“The frustration with Germany is growing enormously” – “Germany has us in a pincer” – “The richest country in Europe is being confronted and must now decide”: The hesitant line of the Germans in the delivery of the Leopard tanks to the Ukraine comes up against in US media to incomprehension.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s indecisiveness has been sharply criticized in countless newspapers. Many reactions are negative, both in the left-liberal press and in conservative newspapers. “All eyes are on Germany,” reads one headline – and in relation to Berlin’s leopard attitude, many looks seem full of outrage.
When it comes to arms deliveries to Ukraine, Germany draws attention to itself primarily through its negative attitude, according to CNN: “It’s as if an acid is gradually eating away at every layer of trust. Germany’s hesitation could have lasting consequences for the rest of Europe,” a senior NATO diplomat told the US broadcaster. “Didn’t German tanks kill Ukrainians 80 years ago? Now they could defend them against the barbaric Russian attacks.”
The possible motives for the hesitant German attitude are explained to the American viewers as follows: Germany’s success in the 21st century is based above all on the cheap gas supply from Russia and the security guarantees from the USA. Europe’s richest country has undoubtedly “benefited enormously” from keeping both options open.
“Germany is protected by NATO and at the same time has economic relations with questionable partners,” explains the news channel. “Germany is now being asked about this. Now the country has to make a decision. The decisions of the federal government will continue to play a central role in security issues for the entire continent in the coming decades.”
It goes on to say that for years Germany spent significantly less on its military than many other Western allies. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, the Chancellor’s speech was seen as steeped in history. But almost a year later, critics would judge Olaf Scholz’ visions as far from reality.
The conservative Wall Street Journal also blames Berlin’s indecision for “a growing rift between the allies” – as well as for “increasing frustration”. The more liberal “New York Times” also reports “increasing frustration” in view of the federal government’s leopard attitude – although understanding for the German dichotomy is shown here.
“The Russian war in Ukraine is forcing Germany to reconsider decades-old ideas,” it says. The invasion of Russia was not only a political but also a psychological shock for the Germans, it is explained – this is now particularly evident in their attitude towards tank deliveries.
“The German hesitation can be explained in one word: history. Germans want to be seen as partners, not aggressors,” Steven Sokol of the American Council on Germany told The Times — and this is especially true when it comes to arms shipments to areas where German guns once killed millions of people.
At the same time, however, the former German General Heinrich Brauss warned in the daily newspaper of “catastrophic consequences for Germany’s reputation if hesitation ultimately turns into refusal. It will significantly reduce confidence in Germany as a NATO ally.”
The Times also quotes historian Timothy Garton Ash. “If Germany has really learned something from its history, it will supply tanks to defend Ukraine,” writes the Brit in his editorial for the “Guardian” – because Germany has a “unique, historical responsibility towards Zelenskyj and his people”. .
It is true that the German government’s change of course towards military aid since the beginning of the Russian invasion is to be credited with: Garton Ash concedes that Berlin is one of the leading supporters of Ukraine in humanitarian, economic and financial areas. But when it comes to arms deliveries, the federal government is always “hesitant and confused – always the hesitant tail light in the western tow”.
And this despite the fact that Germany also has an extremely impressive defense industry – with extremely profitable exports to a whole range of questionable regimes around the world. “So why no supplies when it comes to defending a European democracy against the new Hitler?”
Exciting: Guest article by Gabor Steingart – The USA wins the Ukraine war