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Germany Will Not Participate in New Darfur Peacekeeping Mission

Finally, four years, 200.000 dead and 2.5 Mio refugees after the atrocities begun, the UN has decided on a resolution for sending peacekeepers to Darfur. So far, France, Denmark and Indonesia have promised to contribute to the mission. “Britain said it would consider a request to contribute but would not send ground forces,” according to the International Herald Tribune  – notwithstanding the fact that its new prime minister, Gordon Brown, has called the conflict “the greatest humanitarian disaster the world faces today.”
Several countries — including Italy, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, Thailand, and South Africa — said they had not made a decision yet. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the country would send a small number of doctors and nurses, but no troops or security personnel, given its existing commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Solomon Islands.
China made no immediate response, though its special envoy on Darfur said in June that his country would seriously consider sending peacekeepers.
Meanwhile, Spiegel International reports:
Germany, while welcoming the plan, has decided not to contribute troops to the mission, saying that its military is already overstretched by other foreign peacekeeping operations, primarily in Afghanistan and Kosovo. German newspapers also hailed the peacekeeping plan, but some wondered if in its current form it could really bring an end to the carnage.
Read some skeptical excerpts from all sides of the political spectrum in English at Spiegel International

A few Bundeswehr troops are active in Sudan, according to another Spiegel article:
German soldiers are participating in two missions in Sudan at present. As many as 200 soldiers from the German military, the Bundeswehr, are providing logistical support under the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) mandate. They are mainly responsible for transportation flights. An additional 38 German military observers are currently in Sudan under the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) mandate.

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Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

The above mentioned Spiegel article quotes the conservative daily as saying "Darfur will not be pacified by military means." That statement is so typical of German sentiments. What a wonderful excuse for not sending troops. It also serves as an excuse for not writing about the reasons, why the Bundeswehr cannot take on another mission. It reminds me of Defense Minister Jung's statement that US troops in Afghanistan need to change tactics to limit civilian casualties. [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/673-Civilian-Casualties-in-Afghanistan-Germanys-Defense-Minister-Criticizes-US-Policy.html[/url] ALL these statements are true, but they leave a bad after-taste. [b][i]I[/i][/b] consider them inappropriate because Germany does not send combat troops to southern Afghanistan and to Darfur. Do I overreact? Anyway, this post was written by Sonja Bonin. So please discuss her post first rather than my comment. I don't want to distract.

Vilyamrl on :

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Sonja on :

What do you mean?

Sonja on :

I absolutely agree, jörg; I'm outraged! We germans really tend to take a Kassandra-like pessimistic position on anything. So now that we've waited four years watching another humanitarian catastrophe develop (remember Ruanda, anybody?) we decide it's too late to do anything at all? Is that the way we are going to collectively solve world problems? Is that the message we are sending the UN and all its critics (like the Americans)? Is'n't this the one and only kind of mission we should be eager and proud to contribute to with all means?

Zyme on :

I would argue that the pride and eagerness to solve world problems have somewhat decreased in our politics after the americans torpedoed our interest in gaining a permanent seat in the UN security council. It would be understandable. Those that don´t respect any further engagement should not expect any.

Don S on :

"I would argue that the pride and eagerness to solve world problems have somewhat decreased in our politics after the americans torpedoed our interest in gaining a permanent seat in the UN security council." I noticed no decline in pride and eagerness, except perhaps in the pride and egerness that the German public exhibited at the thought of gaining a veto over the actions of the US on the UNSC. I can understand that. Veto first, action later. The Canadians clearly believe that, don't they? Though properly deployed the veto can ensure that no action is necessary, ever.

Don S on :

"Darfur will not be pacified by military means." "That statement is so typical of German sentiments. What a wonderful excuse for not sending troops." Sounds familiar, Joerg! I would agree with you except that I've long since given up on writing any sentences beginning with the words 'Germany needs to' or 'Germany should', The facts speak for themselves. With a total of about 11,000 troops deployed internationally on non-combat missions the Bundeswehr is 'exhausted'. The Brits aren't sending troops to Darfur either. Also because they are exhausted (though they do not use that word I think), but that is the actuality. But look at the missions the Brits are on, what the missions are and the numbers on those missions. Britain is a somewhat smaller "country than Germany & probably the same size as France. The three countries should be comparable but they are not. The Brits have developed their capacity and have the will to use it, the French have a less-developed capacity (in raw numbers - some French units are among the best globally) and the French have less will to use them. The Germans have not developed capacity (for almost any mission one can conceive of inclusing disaster relief) and very little will to use the little they do have. What Germany is to do about this is a German issue. I've noticed a trend in recent years - whenever a Yank/war criminal like me has the utter temerity to make a suggestion - Germany and Germans do the precise opposite. So a Yank's best strategy is to make no suggestions whatever and hope that Germans figure it out themselves. That offers the best odds of positive developments. "It reminds me of Defense Minister Jung's statement that US troops in Afghanistan need to change tactics to limit civilian casualties." ALL these statements are true, but they leave a bad after-taste. I consider them inappropriate because Germany does not send combat troops to southern Afghanistan and to Darfur. Do I overreact?" Not at all. There is an old adage my mother taught me long ago - "Actions speak louder than words". Germans do offer many words. Reams of words, 'expert' analysis, criticism, international treaties to limit the scope of action allowed for countries who take action, ringing statements of principals, statements that 'something ought to be done' about things like Darfur, critical post-mortems of the actions taken etc. Germans are the most wordy and vociferous people on earth bar the French. German actions I leave to Germans to judge.

Pat Patterson on :

I'm always likely to accept government pronoucements, especially if it involves send X number of troops without coherent ROEs to someplace tht requires shots for diseases that nobody has ever heard of yet. But, just for a second, the German government sounded like the USA in that why should they get involved in another hare-brained scheme that is years late and offers no more chance of success than a coin toss. If the German government was reluctantly dragged kicking and screaming into Afghanistan which actually has a goal and a reasonable chance of success, then why should it surprise anyone when they now refuse to back this newest adventure? Personally I think that the Germans are now staring over the precipice and like the US have more than a tremor of doubts over UN capablities and intentions.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Refusal to participate is fine with me, but I am just having enough of these smart arse comments ("Military means alone is not enough"). It is put up or shut up time, I believe. If you don't do anything, you should not criticize others. Well, yes, okay, I can think of a few legitimate reasons, why you can criticize without contributing, but right now I find it annoying. The French were talking about protecting refugee camps in Chad and German refused to participate even in that endeavor. Jesus, that is sort of the least you can do. I don't see mission creep there. Pat, why do you do you think that Afghanistan has in contrast to Darfur "a goal and a reasonable chance of success"??? Besides, I believe that the German government was NOT "reluctantly dragged kicking and screaming into Afghanistan." We actually volunteered right after 9/11, but the US did not want NATO first and later only in Kabul. The US was only interested in NATO help, when things were not going well in Afghanistan. Now we were kicking and screaming about those caveats and stuff.

Detlef on :

I suspect it´s - at least in part - simply an excuse to do nothing. Look at the defense budget. Was it significantly raised to pay for Afghanistan, the Balkans etc? Of course not! What happened is that money was taken out of the training and investment (new equipment) defense budgets to pay for those missions. That´s a very destructive policy IMO. IIRC German pilots for example no longer fulfill the NATO obligation of a minimum flight hours per year. Part of the equipment (helicopters, transport airplanes for example) are significantly older than the soldiers using it. Remember the reconnaissance Tornado airplanes for Afghanistan? That they had to send more than needed just to ensure that enough would arrive? Or (older) TV documentaries showing Transall transport airplanes in Germany cannibalized so that the ones in Afghanistan had enough spare parts? And a few days ago, I´ve read a newspaper article reporting that not enough protection vests for soldiers are available. With politicians saying that the company can´t produce faster. And critics saying that not enough money is available to buy more. In short, I really hope that someone in the German government finally put his or her foot down after 15 years of that. It´s simply irresponsible to offer German troops for worldwide missions without significantly raising the defense budget. That said, I agree with your criticism of German politicians. They (and the German public too) tend to view the German armed forces as some kind of development agency only with arms. And they tend to make (annoying) moralistic speeches just to prove how much Germany has changed since WW2. (Although, if you look at the last 20 years, the changes are there. Just remember Kohl in 1990/91. Even sending some Patriot missile batteries to Turkey back then led to huge debates. And sending German troops to countries (the Balkans) that were German-occupied in WW2? Unthinkable in 1990. Schroeder did change some things. Especially in the Balkans and in Afghanistan. He just didn´t want to pay for them.)

Don S on :

"I am just having enough of these smart arse comments ("Military means alone is not enough")" 'smart-arse comments"?!!!! Don't you mean earnest criticism, Joerg? ;) "it is put up or shut up time, I believe. If you don't do anything, you should not criticize others. Well, yes, okay, I can think of a few legitimate reasons, why you can criticize without contributing, but right now I find it annoying. The French were talking about protecting refugee camps in Chad and German refused to participate even in that endeavor. Jesus, that is sort of the least you can do. I don't see mission creep there." I'm not so sure, Joerg. Seems to me Germany could do less and offer even more criticism of what Germans don't participate in. It would be very hard but I think Germans are up to the task! ;) "the US did not want NATO first and later only in Kabul." The US was in a hurry at first and parts of NATO were unable to move quickly. So 'fast track' NATO went in. As for Kabul, well consider. The Bundeswehr is exhausted by having to maintain 11,000 troops outside of Germany on non-combat missions. Should the US have pushed them over the breaking point (which any more demanding mission would have done (it seems certain)? Did the German government have public support for anything more demanding - or would there have been a public debate in the Bundestag over every operational detail undertaken by German soldiers in a combat zone? And do you believe this kind of thing will work? Or will it result in dead Germans? And dead allies who depended on those Germans apt to be pulled out at any minute by an outraged Bundestag?

Pat Patterson on :

Point taken, but it should be noted that the US, in spite of years of joint exercises with the other NATO members still must rely primarily on the Canadians, the British and the Australians for the kind of operational flexibility and cooperation necessary in the initial stages of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I fear that the US has largely lost confidence in some of its traditional NATO allies and only expects them to operate in occupational or peacekeeping roles rather than offensive formations. Though the Poles, the Romanians and the Hungarians(even as all three downsize, reform, retrain and modernize), are showing a flair and willingness to engage in the kind of large and small unit fighting that the previously named forces excel. In spite of the anti-French rhetoric bandied about in the US the French special forces in Afghanistan are admired and some of the heavier formations of the French military, the Marines, the naval commandos and the Chasseurs Alpins were requested specifically by both the JCS and the President directly to Pres. Chirac. Afghanistan's current government is an ally of NATO while the government of Sudan must at best be seen as an extremely reluctant bystander if not a hostile vs. the UN.

Kevin Sampson on :

I don't blame the Germans at all for not wanting to get involved in Darfur. However, if we do the same thing (and I hope to God we do) I have no doubt Germany will be amoung the first to excoriate us for ‘failing to live up to our responsibilities as the only remaining super-power’.

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