After the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., Germany backed the U.S.-led military and diplomatic mission in Afghanistan. Nineteen years later, it still does. On September 12th, 2001, the then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder stressed the fact that he had assured Germany’s unlimited support to the U.S. after the terrorist attacks. But now, President Donald Trump is losing patience. Ultimately, this mission has become America’s longest war. Thus, the U.S. commander-in-chief wants to end it. This puts pressure on the Washington allies, including Germany. If America backs out, so do other NATO partners.
Progression: On paper – and in reality
On paper, Afghanistan is an Islamic republic with a democratic constitution. Young girls go to school. Women are involved in politics and get somewhat equal job opportunities. There are new roads, hospitals, universities, mobile towers, good electric connectivity, and even water lines. The country is developing steadily. However, it still hasn’t found peace.
In reality, more than 32 thousand civilians were killed in terrorist attacks, battles, and airstrikes in the past 10 years alone. More than 60,000 of them were injured. The Taliban are slowly coming back into power after negotiating with U.S. officials directly. More and more Afghanistan citizens are leaving the country as refugees and migrants.
Germany’s connection with the 9/11 attacks
Since the time he became a member of the German parliament in 2009, Roderich Kiesewetter has voted to extend the Afghanistan mission every year. He sees the 9/11 attacks to be closely interwoven with Germany’s history. The hijacking of flights and ensuing attacks were all planned in the northern city of Hamburg. Kiesewetter feels that Germany is bound to have a guilty conscience as the German authorities did not stop the terrorist attack being planned on German soil. He considers it a fatal mistake that the mission was politically glossed over for such a long time. He said,
We owe the fact that we are now in Afghanistan only to the military and intelligence skills of the Americans. We could not manage the mission there on our own.
The mission currently costs Germany between 800 to 900 million euros each year. Kiesewetter believes that Germany must ensure stability, especially in and around Europe.
“Germany has failed militarily in Afghanistan”
As per Thomas Ruttig, an Afghanistan expert and former diplomat, much has gone wrong in an attempt to instill a new order to the country. He believes that the foreigners did not listen to the Afghans enough. He suggested,
They should have organized an institutional framework in which the unarmed and the armed could negotiate how they wanted to develop their state and their society.
About the Taliban, he admitted that they rearmed themselves with the money they were given and took control of the state. About Germany, he agreed that they played a good role as host of the Bonn Conference at the end of 2001. Later, the Germans let everyone down when they didn’t act responsibly. According to him, after the first attacks, the Germans only protected themselves instead of the Afghans. He concluded,
Germany has failed militarily in Afghanistan.