Monday, 18 August 2014

“The German arms industry needs a diet!”

Dr. Marc von Boemcken comments on a possible new orientation in German arms export policy, initiated by Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs. There is reason to hope that at least the export of land-based weapons systems to states that systematically violate human rights or fan regional conflict dynamics might soon be history.

The leader of the conservative party in Bavaria (CSU), Horst Seehofer, reproaches the Minister for following a policy “without concept and clear sense of direction” while trade unions and—of course—arms lobbyists voice their concern. In his commentary, the BICC researcher critically considers the argument that tighter restrictions of German arms exports would lead to job losses in the defense industry. He also reflects upon the political issues raised by such measures: “Security policy and the structures of the armed forces must not dance to the tune of the arms industry. On the contrary, we need a restructuring of the industry along political lines, the majority of which still need to be negotiated. In any case, its current dependence on arms exports to regions of crisis must be stopped in the course of such processes.”

Von Boemcken also addresses possible arms deliveries to the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who in northern Iraq attempt to withstand the bloody advance of the jihadist group “Islamic State” (IS). “There might indeed be situations in which a ‘strengthening’ of certain groups are the lesser evil in comparison to passivity and inaction. But this must remain an exception. In no way must this be used as an excuse to artificially maintain the overcapacities in the arms industry.”

Marc von Boemcken concludes: “The bottom line is that everything speaks in favor of a drastic diet for the German arms industry.” Conversion is the order of the day.

Commentary „Die deutsche Rüstungsindustrie braucht eine Diät!“ (pdf, in German)