Tuesday, March 20, 2007

German Political Unrest Over Afghanistan War Commitment

Support is waning in Germany's Social Democratic Party for the country's deployment in Afghanistan. Keen to spin the party as one of peace, the party's base is growing restless. Will it have implications for Chancellor Merkel's government?

The unrest in Germany's Social Democratic Party began in earnest about two weeks ago. During a vote on whether to deploy German Tornado reconnaissance jets to Afghanistan, one-third of the left-leaning party's delegates cast their votes against the proposed expansion of the German military's mandate. The split on the foreign policy issue underscored the perils that face Germany's governing coalition, which pairs the SPD with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats. Foreign policy is one of the few areas where the parties have generally sung in harmony since Merkel came to power.

The vote signified growing unrest in Germany about the country's six-year deployment in Afghanistan. At almost every recent SPD party event, questions have persisted about the mission. What is Germany doing in Afghanistan? Why is Germany waging America's war? And why is it that Germany can only afford €20 million ($26.5 million) per year in development aid to Afghanistan when the cost of sending Tornado jets to the country for only six months will cost a whopping €35 million?
It's a valid question: why is Germany waging our war in Afghanistan? The answer, of course, is that they're being good allies, fighting the people who are, directly or indirectly, responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks. They're fighting it because we're distracted and bogged down fighting a war in a country that had nothing to do with those attacks.

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