Bombing of Afghanistan and Libya: The role of Germany
On November 16, 2001, German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Green Party deputies voted overwhelmingly in favour of sending German troops to participate in the Afghanistan war. Their 336 votes secured a majority for the ruling “red-green” coalition.
Three days later, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the most active advocate of the war among European social democrats, received frenetic applause following his address to the SPD party conference. At its party conference, the SPD leadership did everything in its power to ensure the withdrawal of a motion which called for the intervention by German troops to be limited to Afghanistan. Despite the fact that 120 of the 520 assembled delegates signed this motion, the leadership was able to consign it to the files. The motion also condemned particular forms of military actions (e.g., carpet bombing), rejected special military courts for trying terrorists, criticised Israeli occupation policy and called for an independent state for the Palestinians.
The November 16 decision of the Bundestag (parliament) is one of the most far-reaching and momentous in its history. Chancellor Schröder himself made this clear when he described it as a “turning point”. “For the first time,” he said, “the international situation is forcing us to deploy German troops for a military intervention outside the NATO area.” “The post-war period is over!” Chancellor Schröder told the Bundestag, to the applause of the deputies. Schröder’s rhetoric was only exceeded by that of his Green Party foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, who in Orwellian manner reinterprets every war as a ‘humanitarian mission’. In his speech to the Bundestag, Fischer mutates the war against Afghanistan into a matter of “world domestic policy,” and the bombardment of an impoverished country becomes the means to provide “humanitarian aid”. According to Fischer, “We now have a great opportunity. Everywhere, where the Northern Alliance is, the United Nations and its relief organisations and the NGOs can go in again”.
The extent of the tasks to be undertaken by German troops has been expanded from unarmed medical orderlies and logistic support to armed “peace missions” and overt military action. Their sphere of activity has been widened from the area covered by NATO to the shores beyond Europe and the entire globe. The area of intervention stipulated in the Bundestag resolution reaches from the Hindu Kush across the Middle East and into north-east Africa.
In the past, political obstacles have always prevented the German army undertaking military interventions but the latest decision by the German parliament gives the government a free hand to participate in military activities in other countries.
Photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu