We’ve all heard the phrase ‘If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail’. It is almost always stated in reference to the use of military force to solve a problem. And to be even more precise, the referenced military is almost always the American armed forces. Well, after reading this piece about modern German foreign policy by Anne Applebaum, I think we need a new phrase to describe the opposite. Here’s Applebaum:
By declaring that Germany is a large country with a large export sector and economic interests around the world, Koehler [Germany's ex-President] broke the even more powerful taboo forbidding German politicians to speak of any use of the military in any foreign engagement. Germany’s passivity is a matter of national pride, German pacifism is written into its constitution, and Germans don’t talk about themselves as “a country of our size.” In polite company, Germans never, ever talk about using the military “in an emergency to protect our interests.”
In other words, according to Applebaum, Germans never see (or want to see, as in denial) a problem that can’t be solved by only economic or diplomatic means. The thought of using military force to protect its vital interests seems wrong seems not just outside of their comfort zone, but morally wrong. Germany, in other words, in many ways believes itself to be a post-modern state.
I think this type of foreign policy stance deserves it’s own ‘hammer and nail’ catch phrase. Here’s one: ‘If all you have is a hose, everything looks like a garden.’ Terrible? Please provide yours in the comments!