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.
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