German withdrawal could erode the Euro-Atlantic order
The first-order effect would be the increased polarization of the European security debate. If Germany were to discontinue the nuclear mission, it would in all likelihood increase political pressure in other capitals to either follow suit (thus ‘exporting’ the intra-government disagreements we see in Berlin today) or alternatively intensify the calls for others to take Germany’s place (e.g. by Poland joining the community of DCA nations and destabilizing the relationship with Russia further). In the absence of Alliance unity, the second-order effect would be the progressive weakening of NATO’s deterrence posture – which would become increasingly reliant on the (already tenuous) willingness of Washington, London and Paris to underwrite NATO deterrence and leave Europe’s eastern flank more exposed. The third-order effect might encompass the erosion of the Euro-Atlantic order and the rekindling of Westphalian dynamics on the European continent itself – hardly a prospect that any Belgian government would welcome.
Prof. Dr. Alexander Mattelaer, Senior Research Fellow, Egmont Institute