Commentary on the adviser affair: von der leyen has too much money

Instead of an expansion, there should be a discussion about limiting the size of the Bundeswehr. Germany does not need rearmament.

Instead of calling for an increase in the defense budget, the minister should be less wasteful Photo: reuters

It’s a perfect match: On the same day that the investigative committee on the adviser affair begins its first hearings of witnesses, the Bundestag wants to approve the extension of four foreign deployments of the Bundeswehr, including the completely disastrous one in Afghanistan. There is no better way to illustrate that the German defense budget is far too high.

The millions that the Ministry of Defense has spent on external consultants in recent years are an excellent argument for cutting the budget. But they are nothing compared to the double-digit billion sums that German participation in the U.S.’s fatal "War on Terror" in Afghanistan has cost so far.

It is time to finally discuss this horrendous waste of money. The Federal Republic should have followed the example of France and Canada long ago and ended its military involvement in the Hindu Kush. But even in the 19th year of the war in Afghanistan, Germany prefers to complain loudly that German military spending should not rise even higher than already planned.

When Ursula von der Leyen took over the defense ministry in 2013, she had a budget of 33.3 billion euros. This year, her budget includes 43.2 billion euros – a proud increase. For 2020, it will grow by another 2 billion or so. At least. By comparison, only 10.2 billion euros have been earmarked for development cooperation this year and next. What a wrong way to set priorities!

Restriction of tasks

From the exorbitant consultant fees to the exploding costs for the renovation of the sail training ship "Gorch Fock": Instead of demanding a further increase in the defense budget, it would make far more sense for the minister to finally ensure that the Bundeswehr uses its existing financial resources less wastefully. This includes critically reviewing every armaments project.

Basically, if the return to national and alliance defense is to stand on an equal footing with unabated "out of area" missions outside NATO territory, as propagated by Ursula von der Leyen, then this will cost a lot of money. But instead of an expansion, thought should be given to limiting the tasks, such as reducing the numerous foreign missions from Afghanistan to Mali.

Unfortunately, the Bundestag will once again decide otherwise this Thursday. But the Federal Republic does not need expensive rearmament fantasies, but an active peace policy.

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