Ulrike Franke Profile picture
Senior Policy Fellow @ecfr. #Drone politics PhD @UniofOxford prev @PSIASciencesPo. Writes on #Tech #Germany #AI #EuropeanDefence. Diskutiert bei @SicherheitsPod
4 May
Yesterday, the candidate for chancellor for the German Greens, Annalena Baerbock gave a long recorded interview *on foreign and security policy*.
You can watch it here: baks.bund.de/de/aktuelles/d…
Thread with some things I find noteworthy.
This interview is in and of itself really good news. We *need* to talk more about security and defence policy, and foreign policy in Germany.

(You think you've heard me say this before? Well yes I have warontherocks.com/2019/02/it-is-… )
Some thoughts on what Baerbock said & how she did (my take, obviously).
Overall, she appeared rather well informed on the relevant topics - though not very concrete in her proposals.
Read 21 tweets
1 May
Massive reading recommendation for the German speakers. This article by ⁦@berndulrich⁩ ⁦@DIEZEIT⁩ is the best analysis I’ve read so far about Black-Green.
Spoiler: it’s not good.

Es blubbert, aber es leuchtet nicht: epaper.zeit.de/article/1da006…
So so well observed. Image
So so well observed part II Image
Read 4 tweets
23 Apr
The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation has put out a good report on German #drones.

Whaat, Rike siding with the LINKE?!
Well no, but I can appreciate good research and (overall) coherent arguments.
(Short thread)

The report is written by @matthimon who has been working on this for many years (I spoke with him for my PhD research ages ago).
He clearly knows his stuff and the report is a good overview of German #drone capabilities.
A sidenote here: there is little love lost between me and the LINKE but they have been playing a great role in German drone politics through their inquiries (questions to the government). I used these questions and answers extensively in my research. That's just good politics.
Read 18 tweets
22 Apr
The Annual Edelman Trust Barometer has been published with some really interesting insights

Good news for Germany: the German government is highly trusted abroad.

(“Please indicate how much you trust the national government of each of the following countries to do what is right”) Image
This shows nicely what a fickle and inexact thing ‘trust’ is: Trump voters, after the election in which their candidate lost, suddenly trust US NGOs, the media, and even US business much less.
🤷‍♀️ Image
Read 4 tweets
30 Mar
What a discussion between German Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU, President of Bundestag) and ⁦@GoulardSylvie⁩ (LREM, former MEP, former French defence minister)! 😮

Schäuble: „Deutsche wären bereit, auf nationale Armee zu verzichten“ - WELT welt.de/politik/deutsc…
A Franco-German interview that *starts* with questions about security and defence? Where things actually go beyond “we’re striving to create a European Army... eventually”? Pretty neat!
Schäuble: “I regret that the Aachen Treaty did not include more on the cooperation on the military level. That this is missing today wasn’t Paris fault.”
Read 5 tweets
28 Mar
I found this point really interesting so I went and checked - and unless I am missing something there actually hasn’t been a change: the 2015 review also only mentioned NATO allies in the nuclear context.
While the UK was part of the EU, it was bound by the EU‘s mutual defence clause (article 42.7, basically the EU‘s article 5). But (like with article 5) there is a lot of leeway there re national commitments. And the UK never really saw that to include its nuclear capabilities.
Finally, it’s important to recognise that while these debates matter for deterrence purposes, if we ever actually face a situation in which the UK might use its nuclear weapons discussions over which treaties apply probably won’t be #1 priority.
Read 4 tweets
10 Mar
"The data indicate that remotely piloted AISR aircraft have not reduced demand for crewed aircraft. Rather, these new aircraft have been used to satisfy previously unmet demand that existing crewed aircraft could not surge to meet."
These are really interesting findings!
Unmanned systems still need quite a few people to fly them, and so (in the US) the personnel cost per system is the same as for manned aircraft. Per flight hour, however, costs are lower.
Read 6 tweets
10 Mar
Alright, here we go!
At first reading I must say I'm a bit underwhelmed, and a bit confused. There's quite a lot in there but not very concrete or focused.
Admittedly, it looks like a more concrete "Digital Compass" is in the works.

So let's see what's in this Commission communication "2030 Digital Compass*: the European way for the Digital Decade"

*yes, I find this confusing too.
Read 34 tweets
9 Mar
Recently, I've gotten a surprising number of emails from students that I felt were pretty off - so I thought I'd do a thread on this.
This is supposed to help, not chide - I always try to say yes to student requests, but it's more fun if I don't feel annoyed at the start!😊
Form of address: Personally I'm totally fine with the "Dear Ulrike (if I may)" approach, but not everyone is, so better go for the title.
"Dear Ms" (or Mrs?!) actually annoys me.
And "Dear sir or madam" is just ... what?
Say in one sentence what you are working on. And then say in one sentence why you want to talk to me about it.
Sometimes I get these emails and just wonder: you've found me somehow, so you must know my topics, but yours doesn't match mine so what's the link? Don't make me ask.
Read 6 tweets
3 Mar
Reading for today sorted - the US National Commission on #AI has published its final report
So what does it say?
Report here: nscai.gov/wp-content/upl…
It certainly starts gloomy: "the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) is delivering an uncomfortable message: America is not prepared to defend or compete in the AI era. This is the tough reality we must face."
#AI Image
Read 19 tweets
20 Jan
.@ecfr (with YouGov) has done a poll in 11 European countries on their view of the US.
Some results (thread)
54% of Europeans* think that "the world is in a worse place because of Trump's presidency". 18% disagree.

*11 countries polled: Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Sweden, UK.
32% of Europeans among the countries polled say that "after voting for Trump, Americans cannot be trusted". 27% disagree.
Support for this statement is *by far* the highest in Germany, with 53% (!) saying Americans cannot be trusted, and only 15% disagreeing.
Read 5 tweets
8 Dec 20
Once again, the #SPD, days before a decision was to be taken, is backtracking on the procurement of armed #drones. The claim: there hasn't been enough debate.
A thread showing *how utterly absurd* this claim is.*

(*No you don't need to support armed drones to acknowledge this)
In 2013 I was a fresh-faced PhD student. I wrote👇about the German debate on armed drones. At this time, the then-defence minister had argued for drones, high-ranking officers supported the idea. The Bundestag’s defence committee first discussed the issue
2014, my PhD advances, the German #drone debate not so much.
I comment: "There is one military topic, however, which has been discussed repeatedly and heatedly over the last few years: whether the German Bundeswehr should procure armed ‘drones’."
Read 18 tweets
17 Nov 20
Oh come on ⁦@faznet⁩ !!! “AKK stands up to Macron”, rejects his idea of European autonomy.’
Talk about a straw man! AKK has rejected an interpretation of European autonomy that Macron never made. faz.net/aktuell/politi…
"Despite sharp criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron, AKK stuck to her position that Europe could not defend itself for the foreseeable future without the US."
What Macron actually said: "But the United States will only respect us as allies if we are earnest, and if we are sovereign with respect to our defence."
Read 6 tweets
17 Nov 20
If you want to watch @akk's key address on German security and defence policy - live stream (in German) pscp.tv/w/1ynKOBLBlbrxR
She's emphasising verrrry strongly how important the role of the US in Europe still is.
AKK: "The idea of European strategic autonomy goes too far if it nurtures the illusion that we can guarantee security, stability and prosperity in Europe without NATO and without the USA."
Read 12 tweets
16 Nov 20
Macron versus AKK on European strategic autonomy.
Shots taken.
In case you want to read me being wrong 🤷‍♀️.
This is from last year.
Read 4 tweets
16 Nov 20
Macron on Europe: a stronger Europe as only way to prevent the Chinese-American duopoly.
Unsurprising but now very clear: Macron is not backing down on #EuropeanAutonomy
Read 17 tweets
16 Oct 20
Good @POLITICOEurope article this morning on "strategic autonomy"(these days more often 'strategic sovereigtny')
I agree that the term is (deliberately) vague - from the 'European Army' to 'Brexit', the EU has always used vague terms which allowed countries with different views to rally behind them.

(I wrote about this here:
ecfr.eu/article/commen…) Image
But I think the authors miss an important point when they describe European autonomy just as "inward-looking".
Because I have observed an important uptick of debate about the geopolitics of Europe exactly because of the autonomy/sovereignty discussion.
Read 5 tweets
6 Oct 20
I want to take this article on 'new weapons that are changing the war in #NagornoKarabakh' to talk a bit about #drones in this conflict. (1/8)
As someone who's been looking into #drones, two things I found interesting:
First, the conflict showed again the important propaganda value of drones. As drones carry sophisticated surveillance tech, they document every strike they make (if armed), or operation flown. (2/8)
So using drones is like having a film crew with you, and Azerbaijan in particular has taken advantage of this, publishing clips of their drone operations. (3/8)
Read 9 tweets
5 Oct 20
Today, the #Bundestag defence committee will hold a hearing on armed #drones for the #Bundeswehr. Instead of reposting the 50 000 pieces I've written on this, here is a thread on two previous instances where Germany tried to acquire armed drones.
(Spoiler: these acquisition & development projects did not go well.)
We are in the 1979. It's the Cold War. France and West-Germany decide to develop a #drone together, named Brevel.
Read 25 tweets
16 Jun 20
Looks like it's again time for my regular threat "what US military installations are located in Germany?", and "Why is the US in Germany?".
US President Trump has said again that he wants to reduce the number of US troops stationed in Germany. He frames it as a punishment of Germany which does not spend 2% of its GDP on its own defence.
The thing is, though, that the US troops in Germany aren't primarily there to guarantee German security, or to deter Russia. They are there because Germany has become a staging ground for US operations worldwide, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.
Read 14 tweets
11 May 20
I spent the weekend writing a primer about #drones for #Drohnendebatte2020. It's not published yet (coming soon), but in the meantime a few thoughts on the German armed drones debate which I have been following and researching for a decade. (thread)
A bit of historical context: The German armed drone debate is as old as I am. In the late 1980s, the Bundeswehr first looked into armed #drones. Two systems - the KDH 'Kampfdrohne Heer' and the DAR 'Drohne Anti-Radar' were developed. Both were more loitering munition than drone..
... and both were eventually abandoned. Their requirements too technologically advanced for their time (autonomy, swarming etc), and their funding ended as the Cold War came to an end.
Read 33 tweets