Defense policy of the green party leadership: attack surface for the left

Do the Greens recently like the bomb? Statements by their chairwoman suggest so. On closer inspection, things look somewhat different.

In criticism from the left: Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock Photo: Kay Nietfeld/dpa

From the left, the Greens are under constant fire this week. On Monday, Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock outlined to the Suddeutsche Zeitung, just in time for the NATO foreign ministers’ summit, the broad outlines of a defense policy with which she would like to enter a federal government in 2021. The Left Party responded with dozens of press releases, tweets and posts in which it accused the Greens of warmongering, permanent rearmament or government lust.

This is not entirely fair: The Greens’ security policy concepts are more differentiated than the left accuses them of being. So far, however, they have avoided decisive questions of detail, both in interviews and in the new basic program. They remain "vague," as Die Welt rightly wrote on Tuesday.

First, there is the question of foreign missions: With UN mandates, they are basically okay; without a UN mandate, in the case of genocides, they are sometimes okay. This is not new; the Greens already agreed to the Kosovo war without a mandate. Another question would be more interesting: What is the list of criteria that the Greens use to decide on new war missions in an emergency?

Second, there is the question of military spending: NATO’s 2-percent target is too theoretical, Baerbock says. In some places she wants to put more money into the Bundeswehr, in others less. But what does that mean in concrete figures? And how much priority does the defense budget ultimately have in competition with climate and social policy?

The question of the bomb

And thirdly, there is the question of the US nuclear bombs stored in Germany. They should be removed as quickly as possible, according to the manifesto. But they can’t just be sent back to the USA, says Baerbock. What then? What first steps do the Greens want to take in coalition talks?

Of course, a basic program doesn’t have to provide all the answers. But details should follow in the election program at the latest. Otherwise, there will be room for interpretation – and room for attack.

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