Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 02/2012

Willing and (un)able. New Defence Policy Guidelines and Reorientation of the Bundeswehr

Ryszarda Formuszewicz, Marcin Terlikowski.

July 2011

The Polish Institute of International Affairs


The German government has recently revealed its recast ideas for the country's security and defence policy. Previous efforts have faltered due to insufficient consideration of the need to clearly define Germany's goals in the security realm, stillborn attempts to communicate the priorities of the reform to the German public, financial constraints, as well as unexpected changes at the helm of the German Ministry of Defence. However, as the authors of the paper point out, Germany could no longer go along with the obvious mismatches between its own international aspirations, unmet expectations on the side of allies and partners, and the dominant views of the German society. A renewed push to recalibrate the German security policy was vital in the light of controversies that surrounded German engagement in Afghanistan, the risk of being left on the sidelines of the European defence-related cooperation, and the fallout from the decision not to back the intervention in Libya. The long-term success or failure of the reform will depend on the attitude of the German public and the ability to make ends meet financially.