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German Press Review: Bundeswehr in Iraq and Afghanistan

Germany's editorials on Tuesday focused on possible future deployments for the country's armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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First Kabul, then Kunduz, and maybe even Iraq -- German peacekeeping missions abroad.

America’s public praise of the German mission in Afghanistan has shown that George W. Bush is willing to forgive the Germans, commented the Berliner Zeitung and added that the praise came because Bush needs Germany’s support. "The United States is in big trouble because nothing is going according to plan for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld," it said. If Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is serious about reviving relations with Washington, then he has to be willing to send German troops to Iraq, the paper concluded.

The Mittelbayerische Zeitung argued, "Germany cannot brush aside the cries for help from the United States for much longer. The German chancellor needs Bush. Germany can’t represent its interests in the face of opposition from the only super power." The paper commented that malicious delight over the disarray in which American Iraq policy finds itself, is misplaced. "Germany relies on the U.S. economy much more than the reverse. If the Iraq mission ruins the U.S. national budget, the interest rates will increase." And that in turn, predicted the paper, could lead to a weakening of the world economy.

The Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung observed that the United States is in financial difficulties and cannot afford to carry the reconstruction costs on its own. In addition, the paper pointed out, it is a tough job for Bush to explain the point of the Iraq mission to the home front while American soldiers are still dying. "It’ll be easier for him to tell the electorate in 2004: Look, Germany also has its problems on the Euphrates and Tigris," the paper opined. "Let’s hope Schröder remains strong and remembers what he promised before the war, the paper concluded: Germany is not looking for adventure.

The Saarbrücker Zeitung turned its attention to the discussion of extending the Afghanistan peacekeeping mandate beyond Kabul. It called for Defense Minister Peter Struck and Chancellor Schröder to come public with their plans for the country’s soldiers. The paper cautioned that before deploying troops to high risk areas, a feasible concept is needed. The lives of German soldiers in the Hindukush are at stake.

The Fränkischer Tag also commented on the situation in Afghanistan saying that the misery in the country’s provinces can be brought to an end if the aid organizations and others can be permitted to get on with their work behind a protective shield and if aid which will help people to help themselves can be more or less fairly distributed. Millions of people in Afghanistan fight for survival every day, the paper noted. If the presence of the German armed forces can ease this suffering, then the extended mission should be allowed to go ahead, it concluded.

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