In light of recent increased attacks upon German ISAF forces in northern Afghanistan, it didnâ€™t take long at all for the pullout calls to begin again back home in earnest. These calls have in fact never really stopped, of course. They just become more audible whenever the Taliban reminds Germany that the going in Afghanistan, should they so choose, could get a whole lot tougher for them.
The Taliban plays German public sentiment like a fiddle, in other words. As everyone but perhaps the Germans themselves are aware of, the German electorate is forever waiting for the leader or the group that will give it permission to say no to any form international responsibility involving military intervention (think Gerhard Schroederâ€™s brilliant reelection tactic in saying no to German participation in Iraq, before ever being asked I might add). Some less susceptible to the monotone peace mantra here could get the idea that Germanyâ€™s ritualized pacifist stance, oddly incongruous for the worldâ€™s third largest weapons exporter, is nothing more than a convenient alibi that has yet to fail when it comes to the elegant avoidance of having to carry the nationâ€™s true weight in a world where push has long come to shove.
But the latest peace offensive may have proven to be more offensive than even the most peace-loving Germans can bear. German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, for one, has expressed his dismay at a poster made public by an organization calling itself the German Peace Society of United Military Service Opponents in which, above the caption â€œA step toward disarmament â€“ one less to goâ€, a picture can be seen of the coffin of a fallen Bundeswehr soldier killed in Afghanistan being carried away by his comrades.
Pacifism at any price? Thatâ€™s certainly not an uncommon sentiment in Germany, despite the booming German weapons sales that the same pacifists are still strangely unaware of. And the latest denial of the terrorist threat in jolly old Germany, where recent news reports about the trial beginning against three home-grown Muslim extremists generated about as much media excitement as a holiday traffic jam on the autobahn, is just another indication of how disinclined the German public is to even consider paying a higher price for something that, for them, has always been and always will be a given.
Come visit me at Observing Hermannâ€¦