However, it takes a lot of chutzpah for Germany to propose reforms to NATO. Given that Germany opted entirely out of the last NATO operation in the waters near and the skies over Libya, perhaps German officials should keep their hands down for now. Their idea? That NATO will divide into clusters centered around one of the larger powers. Who would that be? Given past patterns, such as the Balkans where the five biggest contributors--the QUINT--shaped policy for the rest, the clusters would be centered around the US, UK, France, Italy and Germany.
Who would want to be in the German cluster? How about those countries that do not plan on showing up or show up with restrictive rules on what they can do? Of course, it could be worse--one could be in the Italian cluster, where indecision and unpredictability is the piatto del giorno.
There is something to this. Friends and I are in the middle of writing a piece about NATO's Smart Defense effort, whereby countries try to coordinate their procurement so that there is less overlap/duplication and more interdependence and specialization. We are skeptics about the success of Smart Defense, but if there is going to be such specialization, it probably should be by those sharing
Still, after a decade of Germans largely disappointing the rest of the alliance (we had higher expectations about the Germany military than the Italian or the Spanish or the Hungarian), perhaps the German foreign minister should keep his seat and let those who bore more of the burdens dominate the conversation. Even if the Germans were right, their political capital in NATO is pretty close to zero. If this were the EU, then, sure, yak away.