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Franz Josef Jung, Germany's former defense minister and current labor minister, resigned on Friday over his handling of a controversial airstrike in Afghanistan. Germany's top soldier Inspector General Schneiderhan and Deputy Defense Minister Wichert resigned on Thursday, reports Spiegel (in English).

The Bundestag's defense committee will most likely establish a parliamentary investigation into the affair, which could erode public support for the Afghanistan mission even further.

The good news is that Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Germany's current defense minister, has had a promising start since taking over in early October and has started making the necessary changes. "From referring to the Afghanistan mission as a 'war' to announcing a slight increase in troop numbers, he has gained the support of the military," writes Spiegel (in English) in another article.

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Zyme on :

While this has been shaking up our political class considerably during the last few days, our soldiers in Kunduz seem to have their own way of dealing with the aftermath: http://img5.imagebanana.com/img/ezel6ta5/Foto.jpg This shirt has been a hit among soldiers at the camp until the commander forbid its usage. It says "Thou shall not steal..." :D

David on :

Not so sure the baron is a big improvement. He called the air strike - which killed many innocent civilians - appropriate (angemessen). It was disclosed today that even the chancellor's office had issued a confidential memo criticizing the air strike as "unagemessen".

Zyme on :

Well he is the defense minister. He has to shield his people from public accusations. But I do not know what he is going to call the strike soon, as he has announced a reassessment of it. He has the right charmisma for the job, being a elegant and straightforward noble. Who might fit better for leading the military? They traditionally have a good standing among our forces. Also due to their education they are not prone to do-gooders. Which is probably why you dislike him. When the news was aired, I found it an appropriate choice. In constrast to his predecessor, the job of defense minister was his favoured seat in the cabinet.

David on :

"a elegant and straightforward noble." Why not just bring back the Kaiser?

John in Michigan, US on :

Already in progress. The Kaiser's welfare state is now called the EU. The main difference is, the system is run by a self-appointed collective selected from a class of faceless, interchangeable, technical elites. I'll grant them, its an improvement over an inherited leadership supported by a faceless, interchangeable, technical elite. What a shame there are only these two alternative forms from which to choose. One could almost imagine a system in which the people, somehow, rule themselves....nah, that would never work. Don't listen to me, I'm probably crazy.

Pat Patterson on :

That does sound like the Hohenzollern's have come back. Has anybody noticed a shrunken arm yet?

Zyme on :

"I'll grant them, its an improvement over an inherited leadership supported by a faceless, interchangeable, technical elite." That is why I love reading your comments :D Rule by the people isn't very popular among our political class here. These days you need not look further than Switzerland to find the answer. Whenever our beloved representatives look into the past to find instances when people were actually loving their politicians, they are terrified.

John in Michigan, US on :

"These days you need not look further than Switzerland to find the answer." I understand that the vote on the minarets was controversial, but what I don't understand is why there isn't some praise (along with the inevitable criticism) for this Swiss result. In Germany, we had [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1231-NATO-2.0-Five-ways-Obama-should-bring-change-to-Alliance.html#c17937]the police break into a private apartment to prevent the normally lawful display of an Israeli flag[/url]. We know this is not an isolated incident, students often report that wearing an Israeli flag on your backpack results in, at the very least, a lot of extra attention from the police, often leading to a ban. Now, some of the people who supported this police break-in were clearly anti-Semitic, but there seemed to be a consensus that it was possible to be against this display without being anti-Semitic. The respectable argument was, the flag had to be removed to ensure harmony and social cohesion. In Switzerland, some of the people who favored the minaret ban were clearly anti-Islam. But there is also a perfectly respectable argument in favor of harmony and social cohesion. Also, there were important aesthetic considerations about tall structures that would dominate the skyline. (everyone should be aware that mosques were not banned, only minarets). Finally, it seems that extravagant and expensive minarets are not primarily financed primarily by domestic, Swiss muslims, they are almost certainly foreign funded by some of the more extreme, Salafist sects of Islam. I am wondering why the political class seems to be in favor of the flag removal, but against the minaret ban? Is the European (or Swiss) political class still hoping for [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dar_al-Habr#Dar_al-Hudna]Dar al-Hudna[/url] status? In the UK this was known as the Grand Bargain -- permit extremists to organize domestically, in exchange for no domestic terrorism.

David on :

Now it looks like Zyme's noble hero may have to resign in disgrace. Germany's top general Wolfgang Schneiderhan has accused Baron zu Guttenberg of lying.

Pat Patterson on :

Ex-top General Schneiderhan who shouldered the blame is now shifting the blame to others? Why that sounds like something akin to human nature!

Zyme on :

I've been following the affair closely. Yet it is impossible to tell who is right here. At the moment it doesn't look like further decision makers will have to resign, but Merkel, being the thorough teflon politician, is going to sacrifice anyone if only she can get herself saved that way. It is a sad drama only prolongued by the opposition and the media. Among the population hardly anyone doubts the necessity of further room for maneuver of our army. Soldiers in Afghanistan are bewildered and shocked by this debate, as it proves how far our political class is out of touch with reality. But of course the government has done its share. If they would actively promote offensive operations and not shy away from casting a positive light on the operation instead of trying to brush the entire thing under the carpet, the laughable opposition would have no means of attacking the government here. In the ZDF (state controlled TV) yesterday there was footage of a German offensive operation to be seen, the first time an embedded journalist was used as far as I can remember. Maybe the government is finally rethinking its propaganda methods.

Zyme on :

And btw Dave: It may also turn out the other way around. Representatives of the Conservatives have now acknowledged that our constitution is not up to the task with regard to "new threats". Maybe something good will come out of this. Since the SPD is needed for changing the constitution, this old party will once again have the chance to prove whether it is a reservoir of 'vaterlandslose Gesellen' :)

John in Michigan, US on :

Speaking of civilians and war...what do we think about Obama's Nobel acceptance speech? Did he correctly state the Just War Doctrine? Do you agree with him that Afghanistan is a just war? Was his reference to the Axis powers cliche (should he have picked some other example, perhaps Bosnia?) or was it appropriate? The question is for anyone, but I am particularly interested in hearing from Obama supporters. I agree with the core of his speech, but find myself quibbling with statements such as: "Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations – total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred." I find myself wondering, when was this distinction ever very clear? In medieval times, paid professional soldiers were rare, and standard practice was to "pay" your army of mostly peasants by permitted them to rape and pillage after a victory. The laws of war had mostly to do with ransoming VIPs or saving critical resources such as cities, roads, or crops, and relatively little to do with specifically saving individual civilians. It is true that modern technology has permitted killing on an unprecedented level, and this has effected civilians. But the massed artillery and wide-area aerial bombing that is so devastating to civilians might turn out to be just a phase, as newer technology permits more precision in the use of force. Unless of course use of WMDs becomes mainstream, then all bets are off.

Kevin Sampson on :

"In medieval times, paid professional soldiers were rare" Not really. The Vatican's Swiss Guards started out as Swiss mercenaries, and the Landsknecht are legendary.

John in Michigan, US on :

BTW, which one is allegedly Zyme's hero - the General or the Baron?

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