Germany is renewing forces in Afghanistan? Which forces? It would be more accurate to say that Germany is extending its withdrawal there. Not having used the 100 German special forces soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, not once, in over three years time, the German government has actually decided to withdraw them while at the same time loudly proclaiming it will send an additional 1,000 more troops for fourteen more months.

But these ISAF troops, although undoubtedly important, were sent at the cost of withdrawing the others, sent with a 14 more month deadline which conveniently ends after next year’s planned election in September, I might add. So what’s the big deal? It’s the way the German public views Germany’s contribution down there in Afghanistan.

Germans break the soldiers pulling duty in Afghanistan into two categories, it seems. An observant journalist at the Süddeutsche Zeitung puts it this way: “In the minds of Germans, there is a good mandate (the Bundeswehr-ISAF) and a bad mandate (OEF-terrorist hunters – i.e. the special forces guys who are coming home, get it?); there is a good soldier, who would prefer to call himself a reconstruction worker, and a bad soldier, who fights in the south and has recently been combating the roots of all evil in Pakistan…”

And that’s why this is nothing more than a slow withdrawal for German troops in Afghanistan, German fighting troops, the German troops that are really needed. And this black and white thinking is what it’s all about, if you have read any of the less than friendly articles published in Germany these days concerning the United States; good and bad, right and wrong, arrogant Americans and reconstructing Germans. Or deconstructing Germans, I should say. They deconstruct reality daily, served up fresh with warme Semmel (warm buns = hotcakes), which sell quite nicely thank you.

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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