Germany expands imperialist role in Afghanistan


Richard Moore

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World Socialist Web Site

WSWS : News & Analysis : Asia : Afghanistan
Three German soldiers killed in Afghanistan
Grand coalition pushes ahead with military deployment
By Ulrich Rippert
24 May 2007

The deaths last Saturday of three German soldiers at the hands of a suicide 
bomber in the northern Afghan city of Kundus make a mockery of the propaganda by
the German government that the deployment of its soldiers as part of the ISAF 
(International Security Assistance Force) mission is first and foremost a 
³humanitarian enterprise.²

A total of 11 persons died in the blast on Saturday. An additional 5 German 
soldiers, 1 translator and 16 civilians were injured‹some seriously. The suicide
bomber self-detonated in direct proximity to the German soldiers, who were 
conducting a ³militarily supervised shopping visit² to a market in Kundus. The 
soldiers killed were attached to a supply and administrative unit of the German 
army, which is not trained for fighting. A radical Taliban organisation claimed 
responsibility for the attack.

The bomb attack had been obviously prepared some time in advance. Press reports 
spoke of witnesses who said the incident had been filmed to be used for 
propaganda purposes, an indication the assault‹the biggest to be launched on the
German army since 2003, when four German soldiers died in Afghanistan‹may be 
part of preparations for further attacks.

The attack must be seen as a direct reaction to the decision by the German 
government to send Tornado fighter planes to Afghanistan, whose task is to 
conduct surveillance flights and support American troops active in the south of 
the country. Although the overwhelming majority of the German population 
rejected such an expansion of the German war effort (69 percent were opposed, 
according to an Infratest Dimap poll), the government ignored all the warnings 
of an increasingly perilous situation in Afghanistan and voted to send its 

The dead and wounded soldiers are a consequence of the aggressive military 
policy introduced by the former Social Democratic Party (SPD)-Green Party 
coalition. The current grand coalition government of the SPD, Christian 
Democratic Party (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) has considerably 
intensified this military strategy. The leaders of the coalition responded to 
this latest blow with a series of declarations that the German army should not 
give way. Politicians from all the ruling parties are avidly seeking to stifle 
any discussion about a possible withdrawal of German troops.

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) declared she had learnt ³of this cowardly attack²
with ³great concern and deep sadness.² ³This perfidious murder fills us all with
abhorrence and shock,² she said. It should be noted there was no mention of 
³abhorrence and shock² or ³perfidious murder² a few days ago following the 
deaths of 40 civilians in the south of Afghanistan, who were killed by US bombs 
relying on information supplied by German Tornadoes.

Defence Secretary Franz Josef Jung (CDU) immediately rejected any adjustment to 
the scope of the German mission in Afghanistan. The deadly assault on German 
soldiers must not serve as cause ³for any change to the delineation of tasks,² 
he said, during a visit to the German army operational centre in Potsdam. The 
task, he continued, was to increase support for the soldiers instead of debating
over the usefulness of their deployment.

At the same time, Jung explained that one had to expect more soldiers¹ 
casualties in the future. German soldiers had to be prepared to accept risks in 
future arising from their mission in Afghanistan. ³Unfortunately, there is no 
100 percent protection,² Jung stated.

Similar remarks were made by the chairman of the foreign committee of the 
Bundestag, Karl Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg (CSU): ³A withdrawal would be 
absurd and only increase the danger of international terror. The demands placed 
upon us and other states will increase.²

The same theme was taken up by the main coalition partner. SPD parliamentary 
group deputy Walter Kolbow warned against raising any doubts in the few months 
remaining before the mandate for the German army mission in Afghanistan comes up
for renewal. ³An extension of the mandate is justifiable‹although the incident 
is very bad, we cannot make our total evaluation dependent upon it,² Kolbow 

His party colleague, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, flew to Kundus 
for a visit on Tuesday in an effort to strengthen troop morale. Steinmeier met 
with soldiers of the German reconstruction team (PRT), who have been active in 
Kundus since November 2003. ³Your work deserves all of our praise. Our country 
is proud of its reconstruction helpers and soldiers,² Steinmeier told the 

The myth of ³reconstruction²

The suicide bombing in Kundus has provoked such an anxious reaction by the 
German government because it destroys the myth that the presence of the German 
army in Afghanistan is a ³peace deployment² aimed at providing ³development aid²
while protecting a ³democratic government² and that it enjoys the sympathy of 
the local population.

These arguments have been used by both the SPD-Green government and the current 
grand coalition to counter the widespread opposition to what is the biggest 
deployment of troops in the history of post-war Germany. Both governments had 
sought to distance themselves from the military operations of US forces in the 
south of the country, while at the same time cooperating closely with their 
transatlantic partner in the context of the ISAF mission and Operation Enduring 
Freedom. The brutal operations conducted by US troops in the south have so far 
led to the deaths of thousands of civilians and alleged Taliban fighters‹only 
increasing popular opposition to the occupation troops.

For its part, the Bush administration has urged the German army to intervene in 
the counterinsurgency in the south instead of limiting itself to patrols in the 
relatively calmer regions in the north.

Following the Kundus blast, US President George W. Bush stepped up this pressure
and once again called for a more forceful intervention by the ³European 
partners² alongside the US. In a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jaap de 
Hoop Scheffer at his ranch in Texas earlier this week, Bush expressed his 
disapproval at the decision by a number of NATO countries to refuse to make 
troops available for combat missions to Afghanistan. The partner countries ³must
assume a larger burden and all must share the same risks,² Bush insisted.

The sending of the Tornado reconnaissance aircraft was a direct response by the 
Merkel government to pressure from Washington. The bomb blast in Kundus now 
makes clear that the German army is being drawn into a bloody war of occupation 
in Afghanistan and that German soldiers are increasingly being seen as enemies 
and occupiers.

From its outset, the driving force behind the war in this central Asian country 
was the attempt to realise imperialist aims. Plans for regime change in 
Afghanistan‹a country systematically destroyed by a CIA-sponsored civil war 
lasting more than two decades‹had been drawn up long before September 11, 2001. 
The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington served as a pretext for the 
implementation of these plans by the Bush administration.

Afghanistan is of great importance for strategic access to the oil- and gas-rich
central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. In addition, the occupation 
of the country was part of the campaign by the US to bring the entire Middle 
East under its control and in preparation for its offensive against and invasion
of Iraq.

The German government could not restrict itself to the role of onlooker. It 
could not allow the US to dominate a region in which Germany has pursued its own
extensive interests for the past hundred years. It therefore decided to 
participate in the Afghanistan war, although popular opposition was so broad 
that Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) only obtained the necessary majority in 
2001 to do so by turning the issue into a vote of confidence.

At the end of 2001, then-German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Greens) 
organised a conference near Bonn to secure the installation of the puppet regime
led by Hamid Karzai. Karzai is so weak and unpopular that his influence does not
extend beyond the capital city of Kabul. He is totally dependent on the 
imperialist powers and is forced to base his rule on various warlords and drug 
barons in order to exercise influence in other regions. The protection of the 
Karzai regime was the most important task assigned to the German army.

Now the true character of this deployment is coming to light. At the same time, 
the German government is determined not to back down‹even if this involves a 
growing pile of dead soldiers and civilian victims. Chancellor Angela Merkel 
relies not only on the support of the parties of the grand coalition‹the SPD, 
CDU and CSU‹but also on the Greens, who have made clear they are opposed to any 
withdrawal of German troops.

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