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Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan: Germany's Defense Minister Criticizes US Policy

Afghanistan Watch reported on May 9, 2007 that Afghan officials blamed nearly 90 civilian deaths on Western troops in the previous two weeks.
The Army Times reported on May 14, 2007:
U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan need to change tactics to limit civilian casualties and prevent a backlash from locals, Germany’s defense minister said Monday, reflecting European unease about reports of high death tolls in incidents involving American units. “We have to make sure that in the future, operations do not take place in this way,” Franz Josef Jung told reporters at a meeting of EU defense ministers. “We don’t want the population against us. We have to prevent that.”
Personal comment: Such talk is cheap and inappropriate for the defense minister of a country that refuses to send combat troops to southern Afghanistan. If there would be more troops in southern Afghanistan, then many civilian casualties could be avoided.
Since most Germans are strongly against the deployment of combat troops and other NATO countries do not want or cannot send more troops either, NATO cannot achieve its objectives and cannot limit civilian casualties as much as it should. Less ground troops means more air strikes.
It makes less and less sense to conduct this war. NATO might as well withdraw from Afghanistan, if Germany and other NATO members are not willing to deploy more troops or do not have the resources to do so.
The Army Times continues to write about the German defense minister:
Jung made a distinction between the work of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and the U.S.-led counterterrorism mission, which was known until recently as Operation Enduring Freedom. “It’s not the way of going about it,” he said. “I’m not talking about ISAF, I’m talking about OEF.”
As usual, the German government was more outspoken than other European governments:
European officials at NATO headquarters have expressed concern in recent days at the reports of civilian casualties, but they have refrained from publicly criticizing tactics of the American Special Forces who make up the bulk of the U.S.-led counterterrorism mission. They have, however, highlighted the need to improve coordination between NATO troops and the U.S.-led force of over 13,000.
More criticism of Jung in
Kosmoblog (in German).

ENDNOTE: DW World reports today:
A suicide blast tore through a bazaar in a normally quiet town in northern Afghanistan Saturday, killing three German soldiers and six Afghan civilians, a governor said. Military forces reported meanwhile that they had killed scores of Taliban fighters in separate operations overnight, with the bodies of nearly 70 left on one battlefield. The German soldiers were hit while shopping in a market in the town of Kunduz, the provincial governor told AFP. (...) The attack was the most deadly against the German troops since 2003, when four were killed in a suicide car bombing in Kabul.
I wonder what our government tells the parents and partners of the fallen soldiers. What was their purpose in Afghanistan? Did their service and sacrifice make Germany more secure? I doubt it, because Al Qaeda does not need Afghanistan to plan the next 9/11.
Will the families believe the stories from the government? I hope they can convince themselves that their loved ones have not died for nothing.

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:

The West's Problems in Afghanistan and Underestimating Al Qaeda
Fixing the Afghanistan mission: The U.S. wants to try, but what about Europe?
Germans said to be more afraid to kill than to get killed

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Interested in an honest debate about the US involvement in Afghanistan, then head over to Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan: Germany’s Defense Minister Criticizes US Policy at the Atlantic Review. By the way, big props to my friends over there f...

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Zyme on :

"As usual, the German government was more outspoken than other European governments" Does that mean you disapprove this part of our mentality? I prefer it a lot above backstabbing secretive way of conducting foreign policy. Europe desperately needs someone who clearly expresses what is going wrong and must not continue to do so. "Such talk is cheap and inappropriate for the defense minister of a country that refuses to send combat troops to southern Afghanistan. If there would be more troops in southern Afghanistan, then many civilian casualties could be avoided." I agree - but we are not going to send more troops into that mission, as it couldn´t be justified by our interests. Our credibility in the arabian world depends on it - as long as our troops are regarded differently from the american ones, everything is fine. Once they would start confusing both, we would have to be really concerned. Let´s be honest: What goodwill in the arabian world do the americans have to lose? Ist der Ruf erst mal ruiniert.. "I wonder what our government tells the parents and partners of the fallen soldiers. What was their purpose in Afghanistan?" Yeah that looks like almost impossible task. They gave their life for some unclear kind of pursuit of german interests. Not very satisfying one can assume.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

> Does that mean you disapprove this part of our mentality? Well, being outspoken is better than backstabbing, but I would prefer diplomatic channels, especially since Germany does not offer a real alternative to the US policy. Still, the question remains: [b]Are US rules of engagement too "trigger happy" compared to the rules of engagement for European armies? What's the PC word for "trigger happy"? [/b] If that is the case and diplomatic channels have been exhausted, because the US does not listen and considers its rules of engagement are superior (despite repeated criticism for years), then it might be time to express more outspoken criticism. Though, since Germany does not send combat troops, this criticism is sort of hypocritical. [b]German criticism would be taken more seriously, if the Bundeswehr would actually fight and be a role model in avoiding civilian casualties.[/b] Perhaps US rules of engagement are superior. I am not an expert. Perhaps European soldiers would kill as many civilians, if they had to do the jobs the US troops are asked to do. The problem is that every civilian death makes it more difficult to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan. > I agree - but we are not going to send more troops into that > mission, as it couldn´t be justified by our interests. Would not it be more honest to just pull out of Afghanistan rather than this lukewarm, haphazard policy we are pursuing? > credibility in the arabian world depends on it - as long as > our troops are regarded differently from the american ones, > everything is fine. Once they would start confusing both, we > would have to be really concerned. This could be the intention of Jung's comments. > Let´s be honest: What goodwill in the arabian world do the > americans have to lose? Well, the whole idea of bringing democracy to the Muslim world is too improve the US image in the Muslim world. > "I wonder what our government tells the parents and partners > of the fallen soldiers. What was their purpose in Afghanistan?" > > Yeah that looks like almost impossible task. They gave their > life for some unclear kind of pursuit of german interests. There was recently a survey among Bundeswehr soldiers. They don't understand the purpose of the many international missions they participate in. I suspect, more and more US troops don't see much of a purpose as well. Though, some of them believe that they are in Iraq because Saddam was involved in 9/11. Yeah, right. That is one way of keeping them motivated, but it is not honest. US politician should respect the troops and tell them loud and clear that they are not in Iraq because of 9/11, but because they thought Iraq had WMD and democratization would be in the US interest.

Don S on :

"Well, being outspoken is better than backstabbing," Why not both, like the Fre (er, I mean Chirac) did? New President now and he says he's friendly to the US.. As did Chirac at one time, come to think of it. " but I would prefer diplomatic channels, especially since Germany does not offer a real alternative to the US policy." Yes. The public pronouncements merely look like grandstanding. Empty grandstanding given Germany's lack of action & contributions. I might characterise German contributions thus far as a Katrina worth of hot air and a thimbleful of solid aid. Hyperbole I know - it's not quite as bad as that. But close enough. "Still, the question remains: Are US rules of engagement too "trigger happy" compared to the rules of engagement for European armies? What's the PC word for "trigger happy"?" Jingoistic? There isn't a PC word for these kind of things becuase the people who enforce PC purely love words like -trigger-happy or Jingoism, while people offended by those terms don't believe in being The Mind Police. "German criticism would be taken more seriously, if the Bundeswehr would actually fight and be a role model in avoiding civilian casualties." I've been making this point since before 9/11. German criticism of this kind did not begin with 9/11 - there was a lot of it during the Kosovo war. The retort then was "Don't like it? Then DO something!" Germany didn't - and hasn't. Same old. "Perhaps US rules of engagement are superior. I am not an expert. Perhaps European soldiers would kill as many civilians, if they had to do the jobs the US troops are asked to do." I don;'t know either. It seems to me that the aim of any 'rules of engagement' should be to minimize casualties. All casulties (with the possible exception of the opposition) - including occupying troops and 'innocent' civilians. That is not quite the same as pursuing a strategy of minimizing 'civilian' casualties inflicted by US/NATO forces however. If the US troops were to crouch in their compounds and not fight - a civil war might begin which could kill millions - but not with US bullets. Thatmight not be considered a desireable outcome in Germany. Or perhaps it might - Saddam Hussein murdered perhaps a million Iraqis and tortured hundreds of thousands at Abu Ghraib. But Abu Ghraib only became a household word in Germany after Lyddie (the crackpot) England led a few prisoners on a dog leash. One could conclude that Germans are unconcerned about mass official torture and murder - unless the US does it, in which case tiny quantities are enough to provoke massive outrage.

David on :

"But Abu Ghraib only became a household word in Germany after Lyddie (the crackpot) England led a few prisoners on a dog leash." Don, You need to be a wee bit more careful with your misinformation. [url=http://www.thememoryhole.org/war/iraqis_tortured/] The Abu Ghraib Abuse Photos[/url]

Don S on :

Photos on a website are important and vital. Names in decade-old ledgers or Family Korans aren't vital. Are they, David? They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case a picture outweighs a thousand tragedies. The Baathists didn't create a website to publicize their work, but opponents of the US made a website to publicize the infinately smaller bad work US soldiers did. Does that outweigh a Rwanda or a Saddam? Of course it does - by the only measure which matters to the likes of you. Volumn of publicity....

David on :

Don, Maybe to you the atrocities committed by US military - including the systematic torture of detainees, as documented by the FBI - are no big deal. But you shouldn't lie about them ("lead around on a dog leash"). A number of detainees were in fact murdered. The information is out there, but it reflects badly on the US, so you choose to ignore it.

Don S on :

"The information is out there, but it reflects badly on the US, so you choose to ignore it." as you choose to ignore what went on before at Abu Ghraib for many years. Saddam and his minions boasted about some of it in fact - because systemized state torture had and has a demoralising effect on any internal opposition. But you don't really care about that do you Dave? The story begins (for you) in March 2003.....

mbast on :

Ok, here's my take on the Rules of Engagement/Trigger Happy bit: 1. First off I have to admit that I don't know the ROEs for Afghanistan, neither the general NATO ones (which are supposed to be "robust", whatever that means) nor the ones specific to the different national armies. I just couldn't find the text on the internet (figures, since things like that probably fall into the "Military Secret" Department). 2. I did find one set of ROEs, namely the ones for the Joint Task Force in Somalia/Operation Provide Relief in 1992. They read as follows: "Nothing in these rules of engagement limits your right to take apropriate action to defend yourself and your unit. a. You have the right to use force to defend yourself against attacks or threats of attack. b. Hostile fire may be returned effectively and promptly to stop a hostile act. c. When US forces are attacked by unarmed hostile elements, mobs and/or rioters US forces should use the minimum force necessary under the circumstances and proportional to the threat. d. You may not seize the property of others to accomplish your mission. e. Detention of civilians is authorized for security reasons or in self defense. Remember: 1. The United States is not at war. 2. Treat all persons with dignity and respect. 3. Use minimum force to carry out your mission 4. Always be prepared to act in self defence." I do not know whether the current ROEs in Afghanistan for US forces are exactly like that, just a little like that or completely different, so it's difficult to judge whether the Afghanistan ROEs are in and by themselves "trigger happy". I would contend, though, that the above rules are very open to interpretation by the soldiers on the ground, to the point that when in doubt, they would probably shoot first and ask questions later. As a comparison, I know that the ROEs for French soldiers in Bosnia were much, much stricter and only permitted firing when fired upon, and then only whith confirmation by command if at all possible. 3. My own experience with US Air Force personel is that there is indeed an element of "trigger happiness" involved, especially when you're talking about ground attacks by US airplanes. I have personally witnessed a verbal row between a Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant and a US Air Force Captain (flying A 10 ground attack planes, so called "tank busters"), in which the American pilot contended that "casual vis(ual) ident(ification)" was sufficient to attack specific targets. The RAF Flight Lieutenant contended that confirmation of ID and a specific order to attack by the proper authority over wireless was necessary. This was before the second Gulf War. 4. Sure enough, in the first stages of the Iraq war, two American A 10 pilots shot up a British mechanized patrol, although the Brits sported all the identification aids (including a great big Union Jack on the top of one of their vehicles) one could wish for. You will find the details [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/190th_Fighter_Squadron%2C_Blues_and_Royals_friendly_fire_incident_-_March_28%2C_2003]here[/url] . 5. I also found a series of other incidents involving US and other troops shooting at/killing allied personel in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters. You will find quite a few of them [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendly_fire]here[/url] . Keep in mind, though, that this is a Wikipedia article and as such should be taken with a grain of salt. But it should give you a starting point for your own web-based investigation. Now you can all draw your own conclusions from that. One remark though (a remark that occured to me while reviewing the troop numbers): don't forget the numbers: there are a lot more American soldiers around in Afghanistan and Iraq than soldiers of other nations. Therefore, the risk of getting these types of incidents by Americans is probably higher. Then again, there are only two incidents involving British troops shooting on eachother. And another thought: this does not give any indication of the number of incidents with the Afghan or Iraqi population since there are no statistics on these incidents (they're not considered "friendly fire").

Dominik Bertram on :

I agree that this "lukewarm, haphazard policy" the German, and many other European governments are pursuing at the moment is not feasible. Like Zyme I believe that more troops need to be send to Afghanistan. Maybe, instead of pulling out completely or claiming "caveats", it might be more helpful to analyze the situation, and then send more then 6 Tornados, and help NATO troops in the North. As for the argument "I wonder what our government tells the parents and partners of the fallen soldiers.", well I don't think that pulling out would be the correct answer to that problem, because it would not only encourage insurgents in the region to intensify their efforts against Western troops, it also implies that "German" soldiers / human beings are worth more then Afghans. The Afghan civilians don't have the chance to "pull out". It is the responsibility of the NATO allies to protect them, failing to do so would be unmoral. Also, one has to make a clear distinction between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While one can argue about how "justified" the removal of dictator Saddam Hussein was, the operation in Afghanistan was a NATO mission, and being such, members of NATO have an obligation to live up to their duties, whether one likes it or not.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

About talking to families of fallen soldiers: "I don't think that pulling out would be the correct answer to that problem" Pulling out means our government does not have to lie anymore to the families. Problem solved. "The Afghan civilians don't have the chance to "pull out". It is the responsibility of the NATO allies to protect them, failing to do so would be unmoral." NATO is not capable of doing so anyway. It seems to me that we can either admit defeat now and abandon the civilians. Or we continue our failed policy and admit defeat in a couple of years. The difference for the civilians are a couple of years. "members of NATO have an obligation to live up to their duties, whether one likes it or not." What exactly is this obligation? It seems to me that most NATO members don't live up to this obligation right now. Otherwise Germany and other countries would send more troops and invest more in reconstruction. So... [b]Since NATO members do not do what is necessary in Afghanistan, they might as well give up all together. [/b] That's my point. If there would be any chance that Germany sends 10,000 combat troops to southern Afghanistan, increase reconstruction efforts 10x and send 10x more policy and army trainers and other NATO members increase their commitments as well and Pakistan would get on board, then it would make sense to continue this Afghanistan mission. Though, since there is no chance of this happening, I do not see the point of having NATO troops risk their lives in Afghanistan. Why do you still have hope that NATO could succeed in Afghanistan?

alec on :

Pardon any cursing in this post, but I really, really don't get the Western European hesitation towards committing in Afghanistan. I don't think Madrid or 9/11 or 7/7 were aberrations of my mind -- these things fucking happened. While they originated from a resentment with reason (Israel/Palestine, Western support for autocratic governments, economic hegemony and inequality, etc etc), the attacks certainly didn't occur within reason. That this could occur anywhere or anytime, even to European countries that insist on pussyfooting around the subject, seems to be the reality. And this feels out of character to take on what seems to be a rightist postion, but it seems to me that if you want to prevent fucked up terrorist attacks from happening on your soil, you go to where they originate and spruce things up a bit. I mean, we did some serious god-damn spring cleaning in Western Europe after WW2 and it turned out pretty well -- are we this historically ignorant not to realize that an economic rebuilding of Afghanistan combined with a military presence is a good idea for where these fucking terrorist masterminds reside??? Or am I batshit to think that empowering a country and a people that starved in all senses of the word under the Taliban would really help the West on numerous levels?

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"it seems to me that if you want to prevent fucked up terrorist attacks from happening on your soil, you go to where they originate and spruce things up a bit." a) Not a single Afghan citizen was involved in 9/11 and yet we are in a war with half the country. b) Why are you not in Saudi Arabia, i.e. the home of Bin Laden's and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers? c) How does US Afghanistan policy prevent the next terrorist attack? I REALLY don't get this. "I mean, we did some serious god-damn spring cleaning in Western Europe after WW2" Apples and Oranges. Compare progress in 2007 with 1951, i.e. six after WWII. "an economic rebuilding of Afghanistan combined with a military presence" Compare the rebuilding in 1951 with 2007. "where these fucking terrorist masterminds reside???" They are not in Afghanistan but Pakistan and many other places, incl. Europe and perhaps even the US. We waste resources in Afghanistan. We need them at home.

alec on :

It is true that not a single Afghan carried out any of the attacks, but the Taliban allowed Al-Qaeda to run camps and was basically the only government to allow Al-Qaeda to operate within its borders unimpeded. Do you think the operational effectiveness of terror groups is not hindered by our presence in Afghanistan (versus our presence in Iraq). While we basically create insurgency against us by occupying Iraq, I think we are neutralizing where it once thrived (but obviously the movement for these groups into the Afghan/Pakistani border isn't the best sign). On your Saudi comment, I think the answer is obvious -- the kingdom of Saud is stringently anti-Al-Qaeda. I think many people overlook the fact that Al-Qaeda basically arose from Bin Laden's disenfranchisement in the Saudi system that he viewed as propped up by Western governments.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ alec "I don't think Madrid or 9/11 or 7/7 were aberrations of my mind" And they will happen again -- whether we continue our policy in Afghanistan (killing some backward thinking mountain people and building a handful of schools) or pull out. We are not really making a difference in Afghanistan. Germany does not send troops and does not invest as much into rebuilding as it does on the Balkans. The other NATO countries do not care enough either to provide the resources necessary to succeed in Afghanistan. [b]Full commitment is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan. A 35% kind of commitment is not sufficient to succeed in Afghanistan, but is in fact a waste of resources in my opinion.[/b] Do you know I mean? It is like: You want to run a marathon for the first time in your life this autumn, but you are not willing (or you don't have the freetime) for daily training sessions. Instead you only go for a 30 min run every Sunday. > Madrid or 9/11 or 7/7 What makes you think that the attacks in Madrid on 3/11 originated in Afghanistan? Why are we not "sprucing things up" in Morocco now? 7/7 was done by local Brits and maybe some planning in Pakistan. Not Afghanistan. Al Qaeda just moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan. So what do you hope to achieve in Afghanistan? How is our presence in Afghanistan making us safer?

alec on :

I completely agree by the way, about our level of effort in Afghanistan (and by our, I mean NATO, America included). I think if any country is deserving of a complete effort for rebuilding, its Afghanistan. Obviously our involvement in Iraq precludes this from happening. I think you're missing the point when I say 'originated'. The people may not have originated from Afghanistan or Pakistan, but the ideas and training to perform this actions did. And the Taliban were the only government to allow Al-Qaeda to operate within its borders. I'm not suggesting that if we pulled out of Afghanistan, it would revert back to this, but I do fear an even more lawless Afghani/Pakistani border than we have now.

Jean on :

Good - pull out. And after that pull the fuck out of NATO. As Germany will be getting its energy from Russia, maybe you and the Russians can restart the Warsaw pact?

Zyme on :

There is no sign that Germany is going to make a military pact with Russia. Especially now in the Grand coalition, you can witness the stance of our country quite symbolically: We have a chancellor which favors strong transatlantic ties. And we have a foreign minister who favors strong german-russian ties. This is one of the rare points at which our Grand Coalition is actually 'grand': By not clearly preferring one partner above the other, both keep struggling for the preferred partnership with the biggest country in Europe - thus propelling our influence.

Jean on :

Zyme - how's that influence with Russia working out? The EU/Russia met recently ............. As I already said, pull out of NATO.

Jean on :

Tell me Zyme - are there any regimes you wouldn't deal with to make a euro? Ooops! I mean, increase German 'influence'?

Pat Patterson on :

In defense of Germany's foreign policy, which Zyme might agree that I don't normally do, it is apparent that, like any other nation in the world, its business interests are tending to drag its foreign policy in directions that seem inconsistent with either long term strategic goals or maintaining amity of allies. What is frustrating in this state of affairs, witness any number of business deals the US has made that appear contradictory to our national interests, is how generally unimportant the companies, that are demanding access to unsavory regimes, are in either size or product. But these companies thrive on the special favours that only bribes, er campaign donations, can bring. Often times in war the desire to not harm civilians becomes an agonizing debate when the other side has no compunction in placing civilians in front of, on top of or among the insurgents. Then the question a nation has to ask is how much risk are they willing to put their fellow citizens compared to the bad publicity of shooting civilians?

Axel on :

Jean, during the 1980's, the Reagan administration had decided to assist Iraq in its war against Iran in order to prevent an Iranian victory, which the administration saw as contrary to US interests. So in order to enable the US to set up the mechanisms needed to provide Iraq with various forms of assistance, contacts had to be established, Iraq had to be removed from the State Department's list of countries supporting terrorism, and diplomatic relations needed to be re-established. That occurred in November 1984. The US administration had own intelligence reports indicating that Iraq was using chemical weapons, both against Iran and against Iraqi Kurdish insurgents, in the early 1980s, at the same time that it decided to support Iraq in the war. So awareness of Iraq's chemical warfare, resulting in hundreds of thousands of casualties, did not deter it from initiating the policy of providing intelligence and military assistance to Iraq. The US didn't use its international influence to do everything it could to end this war. There were shipments of chemical weapons precursors from several U.S. companies to Iraq. See the released documents at the [url=http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/]National Security Archive.[/url] So my two questions are: Was the US foreign policies of the 80's morally wrong? Was is effective if you think of the enormous "blowback"? The same goes for the covert US funding and training of the Afghan Mujahideen through the Pakistani ISI. The US, for many years, held the view that promoting Islamist beliefs would effectively counter the spread of communist ideology in the Middle East. Remember Rambo III? To be honest, I personally don't know. But what I know for sure is that international relations are conducted not in black-and-white but in shades of gray. And it seems to me that especially some conservative US pundits don't know much about their own US foreign policies for the past several decades.

Jean on :

Well, I was able to access the links at your linked site last night Axel, but I can't get in today. Luckily for me, your post doesn't make any sense/employ logic - so I don't have to worry too much. Reread what you wrote in your post and please tell me why, if the US saw islamism as a defense against communism spreading in the ME, why would they have been against Iran winning the Iran/Iraq war? Check the logic there buddy. Oh, and 'Guests of the Ayatollah' is a really good book. What I was able to read when I could access your link last night was that Rumsfeld told Saddam the US would like to help, but because Saddam had used CW, the US wouldn't. All this, at a George Soros funded website! Oh, and the State Department felt that complaining about the use of cw would have a "low probability of achieving desired results." The reality is that the US slightly tilted toward Saddam at the beginning of the war, because of the seizure of the embassy, but as Kissinger said - 'it's a pity they can't both lose.' As for Afghanistan - the CIA funded the mujahadeen - but only 'til 1989, when the Soviets left. Pakistan (Bhutto) decided that the Taliban should win the civil war - in 1994. She recently admitted in an interview that perhaps that wasn't such a good idea.

Jean on :

Ran out of space so here's some more food for thought Axel. It's a bit rich to accuse US conservative pundits of not knowing US foreign policy and then mention a movie. I thought it was the Americans who were supposed to be unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality? Many Europeans accuse the Americans of Manichaeism, but the sad reality is, we're the ones with the problem. So - it's time to make some choices or admit the truth. If they're as bad/evil/trigger-happy/capitalist as we say, why are we in an alliance with them? The USSR is gone away, and while Putin is certainly no democrat, Schroeder thinks Putin is just fine and dandy and the pipeline is going to be built. So, we can divert spending from social issues/pensions/whatever and build a meaningful EU army, or we can do w/out any Armies because God knows it's only the Americans that cause problems and we know they won't attack us. Or we could ally with the Russians - hey, what's a little plutonium between friends? If, however, we don't want to fulfill our obligations under NATO, then we at least need to be honest enough to say that to the Americans. Any readers here have daughters? Remember the stories of how the Taleban would rip their fingernails off for wearing nail polish? That's one of the reasons why we're in Afghanistan.

Axel on :

"Check the logic there buddy." I think "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" is the appropriate name for this foreign policy doctrine. In the case of Afghanistan, the US had the idea of fireing up militant Muslims as the appropriate answer to the Soviet incursion. CIA Operation Cyclone was about supporting the Afghan Mujahideen with 3 billion dollars and encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan - not to bolster the several secular and nationalist Afghan groups opposed to the Moscow-backed Communists. So moderate Islamic leaders had no choice but to ally with hard-liners and religious fundamentalists to join the anti-Soviet jihad. That's why I mentioned the enormous "blowback". Spawning Islamic militancy with the primary aim of defeating the Soviet Union (the US also tried to arouse and heighten Islamic consciousness and ethnic nationalism in Central Asia in order to undermine the Soviet Union, but that's another story.) had the potential risk of sowing the seeds of a new security thread for the US and the rest of the world. In the case of Saddam Hussein and the US support for Iraq, the geostrategic situation was completely different. With the Iranian revolution and the deprivation of the Shah, the US had lost its most important ally in the Middle East and feared the fall of pro-American states like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan as the result of an Islamic "Domino effect". See the the National Security Decision Directives (NSDD) 114 and 139 "U.S. Policy toward the Iran-Iraq War", November 26, 1983 and "Measures to improve U.S. posture and Readiness to respond to developments in the Iran-Iraq War", April 5, 1984. It was the vital interest of the US to keep the Strait of Hormuz open to international shipping - "whatever measures may be necessary". Iraq was on the defensive and that was the reason to turn Hussein into a strategic partner. "What I was able to read when I could access your link last night was that Rumsfeld told Saddam the US would like to help, but because Saddam had used CW, the US wouldn't." Better read again. In a nutshell: 1. The US knew that Saddam regularly used CW. 2. US condemnation of Iraqi use of CW ranked relatively low on the scale of administration priorities, to put it nicely. Take the US administration's reaction in 1988 when roughly 100,000 Kurds were murdered as part of the al-Alfal campaign, especially the Halabja poison gas attack. The US Senate unanimously passed on 8 September the "Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988" that cut off from Iraq US loans, military and non-military assistance, credits, credit guarantees, items subject to export controls, and US imports of Iraqi oil. The Reagan Administration announced its opposition to the bill and after numerous legislation compromises and end-of-session haggling, the Senate bill died "on the last day of the legislative session". Not the only little help for a strategic partner. During the 1980's the US blocked all efforts by the United Nations to place sanctions upon Saddam Hussein’s regime. In 1986, the United States with Great Britain blocked all UN Security Council resolutions condemning Iraq's use of chemical weapons, and on March 21, the US was the only country that refused to sign a Security Council statement condemning Iraq's continued use of chemical weapons in clear violation of the Geneva Protocol. "The reality is that the US slightly tilted toward Saddam at the beginning of the war, because of the seizure of the embassy, but as Kissinger said - 'it's a pity they can't both lose.'" I disagree. After removing Iraq from the State Department's list of countries supporting terrorism, the Reagan and Bush administrations helped build Saddam's army into the most powerful army in the Middle East outside of Israel. They supplied intelligence and battle planning information to Iraq when those battle plans included the use of cyanide, mustard gas and nerve agents. They authorized the sale to Iraq of numerous sophisticated "dual use" items that had both military and civilian applications, including poisonous chemicals and diverse pathogenic and toxigenic microorganisms and viruses, such as botulism, anthrax, bubonic plague, gangrene, Dengue fever and West Nile Fever, which were sent by the American Type Culture Collection and the US government’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (see [url=http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_cr/s092002.html]Congressional Record: September 20, 2002 (Senate)[/url] or U.S. Senate Banking Committee report from 25 May 1994). And with a bit of Schadenfreude, one last fact. From July 18 to 1 August 1990 the Bush Administration approved $4.8 million in advanced technology product sales to Iraq - e.g. advanced data transmission devices worth of $695,000 on 1 August. Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August. (Committee on Government Operations, House, "Strengthening the Export Licensing System", 2 July 1991, section "National Security vs. Export Promotion: Sales to Iraq). But hey, I guess all these official and FOIA-released documents are nothing but tesseras in a great anti-American conspiracy funded by George Soros...

Jean on :

It's 1:15 in the morning here Axel, so the rebuttal will have to wait until I have time - where are all your links? So as I don't have much time, we'll get back to my original point - when is Germany getting out of NATO?

Jean on :

Newsweek!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You waste my time with crap from Newsweek?!? Hint Axel - this is the esteemed publication that in its hatred of the Bush administration printed that guards at Gitmo had flushed a Koran down the toilet.....................how much kood-aid must one have imbibed to ignore the goddamn laws of physics in the quest to smear the administration and or the military? And predictably, the over-excitable types rioted, and people died. And you believe that Byrd reading this article on the Senate floor makes it true? What, is that like the Pope speaking ex-cathedra? Yes, the Americans were so dastardly that they allowed Iraqi universities access to 24 vials of diseases to study that are actually common in the ME. There was no export ban at the time - one has been put in place since. Do you have any idea which country supplied Saddam with the chemicals necessary to produce cw? Oh, and Saddams' bunker! Good job building those Germany - the biggest bombs that airforce had were unable to penetrate the deepest levels. Zyme must be so proud!!!! Yes, the US wanted to keep the straits of Hormuz open. The European and Japanese economies would have ground to a halt (still would) w/out access to ME oil - do you recall what happened the last time the world economy went belly up? Oh, and speaking of Schadenfreude - it seems that two of the great European champions, Siemens and Total, had their hands in the cookie-jar that was the 'oil for food' scandal. You remember all those Iraqis that were supposedly dying because of the sanctions? One of the reasons OBL cited for declaring war on the Great Satan? Have you heard of Sayyid Qutb, btw?

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Please be a bit more specific about Siemens' involvement in Oil for Food scandal. Was their involvement bigger than those of US companies?

Zyme on :

Regimes? I can only see nations out there :) Maybe a different perspective can help you understand it: During the entire second half of the 20th century Germany played no role on the world stage anymore. We were divided, diminished and busy becoming united again. Now that we want to regain our rightful position, we cannot only work together with those that already have a powerful position like the USA. They will defend their influence and naturally have no interest in a different distribution. Just like in the 1920s, both Germany and Russia feel under-represented and realize that it is best to work together wherever it is opportune. Who can blame both? As regards the EU-Russian meeting lately, here is an article about the history of german-russian cooperation in the last 130 years (in german): http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/de/fulltext/56850

Jean on :

Axel and Zyme - my last comment just got eaten by the blog worms - and it's late. I can assure you I'll be back with a comment tomorrow - specially for you Axel - that link is so weak. Bis morgan!

ADMIN on :

I am sorry that there was trouble with the "blog worms." Please post your comment again. We need and appreciate your comments and look forward to continue this controversial, tough, honest, thoughtful debate.

Zyme on :

Scheinst einen guten Schlaf zu haben :D

ADMIN on :

Please note that by default the comments in this blog are threaded rather than linear, i.e. some of the latest responses to comments are not at the bottom, but in the middle of the thread right behind the comment they respond to. At the top of the comments section you have the option to change the view from threaded to linear (=chronological), which enables you to see the latest comments at the end of the thread.

Mark Burgess on :

Force protection can often be a big problem in formulating rules of engagement, leading to accusations of 'trigger happiness.' Of course, force protection can be over-emphasised. Indeed too much of a precoccupation with it can lead to increased casualties if force protection turns into casualty aversion. Germany should beware in this regard. It is coming to be seen as among the most casualty averse contingents in Afghanistan. Before long the insurgents may decide that sending a few body bags back to Berlin might just force a withdrawl thus giving them a much-needed boost. Germany's criticisms of others' rules of engagements also undoubtedly leave them open to charges of hyprocrisy given that they have brought force protection to a whole new level with their use of caveats.

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