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“We Europeans are exhausting”

“We Europeans are exhausting”

Spiegel published today a frank interview with German defense minister Thomas de Maiziere. The minister defended the German decision not to join military operations in Libya. He also suggested that the possibility of Germany deploying post-conflict peacekeepers is not under active consideration:

Having international peacekeepers is a hypothetical matter that will only become necessary if Libya collapses and conflicting parties must be separated. In a country that is developing in a hopefully democratic direction, that would be neither necessary nor desirable.

The minister rejected the notion that Syria might warrant NATO action at some point. "We will not get involved," he said flatly.

De Maiziere also pushed back against U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ recent suggestion that NATO is in danger of becoming strategically irrelevant. But he did acknowledge that keeping the United States focused on Europe will be a major challenge in the years ahead:

It is in our vital interest to make sure that the United States remains a European power and that it doesn’t look primarily westward. I am always telling the Americans: We Europeans are exhausting and sometimes even difficult and at odds with each other. But, compared with everyone else, we are still the most reliable partner in the world when it comes to stability, democracy and, ultimately, money, as well.