13 Six post-Cold War Taboos Europe Must Now Face in:

Maximilian Terhalle

Strategie als Beruf, page 197 - 200

Überlegungen zu Strategie, Weltordnung und Strategic Studies

1. Edition 2020, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4409-4, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7409-1,

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
197 13 Six post-Cold War Taboos Europe Must Now Face France and Germany must summon up the inspiration and muscle to guarantee Europe’s future security. Post-Cold War Europe is facing unprecedented strategic challenges. The rise of China has become America’s principal foreign policy concern, to which its relations with its European allies will be increasingly subordinated. In this new superpower contest, Beijing will try hard to tempt Europe away from its American partner. A revanchist Russia will seize every opportunity to split NATO and the EU. President Donald Trump’s own contribution is to undermine goodwill and trust between the U. S. and its allies. — The principled resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis shortly before Christmas makes it painfully clear to America’s allies that they will increasingly have to fend for themselves. France and Germany, as the two key players in a post-Brexit European Union, must summon up the inspiration and the muscle which will guarantee Europe’s future security. At first blush, the omens don’t look good. If Germany’s elites are deeply unnerved at the prospect of losing the psychological as well as material American security blanket, its government and citizens have until now remained passive, except when it comes to displaying their disdain of “the Donald.” This is not a substitute for a strategy. Nor are things much better on the French side, with an unhelpful combination of provocation and impotence. President Emmanuel Macron has inflamed relations with Washington by stating his ambition to create a “real European army” while none of the political requirements, nor the military underpinnings of such a goal, are anywhere in sight. Some of this is driven by domestic politics, but much is the product of French frustration at German immobility. — However, a strategic window is opening as the Merkel era moves towards a close in Germany. There are six taboos which Berlin and Paris have to break in order to create a new European grand bargain that would bolster the Continent’s cohesiveness and effectiveness: First, the Europeans must cease to ignore the China factor as the new keystone of U. S.-European security relations. America’s strategic competition with China will lead to a growing diversion of U. S. strategic attention to East Asia. As Mattis suggested before his resignation, America cannot fight two wars at the same time. Even if war between the U. S. and China is unlikely, both countries are taking the corresponding precautions. The state of NATO’s eastern flank could prompt new Russian attempts to reverse the verdict of the end of the Cold War. By realistically anticipating America’s need to engage in East Asia, Europe’s major powers should prepare themselves for the possibility of having to take over the Continent’s defence. Such a new approach at burden-sharing aimed at protecting the West could emanate from within the al- 198 Maximilian Terhalle | François Heisbourg liance. Lest we forget, neither China nor Russia possess powerful allies. Through NATO and the Asian allies, the United States still does. The second, related taboo pertains to the role of France’s nuclear deterrent in defending its European Union allies, beginning with Germany. America’s capabilities are increasingly stretched between the Eurasian and Indo-Pacific theatres in ways in which they were not during the Cold War. As U. S. attention becomes absorbed by its strategic rivalry with China, Europe’s eastern flank may be deprived of the unconditional deterrence it should have vis-à-vis Russia. Europe needs a deterrent alongside NATO’s existing American nuclear capabilities. France would explicitly extend its nuclear umbrella to its non-nuclear European partners. This commitment could involve the rotational presence of French nuclear-capable combat aircraft on the territory of NATO allies in Europe, including Germany. Great leadership skills will be required to convince the respective domestic constituencies while avoiding prompting the withdrawal of U. S. nuclear weapons from Europe. Similarly, France and Germany together must agree that future military operations in the Middle East and Africa will take place in a grand compromise: no intervention without substantive mutual consultation, no mutually agreed intervention without a commonly shared burden in terms of risk-taking. This principle may be put to the test first in the Levant, as America’s departure from Syria opens a dangerous strategic vacuum. Possibly the most difficult taboo to break concerns the fiscal and monetary foundations that underpin, and divide, French and German approaches to structuring Europe’s financial markets and improving its economic competitiveness. If both sides accept a broader responsibility for the Continent aimed at making weaker European states waterproof against the strategically calibrated seeping in of vast Chinese funds, Berlin would need to loosen the psychological grip that the traumatic experiences of Weimar-era 199 Six post-Cold War Taboos Europe Must Now Face inflation have had on its fiscal philosophy, so that smaller states can avoid finding themselves on the Chinese payroll. This would involve dedicated EU funding, much of which would come from Germany, whether or not this would take the specific form of Macron’s proposals for a eurozone budget. An equally momentous taboo refers to the French-German differences in organizing political power in Europe. Whereas Germans tend to prefer the need for the unanimous vote of all 27 members in order to make decisions, the French prefer a two-speed Europe that intermittently drives Europe forward, if at the expense of the EU’s overall legitimacy. The 1994 Schäuble-Lamy proposal may be conducive to resolving these: in this plan those EU countries most dedicated to monetary, defense and political integration would form a core group moving ahead of the others. The last taboo is about the cultural narrative that should frame Europe’s future performance on the world stage. The well-worn idea of the „peace project“ has little traction amongst younger Europeans. The inward-looking and self-satisfied attitude of this narrative today needs to be turned into a powerful and self-confident one that announces its fierce political will to defend the foundations of Europe’s freedom, wealth and culture in a world that is rather unscrupulous about tearing it apart. If these obstacles can be overcome, transatlantic defence will still be a burden, but a burden worth sharing and shouldering. Most crucially, such initiatives will pay off whether or not the U. S. continues to play an active and constructive role within the transatlantic alliance. Professor François Heisbourg is chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and is special adviser at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, a Paris-based think-tank. 200 Maximilian Terhalle | François Heisbourg

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Thinking and making strategy serve states’ vital interests. Innately bound up with power, strategy devises a future that reflects vital interests, using its willpower to protect them. Unprecedented, “Strategy as Vocation” introduces Strategic Studies while also offering Germany practical strategies.

The book contains articles in German and in English.


Strategisches Denken und Handeln dient vitalen Interessen. Es verlangt den Blick auf die Macht – und in eine Zukunft, die diese vitalen Interessen entsprechend widerspiegeln soll. Dies gilt immer, besonders aber, wenn Weltordnungen im Umbruch sind. Strategie als Beruf widmet sich den zentralen Konzeptionen der hierzulande vernachlässigten, wiewohl von Deutschen mitgeprägten Strategic Studies und bietet strategischem Denken und Handeln damit erstmalig Grundlagen auf dem Stand der internationalen Forschung an. Konkrete Strategievorschläge sind integraler Bestandteil des Buches.

Das Buch enthält deutsche und englische Beiträge.

Prof. Maximilian Terhalle (@M_Terhalle) lehrt Strategic Studies an der Universität Winchester, ist mit dem King’s College London affiliiert und berät das britische Verteidigungsministerium. Zuvor hat er einige Jahre an den Universitäten Columbia, Yale, Oxford und Renmin (Peking) geforscht und gelehrt.

Terhalle's insightful, balanced, and perceptive essays bring the tools of strategic studies to bear on a range of current international issues. Theoretically sophisticated and empirically grounded, the analysis will be of great value to both the scholarly and policy communities.”

Prof. Robert Jervis, Columbia University, New York

Maximilian Terhalle gehört zu den frühen Streitern für eine strategische Ausrichtung unseres internationalen Ordnungsdenkens und der deutschen Außenpolitik. Sein scharfsinniges Buch bietet eine klare Analyse der instabil gewordenen Welt. Und zieht daraus konkrete Folgerungen für die Verantwortung Deutschlands und seiner Partner für westliche Werte und Interessen.“

Prof. Matthias Herdegen, Universität Bonn

Maximilian Terhalle is a refreshing independent voice on European and German security policy. There is a pressing need for systematic, clear-eyed, and realistic thinking about Germany’s role in a rapidly changing world, and this wide-ranging collection of essays is an important contribution to a much-needed set of debates.”

Prof. Stephen Walt, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government

The Germans have, for very understandable historical reasons, long been reluctant to engage in the kind of strategic thinking that comes naturally to the Anglo-Saxon world. Maximilian Terhalle, who is one of the Federal Republic’s most innovative experts in the field, is rightly dissatisfied with this opting out of the real world. His new book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand modern German strategy, or rather the lack of it, and the need for a National Security Council in the FRG.”

Prof. Brendan Simms, Cambridge University

Drawing on wide reading and with a nod to Max Weber, this thoughtful collection of essays by Maximilian Terhalle demonstrates the importance of strategic thinking and how it can be applied to the big issues of war and peace in the modern world.”

Prof. Lawrence Freedman, King’s College London

Die NATO ist strategisch nicht hirntot. Vielleicht aber bald eines seiner Mitglieder. Wer auch immer Deutschland führen wird, täte gut daran, sich den von Terhalle vorgelegten strategischen Kompass sehr genau anzusehen. Die eventuelle Wiederwahl Trumps und der unwahrscheinliche Machtverzicht Putins und Xis bedürfen nicht nur einer erkennbar europäischen Hand im Kanzleramt, sondern auch eines völlig neuen, eben strategischen Mindsets. Terhalles Konzepte für Entscheider sowie seine konkreten Ideen für die Zukunft westlicher Sicherheitspolitik bieten genau das.“

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Bundesminister a.D., New York/München

Strategisches Denken fehlt im Land des Carl von Clausewitz in allen Bereichen. In der Politik, der Wirtschaft und der Entwicklung von Leitlinien, wie Europa in einer Welt im Umbruch gestaltet werden sollte. Prof. Terhalles Buch zeigt Grundlagen auf und gibt Anregungen in wesentlichen Feldern der Politik. Es sollte von Entscheidern gelesen und genutzt werden.“

General a.D. Klaus Naumann, ehem. Vorsitzender des NATO-Militärausschusses und Generalinspekteur, München

Can Germany think strategically?’ Indeed, and more broadly, can the European Union become a strategic actor? These questions lie at the heart of Maximilian Terhalle’s no-holds-barred assessment of Europe’s options as the continent faces mounting challenges from both partners and adversaries East, South and West.”

François Heisbourg, Special Advisor, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, Paris

Terhalle has produced a rich and wide-ranging series of essays on some of the enduring and more recent dilemmas of international security. These subtle but piercing reflections are in the best tradition of strategic studies, from Clausewitz to Freedman.”

Prof. John Bew, War Studies Department, King’s College London

A thought-provoking and illuminating series of essays that grapple with some of the toughest and most important questions facing contemporary Germany, Europe, and the United States, written by one of Germany's most forward-looking strategists.”

Elbridge Colby, Principal, The Marathon Initiative, former US Ass’t Deputy Secretary of Defence, Washington D.C.

Das neue Buch von Maximilian Terhalle, Strategie als Beruf, ist ein wichtiger Baustein bei der Grundsteinlegung für die hierzulande vernachlässigten ‘Strategic Studies’. Der Autor bürstet kräftig gegen den Strich und stellt liebgewordene Denkmuster in Frage. Man muss Terhalle keineswegs in jeder Hinsicht zustimmen. Aber wenn Deutschland und Europa tatsächlich die ‘Sprache der Macht’ erlernen wollen, wie vom EU-Außenbeauftragten Anfang 2020 gefordert, wird man nicht umhinkommen, sich mit seinen Thesen auseinanderzusetzen.“

Boris Ruge, Berlin

For too long, Germany’s deafening silence on strategic matters has struck international academic and policy observers alike. This is about to change. Maximilian Terhalle’s realpolitik-based as well as erudite deliberations on the art of strategy, closing with novel practical ideas for Europe’s future strategic security, betray exactly that.”

Prof. Christopher Coker, London School of Economics/LSE IDEAS

In Strategie als Beruf schreibt Maximilian Terhalle mit außerordentlich klarem Blick über Fragen sicherheitspolitischer Strategie und füllt damit ein Vakuum in Deutschland. Seine Ergebnisse sind unbequem für die von der Friedensforschung dominierten Debatten. Jeder, dem die Strategiefähigkeit des Landes und Europas wichtig ist, sollte seine Ideen kennen.“

Dr. Bastian Giegerich, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London

“For over a decade, Western scholars of strategy have almost exclusively focused on the likeliness of the Thucydides trap to emerge between the US and China. Remarkably, while Prof. Terhalle acknowledges their global strategic importance, he spells out what the potential trajectory of their relationship implies for NATO’s European members vis-à-vis Russia. – Realpolitik reigns.”

Prof. Wu Zhengyu, Renmin University, Peking