Wall Street Journal

A Stronger Germany Could Save Europe

Angela Merkel’s likely successor wants more defense spending and overseas deployments.

Ravenel B. Curry III Distinguished Fellow in Strategy and Statesmanship
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in Hamburg, Jan. 18.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in Hamburg, Jan. 18.


It’s time for Berlin to take a more assertive stance in world affairs—that’s the opinion of German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer is the heir apparent to Chancellor Angela Merkel and replaced her in 2018 as party chairman for the Christian Democratic Union. This soft-spoken woman, known as AKK, told me her views on Germany’s position in world politics in an interview here last week and a follow-up exchange of emails.

Germany, and for that matter Europe, can no longer go on in the old way, she said. In a new international reality marked by the “return of great-power competition for spheres of influence and supremacy,” Germany “cannot just wait for others to act. . . . We must develop our own concepts, present our own options. . . . It is our duty as Germans, and it is very much in our own interest, to join in these international debates, to drive them forward, to play a part in protecting the international order.”

Since becoming defense minister last summer, AKK has been making waves, most notably when she delivered a speech in Munich last fall that called on Germany to raise military spending gradually to 2% of gross domestic product and urged Germans to consider deployments as far afield as the Sahel and the Indo-Pacific. Germany already has about 1,000 troops in Mali as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission there.

Read the full article in Wall Street Journal