Since the 1963 Elysee Treaty and the ensuing reconciliation process between hereditary enemies – Europe’s 20th century geopolitical miracle – France and Germany have been the driving force in European integration. Since the inception of this process, defence has been on the agenda. On paper, everything is always great in Franco-German relations, both bilaterally and in a larger European context. But when it comes to defence, Franco-German relations prove to be rather complicated.
In contrast to Trump’s overt embrace of zero-sum power politics, Germany is often characterized, both internally and externally, as a “Culture of Restraint” regarding security policy. Yet such a culture implies the ability to project power and a reluctance to use it. But what if the perceived culture of reluctance is in fact structural pacifism, which internally inhibits Germany’s use of military force as a political instrument? And what does this mean for German security policy in the context of the NATO alliance?
The sustainability of the transatlantic alliance lies not so much on the external environment that surrounds it but rather on the will of the people than live within it. Why citizens in France, the UK, Hungary or the US have decided to question that order so openly must surely be one of the central questions that analysts of transatlantic relations attempt to answer. And yet, what one normally finds at the core of analyses produced on the state of transatlantic relations are exogenous structural factors. These are issues like Russian revisionism in Eastern Europe or the rise of China and its geopolitical consequences. On both accounts the argument normally goes as follows: These emerging and revisionist powers pose a particular threat to shared European and American interests.