Syria Tests Germany’s Culture of Reluctance

Prospects for military intervention in Syria are still in discussion across the Atlantic, and the question of German participation remains unanswered. With Germany’s abstention from NATO actions in Libya in recent memory, Berlin continues to rely on German economic power and engage in checkbook diplomacy.  In this conflict, too, direct military participation can be ruled out.

Yet, writing in The New York Times on August 30, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and Ulf Gartzke detailed the ramifications of the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons, including sarin gas, on Free Syrian Army forces and Syrian civilians. The authors argue that “taking a stronger, more principled stance on Syria today would be an important step” away from Germany’s risky culture of reticence.

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Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg served as Germany’s Federal Minister of Defense and currently is a Distinguished Statesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Ulf Gartzke is the Director of the Hans Seidel Foundation’s Washington Office.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.