Germany One Step Closer Toward Ending Its Draft

German Chancellor Angela Merkel German speaks during a regional party conference of the Christian Democratic party CDU, 9/25/10.

From Michael Slackman, the New York Times:  Germany moved a step closer to ending military conscription on Monday when conservative party leaders agreed to halt a draft embedded in the Constitution half a century ago to help keep the armed forces from ever again developing into a self-directed state within a state.

The announcement by the governing Christian Democratic Union, and its sister party, the Christian Social Union, was a victory for Germany’s popular defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who last month proposed effectively ending the draft as part of the most far-reaching restructuring of the military since the cold war. …

Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leader of the Christian Democrats, said Monday that the party had agreed to the plan to freeze conscription but still keep it in the Constitution, a political salve to those uncomfortable with ending it altogether. “It wasn’t easy for everybody in the party executive committees,” Mrs. Merkel told reporters here after a joint board meeting of the two parties. “However, this decision has been made very amicably.”

The governing parties indicated that they would support the other components of Mr. Guttenberg’s plan to restructure the armed forces. Exact figures have yet to be agreed upon, but the force was expected to be larger than the 163,000 members the minister had called for, down from the current level of about 250,000. …

Any final plan will have to be approved by the Bundestag, the German Parliament.  (photo: Reuters)

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