German magazine Die Zeit calls for reintroduction of compulsory military service

Published on World Socialist Web Site WSWS, by Christoph Dreiere, March 29, 2014.

A day after US President Barack Obama intensified NATO’s confrontation with Russia in Brussels, Germany’s second largest weekly newspaper, Die Zeit, has come out in favour of the reintroduction of compulsory military service.   

In Thursday’s edition, editor Peter Dausend questioned the direction of the reform of the armed forces, which aims to transform Germany’s army from a territorial and defensive force in to an interventionist force with modern weaponry capable of acting globally. Since the mid-1980s, the number of troops has been reduced from almost half a million to the current number of 175,000. Three years ago, compulsory military service was scrapped.

For Dausend, the reform represents “security policy in a parallel universe,” because the current conflict with Russia raises the question of national and collective defence once again. The need to defend NATO had “become a lot more likely with Russia’s intervention in Crimea.”

“Today, NATO does not end at the wall and death strips of a divided Germany, as in the Cold War, but rather on the border between the Baltic states and Russia,” according to Dausend. In the case of a military confrontation with Russia, “the German army,” he continued, was “hardly in a position to defend effectively.”

Dausend based himself on the former general inspector of the German army and current security consultant for the German government, Harald Kujat. In response to the Crimea crisis, he has called upon the German government to undertake a “fundamental re-evaluation” of its position on security policy. “In my opinion, this means that territorial defence as the defence of our allies should be at the heart of our considerations,” Dausend cited Kujat.

Kujat added on Zeit Online, “The career of a soldier will either become much more attractive, such as with a noticeable increase in pay, or compulsory military service is reintroduced.” The latter option was more likely.

Kujat also called for a massive rearming of the German army. In the event of a Russian attack on the Baltic States, “there are not enough planes to transport heavy equipment into the crisis region,” Die Zeit cited him saying. The German army had “too few fighter planes, too few helicopters, not enough heavy weaponry and above all too few soldiers.”

Former NATO General Egon Ramms declared in the Bild newspaper, “We need compulsory military service. Germany cannot achieve territorial defence in an alliance system without it. Certainly not on the basis of volunteers. But we also require the necessary arms for such a case. With the materials that we currently have, it cannot be done” … //

… (full text).


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