First of all: I think war hysteria is inappropriate; By the way, it is not appropriate either, unless you want to provoke an armed conflict with Russia.

The mundane reason for the current debate is the NATO exercise “Steadfast Defender.” Around 90,000 soldiers from all NATO member states and Sweden will participate in the exercise for four months.

Unlike the past, this time the training scenario is not generic, that is, a made-up blue country has to defend itself from an attack from red land. Rather, the potential attacker is clearly identified as Russia.

NATO exercise “Steadfast Defender”: Russian attack variants and war debate

Underlying scenarios about Russian attack variants are fueling debate over war in many European countries. Finally, concrete reinforcements are being carried out on NATO's flanks in Norway, the Baltic countries, Poland and Romania. Germany serves as a logistics center and also provides military contingents, for example in Lithuania.

We have not practiced this in Germany or in the North Atlantic Alliance since 1988. Meanwhile, the world has changed. There is no longer a federal post office or federal railroad. Warning signs on bridges and roads about carrying capacity when traveling with tankers and heavy vehicles have largely disappeared. At that time, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure did not occur. Instead of federal authorities, private sector service providers must now perform logistical tasks. Contracts must be concluded with them.

In short: everyone has to learn new things and adapt them appropriately: the military, intelligence services, businesses, administration, police and disaster control at the federal, state and local levels; especially the media and society. This also generates many conversations and concerns.

“How cute,” I'm tempted to say.

Anyone who has experienced the autumn maneuvers of the 1970s and 1980s and the endless columns on German roads must smile when they read that around 100 Bundeswehr vehicles will be driving around Brandenburg, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt next weekend. “How nice”, I'm tempted to write.

100 vehicles: During the Cold War, that was about the size of my reinforced “platoon” (my Pershing squadron had three platoons), which I moved around during exercises at the time. And hundreds of other platoons, companies and squadrons of German and Allied forces moved with me.

As important as it is for NATO to finally return to large-scale defense after 1988, this is a modest start to a routine urgently needed to deter autocrats like Putin from military adventures.

The NATO exercise “Steadfast Defender” is therefore important because it lays the foundation for the future security of Germany and Europe. “Si vis pacem para bellum” is the Latin proverb that has justified defense preparations for many centuries. Literally translated: “if you want peace, Get ready for war.”

Baltic countries have reasonable security concerns

Anyone who questions the motivation for the rallying cries is looking at a broad spectrum, ranging from simple ignorance to hysteria to tangible interests. The Baltic countries have justified concerns about their security due to their geographical proximity to Russia, partly also because of the problematic treatment of Russian minorities in their own country.

The Swedes abandoned defense concepts tested two decades ago, face a disaster in their security arrangements and now hope for protection from their future NATO allies.

Poland depends more on the US than on its European partners for its protection, has probably ordered the acquisition of priceless weapons and is now trying to shout loudly to drown out the foreseeable security unrest.

Germany already squandered the $100 billion package from the turn of the century in terms of planning, but did not use it to order urgent munitions and weapons systems for national and alliance defense.

War cries are completely unnecessary

That is why we use the Russian threat as an argument for the necessary modernization. However, the alleged Russian attack will have to wait another five or eight years due to our own budget shortages: we simply do not have money for the purchases we urgently need.

An American saying says: “If all you have is a hammer, every problem will look like a nail.“It is advisable that German and European politicians learn again that they do not only rely on armed forces and weapons as a means to solve foreign and security policy problems. Then the completely unnecessary war cries subside again.