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Discarded tanks slated for scrapping in Hesedorf, Germany, March 2010 fotogloria / LUZ / Redux

Robert Kagan’s thought-provoking essay (“The New German Question,” May/June 2019) addresses the important issue of how a collapse of the European Union and the liberal international order might affect Germany and its role within Europe. He concludes that such a breakdown would bring back the pre–World War II “German question,” which European integration and the Atlantic alliance were in part meant to resolve.

But Kagan underestimates the deep cultural change that has occurred in Germany since World War II. It is hard to imagine any circumstances in which Germany would revert to militarism; the commitment of ordinary Germans to peace is simply too strong. If the United States were to withdraw its security guarantee to Europe, or even if the liberal international order were to collapse, Germany would likely defy the expectations of realist international relations theorists and simply choose to be insecure rather than abandon its identity

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