Readers of this blog know that I've never been a big fan of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. I earned my doctorate the old-fashioned way - I didn't plagiarize, and I have nothing but contempt for those that have done so.
But that doesn't mean Guttenberg is not a shrewd observer of geopolitics.
In a New York Times op/ed piece, Guttenberg weighs in on Berlin's response thus far to the crisis in Syria. He makes reference to the residual damage from Germany's refusal to join with NATO in the intervention in Libya:
Berlin’s controversial decision to side with Russia and China rather than back its traditional NATO allies was viewed by international observers at the time as evidence that Germany, despite being an economic powerhouse, is still a pygmy in foreign and security affairs.
And, according to zu Guttenberg, Germany is mistaken if it believes its economic power compensates for consistently sitting out the major geopolitical conflicts:
Unfortunately, prominent German political leaders across party lines continue to believe that the country’s economic weight creates enough leverage to compensate for Germany’s failure to realize its full potential as a capable and responsible member of the Atlantic alliance and the international community.
At a time when Europe’s global reach, influence and credibility are threatened by rapid decline, “checkbook diplomacy” by the biggest European Union member is not a viable substitute for contributing military assets to the joint defense of our common values and interests. Neither is “offset diplomacy,” like Berlin’s offer to boost its military commitment in Afghanistan during the Libya crisis. That option, in any case, is no longer available.
Guttenberg points to a "culture of reluctance" in Germany, which will permit it to avoid participating in any meaningful way in an international intervention in Syra. But at the same time, Germany will never betaken seriously as a global player:
While the reasons for Germany’s approach seem understandable, both in terms of the country’s past and the natural desire of political leaders to win, following such an approach in the high-stakes realm of foreign and security policy carries a potentially steep cost in international influence.