Nuclear weapons debate Sigmar Gabriel: Europe needs "common nuclear component"

The former SPD chairman warns in the article for the star: If Donald Trump is re-elected as US President, Europe can no longer rely on the US protective shield – we must expand our own nuclear capabilities.

The next presidential elections will take place in the USA in November. Donald Trump, who has already been president once, has a good chance of returning to the White House. Stormy times would then lie ahead for us, but especially for the citizens of the USA.

Donald Trump would first lead a campaign of revenge against all of his political opponents in the USA – including within his own party – and he would probably fill all state institutions with people who swear absolute loyalty to him. American democracy would be facing a very big test. But of course Trump would also turn back to his “second favorite opponents” in trade policy – ​​and that is China and us Europeans.

Trump is reducing NATO to the level of a mercenary army

His sentence “Europe is just as bad as China – only smaller” should still be remembered. And just as for him international economic and trade policy is a zero-sum game in which he only ever thinks in the category of “deal-making” under the motto “If you give me something, I’ll give you something,” he doesn’t believe that either of the added value of a common security and defense policy. Where NATO sees itself as a political alliance of Western democracies that, on the one hand, provides security guarantees for all its member states, but on the other hand, of course, also multiplies the power of its leading military nation – the USA – in the world, Donald Trump reduces this defense alliance to the level of a mercenary army, which only comes if you pay for it.

Apart from the damage he is leaving behind in Europe, Donald Trump is also weakening the USA’s position in the world, because in the 21st century the United States of America will also need alliances and alliances to keep the world in balance .

© Michael Kappeler/dpa

About the person: Sigmar Gabriel

was chairman of the SPD from 2009 to 2017. He served in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet as economics minister and foreign minister. He was previously Prime Minister of Lower Saxony. For five years, Gabriel has been chairman of the Atlantic Bridge, a network for German-American understanding.

It is only with great difficulty that we as Europeans are able to agree on the protection of international shipping and maritime trade in the Red Sea against the bandits who threaten civilian shipping with rockets from Yemen. And this despite the fact that we, in particular, benefit particularly economically from the “Freedom of Navigation”.

How do we want to ensure Russia’s nuclear deterrence?

At the moment I cannot see that we have even a rudimentary answer to the even more difficult question of how we actually want to ensure Russia’s nuclear deterrence when the US has a president who has created this US nuclear shield for NATO and for Europe is questioning.

What would now be needed is a major strategic offensive by Germany and France, ideally together with the British, to find out how we want to answer these questions. This also includes clarifying how we will support Ukraine if a US government under Trump no longer wants to do so. My concern is that we still don’t really recognize the threat this poses to Europe. The criticism from my own party, which is directed against those who demand more support for Ukraine, such as former Federal President Gauck, is a frightening example of this.

Don’t let others threaten your freedom

The turning point only took place in the minds of a few politicians, but not in our society. For the Nobel Peace Prize winner and then SPD Chancellor Willy Brandt, his country’s defense capability was worth at least three percent of the gross domestic product. Today my party is already defending itself against two percent. Defense capability does not begin with the procurement of weapons, but with the will and self-confidence of civil society not to let others threaten its own freedom. We are still a long way from that.

If Putin gets his way, the question remains: who will he attack next?

The next increase in citizens’ allowance seems more important to us than a free and self-determined life for our children and grandchildren. But that will no longer be the case if Vladimir Putin prevails with his war against Ukraine. Then the only question remains: who will he attack next? This will be a completely different Europe than the one in which we were lucky enough to grow up. Fear will dominate European life. And nothing good has ever come of it.

A lot of changes are now needed that sound rather technical. Armament projects must be standardized and investments must be made in NATO’s eastern flank – also with the help of Germany and not always with the help of the USA. We need a European Security Council, and many other things. Above all, we must decide how we can compensate for the possible loss of nuclear deterrence by the United States in order to avoid being subject to blackmail by Russia’s leadership.

We provincialize a little more every day

This is not an easy task and not something that can be solved overnight. But Germany, as Europe’s largest economy, must advance this debate and stop only being concerned with itself. At the moment we are provincializing a little more every day. And the rest of the world notices this and turns away from us.

I never thought I would have to think about this. But Europe needs a credible deterrent. This includes a common nuclear component. American protection will soon come to an end, the debate about where the replacement will come from must begin now. If we don’t answer this question, others will. For example Turkey. That cannot be our interest.