By Kevin Anthony Stoda, Wiesbaden, Germany

This past week started with news of the collapse of the Dutch government over the plans to extend NATO’s role in Afghanistan [, i.e. all NATO states have been under pressure of the United States to expand the role of NATO].  According to official state news agencies, the Dutch government collapsed over a division “between coalition parties about extending Dutch military participation in Afghanistan.”  Most of the governing coalition ended up opposing the Prime Minister’s desire to extend the timetable. News of the collapse had spread by early last Saturday morning, but it was not official till Monday when the Queen Beatrix could accept the resignation of the Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende.

“The stand-off began after . . . .leader of the Labour Party, drew a line in the sand over extending the Dutch mission in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan – coalition partners wanted to consider this option after a specific request from NATO to do so.” Balkenende claimed, “We’ve experienced this failure both individually and collectively as a defeat. This doesn’t change anything about the facts or the conclusions we have reached.”,,5272193,00.html

“The outgoing prime minister said he expected the Netherlands to withdraw its 2,000 soldiers from Afghanistan in August as scheduled, but he also voiced concern about the impact of the withdrawal on his country’s international standing. ‘The moment the Netherlands says as sole and first country [to NATO and Afghanistan] we will no longer have activities at the end of 2010, it will raise questions in other countries and this really pains me,’” Balkenende noted.

Meanwhile, Canada has also noted it will leave Afghanistan by 2011.

On the weekend, protests in Berlin were held against the increasing Germany’s role in the Afghan War.  Democracy Now reported: “In Germany, over a thousand antiwar protesters rallied in Berlin on Saturday to demonstrate against Germany’s involvement in Afghanistan. Germany is planning to beef up its presence in Afghanistan, where its 4,300 troops make up the third-largest contingent after the United States and Britain. Many protesters said they did not understand why Germany was in Afghanistan in the first place.”

According to one German activist that day,  “It’s almost too late, but we hope to convey the message that not one soldier has to be sent to Afghanistan. That’s why we are protesting here. The German people have paid enough taxes, and there are more and more taxes being squeezed out of us just to finance the American wars. We have in Germany a constitution that is still valid, that states that from German ground we will not instigate a war, but only defend ourselves. The Afghans never attacked us. So what are our soldiers doing in Afghanistan?”

Earlier in the month, there had been large protests in Munich against the planned increase in all NATO involvement in Afghanistan.


Interestingly, German media has appeared to be more interested in what was happening in the Netherlands than in the protests in Berlin on either Sunday or Saturday.  Even now when I do web searches on the topic of “protest against NATO expansion by Germany, mostly only the Islamic-media-world seems to covers the opposition.  Here is an article from Tehran.

Here is another Islamic press article.

In short, on Monday after the protests on the weekend in Berlin [, i.e. in the run-up to a major vote today in the German Parliament to approve German troop increases in Afghanistan], little or nothing was made of the activists efforts in any major media sources of the public opposition to NATO expansion in Germany.

It should be noted that Germany already has the third highest presence among NATO allies in Afghanistan.


Only DIE LINKE (The Left) Party stood firm against the nearly 17% increase in German troop involvement in Afghanistan approved by the German Bundestag today.   Soon Germany will have well over 5300 troops in Afghanistan.  On the other hand, despite the media blackout on the popular debate about Germany’s role in NATO outside of Europe,  it should be noted that nearly 160 German parliamentary representatives either withheld their vote or directly voted against the NATO troop increase.

DIE LINKE party tried to use a series of parliamentary rules and procedures to delay the vote on the immediate expansion of German troop presence in Afghanistan. However, the opposition SPD leadereship eventually sided with the ruling German coalition to vote down procedural blockage of floor debate by the leftist and some Green and SPD  party members.

I fully believe the self-censorship of the German media has been GREATLY responsible in recent months to the lack of German citizen’s attention to the details of Germany’s creeping leadership in NATO as an active war executioner. Just this past Sunday, I heard a local minister say the following when I noted that my brother-in-law was being sent to Afghanistan.  The pastor said, “We don’t even hear much about Afghanistan any more.”

This is a sad trend in media and society. This is because it signals a shift in Germany’s sense of self in the Post-Nazi era.  As in the case of Japan, Germany had largely been proud to have a sort of peace constitution in place since 1949.   That is, “Germany’s post-war Constitution (Basic Law) was until the late 1990s held to prohibit  participation in wars outside its borders. However, since then Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, however, has found another interpretation of the Constitution, i.e.  “that – without amending the Constitution or any other pertinent legislation – has allowed “a ‘German solution’ which reconciles the putative post-war prohibitions with Germany’s obligations as a member of the United Nations.”

By not questioning the creeping expansion of Germany as a nation carrying out war-making powers across its borders, e.g. in Afghanistan, in this decade, the German media is doing a disservice to its own target audience. Moreover, the media is lulling German citizens into believing that the end of war is coming soon, i.e. with Obama’s next big push in Afghanistan and Pakistan this spring.

“Whereas during the Cold War the Bundeswehr was functioning within its original function in defending its borders and the alliance, conscientious objection within the ranks of the military was of rather abstract importance. This changed the moment defense missions began to be redefined and inflated to include the most distant world regions such as the Hindukush. At this point, individual Bundeswehr soldiers suddenly began to refuse to obey orders which they considered incompatible with Basic Law and international law standards. The most consequential case happened in 2003 when Major Florian Pfaff, at that time Major in the Bundeswehr, bravely opposed orders that would have involved knowingly participating in a “crime against international law” (Professor Reinhard Merkel, Hamburg).”

In the case of Major Florian Pfaff, the German courts ruled that demoting the major to captain was appropriate. Since then, the Peace Constitution and nation’s love affair with the International Laws, with which it should be embedded in limiting Germany’s roles in foreign wars, has practically ceased in most of German  media.

This lack of self-reflection on the changes in German media attitude toward the making of foreign wars in Germany is tragic.  Germans need to be encouraged to consider rolling the clock back on a trend that is not good for its standing as a peacemaker or at least as a just or neutral partner in many parts of the third world.

In summary, “The Bundeswehr’s classic mission of defending Germany’s borders and the NATO alliance are still valid, yet have unmistakably become less important. Instead . . .  the German military’s top priority as ‘the prevention of international conflicts and crisis management, to include the fight against international terrorism’, and only as a second priority is the ‘protection of German territory and its citizens’ listed.”  In addition, “[t]he Bundeswehr’s new and almost exclusive orientation as an intervention force deployed in ‘conflict management and crisis prevention’ is also [now] reflected by its structure: In the case of ‘rapid, robust reaction and network-enabled operations for missions involving high-intensity conflicts’ – which is the Orwellian newspeak for ‘war’ in post-modern military jargon – a contingent of 35,000 German soldiers is planned. This includes 15,000 to be deployed in the ‘NATO Response Force’, 18,000 as the German contribution to the European rapid reaction force, in accordance with the ‘European Headline Goal’, 1,000 to be deployed by the United Nations according to the “UN Standby arrangement system” as well as 1,000 to be sent in national rescue and evacuation operations”.

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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  1. eslkevin says:

    OEN aims to be a trusted news source that readers can rely upon. That means we must vet articles. We do that by maintaining standards.

    We are rejecting your article because either there is inadequate sourcing supporting your claims or the sources you have used do not meet our criteria.

    Sources should be credible, solid and reputable. If you are using youtube or other video documentation, we prefer evidence, not a talking head who makes unsubstantiated claims without sourcing.

    We will be happy to re-evaluate your article if you add additional sourcing and substantiation.

    P.S. I did several searches and found extensive coverage of the protests in Germany.

  2. eslkevin says:

    Thanks, I defer to you, but please pass my rebuttal around.

    I have two radios in my house going most of the time to different stations. I also listen to online radio. Radio is the great source of news in Germany because they (on radio) do better job and spend more time on news than TV.

    Moreover, more people hear radio news because this is the land of the automobile and highways. (Read LA style traffic jams on the autombahn entering cities in the morning and evening in a land with 80 cities of 120,000 or more people.)

    In short, lack of news was on radio. I am a radio specialist.

    Moreover,German newspapers did not put protests on the major front pages on Monday, whereas the story of Netherlands and votes on Friday were on Front pages of most every newspaper. (Compare and contrast!)

    I had found several articles in middle or back pages of newspapers concerning Sunday’s demos. The story from Netherlands was not outcovered by any German demonstrations on that weekend accept in the most obscure press.

    Frankfurter Rundschau said too few demonstrators were on hand to make it noteworthy. Plus even the Green Party is failing to take a strong Peace stand. [Only the LINKE Party took stand against Afghanistan. But nearly 160 votes still did not support the buildup. This is because 7 of 10 Germans are against the long term build up.] However, the ECONOMIC CRISIS, the Olympics, and War on Welfare [by Westerwelle’s FDP of the governing coalition) is getting more attention in the press.

    I will try and translate one article and submit a good part of it back to you.

    [I suggest you pass this around and I encourage you to rethink how you cover overall media reporting in a country.]


  3. eslkevin says:

    I was responding to the article [translated] below when I wrote the blog article above.


    a “Free Translation” by Kevin Stoda

    The material translated below into English from German is from “Der Krieg ist Weit Weg”

    by Sebastian Gehrmann, Frankfurter Rundschau.

    Berlin. Imagen if there would be a war and no one would stand up and protest against it!

    “One has to wonder,” said one onlooker on Saturday to another, “Do you see over there a pair of pacifists on the square?” Actually, on the square are 1500 people. The man continued, “Seven from ten Germans oppose the war in Afghanistan, but when it comes to protesting it [these days], one sees only the same old banners.” There are only the same old folks showing their true colors.

    Standing next to the protestor’s stage [on Saturday Feb. 20] was Peter Strutynski. He had just been up on that stage speaking, raging, and shouting. “What actually will continue to grow in Afghanistan in the near future are opium poppies, corruption, and prostitution, “ as the Speaker of the Bundestag Parliamentary Committee on Peace and Public Opinion had been reported to claim that day.

    However, no one has patience any more in order to take time and listen to politicians. War and nothing but war will be waged by the German military in the Hindu Kush. This must be stopped.

    There was scattered applause for Peter Strutynski. “It is claimed that the Peace Movement is exhausted,” he continued “One hears here and there that the Peace movement doesn’t have the energy to mobilize.” Some don’t have the strength to continue, etc.

    “’The war is very very far away’ says one man. Another one then claims, ‘We currently are overwhelmed by the Economic Crisis here. One has to be directly affected to take to the streets these days.”

    Meanwhile one man walks by carrying an impressively huge poster and by his demeanor one is reminded of the great anti-weapons and anti-war demonstrations of years gone-by, such as during the anti-Vietnam War or anti-Iraq war protests. There must be a reason as to why the great demonstrations have now disappeared once again from the streets of Germany.? Strutynski responds, “I know but I fight windmills even if it is foggy.”

    What Strutynski does recognize is that the masses are missing now in terms of visible support. Of the five major parties in the Bundestag or German Parliament, only one—THE LEFT Party—had advocated protest against the continuing war build up from Germany’s military in Afghanistan. Shaking his head, he observed, “Even the Green Party have pulled out of the Anti-War [Peace] movement.”

    To this [crises in the Peace Movement put in play by the Greens’ public silence], he adds, “The opposition SPD deserve a special medal for weakly capitulating [to the governing coalition on this issue.” For Strutynski, the Social Democratic party [SPD] Germany is disaster-of-the-week. First, Sigmar Gabriel had said that there would be NO MORE TROOPS for Afghanistan. Next, Frank Walter Steinmeier [last year’s SPD candidate for Chancellor] announced that the party would support that very same plan [opposed by others in his party]. “I just don’t get it, “ he said and indicated that the government would be getting opposition votes for the 2010 troop buildup.

    Many of those who had already advocated strong protest day turnouts in Munich and Dresden [earlier in February] are also deeply frustrated. Nevertheless, these protestors will always recall the famous words of Eugen Drewermanns of church-critic-fame who had once shouted during his days as protest leader, “Thank you all for coming here and simply saying ‘NO’.”

  4. eslkevin says:


    a “Free Translation” by Kevin Stoda

    The material translated below into English from German is from “Der Krieg ist Weit Weg”

    by Sebastian Gehrmann, Frankfurter Rundschau.

  5. eslkevin says:

    Reblogged this on Eslkevin's Blog and commented:

    This is a prophetic piece of mine–written 4 years ago while I was still in Europe. Was an American (me) the only one in Germany 4 years ago who could foresee that a Ukrain/Russian Crisis was coming NATOs way? I think not. However, the media was very silent.–kas

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