SORRY, NO WEHRMACHT; WE’RE GERMANPostcards from pacifism:

For the largest economy in Europe, Germany’s military — the Bundeswehr — sure is small.

In fact, although smaller missions, like those in Afghanistan, remain possible, a larger conflict would likely catch the Bundeswehr off-guard, said Hans-Peter Bartels, parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces, in an interview with a German magazine.

Although the budget has increased slightly following criticism by U.S. President Donald Trump, the operational readiness of the German forces has further deteriorated this past year. “The hard currency, in which the success of the [defense] minister is measured, is the readiness of the Bundeswehr,” Bartels said. “And that has not really improved in the last four years, but rather has become worse.”

“While foreign missions with small contingents went well, the Bundeswehr as a whole cannot currently be used in the collective defense,” he added.

Reports of the operational ineffectiveness of the Bundeswehr has made its rounds, according to the Washington Post.

For instance, German military pilots are reportedly using privately owned helicopters to train because so many of their own are in need of repair. And as recently as November, half of the country’s tank force was out of commission as well, the Post reports.

In October, Defense News reported that the German Navy’s fleet of six submarines was completely out of commission after its only operational sub had an accident off the coast of Norway.

I’m about 100 pages from finishing Sir Anthony Beevor’s excellent new “Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble”. Seven decades sure as hell is a long time in history.

I was born in 1972. It staggers me to think that this was closer in time to the end of the Second World War than today is to the fall of the Berlin Wall. People who were the same age in 1972 as I am today – 45 – were teenagers during the war, and many would have seen service in uniform or without one, in the underground.

Make no mistake; a completely harmless Germany, which can’t even defend itself, is a refreshing geopolitical phenomenon after more than millennium of conflict, Poland being on the faultline between the Germanic and the Slavic worlds and the constant target of the “drang nacht Osten” from across the Oder. On the other hand, now that Poland and Germany are actually friendly and on the same side – and part of the same military alliance – I’m concerned that Germany won’t be there for Poland should the things go south in Europe by going east to west (i.e. Russia becoming aggressive again).

Why can’t things just stay moderate instead of swinging from one extreme to another?