Half of the Germans are against sending tanks to Ukraine

Half of the Germans are against sending tanks to Ukraine El Tiempo

Since the defeat of National Socialism, Germany has confidently dedicated itself to promoting peace and integration into a European and transatlantic security order in which the key word is “consensus”.

The war in Ukraine is now forcing Germany to reconsider old ideas about its place in Europe, its relationship with Russia and the use of military force.

Germany built its post-war economy on cheap Russian energy and supposedly apolitical trade with Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and China, believing that trade brings changes that somehow soften authoritarian regimes.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine called all that into question. For Germany, it was a psychological and political shock that undermined many of its assumptions about Russia; its President Vladimir V. Putin; and Germany’s role in a Europe suddenly at war.

Nowhere was the disorientation more evident than in Germany’s reluctance to send Ukraine its superb Leopard 2 main battle tank or allow other countries to do so. The stance angered his allies before Germany relented.

Although Germans overwhelmingly support Ukraine in its struggle, there is a deep ambivalence in a nation with a disastrous record of aggression during World War II that remains deeply divided over being a military leader and direct confrontation with Russia to risk. Opinion polls had shown that half of the Germans did not want to send tanks.

“German reticence in this regard can be summed up in one word: ‘history,'” said Steven E. Sokol, director of the American Council on Germany.

“The Germans want to be seen as partners, not aggressors, and are particularly sensitive about sending weapons to regions where German weapons have historically been used to kill millions of people,” he said Citing Russia, Poland and Ukraine. “People don’t want German weapons to be used on the front lines to kill people in these regions.”

Still, Germans risk misinterpreting the lessons of their history, said Timothy Garton Ash, historian of Germany and Europe at St Antony’s College, Oxford University. “The German position is very confused, the old mentality is dead and the new one is still unborn,” he said.

Despite Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s declaration early last year of a “turning point” or historic turning point for Germany, his government and country are struggling to complete the build-out of its army. The result is what critics of the chancellor see as overly timid leadership by Scholz in this time of crisis. Politics also plays a role. Both the Social Democrats and the Greens, the largest members of the governing coalition, have strong anti-war factions.

German voters want their leaders to always “push for the so-called peace option, act last or form a coalition,” said Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff of the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. “That shows you’re not a warmonger.”

The pattern for Scholz is to go slow to try to win over voters, an attempt to sidestep historical memory in a country familiar with many of Ukraine’s battlefield names.

“How do we know Azovstal?” Kleine-Brockhoff asked, referring to the huge steelworks in Mariupol that the Russians bombed for months. “Who occupied Azovstal last time? It was the Germans,” he said.

Heinrich Brauss, a former general now with the German Council on Foreign Relations, argued that defeating Russia was in Germany’s best interests because Ukrainians are fighting for European security. He warned that if German reluctance turned into a rejection, it would be devastating for the country’s reputation. “And it will significantly reduce confidence in Germany as a NATO ally.”


BBC NEWS SRC: http://www.nytsyn.com/subscribed/stories/6545264 IMPORT DATE: 2023-01-25 21:40:07