Comment: Bundeswehr: The Afghanistan mission is a bitter lesson

Berlin.
The mission in Afghanistan failed. The deduction can do one thing: an honest debate about foreign deployments of the Bundeswehr.

The people are starving. Not only on the fringes of society, half a country, 20 million people. Afghanistan is back in the Stone Age. Hunger, violence against women – a retreat for hardcore Islamists.

The World Food Program calculates that it would need 1.4 billion US dollars to provide the essentials. That sounds like a lot. But on the other hand, another number is building up: far more than 12 billion euros. That’s how much the Bundeswehr mission cost in 20 years of the Afghan war.

A year after the seizure of power Taliban the people in the country on the Hindu Kush must draw a bitter balance. But not only that. Germany is also feeling the effects: the German military operation was expensive, cost lives, and did not bring democracy to the country. failed.




Solidarity seeps away in the administrative jungle

59 German soldiers died in Afghanistan, thousands of local civilians lost their lives. For a few years, the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan at least prevent worse. But now: Afghanistan is where it was 20 years ago – under the thumb of the Taliban.


Worse: now, a year after the end of the military operation, the failure continues. The federal government has not been able to keep its promise, all Afghan local workers and other endangered helpers of the armed forces to save from the country. People in the country still have to hide from the Islamists, even though they have built runways for the German military or taken on courier services.

A good part of the local staff is now in Germany landed. Charter planes still fly here regularly with other rescued people from Pakistan. It’s good.

At the same time, however, it is becoming apparent that Germany’s much-heralded gestures of solidarity are repeatedly being eroded by visa bureaucracy, ministries’ wrangling and the arbitrariness of the authorities.

Germany has lessons to learn

The empathy with the people in Afghanistan has died down. But not only that: the lessons for foreign assignments in the future are still unclear. It’s good that the Bundestag is investigating the Bundeswehr mission in a committee of inquiry and that researchers are evaluating the operation in the Hindu Kush.

It is already clear that military equipment, weapons and vehicles are outdated. Especially assignments in regions like Afghanistan and Mali require material that still works at 40 degrees and more.

But that’s not all: the government and the Bundestag must also use the committee of inquiry on Afghanistan to explore what the Bundeswehr can do in the world in the future. The following applies: less is more. Can’t go to every crisis area Germany send soldiers.

German soldiers are currently on twelve missions on three continents. In hardly any deployment does politics give people in Germany the impression that German soldiers are recording successes on their missions.

No country becomes a democracy by force of arms

It is also clear that soldiers as guards for well builders, such as in the first years of Afghanistan, miss the mark. The Bundeswehr must specialize more in its core business: military operations.

And for that, too, a strategy is needed: armed force helps against pirates to ensure free passage for ships. But armed violence does not help to transform a country from an Islamist dictatorship to a democracy.

The use in Afghanistan has failed – if we still want to gain something, it is the honest debate about what Germany’s army can really achieve abroad in the future.


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