KABUL/BERLIN | | usaafghanistan

KABUL/BERLIN (Own report) - The debate around the modalities for troop withdrawals, due to begin next year, has become livelier, even before today's opening of the International Afghanistan Conference. A US expert in the Washington establishment proposes that Afghanistan be divided along an east-west axis. In the thereby separated north of the country, a continued loyalty to the West could be expected. The South will have to be continuously disciplined through warfare - with air power and Special Forces. The strategy is also being discussed in the German capital. According to a prominent German military expert, the current combat operations are aimed at temporarily "showing stability" to prevent a total collapse of Afghanistan once withdrawal begins and to avoid the impression of a NATO defeat. PR catchwords are also being coined in Berlin to try to make the withdrawal seem legitimate. The foreign minister claims: "The international community has lived up to its promises." At today's Afghanistan conference, the Kabul government must expound upon its "plans for the further stabilization of the country". more…

TASHKENT/BISHKEK/BERLIN | | kirgistanusbekistan

TASHKENT/BISHKEK/BERLIN (Own report) - With their brief stopovers in several Central Asian countries, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Chancellor Angela Merkel are seeking to secure Germany's position, which has become unstable in these countries. On Friday, Westerwelle will meet the Kyrgyz transitional president, who took office following the recent upheavals in that country. The current Kyrgyz government's close cooperation with Russia is threatening western influence. Observers are also warning that renewed unrest in Kyrgyzstan could spread to Uzbekistan and endanger its authoritarian regime, which for years has been receiving German support - including military aid. The Nabucco Pipeline project, which is to supply Europe with natural gas from the Caspian Basin bypassing Russia, is also in jeopardy. Not only Russian influence is growing in Central Asia. The People's Republic of China is also strengthening its position, seeking to secure access to the region's natural resources. Kazakhstan, where the German chancellor and foreign minister will arrive on the weekend is of special importance. more…

BERLIN/MAYEN/TUBINGEN |

BERLIN/MAYEN/TUBINGEN (Own report) - The Bundeswehr's psychological warfare department is recruiting engineers, development aid personnel and journalists for combat operations in Afghanistan. A "profound understanding" of the Afghan "cultural landscape" is demanded of applicants. "Civilian advisors" who have "lived at the Hindu Kush for several years" are in particular demand. The so-called intercultural mission advisors (IEB) are under direct command of German combat commanders. They are required to establish informational networks within the indigenous population and win over Afghan disseminators for the occupation forces' propaganda. Following their Afghanistan mission, the IEBs must remain at the disposal of - not closer defined - "civilian and military authorities" for an exchange of information. This formulation suggests that they will also be debriefed by intelligence services. In the past, Bundeswehr soldiers were already being prepared for combat operations with "intercultural training". Running parallel to this development, authorities of German agencies of repression are advertizing for scholars in Islamic studies and ethnologists. The recruitment of civilian experts is being facilitated by the fact that IEB veterans will receive teaching positions at German universities. more…

Go East!

BERLIN/MOSCOW/BEIJING | | russische-foederationchina

BERLIN/MOSCOW/BEIJING (Own report) - The German chancellor will be using her trip to Russia and China, which begins today, to enhance business relations beyond the realms of the EU and North America. This thrust is taking into account China's rapid rise and the subsequent shift of the focus of the global economy from countries of the Atlantic Basin to those of the Pacific Basin. Already now, with the USA, China and Japan, the world's three largest economies border on the Pacific Ocean. Having been saved from the effects of the world economic crisis through its exports to China, Berlin now sees itself forced to take measures to rapidly expand its German-Russian cooperation, because Russia is also being drawn into China's economic maelstrom. Business circles are already warning that, in its influence in Moscow. the West could lose out to Beijing. The newly established Berthold Beitz Center of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) will promote German business expansion in Russia. The agenda of Chancellor Merkel's current trip also includes concrete measures toward this objective. more…

KABUL/BERLIN | | afghanistan

KABUL/BERLIN (Own report) - For the aftermath of the withdrawal of regular western troops from Afghanistan, the German defense minister is contemplating the perspective of constant interventions with special forces. If, in the long run, the Hindu Kush, "is to pose no threat to the international community" then an "international coordination of the engagement of intelligence services and special forces" must be initiated, declared Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. The minister is envisaging the initiation of troop withdrawal ("transfer of responsibility") by next year at the very latest, but sees - for the time being - an escalation of hostilities. Scenarios for Afghanistan, such as Guttenberg's, can be studied in Somalia, where war has been raging for decades, and the United States has been using special commandos, drones and proxy armies to thwart every sort of consolidation. Similar strategies have been suggested already last year by a prominent US military journalist, who proposed the use of across-border special forces operations and aerial attacks to render the country ungovernable for anti-western forces. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The German Minister for Family Affairs would like to see a continuation of the upsurge in nationalism engendered among Germans over the Soccer World Cup. Regarding the preponderance of public display of every sort of German flag, Kristina Schroeder declared that, above all, "what's so beautiful about the World Cup" is "that a nonchalant patriotism has become possible". She now hopes that "this feeling will endure longer than the World Cup". The minister's remarks are consensus, not only in Berlin's political circles, but also across the board in Germany's mass media, including its liberal segments, where, in the meantime, identifying with the German team and dissociation from other countries' teams is considered the proper thing to do - and this includes a growing lack of understanding for criticism of this behavior. At the local level, campaigns are being initiated against organizations refusing to go along with this upsurge in nationalism. For years, prominent social scientists have been warning that the alleged harmless "party-patriotism" is dangerous and foments chauvinist resentment. more…