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"The Evolution of Resurging German Power"

According to The New Republic Online, the EU's Congo mission is "the latest stage in the evolution of resurging German power":
Even without the Congo, Germany's plate is already full. At present, the army is involved in no less than eight peacekeeping operations--several in active war zones. In Afghanistan, they have recently taken over command of the nearly 10,000-strong multinational force that controls the northern part of the country (the ISAF) -- to which they currently contribute by far the largest non-U.S. contingent, with about 2,700 troops. In the Balkans, they are spearheading NATO and EU operations with significant ground forces, and they are expected to take command of the EU Bosnian mission by year's end. Alongside these growing responsibilities, Berlin has taken the lead role in NATO's rapid-response force, scheduled to go operational this autumn. Just last month, the force underwent its last test run in a joint exercise in the Atlantic (codenamed "Steadfast Jaguar"). Besides commanding the entire exercise, German General Gerhard Back  -- who serves as nato's joint forces commander in Brunssum (the organization's number-two job) -- is also the overall commander of the ISAF operation in Afghanistan and is presently designated to lead the organization's response force if called upon. And there's more. The latest outbreak of violence in the Middle East has created yet another peacekeeping destination to which the German army may be headed.
Indeed, Germany will probably contribute a small naval unit to patrol along Lebanon's coast.
 
The evolution:
In the '90s, in the aftermath of reunification, Germany systematically redefined its military power on the international stage by increasing its involvement in calculated gradations. It offered mostly logistical and medical support during the first Gulf war and the Somali crisis, and it sent Tornado fighter jets to help with NATO's Bosnia campaign. By then, the Germans had come to the water's edge time and again without getting their feet wet. In Kosovo, they took the plunge and deployed heavily armed ground forces. And, while the DRC signifies the next step for the reemerging German postwar power, it certainly doesn't appear to be the last.
Indeed, it won't be the last, especially since the Munich based company ESG is developing a Special High Altitude Parachute System (SHAPS) even Batman does not have yet ;-) The fixed wing stealth system will enable the Bundeswehr Special Forces to parachute at 10,000 meters and fly up to 200 km into territories that are too dangerous for planes and helicopters. The Times has more information and Heise has more information and pictures (including the above picture). SHAPS is the final proof of the "reemerging German postwar power." ;-)

The New Republic continues with a good question:
To be sure, there are still German doubts. In June, the Bundestag formally authorized the Congolese deployment by a comfortable margin, but not without several weeks of acrimonious debate. At the time, a poll by Die Welt suggested why passions ran high in the Bundestag: Only 37 percent of Germans supported the mission, while 59 percent remained opposed. Which raises the question of why, exactly, Berlin is flexing its muscles abroad.
This also raises the question why the New Republic chose the headline "Germany's Taste for Foreign Intervention: Wil(helm)sonianism"  for this article. "Taste", "Wilsonianism" and "Wilhelmsonianism" are inaccurate, confusing and misleading terms.
According to a survey commisioned by the Bundeswehr, most Germans don't have a "taste" for foreign interventions, but rather a pacifist attitude. According to the Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung the survey indicates that Germans are more afraid of social service cutbacks than of WMD or a terror attack. Moreover, the poll is supposed to indicate that less Germans support an "active foreign policy" than five years ago:
So fürchten sich 60 Prozent der Deutschen vor der Kürzung von Sozialleistungen, aber nur 29 Prozent vor der Verbreitung von Massenvernichtungswaffen und sogar nur 25 Prozent vor einem Terrorangriff in Deutschland. Auch der Anteil der Menschen, die den Klimawandel und die globale Erwärmung für eine ernste Gefahr halten, liegt mit 34 Prozent höher. (...) Zugleich lehnen immer mehr Deutsche ein starkes aussenpolitisches Engagement ihres Landes ab. Sprachen sich bis 2001 noch mehr als die Hälfte der Befragten für eine aktive Aussenpolitik aus, so waren es im vergangenen Jahr nur noch 34 Prozent. Zwei Drittel der Befragten stimmen der Aussage zu, dass es in Deutschland genug Probleme gebe, die erst gelöst werden müssten, bevor man sich im Ausland engagiere. (...) «Wie unsere Untersuchungen zeigen, ist die Mehrheit der Bundesbürger pazifistisch eingestellt», sagt der Autor der Bundeswehr-Studie, Thomas Bulmahn.
Anyway, the The New Republic Online article by Yoav Fromer, the political correspondent in New York for the Israeli newspaper Maariv, is interesting and I would like to thank Don for recommending it.

Related: Regina Karp, associate professor in international studies and director of the Center for Regional and Global Study at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, wrote about "The New German Foreign Policy Consensus" for the freely available Washington Quarterly (PDF), Winter 2005/2006. Some quotes:
German foreign policy has been transformed more fundamentally since unification in 1990, with German leaders having progressively evolved their country’s international goals from an almost exclusive focus on Europe to an increasingly global outlook that embraces political, economic, and security interests. Most noticeable has been Germany’s greater willingness to become militarily engaged in missions beyond NATO’s traditional boundaries. Underlying Germany’s change has been the rise of a distinct vision of international order and the principles that govern it. This vision (Weltanschauung) rests on deeply held assumptions about the possibilities and opportunities for progress in international relations; the mechanisms by which peace and stability can be achieved and sustained; the civilizational potential of treaties, rules, and norms; and the inevitable decline of the state as the single most important locus of political organization.  (...)
The Bush administration views institutions in an instrumental capacity. They need to identify violators of rules and norms and punish them as appropriate. This view was clearly evident in Bush’s assessment of the UN’s role vis-à-vis Iraq. Institutions that are ultimately unwilling to enforce the rules they claim to uphold are hollow in Washington. Germany sees institutions as essential building blocks of international order and the process of institution building as more important than issue-related outcomes. The spread of democracy is the task of institutional governance, and institutions are the agents of change. Where the United States confronts opposition, Germany conciliates.

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“Für uns Deutsche kann es nicht mehr das Glück in der Nische geben” Interview mit Eckart von Klaeden, außenpolitischer Sprecher der CDU/CSU-Bundestagsfraktion, Deutschlandfunk. (Link zur mp3-Fundstelle)  Eckart von Klaeden w...

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Zyme on :

It got about time that we take part in world politics again. For more than half a century, only our economy helped us to become what we are today. While other countries have actively supported their industries abroad, we remained silent and refused to become active. Finally, this is changing. I think the author of this Post overestimates the importance of surveys. The people here accept the governmental foreign politics and worry a lot more about their own problems. Just talk to younger members of our army: They all know it is going to be their buisness to serve abroad - they are fully aware of the development and consider these new tasks as a part of their job. Who would have guessed that only 10 years ago?

ChristianFundamentalist on :

@Zyme: "While other countries have actively supported their industries abroad, we remained silent and refused to become active." Germany has very well looked after the success of its companies abroad. Sometimes with hard to understand disregard to human rights and in open opposition to US policy. Just consider the example of Siemens and other big shots in Iran right after the Islamic Revolution. The FDP had an especially open ear for the particular needs of big German firms and they actively supported investments with Hermes Bürgschaften (Genscher, Kinkel, Rexrodth). For more on this see Charles Lane's piece in Foreign Affairs: http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19951101faessay5080/charles-lane/germany-s-new-ostpolitik-changing-iran.html As the leading export nation Germany has a longstanding tradition as being a "Handelsstaat" or trading state and it has not played by the rules more than others.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ ChristianFundamentalist Thanks for this ten years old article in Foreign Affairs. It's a good reminder that Germany and the US were at odds regarding the Middle East before. Iran was always a sore point. Here's the Foreign Affairs article's summary with a clickable link: [url=http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19951101faessay5080/charles-lane/germany-s-new-ostpolitik-changing-iran.html] Germany's New Ostpolitik: Changing Iran - Charles Lane "Iran is the one sore spot in an otherwise highly cooperative German-American relationship. The United States has sought to punish the Islamic state for sponsoring terrorism. Germany has tried to maintain a "critical dialogue" of limited diplomacy and commerce, much as its Ostpolitik tried to engage Soviet bloc nations during the Cold War. U.S. officials decry Germany's shady dealings and billions of dollars in loans and credits to Iran. When challenged, German officials charge the United States with hypocrisy. Lurking behind the dispute is an uncomfortable fact: in a world without the Cold War, "rogue states" are not threatening enough to force accord among Western nations."[/url] Hypocrisy? [b][url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/153-The-US-Saudi-relationship-Oil-supply-at-the-expense-of-US-security-and-moral-values.html]Do they mean US-Saudi business ties?[/url][/b] No, the preview just says: [i]Only three months before, at a joint press conference at the White House, Chancellor Kohl had pointedly claimed that American oil companies did more business with Iran than German ones, and the charge of hypocrisy, leveled frequently by European officials, bothered the Clinton administration. (Until the Clinton embargo was announced, U.S. oil companies and other firms did do a substantial amount of business with Iran, as Kohl charged: in 1994, U.S. companies bought $4.3 billion worth of Iranian oil, all of it for sale in Europe since imports to the United States were banned, and sold the Iranians $300 million worth of other goods.) But even after Clinton's imposition of the embargo, Western Europe and Japan stood pat.[/i] Anyway, I agree with your criticism of Zyme's comments. [b][url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/172-Genocide-U.S.-calls-for-more-sanctions-against-Sudan,-but-Germany-sees-business-opportunities.html]The Atlantic Review wrote how the German government promotes business with Sudan despite Darfur.[/url][/b] Regarding Siemens: [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/360-Sudan-Divestment-Campaign-Against-Siemens-and-Others-Gets-Stronger.html]The Divestment campaign gets stronger.[/url]

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ ZYME [b]Re the survey:[/b] Well, it's a survey by the Bundeswehr. Sounds credible. However, I did express some doubt by using the phrase "supposed to indicate": [i]Moreover, the poll is supposed to indicate that less Germans support an "active foreign policy" than five years ago[/i] [b] Re the "younger members of our army"[/b]: The Bundeswehr officers I know don't like the Congo mission. The mandate does not make sense to them. In general: While most Bundeswehr soldiers understand and accept international missions, they don't like each and every mission and mandate. Many Bundeswehr soldier are concerned about the ever increasing number of international missions and the frequency of deployments and the lack of adequate equipment.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

There certainly isn't any "taste" for international peacekeeping missions in civil war type countries far away from Germany. Neither among Bundeswehr or the German public. There is an acceptance of increasing committments, but not much support for them. That's my impression. What do you guys think?

Anonymous on :

Rather than being afraid of black UN helicopters, Americans now need to worry about German Batmans parachuting into the homeland ;-)

ChristianFundamentalist on :

I don't get the message of the TNR article. Is Yoav Fromer suggesting that Germany is trying to become a player again in power politics? I doubt that is the case. As a rumour has it the German Defense Ministry was opposed to the Congo mission from the start and had to back down after Merkel gave in to begging from Jacques Chirac to participate. I don't know enough about this though, maybe one of you has some detail info... Additionally, does anybody have info on the author of the TNR piece, Yoav Fromer, or is able to provide some context to his persona and background? PS: Nikolas Busse had a great article on the murky German debate on foreign interventions during the last decade in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung from the 13th. Unfortunately, I lost my copy.

Jean on :

As long as the German troops don't get involved in fighting abroad, there is a reluctant acceptance of their deployment - probably because Germany wants a seat on the UNSC. The Bundeswehr, however, is now tapped out, with just over 7,000 troops deployed abroad and cannot deploy anymore.

Bill on :

Interesting post and I'll read the referenced articles later. One should remember that although Germany is involved in a number of military engagements around the world as "peacekeepers" and helping to rebuild war-torn countries, few of these missions require that German forces engage in active combat to help save lives. Today in northern Afghanistan where the ISAF forces are under German military leadership, German forces are not involved in missions to CONFRONT Taliban militias or Al Qaeda vs. the risks and dangers that other coalition forces deal with on a daily basis in the south of the country. When and if northern Afghanistan gets really violent and the German military begin to suffer heavy casualties due to firefights and suicide bombers, you will see a very different attitude toward this important mission from the German public and several key politicians here. Having said that, German Foreign Minister Steinmeier is presently in Kabul to renew Germany's military commitment to Afghanistan, on direct orders from the Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Bundestag. The only thing that is "overstretched" with the German military at the moment is their wallets (Berlin's budget). Same thing is true for the EUFOR-RDC expedition to the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is a mission to evacuate foreign nationals (mainly Europeans) in case all Hell breaks loose in the capital Kinshasa after the historic democratic elections there. There have been running gun battles in Kinshasa between rival militias of the two presidential candidate frontrunners over the past several days and the EUFOR-RDC forces led by the German military have yet to leave their barracks. The bulk of the EUFOR-RDC forces remain a 1000+ kilometers away from the "troubles" over in Gabon on the Atlantic coast. Nonetheless, the government in Berlin and German TV news media continue to sell this mission to the general public as Germany's contribution to the people of the Congo in helping to secure peaceful democratic elections and to help maintain calm during the post-election period. Meanwhile, the small contingent of German forces and those from 25 other European countries presently in the DRC can't wait to get the hell out of there ASAP. Stay tuned, it might get real hot real fast down in the jungle. The German public and several politicians here are balking at the idea of German military forces going into Lebanon with the prospect of facing hostile Hezbollah militia near the Lebanon-Syrian border or even worse facing aggressive Israeli forces anywhere inside of Lebanon. It is absolutely pathetic to have to watch and listen to the many excuses they are offering on television and radio news interviews, it's a disgrace. My favorite line (oft repeated) is, "We have to think about our sensitive past with..." After decades of training under the U.S. and NATO, the German military services are more than capable of playing an active and leading role in peacekeeping missions and in combat missions when they are necessary, but the German public and some political elite here (with a few exceptions) have never been prepared to support that same military in carrying out its responsibilities around the world re: crises that require the use of military force. The war in the Balkans is a perfect example, Germany got involved only after the U.S. and other NATO countries took the lead in the fighting. The delays to act decisively by the Europeans (EU, NATO) and yes also the U.S. government cost the lives of thousands of people in the Balkans. To the contrary, most Germans that I have met are vehemently against sending their soldiers anywhere there is bound to be any serious trouble, especially open warfare and combat. Unless of course, the threat of war is taking place here in Germany or near the German borders (1946-1990). Did I hear somebody in this post mention Sudan (Darfur)? Nah, I didn't hear that right? Good. "The Evolution of Resurging German (Military) Power" is moving along at a snail's pace, is chronically underfunded, and is not strongly supported by the German public. Ask the folks at ESG in Munich (see the logo on the Batman costume photo above), they'll tell you the same thing. After all, ESG is Germany's leading military think tank and defense research group, they should know. Nice Batman outfit though, is it bulletproof? Sorry that I took up so much space with this comment Jörg, I'll try to keep it brief in the future.

clarence on :

Jörg, Thanks for this post. It shows that Germans do have a sense of humor, even inadvertently. Is there any evidence that this army can fight when called upon? From the UK Telegraph, May 9, 2004: "German troops serving with the Kfor international peacekeeping contingent in Kosovo have been accused of hiding in barracks 'like frightened rabbits' during the inter-ethnic rioting that erupted in the province in March." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/05/09/wkos09.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/05/09/ixworld.html P.S. does the nouveau-Wehrmacht practice with real bullets, or (like the Belgian army) with plastic toy guns?

Chris on :

This is a great post, and one amazing counter to US HALO jumpers. It is vital that European powers keep their military proficiency modern and capable.

Zyme on :

@clarence We are not arising quickly, granted - but what do you expect after decades of staying behind the frontline? A society which has not fought wars for more than 50 years has to clean away the dust that has settled first. After having lost two world wars, this is not surprising. But we are still here, after all. And now in the 21st century, we are able to became a vital part of the world stage again. We have the ability to make our military influence match our economical one and there are no reasons to be contained any more. This does not mean that we cannot fail again. It simply means that we are back into buisness. So you could say "Neues Spiel, neues Glück!" here.

ChristianFundamentalist on :

@ Zyme: You write: "We have the ability to make our military influence match our economical one and there are no reasons to be contained any more." You seem to believe that Germany will reemerge as a prime military power again, if not tomorrow than probably in the mid-term. My question: How do you back up this assertion? Germany's military power suffers from small defense spending (a ridiculously 1,4 or so per cent of GDP), no strategic power projection capabilities, recruitment problems, still deeply rooted aversion to warfighting/high-end missions, and strong elite beliefs in international law and institutions. If I understood Jörg's point on the funny batman costume thingy correctly, it was meant as a reminder that Germany is extremely strained with regard to capabilities and will not (as the TNR article suggests) emerge as the new leader among peacekeeping-oriented nations. Rather it is working on niche capabilities such as the featured state of the art equipment for special forces. BTW, your posts deserve a spell check.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Yes, you are right. The batman costume is great, but there is not much else to suggest that Germany's military power is "reemerging" or "resurging" or that Germany has a "Taste for Foreign Intervention" "BTW, your posts deserve a spell check." Do you mean Zyme or me? I sometimes forget the spell check or change a few things afterwards. However, I think most of my mistakes are wrong grammar and wrong expression, i.e. the spell check won't help much. It's also a time issue. I can't spend hours to write a post. If anybody notices some mistakes that I repeat all the time, please let me know!!! I appreciate it if you point out mistakes!!!

ChristianFundamentalist on :

@ JW: No, I was pointing to Zyme's "buisness", "definitaly" and "independant", which are probably due to time constraints. Don't mean to be counting beans here but a little more care would please the reader.

J on :

I don't mind. The faster you read, the less typing mistakes you notice. It's good to see Germans writing comments. It takes non-native speakers longer to write comments in English. That's why the comments here are dominated by Americans rather than Germans.

Zyme on :

@ Chris I fully agree. There may be common interests with the americans in the future, and in such cases military corporations should continue. But when our interests differ from the american ones, we need independant weapons technologies we can rely on. So it is definitaly comforting that we are developing our own systems.

Possum on :

Nice show by Germany, but if we look closer we see that appearances can be deceiving. The US and Afghanistan have been laboring now for years to get Europe to keep its promises in Afghanistan. Why did it take so long to GET Germany to put a few thousand troops in Afghanistan? When the glory of leadership passes to some other nation, will Germany pack up and go home? Why did it take so long to GET Germany to let its troops step foot out of Kabul? Why does Germany still stay in safe north and refuse to go where the enemy is or to take any action against the Taliban fighters? The UK finally had to step up and agree to put troops in the south. Only the UK and Canada will permit their troops to engage the enemy. Why does it take months to beg one helicopter from European NATO nations for Afghanistan? Why was Iraq so disgusted with German training of its police, claiming that Germany wasn't serious about training Iraqi police and terminating the program? The events of this past week have put transatlantic relations in the toilet. But you'd never know that from reaction in Europe. Or, rather I should say, from the absence of any reaction in Europe. There's total silence about it in Europe. Why? Why are Europeans talking about everything BUT Iran's decision not to halt uranium enrichment? Nice going, Europe (France and Germany) for showing us hicks how it's done. Next time Germany wants to talk a nation out of getting nuclear weapons, I suggest that it not take the option of forcing compliance off the table. And next time France and Germany want to get tough with a recalcitrant like Iran, I suggest that they don't threaten exactly what it most desires -- delaying negotiations to get them to halt uranium enrichment. And to top it all off, France sent ten men in a digny to the rescue of Lebanon. Now Italy is grand with initial promises, only to show later in the day that they are good for nothing. Why is Europe acting like these things haven't happened? Why are we talking about trivia instead? Europe's actions with regard to Iran and Lebanon are serious in our eyes. Even the New York Times is disgusted. These farces are much more important than the petty insults that have been flying across the Atlantic for decades. Europe had better check itself out in the mirror right now. Something is showing, and it's so thin there's nothing to see through. You won't hear even Democrats making excuses for Europe any more.

J on :

@ Possum "Why did it take so long to GET Germany to put a few thousand troops in Afghanistan?" You are factually wrong and you did not read this post. The rest of your comment is the usual spin, self righteous, emotional hot air, no facts and no understanding of Germany or international politics.

Possum on :

Don't tell me what I read. I read every word. You ask many questions but don't answer many. The emotion is in the name-calling instead of answering.

Ralf Goergens on :

Possum's good eating. Tastes like chicken.

tcobb on :

Actually Ralf, possum tastes more like pork rather than chicken. But then again, I guess we have a lot more possums here in Texas than you do in Germany. :-)

Ralf Goergens on :

Noted. :) (At least I know first-hand what Gator tasts like ;)

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/378-The-Evolution-of-Resurging-German-Power.html#c3852]Bill[/url] [i]"The Evolution of Resurging German (Military) Power" is moving along at a snail's pace[/i] Actually I think it is more the pace of a turtle. And you don't want to mess with [url=http://www.chicagoboyz.net/archives/004354.html][b]this turtle[/url][/b]. [i]Sorry that I took up so much space with this comment Jörg, I'll try to keep it brief in the future. [/i] Not at all, I appreciate your detailed assessment. I agree with many of your points. I disagree a bit with your assessment of the speed of Germany's military evolution. I think the change in Germany's defense policy is remarkable. Perhaps the government and media sometimes exaggerates Germany's contributions to peacekeeping missions. The German public is not used to peacekeeping missions. If the Bundestag had sent many German troops to dangerous theaters in far away countries and there had been many body bags, there would have been a huge backlash. Therefore the government and parliament supported the Salamitaktik since the early 90s, i.e. the gradual increase in ever more dangerous military missions, which was described in the article. The German government and Bundestag are trying to avoid a backlash with this graudal increase so that the public gets used to it. Of course that is not the only reason. Even in the US, there was a big backlash after the murder of 200 Marines in Beirut in 1983. Please correct me if I am wrong, but many Americans were angry that the Marines had been sent there. Wasn't that attack one of the major reasons why a) Americans don't like peace-keeping and b) why presidential candidate George W. Bush declared in 2000 that the US military should not do peacekeeping but win wars etc. and c) one of the reasons why the US will not send troops to the Israeli-Lebanese border now? [i]Did I hear somebody in this post mention Sudan (Darfur)? Nah, I didn't hear that right? Good.[/i] I have no idea what you are trying to say. I wrote a comment and linked to a post about [b][url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/172-Genocide-U.S.-calls-for-more-sanctions-against-Sudan,-but-Germany-sees-business-opportunities.html]German government promotion of business ties with Sudan despite all that is happening in Darfur.[/url] [/b]If Germany is unwilling to militarily intervene, the least we should do is to put economic sanctions on Sudan rather than promote business. Do you take issue with that comment or post?

Anonymous on :

When talking about Germany's "small" defense budget, consider Ben & Jerry's Thoughts on Federal Spending and American Pie: America stands first in nuclear defense capabilities and first in nuclear defense expenditures among industrialized countries. And it's not even close! But America ranks only... 14th in efforts to lift children out of poverty; 18th in the percentage of children in poverty; And last (yes, last!) in providing health insurance for all children. It might make you wonder if something is out-of-whack with the U.S. federal discretionary spending pie. Perhaps some slices are too big, while others are too small? http://www.benjerry.com/americanpie/

Bill on :

O.K., I can agree that the increase of German military participation in foreign peacekeeping and reconstruction missions is a remarkable change in foreign policy. I can also understand the cautious approach to these type of missions and the tactic of feeding the German public this change in foreign policy in small, digestable bites. What the leadership in Berlin and German policy makers need to understand is that the majority of the German public is not stupid and realize what is going on (with the government's manouvering and tactics on global and regional crises) and the same is true for much of the voting public in the U.S.A. I feel that it is important to point out that ANY positive contribution that is made by a government toward the large amount of international crises and problems that we all face today is very much appreciated. I think that many Americans are of the opinion that a country like Germany can and should do more in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, various hotspots in Africa and Asia, and so forth. Americans are tired of shouldering much of the load in conflicts and crises around the world and want to see our "friends, allies, and partner countries" do more to help stop the violence, rebuild war-torn societies, and help find solutions to the kinds of problems that lead to these conflicts and threats that we all face. The days are gone when capable societies and governments can just sit back and watch or make small gestures and offer lots of rhetoric when the house is on fire (the house = Earth). I haven't read your piece on Sudan and Darfur but I will. I am aware of what Siemens and other multinationals are doing down there to support the murderous regime of Umar al-Bashir in Khartoum and of the German government's financial support via AUMA and the BMWi ( German Trade Ministry). What I am hinting at in my previous comment is that none of us, especially EU nations and the Arab League countries, China, Pakistan, and a long list of other nations can say a damn thing about assisting the people of Darfur and southern Sudan. It is already too late, the ethnic cleansing and rampage of murder and rape and other atrocities against these people has reached the end game to the tune of perhaps 500,000 lives. The final death toll will be much higher because Darfurians will die of disease and illness and neglect for years to come just as over 4 million Congolese have since their 2nd civil war of 1998. Millions of people in Darfur are displaced from their homes and villages living in the worst conditions imaginable and under constant threat of rape and death while the regime in Khartoum leads the international community around on a leash of inaction and fear threatening a wider Jihad than we are facing now in much of the Middle East and at the Horn of Africa (Somalia). What can any of us say to the people of Darfur or do on their behalf now that will make a difference in their lives? It is too late. Never again has happened yet again and we let it happen without doing anything to stop it. The United States government has been calling for harsh sanctions and military intervention since 2003-2004 but it has fallen on deaf ears both at the U.N. and in Brussels and Strasbourg. Darfur should be of very special signifigance (and shame) to the people of Germany, and I think you know why. Berlin could have done a lot more than offer military troop transport and paltry financial assistance to the African Union mission to Darfur, but to date it hasn't and Germany's policy toward Sudan will not change in the near future. After all, Sudan is a potentially lucrative source of oil and natural gas to nearby Europe. Being an African-American, I have an especially bitter fire in my gut re: the atrocities carried out in southern Sudan and in Darfur at the hands of an "Arabized" Islamic black elite in Khartoum and the Janjaweed militias. Amre Moussa of the Arab League was right, the Gates of Hell have been opened and will not be easily closed again. I'll let somebody else comment on the 1983 U.N. Mission to Lebanon. Don't forget that the Hezbollah suicide truck bombs that exploded before the barracks of the Multinational Force in Lebanon not only killed U.S. Marines but killed a number of French military personell as well. No wonder the French are saying screw it to the proposed 2006 UN Mission Back to Lebanon until they have a clear mandate to shoot first and ask questions later. Make sure that the German Navy (Der Marine) brings plenty of firepower, you're gonna need it.

Bill on :

Sometimes I am simply amazed at how timely citizen journalists can be on posting about the hot issues of the day, often beating the MSM to the street with the news and commentary. This post and the related comments are a good example of that phenomenon. Der Speigel (International edition) has an article today (August 29th) about the debate surrounding the German military missions in Afghanistan, DR Congo, and coming soon___ Lebanon. It's a must read for anyone interested in this subject. Here is an excerpt from Der Speigel's The World from Berlin article "Is Southern Afghanistan too Dangerous for Germany?" http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,434165,00.html Because Germany took over command in northern Afghanistan in June, it has so far been able to steer clear of the skirmishing in the south. But for how much longer? In Germany, the idea of sending troops to the south is controversial and the issue could become a serious one when the German parliament discusses extending the Bundestag's mandate in Afghanistan in mid-September. The Bundestag must approve all German troop deployments abroad and the mandate for the current 2,700 German soldiers stationed in Afghanistan expires in October. Since Germany deployed to Afghanistan in 2002, there have been a number of casualties, including the deaths of 18 soldiers -- six through attacks and 12 in accidents. The government in Berlin says there have been no official requests for Germany to send troops to southern Afghanistan, but within ISAF circles, that pressure is reportedly growing. Some are even said to have described Germany's reluctance to send soldiers into the hot zone as "cowardly." For many editorialists in the German media, the current debate is the moment of truth for the Bundeswehr.

Bill on :

Der Spiegel magazine online has published a new article about the state of the German military (Deutsche Bundeswehr) and its (lack of) funding and preparedness to fulfill increasingly dangerous foreign peacekeeping missions. Actually, the real problem is with the Bundestag (Parliament) and not with the Bundeswehr HQ. Read Speigel Online International's article "Too Many Missions, Too Little Money - Germany's Army Feels the Pinch" (Sep 06, 2006): http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,435368,00.html Following is an excerpt from the story: But the demand for the Bundeswehr has grown faster than its capabilities. While countries like Australia, France and Great Britain have increased their military spending in recent years, Germany's defense budget has declined almost continuously since reunification. "Germany is among the countries that spends a relatively small percentage of its budget on defense," says the chancellor, succinctly summing up the problem. Indeed, Germany spends just over one percent of its gross domestic product of about €2 trillion on defense, which puts it at the tail end of NATO countries in terms of military spending. Although the Bundeswehr's €24 billion budget will increase by €480 million next year, its own costs will rise by €300 million as a result of the increase in the value-added tax later this year that has already been approved by the Bundestag. The defense minister is virtually the only prominent politician willing to stand up for the Bundeswehr. "Many members of parliament have lost interest in the Bundeswehr," says former Defense Minister and Social Democrat Hans Apel. "Supporting the military does nothing for their careers." Despite its growing importance internationally, the German military continues to play the role of a stepchild in German domestic politics. Despite opinion polls that show the armed forces, together with the Federal Constitutional Court and the police, enjoying the highest level of public confidence among all government institutions, this hasn't convinced politicians to open the national pocketbook when it comes to military spending. Besides, two-thirds of German citizens say that Germany has plenty of problems of its own that should be addressed before turning to problems in other countries.

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