E. Quint | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 22
United Germany and the Western Security System:
The Future Role of German Armed Forces

A CENTRAL premise of German unification, both inside and outside the Federal Republic, was that the unified country would remain imbedded in NATO and the western security system. Even though it had now become a “sovereign” nation, the Federal Republic would continue to adapt its military stance to the joint decision making of the western alliance, under the predominant influence of the United States. Through this limitation, the increased strength of Germany would be made palatable to its neighbors, and any external dangers of internal nationalist excess would also be restrained.

Yet this foreign policy structure, first supported by Adenauer and enthusiastically endorsed by Kohl, had one crucial lacuna in light of present problems: Adenauer's structure presupposed a monolithic “east” against which the Federal Republic and the entire west had to be defended. The structure made no provision for struggles within a more or less friendly east, in which Germany might conceivably find itself inclined or impelled to intervene.

This shift in the basic context of action presented three sets of problems. First, it called into question the very structure and basis of NATO itself and evoked uncertainty about the future of the European security system. Second, it opened unexpected possibilities for unilateral diplomatic initiatives in unfamiliar contexts on the part of a German government that lacked experience as a truly independent actor. Finally, the new context paradoxically increased the likelihood of European hostilities and raised the issue of Germany's constitutional role in international efforts to quell these dangerous localized struggles.


UNIFIED GERMANY AND THE FUTURE OF NATO

The end of the Cold War, accompanied by the termination of the Warsaw Pact and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself, transformed the role of NATO in the European political structure. For decades NATO was a central factor in the western confrontation of eastern Europe, but now it had become the only effective European security system, and east European nations and former Soviet republics were clamoring for membership. Many of these states have joined the North Atlantic Co-operation Council founded by NATO in December 1991, 1 and some have also joined NATO's Partnership for Peace. For most of these nations, however, full membership in NATO may not be immi-

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