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"The Silent Partner" Who Does not Care

"An American drone killed eight German citizens in Pakistan [last] week. Germany's non-reaction says volumes about its role in the war on terror," writes Cameron Abadi in Foreign Policy and concludes "Judging from their eerie silence this week, Germans generally seem willing to let America handle the world's dirty work abroad." It's a great article and I recommend fully reading it and some of his links.

I tend to agree with him, but I also have the impression that the German public does not worry about terrorist attacks in general. They do not consider the US as acting on Germany's behalf and doing "the world's dirty work abroad."

Even the NATO mission in Afghanistan is not given credit for uncovering and disrupting the plot to attack European targets. I have not heard or read a statement in Germany along the lines of Con Coughlin's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: The Afghanistan War's Dividends in Europe (Free access, if you use Google search): 

"The main reason we can identify these plots and implement measures against them is because of the extensive military and intelligence-gathering infrastructure we have invested in the region," a senior NATO officer in Kabul told me following reports of the latest al Qaeda scheme. "But it is doubtful we would have the same ability to track the plots and respond to them if we suddenly reduced our presence in Afghanistan."

German parliamentarians find it increasingly difficult to tell their voters why they always vote for extensions of the Bundeswehr mandate for Afghanistan, but they don't use the disrupted terror plot aimed at European cities (Paris, Berlin) as a chance to convince voters that our participation in the Afghanistan mission has made us safer. Or what am I missing here?

ENDNOTES: Reuters: "Italy could begin pulling out troops from Afghanistan next summer, the foreign minister said on Tuesday, as the nation mourned four soldiers killed in an insurgent ambush at the weekend.

Germany was elected to the UN Security Council for the next two years. (Canada, I am so sorry!) So, Germany might be less quiet in the years to come. Remember the "fun" we had in the run up to the Iraq war? Any chance for a deja-vu regarding Iran in 2011 or 2012?

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Kevin Sampson on :

What you are missing is the perception in Europe that you are being targeted precisely because of your presence in Afghanistan. Once you manage to extricate yourselves from that, the terrorists will return to their normal routine of attacking the US and leave you alone. From this point of view, bailing out of Afghanistan would obviate the need for the intelligence being collected there.

Marie Claude on :

the Hamburg "cells" were alredy active before the war oin afghanistan "What you are missing is the perception in Europe that you are being targeted precisely because of your presence in Afghanistan. " not alone, what about Lebanon, Maghreb... Yemen Somalia...

Kevin Sampson on :

If you are referring to the ‘Hamburg cells’ that launched the 9/11 operation, then obviously they were active prior to Afghanistan, but their target was the US, not Europe. In any event, nothing in your post matters because my point was about European PERCEPTIONS that you are targeted because of your participation in the Afghan war. Whether this is actually true is another matter, and equally irrelevant.

Marie Claude on :

well for Germany, it might be true, but not for us (maghreb islamists attacks before 9/11)

Joerg Wolf on :

@ Kevin Thank you! That's it.

Joe Noory on :

Think of all the revisionism that's required to guard the world view that has as evidence that kind of reporting: - A war against terrorist organizations and the states that they act as a proxy for is revised to be a war against all Muslims, as though they as individuals were interchangable and can't think for themselves. - A Martyr ceases to be someone who dies rather than submits to forced conversion, but rather a glorified murderer who initiates the death of others and themselves. - "Jihad" ceases to refer to the internal struggle of the individual toward an understanding of the faith, and is used even more forcefully and definitely in Arabic language culture and media, to a war against those who do not share your faith with the idea that (as was the case a millenium ago) that populations could be intimidated into forced conversion. and now: - Jihadists, if they are Germans, are merely called Germans - as if we are to be horrified that there was a drone strike on some old folks living in Wedding. Kevin is right about the motive of the attack: to reproduce the effect that took place after the Madrid Railway station bombing: servility. The antis think that this would signal a bargain, but that only works if your attacker is willing to bargain, or has been diminished enough in their capacity and means to continue attacking to reconsider their stance. Bargains are for those who expect to either be victorious or expect defeat.

Joe Noory on :

German authorities are only a silent partner when it's tactically valuable to let others dispose of their trash and help spare their population from harm. Given that having any opinion on the subject aired in public, no matter what it is, would lead to the rather typical hysteria that German civil society is known to undertake over even smaller things. BZ would run some tage with 6 cm high letters. Fake scholars would pretend to look thoughtful as they're rueing woefully over whatever would happen. People would say that they need to discuss this at length in their beknighted culture of seeking uniformity. Canned reactions that indicate a deep lack of understanding of what drives these programmed teenagers with satchel bombs. Your title almost sounds like you find something nefarious or unheimlich about getting in al Qaida's way, for the sake of "government transparency".

Zyme on :

What you say might be true when it comes to our political elites now. But if you take a look at the following link, you will see what is looming beyond the horizon and will soon also coin our political landscape due to its populistic nature: http://www.thelocal.de/national/20101013-30455.html

Zyme on :

I would say Germans are concerned with themselves too much at the moment to worry about German muslims killed abroad. Here are the latest results of a detailed survey on what Germans think of a number of provocative statements, which can be found here: http://www.spiegel.de/flash/0,,24534,00.html For your convenience, I translated the suprising ones with the amount of people who disagree - while the rest either agrees or remains undecided on the matter: "We should have a Fuehrer, who strictly rules Germany for the sake of all" merely 70 % disagree. "Germans by nature are superior to other peoples" 64 % disagree. "Jews are somewhat special and do not really fit into our society" 61 % disagree. "Even today, Jewish influence is too big" 58 % disagree. "What Germany needs right now is a sole political party which embodys the entire German 'Volksgemeinschaft'" 55 % disagree with that. "The foremost objective of German politics must be to provide Germany with the power and influence it deserves" 43 % disagree. "The infiltration of Germany by the amount of foreigners has reached a dangerous level" 37 % disagree. "We should finally have the courage for a strong national pride again." 30 % disagree. "Religious practice should be significantly limited for muslims" 58 % agree to this one. "I think it is useless to become involved in the political process" 90 % agree to this. "People like me do not have any influence whatsoever on what the government does" 94 % agree.

David on :

Very interesting survey, Zyme. It appears that right-wing xenophobia has seeped into mainstream German society just as it has in the US. I'm afraid the majority of Americans would agree with this: "Religious practice should be significantly limited for muslims"

Pat Patterson on :

There isn't one single poll that even remotely agress with that statement that Islam should operate under limitations. no one has introduced any laws at the federal or state level that would lead to such limitations. The worst is a recent Gallup Poll which showed that nearly 40% agreed that had some prejudice against Muslims but nothing about circumscribing their practices. The group that is held in the lowest esteem is atheists and even they are not the targets of any limitations. http://www.gallup.com/poll/125312/Religious-Prejudice-Stronger-Against-Muslims.aspx

mbast on :

I don't know whether a majority of Americans would limit muslim religious practices, but I'm not sure that really matters. I do think David and Zyme have a point: xenophobia is definitely an issue in Germany, in the US and in other countries. In Germany, the Sarrazin debate showed us that, for whatever reasons, there is indeed fertile ground for extreme right-wing views on immigration, and the poll Zyme mentioned tends to confirm that. In the US, besides the muslim issue there was that Arizona law debate on immigration, especially illegal immigration that sparked quite a few xenophobic comments and sideshows (cf. the nyt poll of march 2010, [url]http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/us/04poll.html[/url]). In France, you have similar tendencies, exacerbated by the debate on "national identity" and the recent expulsion of Roma immigrants.In Italy,similar debates were sparked due to a recent report by Caritas stating that the number of immigrants went up 21.6% over one year ([url]http://www.repubblica.it/2007/09/sezioni/cronaca/immigrati-2/immigrati-caritas/immigrati-caritas.html[/url]). Xenophobia is nothing new, and it's also not limited to any one nation. The problem has always been there, it has just been highlighted by recent events. That said, back to the topic at hand. Why didn't Germany react to the eight German nationals being killed? Because they had no business being there in the first place. Should the Germans criticise the Americans for killing German nationals? Why? These guys were muslim fundamentalists. Germany is part of the war on terror. If these guys had been arrested in Hamburg and any of them had resisted arrest or tried to blow themselves up or something along these lines, they would've been shot equally dead by German police, regardless of their German nationality. If one of them had attacked a Bundeswehr convoy in Kundus, same result. As it happens, they got shot by the Americans, not the Germans. Nothing to do with "letting the Americans do the dirty work". How Mr. Abadi deduces all this from an absence of comment by Germany is beyond me.

mbast on :

Sorry, posted an old link concerning Italy. Here's the current Caritas report for 2009 (2010 will be out at the end of this month): [url]http://www.caritasitaliana.it/materiali/Pubblicazioni/libri_2009/dossier_immigrazione2009/pittau_dossierimm2009.pdf[/url]. Actually, this paints a rather more positive picture of immigration in Italy, but the reality seems to be different: [url]http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/10/italy-human-rights[/url].

David on :

There's plenty of evidence that Americans are becoming increasingly intolerant of Muslims. The New York Times reports that “a record number of Muslim workers are complaining of employment discrimination, from co-workers calling them ‘terrorist’ or ‘Osama’ to employers barring them from wearing head scarves or taking prayer breaks.” “Although Muslims make up less than 2 percent of the United States population, they accounted for about one-quarter of the 3,386 religious discrimination claims filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year,” the Times reports. As for the proposed mosque and Islamic center new ground zero in New York, 80 percent of likely voters in New York State say a Muslim group has the right to build there, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday. But 57 percent say doing so would be wrong.

Pat Patterson on :

Ah, that doesn't even begin to address the idea that "Religious practice should be significantly limited for muslims." But it was a valiant attempt to change the subject but ultimately failed. And doesn't the fact that 80% indicate a right to build, which is debatable, indicate that Muslims are not facing any official or unofficial limits on the practice of their religion. Many Sikhs are not allowed to wear kirpans at work nor too many observant Jews can work in machine shops except by covering their beards and side curls. Are they too being discriminated against? I too am also concerned with a rise in discrimination but considering that the bulk of these complaints are a prelude to a tort I am suspicious that CAIR has found its golden calf of an expanding budget.

Zyme on :

That is exactly why I think America is different in this regard to Europe. Americans may generally have stronger approval to military retaliation abroad. But ultimately, they consider Muslims to be humans just like them, who have the same set of rights. This is something that can change quickly in Europe. Mostly because of the fact that political correctness is the only (disappearing) thing that prevents most politicians from speaking their mind. The ordinary people have already freed themselves from such restrictions.

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