Germany’s leaders ready to end the Draft

New recruits of the German armed forces at a swearing-in ceremony in front of the Reichstag, in Berlin last month.

From Michael Slackman, the New York Times:  For the first time in more than half a century, Germany’s political leadership appears ready to end the draft, a post World War II mandate embedded in the Constitution to prevent this nation’s military from ever again developing into a state-within-a-state that could impede democracy and start war.

The issue of overhauling the military has been discussed for years, but was thrust onto the front burner on Monday by the popular defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, when he unveiled a plan to revamp the Bundeswehr, or armed forces. His plan called for reducing the force size to 163,000 from about 250,000 today, streamlining the command structure, closing military bases and freezing conscription.

He pressed his case by saying the overhaul was necessary to save money — about eight billion euros, or around $10 billion, in three years — and to deal with changing security demands. His rationale, if not all the details of his plan, was widely supported.

But it was the concept of a draft as essential to preserving democracy that proved, for some, the hardest to let go. …

Chancellor Angela Merkel, also a Christian Democrat, appears ready to accept a political compromise on the subject, one that would preserve the legal requirement of conscription — to calm her own party members — but that would freeze the actual process. Experts said that a decision on the plan was expected by November.  (photo: Thomas Peter/Reuter)

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