Margot Käßmann is the former head of the Evangelical (Protestant) Church in Germany and today sees herself as the nation's moral conscience. In a recent interview in Der Spiegel, Käßmann expressed alarm about the view that Germany should play a more robust role on the world stage - even if that calls for some sort of military intervention:
"Ich fände es gut, wenn die Bundesrepublik auf eine Armee verzichten könnte wie etwa Costa Rica.... "Es steht Deutschland gut an zu sagen: Wir exportieren Frieden und nicht Rüstung."
(I would be happy if Germany could do without an army, just like Costa Rica...It would be good if Germany says: we export peace, not armaments.)
And her extreme pacifism is hardly an outlier in Germany today. When President Joachim Gauck - a former Protestant minister - said in a speech that Germany must live up to its obligations under NATO he was denounced as a "repulsive warmonger." Germany's largest opposition party in the Bundestag = Die LINKE (The Left Party)- has unconditional pacifism as a component of its platform.
Yesterday, the left-leaning blogger and author Jens Berger published a piece urging people to stop reading Der Spiegel (Bye Bye Spiegel) since the magazine has repeatedly warned against the threat posed by Putin's Russia. In particular, Berger took offense that a recent Spiegel cover had the headline "Stoppt Putin Jetzt!" ("Stop Putin Now!"). Berger is full agreement with fellow leftist and Spiegel columnist Jokob Augstein who urged Germany recently to "Appease Putin Now!".
All of this lofty rhetoric about Germany's commitment to peace is music to the ears of Vladimir Putin, who is now orchestrating an invasion of Eastern Ukraine - part of Europe. To Putin, Germany is just about as effective as Costa Rica in countering Russia's design on the Ukraine. After all, Crimea was handed to him on a silver platter - with the support - even jubiliation - of the German left.
Margot Käßmann would do well to study the example of the greatest protestant theologian of the 20th century - Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer recognized the limits of pacifism in the face of Nazi power and decided to act.