German Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised that the circumstances under which 125 people, many of them civilians (in fact 70), were killed in a NATO air strike last week near Kunduz in northern Afghanistan will be scrutinized carefully. The German Colonel Georg Klein had ordered the air strike after two fuel tankers had been hijacked by the Taliban. The commander’s call has probably been in breach of NATO rules as it was based on just one intelligence source.
Chancellor Merkel and her Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier are amidst an election campaign where the highly unpopular issue of the 3720 or so German troops in Afghanistan under International Forces in Afghanistan (ISAF) command has consistently been played down, even ignored. The majority of the German population questions the presence of German soldiers in the Hindu Kush.
For some time, there are also incriminating questions being asked by the allied forces. It is not clear to German soldiers that they are fighting in a war in Afghanistan. According to Minister of Defense Franz Josef Jung, Germany isn’t at war in Afghanistan. “The goal of the German army is, alongside providing security, to help the country rebuild and with its development. We are not occupiers. Unfortunately there are situations where our soldiers have to fight. But we’re not looking for fights.”
“In a war, you don’t build schools, you don’t set up the water and power supply and you don’t build kindergartens and hospitals and you don’t train the military and the police.”
The official, prescribed, terminology of not being occupier does not fit with the known fact that German troops consume incredible amounts of alcoholic beverages. It has long been known that German soldiers are allowed two cans (1 l) of beer per day or an equivalent of wine. German Armed Forces are “importing” millions of liters of beer and wine each year to the Islamic country selling alcoholic beverages even to their NATO allies. As a matter of fact, local law is simply neglected in the country, not mentioning Ramadan, the holy month when Muslims observe strict rules for fasting.
When trying to figure out what had happened in the September 4 air strike, head of ISAF General Stanley McChrystal noted that too many of his underlings at the NATO base were either drunk or hungover, only a few hours after the deadly NATO attack. Furious, he immediateley banned any alcohol consumption.
When specifically asked the common response by German Armed Forces authorities is that alcohol is only consumed inside the camp and after hours. It violates Afghanistan law anyway. Lives are put at risk since radical Islamists usually know and will not forgive. It doesn’t make even a difference whether civilians are killed in a devastating air strike or soldiers behave like occupiers partying on weekends during the holy month.
See also on this blog
Better Off if the Europeans… about criticism of the German contribution in the war in Afghanistan.