Here, let me ask you this (answers and/or commentary as usual welcome at the €S e-mail address): Does Turkey currently face a military threat across the Syrian border? At least through the air?
Those are the important questions now before the German parliament, or Bundestag:
Or rather: they are supposed to be before the Bundestag, as we learn in the Berliner Morgenpost article. Rather incredibly, though, it actually seems that the German government was ready to deploy Patriot anti-aircraft missile units to Turkey just on its own authority.
But Homey don’t play that, as opposition politicians are now reminding the German public. Indeed, as a spokesman for the opposition Socialist Party (SPD), Rainer Arnold, maintained in a separate newspaper interview, the German “Supreme Court” (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has made it clear in its decisions that such a deployment outside the country must be approved by the Bundestag.
If you ask Arnold’s boss, the SPD’s faction-leader in the Bundestag, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, it’s not clear-cut that Turkey lies under any threat. And his Green Party counterpart, Jürgen Trittin, will be glad to tell you – you don’t need to ask – that in fact a UN mandate (presumably from the Security Council) is also necessary for such a deployment. (That’s his own opinion, though, not that of the Bundesverfassungsgericht.)
On the other hand, the article also says that Turkey had asked for – or was very close to asking for – NATO assistance of that kind, so that this can easily be viewed as a case of providing solidarity to another NATO ally. That’s certainly the line that the governing coalition has taken up; some leading spokespersons profess to be ashamed that there is even any doubt that Germany is willing to come help.
Then again – is there really a threat? German deployments outside Germany for decades (after the mega-deployment known as WWII) never happened at all, but in any event are very sensitive matters domestically – and the latest one that is just winding down, to Afghanistan, did little to inspire confidence. Anyway, the nature of the Turkish situation is not decided in Berlin, yet, and so neither is the whole issue of Patriot deployment.