The US, Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands provide most of the troops to fend off the insurgency in Afghanistan. Germany's engagement is quite limited and yet public support has fallen to new lows."It should be Merkel's job to explain why Germany has 3,300 troops based in Afghanistan. But she rarely does," writes Judy Dempsey in the International Herald Tribune (via Anglofritz):
[Merkel] has not given a single speech devoted to Afghanistan to the Bundestag, or Parliament. She missed an ideal chance last Friday during a parliamentary debate over renewing the mandates for the German troops based there. But she left the explanation to her not terribly persuasive defense minister, Franz-Josef Jung. And since taking office nearly two years ago, Merkel has traveled neither to Kabul nor to the comparatively peaceful north where most of the German troops are based. Now, under pressure from the opposition, she has finally announced travel plans. But so far, no date has been set. What is baffling is that her attitude is out of line with the rest of her foreign policy agenda.
Dempsey describes Afghanistan as Merkel's "big blind spot," because she has shown more leadership on other issues like Russia and China.
Ulf Gartzke, a visiting scholar at the BMW Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, argues in a similar direction in "German Lessons: The Afghan Conundrum" in The Globe and Mail.
Carl Robichaud asks a rhetorical question in Afghanistan Watch: "Last week Germany voted by a 2 to 1 margin to sustain the deployment of its 3,000 strong forces in Afghanistan--for now. But how sustainable is this mission when the public at large opposes the deployment by the same margin?"Yep, we need "emancipated Atlanticists" who are willing to make and explain tough decisions. This requires more "foreign policy maturity," see Jan Techau's op-ed "Deutschland muss außenpolitisch erwachsen werden" in Deutschlandradio Kultur (in German, translation soon on Atlantic Community.)