Germany´s performance, undoubtfully, was weak
before and after Resolution 1973. After wounding alliance solidarity by vote,
furthermore, German government hit solidarity a second time due the frigate
withdrawal from NATO command in the Mediterranean. Thus, good relations to
Washington, London and Paris, which Berlin truly needs, have to be rebuilt by
concrete actions demonstrating solidarity with allies. Now the first step is to
avoid further damage on solidarity. In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung CDU Bundestag´s fraction chair Volker Kauder said, as more he sees what
is happening Libya, as more he is happy that Germany is not involved, but of
course he wishes NATO to be successful. Such comments, containing a bit
schadenfreude and a knew-it-better position, are not helpful on the
relationship renovation path. Instead, Mr. Kauder should have argued that
Germany has to leave its negative approach and take concrete action
contributing to NATO´s success in Libya.
Voting with Washington, Paris and London within UN and NATO will be critical. If Germany continues abstaining from votes or working against partner´s actions, further isolation follows. Thus, Mrs. Merkel has to make to clear, even if her government may not agree with certain actions, Germany will vote for its partners to show solidarity. Moreover, Germany has to go further than voting and signing papers. Of course, Germany, with regard to its public´s opinion, will never be able to offer any military capacities. Nevertheless, Berlin could push efforts to help Libya after the war. Whatever the interventions outcome will be it is clear, however, that humanitarian and medical aid will be needed, infrastructure has to be rebuilt, a new education system has to be established and governmental like security sector structures have to be reformed.
Beside medical capabilities, the "Technische Hilfswerk" (THW) could be send quickly to Libya, after the end of fights, to start aid and reconstruction efforts. Additionally, wounded rebel fighters will need cure and rehabilitation. After the anti-Merkel protests in Benghasi Germany would be well advised to offer medical aid for the wounded. Moreover, Libya cannot go the path to democracy without renovated cities and infrastructure. Therefore, Germany, famous for its engineers, should push reconstruction projects, offer knowledge and train Libyans. On the request of Libya´s transitional government Germany has to send specialist for security and governmental sector reforms. Berlin has to keep in mind that a stable Libya is in Germany´s own interest.
However, in Germany "own interests" are no mean to convince voters. Since years lots of voices within German foreign and security policy scene called for a "Grundsatzdebatte" (debate on principles) throughout nation and public about Germany´s interests in context of its foreign and security policy. Despite all efforts nothing really happened due a lack of people´s interest. Thus, one can question whether voters at all would care about civilian and humanitarian efforts in Libya. Currently, Germans are not interested in Libya, but rather in the end of nuclear energy, changes with the political landscape by the Green Party and the trouble within the FDP and Merkel´s government. Henceforth, in case of foreign policy, voters are only likely to care about Germany´s votes in UN, EU and NATO. But a German contribution to a humanitarian UN or EU mission will probably not be questioned. Honestly, only discussions about widening NATO´s military engagement in Libya, should the rebel´s situation worsen, would raise extraordinary public skepticism. But after Social Democrats and Greens criticized the CDU/CSU/FDP government´s performance of abstention, then, the five parties could find a common position on Germany´s non-abstention. Consensus among government and opposition may convince German voters.
From now on Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Westerwelle, when he stays foreign minister, have to handle relations to NATO, the US, France and Britain with maximum care. Otherwise, further solo attempts may cause hardy repairable long term damage on the relationships. After decades of friendship Germany, undoubtfully, cannot afford that.