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After the fall of the wall: Germans long to downsize their role

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Fatigue among German elites

Jan Techau, also of the German Council, echoes that perspective: "The role of Germany in Europe used to be to give money," he says. "That has changed. There's a certain fatigue among German elites on Europe. There's no big enthusiasm for Europe here anymore."

This growing sentiment in Berlin is playing out against the backdrop of a new center-right coalition that is being formed between Mrs. Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). The FDP has strong transatlantic ­ideals, including support for US efforts in Afghanistan, as stated by FDP leader, Guido Westerwelle, who is likely to be the next foreign minister.

It is unclear what appetite Merkel and Mr. Westerwelle have for challenging Germany's inward bent at a time of global uncertainty. German military officials on Oct. 1 denied reports that Berlin would up its Afghan troop deployment from 4,500 to 7,000. While Germans don't believe their security begins at the Hindu Kush, Berlin views a failure of NATO as sharply against its interests.

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