(ANTIMEDIA) — Germany has announced that it plans to increase the size of its armed forces over the next seven years. Troop numbers in the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces, will be increased to nearly 200,000.
“The Bundeswehr has rarely been as necessary as it is now,” German Defense Minister Ursula Von Der Leyen said in a statement about the announcement, as reported by Foreign Policy. “Whether it is the fight against ISIL terrorism, the stabilization of Mali, continuing support of Afghanistan, operations against migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean or with our increased NATO presence in the Baltics.”
The current level of professional soldiers in Germany’s military is around 178,000, so the increase is not particularly outlandish. The announcement came just days after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called on NATO members to increase their military spending.
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Germany already announced last May that it would increase its troop size to 193,000 by 2023. While this may not sound like a large increase now, what might happen if, in another few months, Germany announces another slightly larger increase?
This troop increase tactic is observable throughout the course of the United States’ approach to ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. sends small numbers of troops in periodic doses so as not to alarm the public. However, over time, the number of troops begins to add up, and American occupation becomes inevitable.
At the peak of the Cold War, West Germany’s military swelled to over 500,000 troops.
“One has to ask whether it would really calm Germany’s neighbors if we turned into a big military power in Europe,” Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters. “I have my doubts.”
Currently, only five out of 28 NATO members meet their obligation of spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense; those countries are the United States, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Poland, and Greece. Germany only spends 1.2 percent of its GDP on defense and would be required to spend an additional $66 billion in order to reach the threshold.
However, it may not be the case that Germany is simply bolstering its military for America’s sake. In the wake of Trump’s victory and his fluctuating demands regarding NATO, European nations are looking to rely less on American support. This may, in fact, be the ultimate goal of the Trump administration:
“Rather than parse every statement from a US official and every tweet from the White House, Europeans need to start thinking about what they have to do for themselves,” said Mark Leonard, director of the Brussels-based European Council on Foreign Relations.
Global arms sales are at a height not seen since the Cold War. In January of this year, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced that the Doomsday Clock now stands at two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. In an interview with Prism magazine, retired Army General Stanley McChrystal warned that those people “who want to believe that a war in Europe is not possible might be in for a surprise.” Iran and North Korea are looking to strengthen relations as they test their missile systems. Their allies, nuclear giants Russia and China, are continuing to broaden their military alliances in the face of America’s saber-rattling.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s recent warning that the whole world is preparing for war should make much more sense in the context of these recent developments.