the variations in European attitudes and capabilities vis-à-vis responding to terrorism or nuclear blackmail are what make Germany such an attractive target. Unlike the U.S., France, and Britain, Germany is a major country with no independent expeditionary capability and no nuclear weapons, making it ideal for a terrorist nuclear strike or Iranian extortion if Iran is able to continue a very transparent nuclear policy to its logical conclusion. Though it is conceivable that after the shock of losing Washington or Chicago, the U.S.--or Britain after Birmingham, France after Lyon--would, even without an address certain, release a second strike, it is very unlikely that, even with an address certain, any nuclear power would launch in behalf of another nation, NATO ally or not, absent an explicit arrangement such as the dual-key structure during the Cold War.
Germany was targeted and narrowly missed a Madrid-like terrorist catastrophe when bombs on trains failed to explode last year. They were traced to Lebanon, but the Germans ostrich-like were in deep denial and downplayed the failed attempt at mass murder on their soil.
Looking at Germany, then, Iran sees a country with nothing to counter the pressure of merely an implied nuclear threat. Jihadists see the lynchpin of Europe, easy of access and inadvertently hospitable to operations, that will hardly punish those who fall into its hands, and that can neither accomplish on its own a flexible expeditionary response against a hostile base or sponsor, nor reply to a nuclear strike in kind. Thus the German government should be especially nervous about cargos trucked overland from the east.
What might be done? NATO could abandon the mistaken belief that Europe, having seen the end of history and the end of war, will always be in the clear. It could publicly make known to Russia that, for the purpose of maintaining the balance of power necessary to keep the gate to Western Europe closed and the prospects of war dim, it will judiciously and proportionally match Russian military expansion.
For its own protection, and thus that of Europe, Germany could more closely integrate and where appropriate reintegrate itself into the expeditionary and nuclear retaliatory structures of the U.S., Britain, and France without moving nuclear weapons forward to German soil; end leniency for terrorists; step up defensive measures as if it is just about to be hit; and embrace limited missile defense against potentially nuclear-armed Iranian intermediate-range ballistic missiles rather than accept the Russian thesis that 10 interceptors will perturb the nuclear equation.
However, as their denial of any knowledge of the Holocaust during WWII, the Germans are capable of sustained and willful ignorance of its responsibilities. Helprin says:
What are the chances of this? Though the West comprises the richest grouping of nations the world has ever seen, it has somehow come to believe not only that it is not entitled to its customary defenses but that it cannot afford them. And looking ahead strategically so as to outmaneuver crisis and war has, unfortunately, long been out of fashion.
Wealth and passivity have produced a passive satiety that Germany and other European countries find comfortable in their so-called foreign policy, which consists mainly of second-guessing pro-active allies like the USA. Hopefully Sarkozy is starting a trend which pushes back toward the continental appeasement the EU shows towards foreign threats.