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A European Army with a Single Command?

"Kurt Beck, leader of the Social Democrats, called Monday [November 6th] for a European army with a single command, the first time a German political party has proposed such a structure. If adopted, it could lead to the European Union pursuing a security and defense policy independent of NATO." writes Judy Dempsey in the International Herald Tribune (HT: EU Digest) and adds:
Beck told delegates during a special meeting in Berlin that such defense ambitions for the EU would not rupture the trans-Atlantic relationship because, without the United States, "we cannot solve global problems." However, instead of "following" or "adhering" to the United States, he said, the Europeans should establish a partnership "based on quality. This is the particular challenge for Europe."
Ms. Dempsey writes about a security expert at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:
An EU move toward establishing its own force, Dunay said, could lead to more efficient defense spending at a juncture when countries are reluctant to increase military budgets while being asked by the United Nations in particular to join peacekeeping missions.
The Atlantic Review wrote about EU plans to increase joint defense spending.
Beck's suggestion was already rejected by Poland, and Ms. Dempsey points out that this issue was considered a "direct threat to the alliance and the trans-Atlantic relationship" three years ago. 
I am not aware of any debate in Germany after Kurt Beck's comments. The leading role for NATO in Germany's New Security and Defense Policy Review has not been contested by any politician as far as I can tell.

The perception that a common EU defence policy is unworkable is based on myths that undermine pragmatic integration of defence policies, argues Constanze Stelzenmueller of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Continue reading "A European Army with a Single Command?"

Terrorism News from Germany

Headlines from DW World:
Moroccan Found Guilty of Accessory to 9/11 Murders, also see German Press Review (in English).
The Christian Science Monitor writes about lack of US cooperation in this trial.

Security Officials Promote Integration as Crime Prevention: "Due to its prominent profile in foreign and security policy, Germany is becoming more and more a target of terrorist attacks," said Ernst Uhrlau, president of the German Intelligence Service (BND) on Thursday in Wiesbaden."

Germans Warned to be Vigilant Against Terror Threat: "In her weekly video podcast, the German Chancellor has urged Germans to help police combat terrorism. But she warned that measures such as video surveillance weren't enough."

Politicians and Police Union Disagree on National Security Report

Iraqi Fulbrighters Speak about their Concerns

Vietnamese journalist and Fulbrighter Tran Le Thuy wrote the article "When winning a Fulbright means having to hide your face." She writes about the fears and concerns many Iraqi Fulbrighters in the United States have. According to her interviews, some of them did not accept the invitation to meet with President Bush "either in fear for their lives or to avoid the tormenting questions about the conflict taking place in their motherland."
Although all of them seem uniformly happy that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power, they are painfully watching the news from home for signs of civil war. And many blame unfair, insensitive, and poorly designed American policies for the clashes among Sunnis and Shiites and the way post-dictatorship democracy in Iraq seems to be going awry. (...)
Dr. Fadhil says he would love to meet the president. "I would thank Mr. Bush for removing Saddam; at the end this is the only major achievement that all Iraqis agree on," said the filmmaker, who became a journalist by chance when a Guardian reporter asked him to work as a translator in 2003. "But it is not worth it for hundred[s of] thousands of Iraqis to die. We got nothing after Saddam -- no jobs, no security, and no better life."
Thuy quotes one Iraqi Fulbrigther as saying "Bush is good [for his country]. He attracts terrorists from all over the world to Iraq in order to make them forget about attacking America. Iraq becomes a battlefield for terrorists." She also writes:
Another Fulbrighter from Baghdad, who declines to be named, says, "I hate [it] when the Americans say that they are shifting the anti-terrorism battlefield to Iraq. It really pisses me off. This is the city where I live. Why is there terrorism in my city? They didn’t think about me or about my people when they declared that. Who gave them this authority?" He laments, "Don't they think of [the] 25 millions people living there, who are killed and being killed everyday? Nobody cares for Iraqi civilians."

Two American Experts Comment on the European Reactions to the U.S. Elections

The Atlantic Review has already written about German Reactions to the Midterm Elections. Americans are now commenting about the European reactions to the elections: "Aspen Institute Berlin Director Jeffrey Gedmin has an interesting and useful piece, 'Even Happier than the Democrats,' in the Weekly Standard," writes Steve Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and also adds his own thoughts in his Washington Note.
Gedmin:
When European commentators say they are still yearning for an end to American unilateralism, moral crusades, and the influence of "fundamentalist evangelicals," what they really mean is that they are longing for a United States just like secular, post-national, consensus-seeking, Social Democratic Europe. But, of course, even with Democrats controlling the House and the Senate, it ain't gonna happen.
Clemons agrees to some degree, but adds:
Europe yearns for a pragmatic, problem-fixing America, engaged in the world's real problems and building international collaborations to meet these challenges. America has departed this space on ideological quests and left a giant void in global affairs that the Europeans have had to partially fill.
Related post in the Atlantic Review: Will US Foreign Policy Change if the Democrats Win the Midterm Elections?

ENDNOTE: There was quite a stir in the blogosphere about the news that former Abu Ghraib prisoners, supported by an American NGO, seek prosecution of Secretary Rumsfeld in Germany. Several popular American bloggers misunderstood the Time Magazine article and incorrectly blamed the German government and vented their anger. Some even made Nazi references, as reported in a previous post.
U.S. law professor Andrew Hammel writes in his blog that there have been 53 petitions to invoke Germany's "universal jurisdiction" law for war crimes (adopted in 2002), but "none has been acted on, according to this week's Die Zeit, so there's pretty much zero chance of Rumsfeld going to prison in Germany."
Besides, yesterday, an association of peace groups filed a lawsuit against Chancellor Merkel and Defense Minister Jung for "preparing an offensive war." They claim that the White Paper on German Security Policy violates Germany's constitution, reports Die Welt (in German). Thus, the significance of the lawsuit against Rumsfeld should not be exaggerated.

More German Support for Iraq and Afghanistan?

Reuters reports:
A German government spokesman was quoted on Monday [November 13, 2006] as saying Berlin could expand its programme of training Iraqi border guards, but he gave no indication it would consider sending troops to Iraq. (...) Germany has helped Iraq by forgiving some Iraqi debt and training Iraqi military and police officials in the United Arab Emirates. The Iraqi government would have to formally request more help from Germany, and further German assistance would require an improvement in the security situation, Steg said. (...)
Germany has contributed around 9,000 troops to peacekeeping missions in places like Afghanistan, the Middle East and Congo.  Germany has some 2,800 soldiers stationed in the relatively calm northern part of Afghanistan, though the United States and Britain have put pressure on Berlin to send combat troops to the more dangerous southern part of the country. So far Berlin has resisted this pressure and refused to re-deploy troops to the south. Adding to the pressure on Germany, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer wrote in an opinion article in the Berliner Zeitung that individual NATO members should scrap the restrictions they have imposed on Afghan peacekeeping work.
DW World writes about growing pressure for Germany to do more in Afghanistan:
The UN representative in Afghanistan Tom Koenigs, warned that NATO and especially German forces must step up efforts to keep the strife-wracked country from sinking into chaos. Koenigs told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that the international troops serving in Afghanistan had reached a key crossroads.  "The conflict cannot be won by military means alone but NATO must not lose it," he said, calling for an "enormous military effort" against insurgents in the country. He said that while diplomatic and humanitarian aid was essential, attacks mounted by the hard-line Taliban movement and other militants had to be stopped. "Otherwise the entire NATO alliance is absurd and not usable for peacekeeping in the Third World," he said.
"Germany must increase efforts further."  Koenigs, a German citizen, called for German troops to join NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the violence-plagued south of Afghanistan.  Amid growing pressure for Germany to help stabilize the region, the German military said Wednesday that 21 signals corps soldiers had been deployed to southern Afghanistan in mid-October for two months.
Moving more German troops from the North to the South of Afghanistan could destabilize the North. Stabilizing Afghanistan requires more than 'just' fighting the Taleban. That's why reconstruction has to be accelerated. (See the related post Afghanistan Intervention "on the cheap.") The combat operations in South Afghanistan have caused many civilian casualties and alienated many Afghans, which harms NATO's interests rather than promoting stability. In September 2006, The Times reported that a "top soldier quits over 'grotesque' Afghan war":
"The former aide-de-camp to the commander of the British taskforce in southern Afghanistan has described the campaign in Helmand province as "a textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency". "Having a big old fight is pointless and just making things worse," said Captain Leo Docherty, of the Scots Guards, who became so disillusioned that he quit the army last month. "All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British," he said. "It's a pretty clear equation -- if people are losing homes and poppy fields, they will go and fight. I certainly would. We've been grotesquely clumsy -- we've said we'll be different to the Americans who were bombing and strafing villages, then behaved exactly like them."

Afghanistan Intervention "on the cheap"

The respected International Crisis Group explains in their latest report (November 2, 2006):
The desire for a quick, cheap war followed by a quick, cheap peace is what has brought Afghanistan to the present, increasingly dangerous situation. (...) The intervention in Afghanistan has been done on the cheap. Compared even to many recent post-conflict situations (Bosnia, Kosovo) it was given proportionately many fewer peacekeepers and less resources – and Afghanistan has never been a post-conflict situation. Even the numbers do not tell the full story since force protection, rather than the creation of durable security, remains the first priority for some NATO members.
Writing for the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, Clemens Wergin mentioned this report and quotes Tom Koenigs, the UN representative in Afghanistan: NATO"In Kosovo we have spent ten times more money per inhabitant than in Afghanistan."

Germany is responsible for North Afghanistan and for the training of the Afghan police . German government officials sometimes proudly refer to Germany's international police training missions, but there have been reports about problems with Iraqi police training and there are some recent reports about shortcomings in the training of the Afghan police:
Continue reading "Afghanistan Intervention "on the cheap""

Carnival of German-American Relations on December 11th

The fifth edition of our quartely Carnival of German-American Relations will take place on December 11th and will be hosted by GM's Corner (in English) and Too Much Cookies (in German).
Please consider participating in this project to promote transatlantic dialogue! Simply submit a blogpost that deals with German-American relations in one way or another to our Carnival Submissions Blog.

We welcome both German and English blog posts.
(Deutsche Blogger, Ihr könnt auch deutschsprachige Artikel einreichen!) If you would like to participate, but don't have a blog, you can also write a contribution in the comments section of this post.
The best way to understand what a blog carnival is, is to check out the last carnival edition, which was hosted by Dialog International (in English) and Liberale Stimme (in German) on September 25, 2006.

German President Koehler Calls for more European Help to Stabilise Iraq

In an interview with Frankfurter Rundschau on November 11, 2006, Federal President Horst Koehler said:
The war has led to a disaster, but we can't sit back and say it's a problem for the Americans. That would be dumb, short-sighted and arrogant. (...) We cannot allow the region to slide into chaos. We have a direct, existential interest in preventing this. (...) Ducking away and just watching is a worse alternative.
Reuters has made the above translation and adds "Germany has helped train Iraqi security personnel outside of the country and provided humanitarian aid in recent years." and points out "Koehler has limited powers in the largely ceremonial post of president, but he can influence the national debate and has not shied away from controversial topics."
Original quotes from the Frankfurter Rundschau interview:
Der Krieg hat zu einem Desaster gefuehrt. Aber wir können uns nicht zuruecklehnen und sagen: Das ist das Problem der Amerikaner. Das waere dumm, kurzsichtig und ueberheblich. (...)
Wir Europaeer sollten das Gespraech mit den USA darüber suchen, wie das transatlantische Verhaeltnis neu belebt werden kann. Es geht um unsere gemeinsame Verantwortung, aber auch um gleiche Augenhoehe in dieser Verantwortung - und um das Bewusstsein, dass Verantwortung etwas kostet. Da haben sich die Europaeer bisher oft kunstvoll herausgeredet. (...)
Die Zeit der Koalition der Willigen ist vorbei. Es muss jetzt eine Koalition der Einsichtigen und der gemeinsamen Verantwortung für globale Stabilitaet geben. Dies ist uebrigens auch nicht mehr ohne Russland und China erreichbar. Wir muessen uns auf neue Koordinaten in der Weltpolitik einstellen.
Reuters does not mention the last four sentences, which roughly translate as: 'Europeans have made excuses for not sharing the burden. (...) The coalition of the willing is over. Now we need a coalition of the realists/reasonable/insightful who understand the need for shared responsibility for global stability.' [A better translation would be appreciated.]
Koehler also criticizes European and American double standards in their Africa policies and a lack of a concept to tackle the illegal drugs problem in Afghanistan: "Aber ohne einen Plan zur Loesung des Problems der illegalen Drogenwirtschaft wird es dort keinen Frieden geben. Darum hat man sich viel zu wenig gekuemmert, dafuer gab es kein Konzept. Das Militaerische und rein Politische stand im Vordergrund."