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"Support Our Troops" - The German Edition

What is common in the United States, is rather rare in Germany: Expressing support of our soldiers in Afghanistan.

While most US critics of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan make extra efforts to distinguish between criticism of the strategy/purpose of the wars and the service of the troops, such differentiation usually is not made in Germany. I have never seen a car with the bumper sticker "Support our Troops."

The Bundeswehr troops do not get much support from citizens, media, celebrities or politicians. Instead many soldiers are concerned about the opinion polls that indicate popular disapproval of the Afghanistan war.

Therefore the Atlantische Initiative (my day job) has teamed up with Germany's biggest daily newspaper and started the campaign "Feldpost für unsere Soldaten!"
 
We encourage our readers and members to write short personal messages of support for the Bundeswehr troops. We will then forward the best ones to the various bases in Afghanistan. Several hundred messages have already been published by our partners at the tabloid Bild.

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Kevin Sampson on :

What is the pro/con ratio?

Joerg Wolf on :

70% are in favor of withdrawal ASAP. http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/afghanistanumfrage148.html Was that your question?

Pat Patterson on :

The sad thing about the ARD poll is that the withdraw now view seems to reside in a lack of confidence in the Bundeswehr, its equipment and its leadership. Not political but simply that the army is not up to the task.

Zyme on :

I do believe that most Germans distinguish between the operation and the effort of those who serve there. The appreciation is just not so openly expressed as in America for example. But I don't know whether it is so extreme in Britain, France or Russia for their respective troops either. Most importantly there is a considerable difference in the amount of troops doing service abroad. Far more Americans than there are Germans. This also explains the reduced amount of attention here. Nonetheless, I think this is a great idea to establish a stronger link between the troops in action and the people at home :)

Zyme on :

There is an additional thought which came to my mind in this regard. Joerg I take it that you are one of the decision makers of Atlantische Initiative who got this campaign going? As much as I appreciate the effort, reading the online responses at the Bild site I couldn't help but to think of Feldpost in the world war: The element of national pride and appreciation for the soldiers can be found hand in hand in most comments. On the other hand, a typical American element, namely an appreciation for democracy-building, is missing almost entirely. Now while you may (rightfully) want to see a stronger link between the people at home and soldiers serving abroad, are you aware of the fact that it is initiatives like this one which make it considerably more easy for our political leadership to go to war (Because the leadership no longer has to be afraid of anti-war sentiments)? Not that I would object this development - BUT: And are you aware of the point that this additional power the leadership gains that way does not necessarily have to be used in ways which coincide with American interests in the future? I am simply asking out of curiousity.

John in Michigan, US on :

I think this is an important campaign. Best wishes!

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