Germany's Minister of Defense de Maizière at Harvard Conference: Trust is key for Germany’s security and military policy
Enlarge image German Minister of Defense Dr. Thomas de Maizière (© Hannibal/dpa) Trust is the key when it comes to international security and military policy, said German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière in a speech at the German Conference at Harvard University on February 17, 2012. The visit to this globally renowned academic institution marked the end of the minister’s week-long tour of the U.S.. This year’s two-day conference which is traditionally organized by German students at Harvard University held lively debates under the provocative conference title “Decidedly indecisive? The German Angst of Leadership.”
The conference hosted fascinating high-profile panel discussions on aspects of German leadership such as Germany's role in the current Euro crisis, in the international security and military policies as well as in the European and international energy policy with Germany’s sudden decision to forego nuclear energy entirely and boost the development of renewable energies.
Enlarge image German Minister of Defense Dr. Thomas de Maizière (© Hannibal/dpa) Minister de Maizière's keynote speech was a particular highlight of the conference. He analyzed the role of Germany in the international security arena, and encouraged the nation to continue a pro-active role in international defense and security policy. “The goal of the German security policy is the development of successful partnerships, and leadership is done through actions, not through words,” the minister of defense said. In his address, de Maizière also emphasized the need for Germany to take more responsibility in international military actions and to remain a reliable partner in the NATO alliance. De Maizière’s speech was followed by a panel taking a closer look at Germany’s perceived indecisiveness in international actions and discussing how Germany could improve the use of the diplomatic, civilian and military instruments at its disposal. However controversial various security policy issues were addressed and discussed. A majority of the panelists concluded that there is little or no "German Angst of leadership" in this field.
Enlarge image German Minister of Defense Dr. Thomas de Maizière and Member of German Parliament Peer Steinbrück (r-l) visiting Harvard Yard (© Hannibal/dpa) In the critical analysis of Germany’s role in the Euro - or – as speaker Peer Steinbrück, MdB, preferred to put it – refinancing crisis, Angst of accepting the responsibility and of living up to the expectations of the other European member states was equally rejected. Peer Steinbrück was Germany’s Minister of Finance from 2005 to 2009 and together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel he oversaw a variety of regulatory actions aimed to counter the global and European financial crisis.
Enlarge image German Minister of Defense Dr. Thomas de Maizière visiting Harvard Yard (© Hannibal/dpa) Another highlight of the conference was the energy panel which focused on Germany’s efforts to develop a more liberal, decentralized and greener energy sector, where Germany undisputedly serves as a role-model not only for other European countries but also for the US.
The experts at this highly topical conference agreed that steering a country through the current European and international challenges requires strong leadership. There is, however, more than one definition of leadership, and its exercise does not always necessarily require, or even benefit from, dominance. Rather than being paralyzed by the strength of their own country, as has been suggested by outside observers, German leaders have cultivated a style of modesty and reticence as a more promising path to success.