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Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on the Way Forward in Afghanistan

Germany's former Chancellor Schroeder does not express many new ideas in his Spiegel essay (in English), but I found these two statements in the second part fairly interesting:

We need a blunt analysis within the NATO alliance on why efforts to pacify southern Afghanistan have failed. I am convinced that the Bundeswehr's concept, which tends to be militarily conservative and is considerate of the population and civilian facilities, will be more successful in the long run. The disparity between these different strategies in the north and south is a problem, and it also represents a failure on the part of the NATO secretary general.

Gerhard Schroeder is also very critical of President Karzai and wants to motivate the Afghan leadership (whoever that is) by setting a timeframe for troop withdrawals. He mentions that the "Petersberg process," started in November 2001 under the guidance of then Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, led to an Afghanistan agreement in 2006, which I did not know about and therefore want to share it: "On the basis of this agreement, the Afghans gave themselves until 2013 to independently guarantee security, good governance, the rule of law and economic and social development. This temporal horizon is certainly very optimistic."

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Pat Patterson on :

Interesting, I hadn't heard of the agreement either, however except for the timetable it sounds remarkably like the British "nicely-nicely" doctrine in southern Iraq and Basra. That didn't work out very well!

John in Michigan, USA on :

Schroeder's "blunt analysis" is in fact a below-the-belt jab at the entire enterprise. The northern parts of Afghanistan is where the Northern Alliance (note the name) is strongest. The Northern Alliance has been pro-Western since the 80's, for reasons that are obvious. The "Bundeswehr's concept" has been more successful in the north, because the north has always been much less of a problem than the south. The Bundeswehr was sent to the north, BECAUSE it was incapable of operating in the south, due to political and other limitations. Schroeder knows this perfectly well, so for him to suggest otherwise is either a) an Orwellian pander to domestic politics at the cost of his NATO/ISAF allies or b) a signal to anyone who cares to read it that he is unhappy with the alliance and intends to cause trouble or c) both. In other parts of the article, Schroeder sounds conciliatory and even committed towards the alliance. But, the particular paragraph quoted is not tough love or constructive criticism, it is a surreal attempt to distance himself from the alliance.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"For the first time in our country's postwar history, German soldiers were to become involved in a combat mission outside Europe. This momentous decision divided Germany, and the rift penetrated into the parties in power at the time, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party. To obtain clear support within my coalition government, I tied the German parliament's decision on Nov. 16, 2001 to a vote of confidence. "The Bundestag's decision put an end to the chapter of Germany's limited sovereignty after World War II. It made us an equal partner in the international community of nations, one that had obligations to meet, such as those that have arisen from the NATO alliance in the case of Afghanistan." Zyme? In the past (most recently, [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1224-German-Soldiers-in-Afghanistan-Drinking-Instead-of-Fighting.html]here[/url]) you seem to have argued that significant German participation outside of the European theater was impossible, due to both political and legal/constitutional limits. Schroeder seems to disagree. Granted, there still may be political resistance in Germany to the sort of participation in Afghanistan that many others in NATO would like to see. Overcoming that political resistance might require another vote of confidence. Still: doesn't Schroeder's quote above at the very least prove that there are no legal/constitutional barriers? Or to you feel Schroeder's actions in 2001 are illegal?

Zyme on :

Unfortunately that is just Schroeder's interpretation. On Nov 16th in 2001 nothing changed regarding the legal basis. Only the political practice changed. This "vote of confidence" meant Schroeder finding out whether pacifist idealism or personal hunger for power was stronger among SPD and Green members of parliament. So he bound the decision pro Afghanistan to the further existence of his government. Would the pacifists would have voted "No", they would have lost their neat seats in parliament. To nobody's surprise, idealism lost and he won the vote. But this has not changed anything of our constitutional barriers, still requiring a system of collective security to act and keeping us from invading other countries. So in my opinion, the Bundestag had not "put an end to the chapter of Germany's limited sovereignty after World War II", it has simply jumped once to breathe the air all the other nations breathe - and has then fallen back to its original level. Don't misunderstand me - Schroeder's action was not illegal, as the constitutional court itself has interpreted the constitution in a way allowing collective engagements within strict rules. Schroeder is simply overexagerating the effect of this one vote - or trying to praise himself to the skies. German Nato-Engagements apart from Europe are not primarily difficult because of our constitution. It is just that the people don't see any use in these adventures. You know, one of the rules the constitutional court has invented in 1994 was that each and every engagement has to be decided in parliament, including the size of troops deployed. Do you really think - during an election year - a party is so foolish as to open pandora's box and propose further engagements?

Joe Noory on :

He's mad. The Bundesweher is executing half a policy - mostly offering the carrot while other battalions carry the stick for the most part. Looking around for ancillary issues to get caught up in, the theory was declared a failure a year ago by the bundeswehr, as well as critiquing the nation-building task taken up by them as being [url=http://www.thelocal.de/tag/Bundeswehr]itself inadequate[/url]. It's chatter in circles, knowing that the ultimate responsibility for the mission rotates between Washington and NATO HQ. Either way, as professional as the bundeswehr leadership is, it's looking through the prism of their efforts in the former Yugoslavia which don't entirely apply to Afghanistan. They can, after all, not entirely become the police force, the functioning of local government, and the hospital system in the same way.

Joe Noory on :

Everyone is overthinking this. Schroeder is only the latest to throw Karsai under the bus, and it's entirely under the political-tactical pretense that he isn't expected to win reelection.

Pat Patterson on :

Sounds just like another one of those American puppets that was barely clinging to power until the chatterati noticed that he had a well-trained and motivated army and a fairly large secular vote in the last election. Maliki anyone?

EDITH J WADLEY on :

TO GERHARD AND THE GERMAN GOVTS HOW ARE YOU ALL DOING MY SWEETS OF THE GERMAN FACTION.HOW ARE YOU AND THE MRS DORIS DOING, AND YOUR KIDS? WELL I AM STILL IN THIS PLACE CALLED THE USA WAITING ON MY FATHER GOD TO RELEASE ME. WHY NOT SEND ME AND MINE ANGELS TO AFGHAN AND WE WILL INTRODUCE THEIR WORLD TO FATHER GOD . THIS IS ALL THEY NEED IS LOVE AND HAPPINESS IT WILL MAKE THEM DO RIGHT GER IT WILL MAKE THEM DO RIGHT . FATHER GOD HAD TO SHOW ME WITH THE HELP OF GOVTS OTHER THAN AMERICA YOU SEE . OTHER GOVTS TOOK THEIR TIME AND EFFORTS AND TAUGHT ME THE WAY OF GODS CROSS ETERNALLY AND ITS REAL OH ITS REAL . TO EACH ITS OWN BUT TO ME I BELONG ONLY TO FATHER GOD THE MAKER AND CREATOR OF ALL GOOD AND PERFECT GIFTS FROM ABOVE AND AROUND HIS HOLY THRONE. IF THEY WOULD EVER COME INTO CONTACT WITH THE PERSPECTIVE CHRIST BLOOD THEY WOULD STOP THEIR RUTHLESS BEHAVIORS DONT YA THINK ? GER THAT SETTLES THAT! YOU SEE I HAVE FOUND OUT THAT THE WORLD DONT UNDERSTAND WHAT THE FATHER GOD HAS FOR THEM SO THEY DONT KNOW HOW TO ACT . THEY LIVE LIKE PIGS AND FIGHT EACH OTHER FOR WHAT? WHEN THEY ARE ALL KIN TO EACH OTHER. FATHER GOD BLESSES WHOM HE CHOOSES AND NO WAR WILL EVER SETTLE THAT FATHER GOD HAS TOO. HE PUTS THE OIL[CRUDE AND OTHER OIL]IN THE HANDS OF WHOM HE WANTS TO HANDLE THIS BUSINESS AFFAIR AND NOT IN THE HANDS OF THE GREEDY ONES . THEY WILL NEVER AMOUNT TO MUCH IN HIS EYES . HE MAKES NO MISTAKE IN HIS CHOICES OF WHOM HE PUTS TO BE GOOD STEWARDS OVER HIS HANDIWORKS ON EARTH . NOW CAUCASIANS ITALIANS EUROPEANS NEGROIDS AND OTHER MEXICALIS CAN YOU ALL CHANGE FATHER GODS WAYS IN WHOM HE FINDS GOOD AND PERFECT FAVOR IN? NO ALL YOU ARE DOING IS GETTING DEEPER AND DEEPER INTO REMOTE HELL AND THERE IS A REMOTE HELL WITH AN ANGEL OVER IT THAT WELCOMES TACTICS OF EVILS BY EVIL DOERS . AND THESE EVIL DOERS ARE REAL ON GODS EARTH. AFGHAN YOU WILL GET WHAT IS YOURS YOU DONT HAVE TO FIGHT IN THE BATTLE IT BELONGS TO GOD. YOU JUST SHOW UP AND FATHER GOD WILL SHOW OUT AGAINST YOUR ENEMIES THAT STEALS FROM YOU THROUGH EVERY TACTIC UNDER THEIR FATHER SATANS STOOP AS IT IS CALLED IN HELL. THEIR FATHER SATAN SITS ON A STOOP NOT A CHAYYOT AS FATHER GOD DOES . I WILLS STAY UNDER THE BLOOD AND AUSPICE OF JESUS CHRIST THE SON OF FATHER GOD AND THE SON OF VIRGIN MARY . I WILL STAY AND DO HIS HOLY AND DEVOUT WILL. I HAVENT ALWAYS EXPRESSED FATHER GOD AND HIS SON AND THE HOLY GHOST AS I HAVE SINCE 1988. THE FOREIGNERS OF CALIFORNIA TAUGHT ME HOW TO CALL ON HIS NAME OUT OF A PURE HEART AND HE WILL ANSWER ALL MY PRAYERS AND HE HAS AND ALWAYS WILL. I THANK YOU GERMANS FOR SAVING MY SON FROM WAR. IT MAY NOT BE AS OTHERS COUNT IT A BLESSING BUT OH I THANK YALL GER EACH AND EVERY DAY YES I DO AND EVEN GEORGE BUSH AS WELL THIS TIME . HE HAD A PART IN IT AS WELL . ANYWAY AFGHANS TAKE HOLD ONLY ON YOU PEOPLES LIVES AND HONOR YOU ALLS KIDS WITH DIVINE REVERENCES. YOU ALLS KIDS ARE SPECIAL GIFTS DONT KILL THEM NOR HAVE THEM KILLED LOVE YOUR KIDS AND CHERISH THEM CUT OUT THE KILLING OR ANOTHER NATION WILL TAKE COMPLETELY OVER. WHEN YOU DONT DO WHAT FATHER GOD TELL YOU TO DO HE GIVES CHARGE TO OTHERS TO BE OVER YOU . SEE, NO ONE ON EARTH CAN BE OVER ME BECAUSE I GIVE MY SELF ONLY TO GOD THE FATHER THE SON AND HIS HOLY GHOST AND I ASK FOR ANGELIC HELPS AND GUIDANCES. AND THEY ARE VERY VERY REAL . I MEAN THEY COME TO YOU EVEN WHEN YOU DONT THINK THEY ARE THERE JUST FOR THE ASKING AND JUST BECAUSE YOU BELONG TO FATHER GOD . ASK BELIEVE AND RECEIVE ONCE YOU TASTE THAT GOD IS GOOD YOU WILL NEVER GO BACK TO THAT WAY OF LIFE BUT YOU WILL ASK YOURSELVES WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO OBEY GOD THE FATHER HE GIVES GOOD AND PERFECT GIFTS THAT CAUSE THE EVIL ONES TO SAY AH OO AND AH AGAIN AND AGAIN THEY JUST CANT BELIEVE HIS WAYS IN HIS OWN WORLD HES ALIVE AND WELL AFGHAN AND IS NOT FAR FROM YOU ALL EITHER HES VERY PRESENT IN YOU ALLS TROUBLES . THE KEY IS YOU ALLS KIDS LOVE THEM ENOUGH TO STOP FIGHTING YOUR DISTANT COUSINS AND UNCLES AND ETCS. AMEN PRAISING FATHER GOD ALWAYS AND KEEPING HIS FAVOR ON YOUR VERY SOUL

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