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Chancellor Merkel's Lack of Leadership on Afghanistan

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.)

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Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

P.S.: "Tough decisions" does not necessarily mean sending more troops, but it could also mean pulling out of Afghanistan, if they think that a) NATO cannot achieve its objectives in Afghanistan, b) our soldiers die for nothing, AND c) the real threats come from terrorists living in Europe, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

Don S on :

Joerg, a few blog entries below you have one titled "Premature US Withdrawal Could Threaten Europe". Presumably you believe that a US withdrawal from Iraq qould be a disaster and therefore wrong. In the comment section tou note that real leadership could mean pulling out of Afghanistan. Hmmm, a bit of a double standard here? What if the next US President decides to undertake an act of 'real leadership' a la Joerg - and pull out of Iraq? We know Bush fails the 'real leadership' test becaause he won't pull out even when public opinion in the US demands it. Perhaps his successor will meet the challenge. I half hope they will - if only to hear the reaction from points east.....

Joerg on :

Where is the double standard? I think that I am consistent.

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