From: Rick Rozoff <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>

Subject: German Occupation Of Afghanistan: Willing But Not Able


[The same tone as though Operation Barbarossa had been

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
January 30, 2002

Action, Not Words
Berthold Kohler

"You really can't have it any better," German Defense
Minister Rudolf Scharping said after he told the
Federal Constitutional Court that the German
government cannot deliver on a promise to its allies.
Even if you do not share Mr. Scharping's logic, it
could not be clearer that the aspirations of the
government coalition of the Social Democratic Party
and Alliance 90/The Greens to play a leading role in
international conflict management is a charade. For on
the same day Mr. Scharping went before the court, the
government announced that it does not want to take
command of the international security force in
Afghanistan. Such modesty is not the result of a
conviction that it would be politically wrong to do
so, let alone of a fear of being called the "lead
nation." The reason why Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der's
government has resisted the Afghans' express wish and
ignored alliance considerations that make it seem
advisable to take on this task is much simpler:
Germany is militarily unable to do so.

Given its intention to assume greater responsibility
in international affairs, Mr. Schr?der's government
does not, however, seem to have dismissed entirely the
idea of taking over the lead in Afghanistan from
Britain. The German government is well aware that the
United States would have no objection to Germany
assuming command in Kabul. As far as Germany's current
military capabilities are concerned, the question then
is who is more mistaken: the allies or the German
government. The German military, in any case, is
certainly under no illusions, and those who are able
to say so admit that it is in over its head with its
existing missions. Germany's armed forces are simply
not equipped for a task like the one in Kabul. Yet the
chancellor and his foreign, defense and finance
ministers evidently needed to confer before this
realization prevailed.

But how long will it prevail? And does the government
still believe there is a connection between military
capability and international influence? If it does,
then it ought to step up funding for the military
immediately. It has long ceased to be merely a matter
of the German armed forces' reputation. Germany's
reputation as a reliable ally that can be taken
seriously is also at stake. No matter how many
international conferences Foreign Minister Joseph
(Joschka) Fischer holds in Bonn or how often the
chancellor visits the United States, in the final
analysis, actions, not words, are what count in world
affairs -- and elsewhere.
Jan. 29

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