German soldiers are wearing their hearts on their sleeves – in the form of a badge that protests their country’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
Some troops have taken to wearing the cloth accessory that states – ironically – ‘I fight for Merkel’ in a bid to persuade the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to explain exactly what they are fighting and dying for.
Four more troops were killed, and five badly injured, in Afghanistan last week.
Seven soldiers have died there so far this month, bringing the total to 43 in all since they were first deployed eight years ago.
Unable to engage the Taliban directly on the ground, frustrated by their government’s inability to acknowledge they are even engaged in a war and angered by the lack of popular support for their mission, the badges are a low-key mutiny that has sent shock waves through the top brass of the Bundeswehr.
Soldiers were warned this week that it is illegal to sew the cloth patches on to their uniforms.
But that hasn’t stopped them from buying the badges in their hundreds, in desert beige or NATO green, at the ISAF camp at Mazar-e-Sharif.
‘They want the Chancellor, their ultimate boss, to finally find the clear words to put the war against the Taliban into black and white,’ Bild Zeitung, Germany’s biggest daily paper, said today.
Chancellor Merkel is to make a statement to parliament tomorrow. Her spokesman said she wants to make clear her ‘high-esteem’ for the work of the German soldiers in Afghanistan in the light of the recent casualties.
But she will be speaking in the Reichstag after being put under pressure from U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, who arrived in Germany today with a brief from the White House to get the Germans to do more in Afghanistan.
Germany has the third largest presence in Afghanistan after the U.S. and Britain. The German parliament approved the dispatch of a further 850 soldiers in February when it extended the mandate for the military mission.
Yet the political will for German troops to engage the enemy head-on remains lacking.
Cracks are growing in the parties that supported their engagement there up until now.
Ottmar Schreiner, a left-wing member of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD), said his party has ‘growing doubts’ about German involvement in Afghanistan.
He said: ‘If things haven’t improved in Afghanistan by next year then I don’t see where a majority for a new extension of the mandate is going to come from.’
The trouble for Mrs Merkel is that German involvement is deeply unpopular with some 80 per cent of the public, who want the troops to come home. Germany’s disastrous wars of the last century have left its public with a deep pacifistic streak.
The German press has been swift to condemn the government for its indecisiveness.
The Financial Times Deutschland said: ‘With every dead German soldier in Afghanistan, the calls for an immediate withdrawal grow louder. This reflex shows that the German public is still not clear about the character of the mission.
‘The politicians are largely to blame. Since the beginning of the mission eight years ago they suppressed a realistic description of the situation… Deaths, injuries, battles and heavy weaponry — none of these suit the picture that was painted back then.’
The left-wing Berliner Zeitung said: ‘Why are German soldiers in Afghanistan at all? As the chancellor and her government are still sticking to the military mission there it is their duty to explain it. But she has failed to do so.
‘This can be explained by her basic attitude – it is only worth talking about problems when they become virulent.
‘In the case of Afghanistan this is particularly catastrophic. Because the government has failed to make its case in what is the biggest foreign policy and security policy challenge in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.’
By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 4:12 PM on 21st April 2010
Source: Daily Mail
More on the war on terror:
– US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened
– Obama: ‘I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.’ (!)
Murray asserts that the primary motivation for US and British military involvement in central Asia has to do with large natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As evidence, he points to the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan that would allow Western oil companies to avoid Russia and Iran when transporting natural gas out of the region.
Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan’s natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.
“The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan,” Murray noted.
“There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s not about democracy.”
“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”
“I’m not much for this war. I’m not sure it’s worth all those lives lost,” said Sergeant Christian Richardson as we walked across corn fields that will soon be ploughed up to plant a spring crop of opium poppy.
Opium production rate has soared to 6,900 tons in Afghanistan in the past 10 years ‘despite‘ the presence of 100,000 foreign troops in the country for nearly eight years.
A report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said on Wednesday that Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world’s opium that has devastating global consequences.
The UN report also noted that Afghanistan’s illegal opium production is worth 65 billion dollars.
The heroin and opium market feeds 15 million addicts, with Europe, Russia and Iran consuming half the supply, UNODC reported.
– Top US commander in Afghanistan: The Taliban have gained the upper hand:
The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that means U.S. casualties, already running at record levels, will remain high for months to come.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)