De-constraining, interfusion, appropriation

De-constraining, interfusion, appropriation

The 2016 White Paper of the German Bundeswehr

by Jürgen Rose*

Ten years after the last “White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr” had been published the Federal government thought it was appropriate timing to present the new amended version of this fundamental document on security issues in summer this year1. It offers an overview about crucial parameters of security policies of the Berlin republic.
While the Federal Ministry of Defense had been in charge, as it has been tradition for a long time, other ministries contributed to writing the paper, such as the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministries for Economic Cooperation and Development and for Economic Affairs and Energy, as well as the Chancellery.
Probably the most problematic aspect of the paper is dedicated to a development which has been expedited persistently and with determination by the protagonists of security policies of the Berlin republic ever since Michail Gorbachev had deprived the Atlantic alliance of their enemy at the end of the Cold war, which meant that the Bundeswehr [German Armed Forces] had to search for new commitments.
Strategies resulting from that search may be subsumed under the terms de-constraining, interfusion and appropriation.


The first of these crucial terms to describe the development of the German security policy, which is de-constraining, refers to the new spectrum of options for deployment of German military forces both in a geographical sense and in respect of form and content. These options range from “pre-emptive self-protection” via “anticipatory aid for allies”, deployment in the context of a “reformulated Responsibility to Protect”, task prioritization in the context of “international conflict prevention” up to the unrestrained utilization of the military as “a means of foreign policy”2.
More than a quarter of a century after the end of the cold war thousands of German troops have participated in various missions of wide-ranging quality and intensity all over the world, hundreds of them have been harmed both psychologically and physically, many have been killed. Not to mention the victims on the side of their enemies and most importantly the civilians – the white paper doesn´t, unsurprisingly.


One of the words that appear most often in the white paper 2016 is “networking”. This word belongs to those fashionable terms with positive connotation, since nobody wants to be isolated today; but everybody likes the idea of being kept warm and looked-after in as many cozy networks as possible. This attitude is utilized by the security strategists who declared the “networking approach” to be the “central guideline of our governance”3. “Our country”, the white paper authors point out, “has many competencies and instruments which are employed in order to meet foreign and domestic challenges.”4 And one of the most important of those instruments is the Bundeswehr, one should add. Since this seems to be the aim of all this networking rhetoric, namely providing legitimacy for the military, by letting the Bundeswehr take root as an indispensible instrument of German Foreign and Security Policies in the conscience of a highly unsettled public.
How handy it seems to be, that in the opinion of our Ministry of Defense “… military and civilian instruments complement each other in our networking approach”5. This exactly is the reason why the leadership of the ministry emphasizes the importance of “… anchoring the networking approach of the Bundeswehr and developing it even further”6, moreover they plan to “intensify the co-operation between the Bundeswehr and governmental and non-governmental actors”, “nationally and internationally”7, that is.
Apart from taking over and colonizing all sorts of civilian non-governmental organizations under the pretext of security issues all conceivable risks will allegedly be mastered with this networking approach, including – and this is the actual goal – means of military violence which are pictured as essential political tools. The following quote of the white paper impressively illustrates how far the interfusion of the civilian sector by the military is supposed to go: “Effective networking of relevant political areas considerably improves the chances to successfully build resilience in order to fight off hybrid attacks. This includes improved protection of critical infrastructure, decreasing the vulnerability of the energy sector, issues of emergency management, efficient border control, supporting the police to maintain domestic order and creating rapid military deployment forces. Politics, media and civilian society are all to be enlisted in the efforts to counter propaganda with fact-based communication.”8 The tendency of this “networking” strategy towards a comprehensive “securitization”9 of more and more political areas and eventually a total militarization of state and society is clearly visible.


The third crucial term apart from de-constraining and interfusion is appropriation. This term refers to the new option to deploy the Bundeswehr in order to enforce national interests of the Berlin republic worldwide, which had been developed by the red-green coalition government according to the quote by Gerhard Schröder that “the military should be de-tabooed”10. Ever since, the once revered “culture of restraint”11 had rapidly gone out of favour and Germany had started to aspire to a new role in the international system using its military.
The paradigmatic paper for this process was published by two leading transatlantic lobbying organizations, namely the “German Marshall Fund of the United States” and the “German Institute for International and Security Affairs”, under the programmatic title: “New power – new responsibility. Elements of German foreign and security policies in a changing world.”12 Soon afterwards this paper became the blueprint for the slogans in favour of a new German militarized Realpolitik, put on stage at the “Munich security” conference by the “trio infernale” of German foreign and security politics – president Joachim Gauck, foreign secretary Frank-Walter Steinmeier and defense secretary Ursula von der Leyen, that is – at the beginning of 2014.
The Orwellian newspeak phrase of “fulfilling leadership and responsibility in international politics”13 has been used extensively by the elites of the Berlin republic in order to euphemistically embellish their politics of belligerent interventionalism, combined with neo-colonialism. In fact, no other term is used more often than “leadership” and “responsibility” in the new white paper of the federal government. Already in its introduction Angela Merkel states that “… the economic and political importance of Germany obliges us to fulfill responsibility for the security of Europe in co-operation with our European and transatlantic partners.”14 The following 140 pages hammer the message of the necessity to fulfill “responsibility” and “leadership” by various means including military force into the readers´ brains almost with missionary zeal. And just to make sure everybody got it Ursula von der Leyen repeats the mantra in the very last sentence of this defense-political prose as follows: “Germany and also its“Bundeswehr” stand for loyalty and reliability – guided by her interests and also the willingness to take the lead and accept more responsibility in international security politics.”15
In plain words, this means nothing else than the sound of German troops marching shall be heard loud and world-wide. Consequently, this “White paper on security policies and the future of the Bundeswehr” manifests itself as a white paper on the insecurity of the Federal republic of Germany and anything but an uplifting future for the German military.
Far more important and constructive than that defense ministerial manifesto, which seems rather more anachronistic would, on the other hand, be a “White Paper on the Peace Policy of the Federal Republic of Germany” in the sense of both the fundamental and international norms of peace. And accordingly the motto of the Bundeswehr would have to be changed: It should no longer be “We. Serve. Germany.” It should be “ We. Serve. Peace.”     •

*    Dipl. Päd. Jürgen Rose is a retired lieutenant-colonel of the German armed forces. He is a member of the Darmstädter Signal, an association of German officers and non-commissioned officers (former and current). Since many years he writes a lot of critical articles about the Bundeswehr. He has published a book about defence policy. The above published article is the second part of a larger paper on the issue. The complete article (in German) can be ordered at <link>

1    Federal Ministry of Defence (ed.). “Weissbuch 2016 zur Sicherheitspolitik Deutschlands und zur Zukunft der Bundeswehr.” Berlin 2016. <link http: resource mzezntm4mmuzmzmymmuzmtm1mzmyztm2mzizmdmwmzazmdmwmzazmdy5nze3mzm0nzc2yzyymzcymdiwmjaymdiw weissbuch2016_barrierefrei.pdf external-link seite:>
(The English version “White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr” can be found on <link http: publications white-paper-german-security-policy-and-future-bundeswehr> Berlin 2016
2    cf. more precisely Jaberg, Sabine. Wehe, wehe, wehe, wenn ich auf das Ende sehe … Zur Begründung eines friedenswissenschaftlichen Standpunkts zum Norm-Empirie-Problem bei Auslandseinsätzen der Bundeswehr, in: ibid. Biehl, Heiko; Mohrmann, Günter; Tomforde, Maren. “Auslandseinsätze der Bundeswehr. Sozialwissenschaftliche Analysen, Diagnosen und Perspektiven.” Sozialwissenschaftliche Schriften. Journal 47, Berlin 2009, pp. 302ff.

3    Federal Ministry of Defence (ed.). “Weissbuch 2016 zur Sicherheitspolitik Deutschlands und zur Zukunft der Bundeswehr”, ibid.
p. 58.
4    ibid.
5    Federal Ministry of Defence (ed.). “Weissbuch 2016 zur Sicherheitspolitik Deutschlands und zur Zukunft der Bundeswehr”, ibid.
p. 60.
6    Federal Ministry of Defence (ed.). “Weissbuch 2016 zur Sicherheitspolitik Deutschlands und zur Zukunft der Bundeswehr.” Ibid. p. 99.

7    ibid.

8    Federal Ministry of Defence (ed.) “Weissbuch 2016 zur Sicherheitspolitik Deutschlands und zur Zukunft der Bundeswehr.” ibid., p. 39.
9    cf. about this inter alia Brand, Alexander. “Sicherheit über alles? Die schleichende Versicherheitlichung deutscher Entwicklungspolitik.” In: Peripherie No. 122/123, Volume 31, 2011, Publishing house Westfälisches Dampfboot, Münster, p. 209–235; <link http:>; Anonymous: Securitization (international relations);; Gebauer, Thomas. “Die Versicherheitlichung von Politik”. In:, 27 May 2010; <link http: die-versicherheitlichung-von-politik-13977>; Baumann, Marcel M.; Zdunnek, Gabriele; Zitelmann, Thomas. “Prozesse der ‚Versicherheitlichung” von Entwicklungszusammenarbeit und zivil-militärische Kooperation”, in: Jakobeit, Cord; Müller, Franziska; Sondermann, Elena; Wehr, Ingrid; Ziai, Aram (ed.). “Entwicklungstheorien: Weltgesellschaftliche Transformationen, entwicklungspolitische Herausforderungen, theoretische Innovationen”, Sonderheft PVS 2014, 2014, p. 230–253 as well as Anonym (ML); “Securitization”, in: Seminarblog – Das Blog zum Seminar “Aktuelle Probleme der Sicherheitspolitik”, 17 December 2009; <link https: external-link website:>“securitization”/.

10    Hofmann, Gunter; Naumann, Michael (Interviewer). Eine neue Form der Selbstverteidigung. Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder über die Bedrohung der westlichen Zivilisation und Deutschlands Rolle in der Welt. Ein Zeit-Gespräch. In: Die Zeit from 18 October 2001; <link http:>

11    Kinkel, Klaus. Abgabe einer Erklärung der Bundesregierung “Konsequenzen aus dem Urteil des Bundesverfassungsgerichts vom 12. Juli 1994”. In: Deutscher Bundestag (Hrsg.). Plenarprotokoll 12/240, Stenographischer Bericht, 12. Wahlperiode, 240. Sitzung, Bonn, 22 July 1994, p. 21167; <link http: dip21 btp>

12    Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik/ German Marshall Fund of the United States (Ed.). Neue Macht – Neue Verantwortung. Elemente einer deutschen Aussen- und Sicherheitspolitik für eine Welt im Umbruch. Berlin 2013, <link http: fileadmin contents products projekt_papiere deutaussensicherhpol_swp_gmf_2013.pdf>

13    Vgl. hierzu speziell Bittner, Jochen; Nass, Matthias. Kurs auf die Welt. Joachim Gauck, Frank-Walter Steinmeier und Ursula von der Leyen fordern eine entschlossenere deutsche Aussenpolitik. Wie kam diese Wende zustande? Und in welche Konflikte führt sie? In: Die Zeit, No. 7, 6 February 2014, p. 3; <link http: deutsche-aussenpolitik-sicherheitskonferenz>

14    Bundesministerium der Verteidigung (Hrsg.). Weissbuch 2016 zur Sicherheitspolitik Deutschlands und zur Zukunft der Bundeswehr, ibid, p. 6.

15    Bundesministerium der Verteidigung (Hrsg.). Weissbuch 2016 zur Sicherheitspolitik Deutschlands und zur Zukunft der Bundeswehr, ibid, p. 139.

(Translation Current Concerns)

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