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Posts Tagged ‘Bundeswehr

Do Yourselves a Favor – Turn a Blind Eye to Who I Am

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My false feathers - too beautiful to be rejected!

My false feathers - too beautiful to be rejected! (courtesy justrecently.wordpress.com)

As early as in summer 2010, it apparently dawned on several German scientists that then defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had, to say the least, been sluggish when writing his doctoral thesis. A postgraduate had written an essay about inconsistencies in Guttenberg’s work, and offered it to several professors – but neither of them was interested, reports “Die Welt”.

And why should they? If you show similar misdemeanor, umm, sluggisnhess, as a sales clerk, you’ll be fired, and it may take you years before someone will employ you again. If a small bugger tries to fiddle his dissertation and gets caught – I mean, if he works so negligently -, he can kiss all his academic ambitions good-bye, and rightly so. But when you are a defence minister, and some gripers simply don’t allow you to look  the other way anymore, you’ll give the ex-minister a job in a North-American think tank.

If Guttenberg wants to return into politics is a question he hasn’t yet answered, even though he gave a long interview to the chief editor of “Die Zeit”. But you bet that he is working towards that goal.

“Der Spiegel”‘s Jan Fleischhauer is making fun of Guttenberg, and compares him to former protestant bishop Margot Kässmann. Guttenberg’s “apologies” sound pretty much like Kässmann’s, he believes, and the religious effect makes such apologies so powerful, Fleischhauer adds with more than just a shot of irony. “How can you not forgive them?”

One problem that Fleischhauer doesn’t touch upon though is that a true confession would have to include a detailed description of how the fake, umm, sluggish approach had been conducted. But there are no such details.

There are two things to learn from this: there is one kind of law applicable to upper classes in Germany, and one for the lower. When Helmut Kohl flatly refused to name the gentlemen who had provided his political party with illegal donations, he wasn’t even taken into coercive detention.

Guttenberg’s “apology” to the German public amounts to this: “I’m so sorry, but my life will be destroyed, if you aren’t prepared to forget what I have done. After all, I must become federal chancellor. There is no other way!”

If that’s the chancellor the German people really want, they will get exactly the government they deserve. If his lack of character and substance isn’t obvious enough, any man will be good enough to lead this country.

The current government, led by Angela Merkel, might still be way above what should be good enough for this country.


Margot Käßmann goes to Afghanistan

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Breaking new ground: Margot Käßmann (picture: tanks to JR)

Breaking new ground: Margot Käßmann (picture: tanks to JR)

Bishop Margot Käßmann, the German equivalent of the Archbishop of Canterbury (The Times), resigned this week after police found her drunk at the wheel of her company car. She now intends to work as a parish priest, writes the Times. However, Taide has obtained information that she has reported to duty in Kunduz, Afghanistan, as a military pastor.

“She’s having a helluva time here,” says Colonel Heinz Krauthammer. “She’s absolutely thrilled about riding a Panzer once in a while. Unfortunately, she’s squashed the only traffic light here in Kunduz which had been carefully built by a girl’s school a month earlier, sponsored by Hornbach, but there isn’t much motor traffic here anyway, except hers.”

Bishop Käßmann: Emo-Bomb on Afghanistan

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“Nothing is good in Afghanistan.”

The statement is from the Germany’s leading protestant bishop, Margot Käßmann, made in her New Year’s Sermon on January 1 this year, and I believe the words she has chosen show what is bad with the Evangelical church here.

Words are central media in a protestant church. In some of the churches Käßmann is heading, words weigh more heavily than the sacraments. There is no excuse for saying that “nothing is good” in whichever country.  Not even if your country has stationed liberating or occupying forces there.

That was bad enough. Eight days earlier, in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung, she criticized the forces that ended Germany’s Third Reich for not having strategies before the war: “Why didn’t they strengthen the opposition? Why didn’t they bomb the railtracks that lead to Auschwitz?” (Warum gab es vorher keine Strategien? Warum wurde die Opposition in Deutschland nicht gestärkt? Warum wurden die Gleise, die nach Auschwitz führten, nicht bombardiert?).

Appeasement hadn’t impressed Hitler, the interviewing reporter suggested.

“Still, war releases a potential of violence I see no justification for. There is injustice, destruction, rape in its tow line. I have seen soldiers recently who can’t cope with their experiences.” Yes, Mrs Käßmann, sure. That’s what our troops are there for, in Afghanistan. j

And there was no storm of protest among the sheep.

This is no longer a church. It’s a sect. I’m off then.

German Intelligence infiltrates Taliban

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German military pistols are being sold on the black market in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Voice of Germany quotes Hamburg’s Northern German Broadcasting Service (NDR). In 2006, the German Defense Ministry shipped 10,000 old Walther-P1 pistols to the Afghan Interior Ministry to equip Afghan police and army. However, both the German government and the responsible US-led security team in Afghanistan reportedly failed to properly monitor the guns’ whereabouts, according to the report.

German Walther P-1 pistol (light version): Mind your head

German Walther P-1 pistol (light version): Mind your head

Typically German media coverage. They are always so negative. Instead of being proud of this achievement, they are worrying about… yes, about what? The Talibans’ chins and eyes?

If you have ever tried to fire a P-1 pistol at a cardboard standup (or whatever kind of target), this version is a lousy knock-off of the real thing, the Wehrmacht’s Walther P-38. In the Bundeswehr, the German federal army, we all hated the P-1, and I believe that most or all conscript-passed-the-P-1-test reports are as faked as the gun itself.

Anyway, some politicians are making a big fuss of the shipment (which was apparently made before asking the federal parliament’s approval):

Green Party spokesman Winfried Nachtwei accused the grand coalition government, which was in power when the guns were shipped, of a “grossly negligent course of action,” and called for the matter to be investigated in the interest of German security forces and civilian experts sent to Afghanistan.
“It would be truly absurd if soldiers were threatened by weapons irresponsibly delivered by Germany,” Nachtwei said.

I suppose the lad didn’t serve, and has never met the P-1 himself. If anyone in Afghanistan should be afraid of the P-1, it’s their illegal users.

I believe the Bundesnachrichtendienst was behind these sales.

Written by taide

October 12, 2009 at 8:02 pm

German Warriors

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My great-grandfather was buried on Verden’s forest cemetary (Verdener Waldfriedhof). His grave is still there, and it is a nice one, because through all the past nine decades, my family people didn’t have to pay a single Pfennig or Eurocent in fees – it’s a hero’s grave.

He was a Private, but he was in such a hurry to take Paris that the German artillery didn’t keep step with him and his comrades. Many of them died in friendly fire, and on the spot. Great-Grandpa was less lucky. He pegged out several month later, in the Annastift in Hanover, minus most of his back.

When he was dead at last, they decorated him with the Iron Cross.

Then there was the second world war.

German society is post-heroic. Heroes too, are only victims in German eyes. The Bundeswehr is a citizen army, and  the federal parliament’s army. It still knows no heroes, and every embarrassing try to change that has been doomed to fail. Medals and cenotaphs give most of us the creeps, rather than causing respect.

Germany succeeded in building an army with uniformed citizens. The old military caste – fortunately – doesn’t matter in the army any more. Families with military traditions like they exist in Britain, France, or America, and which send officers into the army don’t exist in Germany any more.

But this also means that the soldiers won’t earn much respect here when sacrificing their lives for the nation, and its allies.

Some surveys suggest that about three quarters of Americans believe in circumstances which justify war. In Germany, 25 per cent may believe that. 170 years ago, Carl von Clausewitz coined the saying that war is merely a continuation of politics with the inclusion of different means (“Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik unter der Einbeziehung anderer  Mittel”). Most Germans don’t agree with this any longer, and they want no such extension of our foreign policy.

During the past eight years, German politics avoided the word “war” like the plague (which it obviously is), our politicians enacted a reconstruction operetta in Afghanistan which seemed to benefit everyone and to hurt noone, and they risked no candid communication with their constituencies about combat operations. Now the public (which never seemed to care much until now) is finding out that we are at war (the German defence secretary keeps cursing everyone who dares to use this dirty word), and obviously, few people are inclined to take our duties within NATO as serious as they should – those who accept the need for force of arms are the minority in this country.

Dishonourable? Maybe. But anyone who wants to criticise Germany’s sometimes convenient pacifism should also remember how hard it was to finish German militarism in the first place, and how many of their grandfathers died in the struggle. Having ones cake and eating it is yet another challenge. We are learning. But it will take time, and some more decent politicians. What the Social Democrats’ Peter Struck said about Afghanistan last month could be a beginning.

“Dreesch, darr rait on fair mekunam!”

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Sichten und Vernichten – sort of the equivalent to search and destroy – was a slogan in our training at the antitank squad, more than twenty years ago. It has since been replaced by some nicer wording.

Wolfgang Schneiderhan, the German Bundeswehr (i. e. military forces) top-ranking soldier, is quoted by German paper Die Tageszeitung (taz) that he can’t relieve the soldiers from the grey area where they have to do their own calculations. In either case, the loss of civil casualties had to be strictly avoided.

The Tageszeitung sharpens the statement:

A group of turban-headed people with Kalashnikovs may constitute an attack – or some typical Afghans on their way to herd some goats.

The debate is about what many see as a ban for German soldiers to aggressively protect themselves or their fellow soldiers. Every German soldier wears a pocket card of six pages stating this. Now, this line has been scrapped: “Use of lethal force is forbidden as long as no attack has happened or is immanent.” Some more edits are planned to simplify the soldiers’ lives. The federal parliament’s defence committee wasn’t informed about these changes.

If I was more than twenty years younger and faced the choice between military and the popular alternative civilian service once again, I’d obviously choose to walk a parson’s dog or to deliver meals on wheels for elderly ladies. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to test over a combat distance of 500 metres if the lads on the motorbikes are goatherds with big dildos strapped on their backs, or some friendly Taliban who want to blast me and my fellow soldiers to hell. And no, I wouldn’t care either if there’s a tank on its way, or a shooter on a motorcycle.

All in all, our trainers’ instructions twenty years back looks more realistic to me – and more decent. It is the command which is responsible for the soldiers – and it doesn’t matter that the political leadership still wants to sell the war in Afghanistan as an Oxfam campaign.

By the way: before you fire on an Afghan, no matter if he’s next to you or a mortar-shelling distance away, don’t forget to give the following notice: “Dreesch, darr rait on fair mekunam!” This – probably – means that you will soon open fire.

Very soon, but not necessarily in time.

Written by taide

July 5, 2009 at 9:09 pm