People who demand that Germany should have a foreign policy need to be careful what they wish for because when their leaders were less circumspect we did not like the end result.
Since the time of Marcus Aurelius Caesar, who made an appearance via an actor in the film Gladiator which depicted the prosecution of the war of subjugation the Romans waged against the rebelious Teutonic tribes, people have been trying to contain Germany that was too big for Europe and too small for the world. The Romans did not succeed despite their best efforts at the time.
By 1885, at the height of British Imperial power, the German levels of productivity were such that we felt threatened. By 1911, the Kaiser was widening the Kiel Canal to take E-Boats, as depicted in a black and white photograph contained in an authorized biography of Sir Winston Churchill, which I was given at the age of 9.
At the Paris Air Show, before World War II, the Messerschmidt 109 was on open display but nobody realized its significance, as the world’s most advanced plane of its type, until it was too late.
In recent times, the Bosnian War was caused by Chancellor Kohl recognizing Bosnia, something the Serbs were never prepared to accept and funneling billions into Croatia, its former wartime ally.
Now we have switched to ‘quasi-economic warfare’, with VW Audi the world’s second biggest car-maker, after the Chinese and a series of economic alliances both inside and outside the West.
Germany no longer wages wars with guns, tanks and bullets but influences matters from behind the scenes, by ensuring that its goods and services are the ones people choose to buy, and by creating networks of offices, all around the world, rather than just outsourcing everything as we and the Americans tend to do much more often.
Certainly, we need the Germans to provide escort vessels for their exports and we need them to apply their engineering superiority to the building of ‘killer-robots’ and ‘super-drones’, which can be deployed, if required, in large numbers to kill terrorists.
That is foreign policy enough, along with the effective control of the EU, as exercised by Chancellor Merkel. More than that, it will be a case of “We should have taken greater care over what we wished for”.