Germany is catering to Russia and is a pathetic excuse for a US ally
Biden said that there'd be divisions within NATO over a "minor incursion" by Russia into Ukraine. This is true enough, and the chief cause would be Germany — which is staking a strong claim to be our worst European ally.
If NATO is hollowed out over time, Germany will have much to do with it. The country is too guilt-wracked over its enormities in World War II to contribute rigorously to the defense of the West and too cynical to allow anything to interfere with its selfish interests, both in Russian energy and the Chinese export market.
It is attempting a de facto economic alliance with the revisionist autocratic powers, China and Russia, at the same time it is allied politically with the foremost defender of the democratic West, the United States.
Its defense spending is inching upward but, at 1.5% of GDP, still short of the 2% pledged by NATO countries. This is an economic powerhouse that has been shirking its responsibilities, in part because it has been able to rely on the United States — and its vast military might — as a crutch.
Germany imagines its unique contribution is a commitment to soft power and peace through diplomacy. It's hard to credit German idealism, though, when it has tethered itself to Russian gas over the long-standing objections of its allies. They warned that this would inevitably increase the geopolitical sway of Vladimir Putin, and so it has.
Third batch of US military aid arrives in Ukraine during Russia standoff In a fit of self-sabotage, Germany is closing the last three of its nuclear power plants this year and is scheduled to close its coal plants by 2038. No one buys more gas from Russia, where it now gets more than half its supply. Germany has been hell-bent on the development of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring gas directly from Russia, bypassing Ukraine and making it even more vulnerable to Russian coercion.
Germany has to be calculating that if it participates in harsh sanctions against Russia, it makes itself vulnerable to Russian countermeasures. Already, Russia has been squeezing Europe's gas supplies. It's not at all clear that Germany would give up on the pipeline even if Russian tanks roll for Kyiv.
The Germans, meanwhile, aren't willing to make even the slightest gesture toward deterring Russia. They are blocking Estonia, a fellow NATO ally, from sending howitzers to Ukraine that originated in Germany.
A combatant gestures as his battalion is sent on ATO. Germany is blocking NATO ally Estonia from sending weapons to Ukraine. LightRocket via Getty Images Germany has no problem selling weapons all around the world including to the perpetually troubled, Taliban-supporting government in Pakistan and the dictatorship in Egypt.
The justification for blocking the Estonia-to-Ukraine transfer is that Germany was responsible for unspeakable horrors in that part of Europe in World War II, so it has to be especially sensitive to German weapons going there.
Needless to say, there's a categorical difference between the depredations of the Nazis and providing weapons to a plucky independent nation in fear of being dismembered by a neo-imperialist country to its east (a country, by the way, once allied with the Nazis).
Not to worry, though, Germany pledges to open a field hospital in Ukraine.
When we talk about European divisions over Russia's menacing of Ukraine, we are mostly talking about Germany (although France is always a nettlesome partner). The British have taken a hard line. Sweden and Finland have been stalwarts. Spain is deploying ships to the Black Sea. The Dutch have said they are open to providing weapons to Ukraine.
All that is heartening and appropriate. It is Germany, the laggard of NATO with a deep and growing conflict of interest regarding Russia, that is the weak link — and Putin, unfortunately, knows it.