In his famous statements of February 27, Chancellor Olaf Scholz was applauded for almost every sentence by the packed Bundestag. Which can be partly attributed to the turbulent overall emotional situation three days after Russia’s attack on Ukraine. There was prompt applause for the call for an “efficient army”, for “planes that fly, tanks that drive”, and for the “special fund” that will be set up, but not for the number he named. When Scholz says “100 billion euros”, there is nothing at first, then murmurs, and only then does the applause start.
100 billion euros was and is a gigantic number that seems arbitrary at the same time, which should and does make an impression. It wasn’t calculated, it doesn’t react to a specific deficiency, it was invented – just like the concept of special assets, when it’s all about debt.
These 100 billion euros are now to be spent on armaments and equipment – approved by the Bundestag retrospectively since Friday, including by members of parliament who doubt the correctness of the measure. In addition to the missed opportunity to give the concept of security and defense a non-military dimension, the question remains as to how the money will be spent. And that’s where the procurement system comes in, which has been reviled by insiders for years as being scandalously inefficient and in whose innards a lot of money has simply disappeared.
Doesn’t matter now, since the Russians invaded Ukraine, since war is no longer a distant but a near threat? Not really. Because what remains is the fact that shelling out large sums in the billions alone does not change anything – apart from perhaps the fact that in this case the arms stocks are threatened with fear of heights. Some problems have many prerequisites, so other things have to be settled long before the money transfer.
Money needs orderly paths so that it gets to where it is supposed to work without friction losses. This circumstance is by no means new, but it is by no means always priced in either. A keyword from peaceful times: the digital pact for schools. First five, then six billion euros. And as a result, mountains of outdated laptops rot in rickety school cupboards. The rain of money has not been able to do anything good.
And finally not to forget: The 100 billion euros, a figure that was applauded only hesitantly, is now anchored in the Basic Law and is a multiple of what could be needed to alleviate the growing social imbalances that were also triggered by the war and the population concretely now or soon. Unthinkable, they fizzle out. The modernization of the Bundeswehr may seem urgent under the impact of the war, but its results do not affect the near future.