Purchased a FORA.tv video on another website? Login here with the temporary account credentials included in your receipt.
Sign up today to receive our weekly newsletter and special announcements.
Ladies and gentlemen good afternoon, welcome to the Transatlantic Institute. It's a pleasure to welcome our guest today Roland Freudenstein who is an old friend of the institute and and an important presence here, in Brussels he is the Director of the Hanse-Office in Brussels; which is that the joint representation for the States of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein to the European Union. But prior to that position he is he is at a very long career as as a scholar, as a political analyst and as a representative of important organizations. He he was in Warsaw with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. He started in Bon and is it UCLA or USC? Okay. So, not really whether you were there. Okay. You had both you can count both schools on today under your belt. That's very And clearly this profile indicates an interest and a commitment to Transatlantic Relations. Now, we have covered in recent weeks and months changes in as a consequence of elections and shifts in power in France and in the United Kingdom and of course; it would be wrong in our prior to ignore and over look developments in Germany. The names of key Ally of the United States and a key player in the European Union. And because of its history of course, Germany has been for many, many years due to constitutional restrains but also towards the political ethos of the country; very reluctant to engage support, be the participant in military operations. This of course has changed since the early 90's and today Germany is very involved in a number of important missions which are crucial to the interests of the Transatlantic Alliance from Afghanistan to Lebanon, from Bosnia to Kosovo, to the Horn of Africa, Germany has troops on the ground that invest resources to ensure that it gives an important contribution as a global player to these missions. However they are not devoid of controversy and challenges both for domestic politics and for the ongoing friendship between US and Germany. And so, we very much look forward to your insights on what where is Chancellor Angela Merkel on this front. Today's session is on the record; you are being filmed. But you won't be filmed while you eat, so it's free to continue of our guest to make his comment. Freudenstein -- the floor is yours, thank you. Thank you so much, Emmanuel and I am I am really pleased and honored to to be here. You know, the German components among the participants seem to me especially high today. And what's more is that, there there are more than hand full of people here who have at least has much to say about the subject at hand as I do. So, please consider this as a mere introduction to the debate or a a preliminary contribution. But it's by in all means last word that I am going to offer. And the title "Angela's Worries" is actually, its it's a it's actually an allusion to the to title of the of the talk before that. That was Brown's word, "Angela's Worries" you know, this is kind of thing. You may speculate whether its and it's from my my part that I used her first name. Please don'the -- Its well okay thank you. Yeah. That's the version of it. And at last, but not least; I mean, my remarks are on the record of course but other purely personal in nature and to by no means some. We will present the views of the Senator of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Okay, - I mean, said this. "In order to to give you a a flash, a glimpse into into the - of the the mood of the Germany, when I was thinking about which which experience to offer to here. I I remember my my first and only stay in Israel, with project interchange by that time organized by the Berlin Office, the American Jewish Committee. In February 2003, we were in in Jerusalem and a general explained to us and we were actually at the point where there is sniper fire from Palestinian parts into Israeli housing in Jerusalem. And in a genial was explained this situation to as and it, he just digressed a little bit and said and and by the way, our force has killed two terrorists in Gaza yesterday. At that point, one of the lady participants in the in the group, turned around to all of us and said, "Did you hear what he just said? He said, killed. How can you how can you use that word?" you know. And in fact there was another also left of the center participant of the group who turned to her and said, "Listen, I mean after all we have heard in the past two days, your universe is is composed of elements in which of course you know, in you know, in Bob Kagen terms you know, that we all need to understand each other and negotiate and compromise and so on. But actually, you haven't understood that there are place in this world and this is not the only one where ultimately it's them or us right. Whether you kill the other guy or they kill you. And in fact, he used he used that in a in a Newspaper column reporting about the the whole visit afterwards. And I found that quite significant that you know, some people have got it and other people will probably not get it even even after whatever happens. That's the back drop to the German debate on out-of-area missions and war fighting war fighting by German Forces abroad. But now having said this, we have come a long way. I mean, in one way that just mentioned what the situation was during the Cold War. You know, the Bundeswehr, strictly speaking was not a war fighting army. It doesn't mean that it would have that they would have thrown away their guns if there had been an attack. But it was not only purely defensive and it was its purpose was deterrence. In other words, if you really extrapolate this to it logical end, the Bundeswehr by the time the first shot was fired, would have failed its mission because deterrence would not have worked. Again you know, it doesn't mean that there were all wimps or something I mean, I severed two years in Bundeswehr myself at that time. But, it gives you an an idea of the difficulties after 1989 of turning this whole thing around and moving towards out-of-area missions where you know, they are from from peace keeping to peace making to nation building with Arm support and protection and whatever. And you should also not forget that even after the end of the Cold War, there was and even today, there are there are serious politicians and political theorists who would still like to think of Germany; Japan too by the way as Civilian powers. And that was the very name of a foreign affairs article by Hanns Maull who was in the early 90's also also my Boss you know in a think tank who you know, turned this whole thing into a positive quality and said, "Well, Germany and Japan are forever going to be looking at and working with military power in a completely different way than everybody else or at least the the major powers in this world; and turned this into a virtue; and gave a beautiful beautiful material political ammunition to to Oscar Lafontain when the time was was the chairman of the Social Democrat Social Democratic Party and was opposing the first moves of the Cold government to to slightly step towards a a more active military role at that time in former Yugoslavia, but the the biggest step in the 90's was taken in in 1994, when the Constitutional Court decided that out-of-area missions for the Bundeswehr all Constitutional levels decides at this moments. I mean there were many other steps and and faces in the debate but this was the moment that really accounted and that made everything possible that we are going to talk about now. So today, out of 285,000 soldiers of the Bundeswehr, altogether 7700 are actively you know, right now at this moment in out-of-area mission; and the substantial most substantial one in terms of in terms of personal and and military effort is of course, Afghanistan with three components, and this needs to be these three components need to be distinguished. I am going to go into detail later on. There is the the ISAF which is which is largely logistics and and but so called prudential construction teams and so on. 3000 ISAF operations enduring freedom in other words, "War on Terror". 150 in Afghanistan and couple of other couple of hundreds elsewhere. And then there is a third mission; the the Tornado Reconnaissance Mission. Six reconnaissance planes flying over all of Afghanistan and you know, searching out whatever both terrorist positions and activities; but also drug activities you know, smuggling or production of drugs and so on. And there are 300 in the Tornado Mission you know, it's just not just the hardest but the support obviously altogether 3450 soldiers in Afghanistan, so about half of the German out-of-area soldiers are based in Afghanistan today. The other missions are Kosovo K4 with 2300, Bosnian U4 with 800, Lebanon Unit-field with 790, and Horn of Africa again, this is operation enduring freedom with 260 soldiers. And then, you know a couple of couple of other missions, Sudan, Eritrea Georgia with very, very small numbers. But the real substantial ones are these five; you know Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia Lebanon and Africa. You know, I I would not want to talk about the the Balkan Mission here. Lebanon is probably something that's very interesting. I mean, when asked asked me about this, right right before we started this session, but you know, may be someone else can say more about Lebanon. Let me just say that much. Its I would largely say that that it's politically important, it's said Israel's request obviously it's a it's a UN sanctioned of course, and it's domestically very important in Germany for the Navy. You know, in other words there was an inter-service aspect to this. The Navy has been largely left out of of out-of-area missions of the German Armed Forces and you know, since active experience active to be experience has has become an an aspect in in promotion of ranks. And that the Navy really feels left downs so its it's also in under this aspect very important for them. However, it's the wrong force in the wrong place; because they are not really preventing any any smuggling of arms for Hezbollah or anyone else theoretically. That's because because they are they are out at sea , they can't even intervene close to the coastline and it, anyway if the the as far as all, - as we all know, the real smuggle is going on elsewhere. And, plus of course, as unlikely as it may be but if there is a serious attack against German ships you know, suicide bombing with boats or something Cole Style USS Cole Style, then I think the force might be easily withdrawn. But we want to focus on Afghanistan now. ISAF is based in at the North of the country. Its its basically, the Bundeswehr does has a command are currently it its does the logistics for for the entire ISAF mission out of Musharraf Sharif, it leads two out of five provincial reconstruction teams. And the ISAF mission is compared to the two other ones in Afghanistan the most acceptable one o the German Public and the German Armed Forces, even though I am going to get this into this later on in detail, even though public opinion is largely opposed to all of the military at least the combat related military missions of Iraq. Operation enduring freedom is anti terror by the special forces. This is of course the least known although not the least discussed aspect and you know, one aspect of German debate currently of the controversial debate is that ISAF and the OEF are are kept completely separate, which doesn't really hold up to the facts on the ground if he has talked to people who were actually in Afghanistan, they will tell you that, not only are many American forces double hearted to both to both missions but also you you can't really keep the two apart because, you know, without fighting terrorists and Taliban and Al Qaeda in the south, ICEF in the north would quickly collapse so there is a there is a more deeply embedded logical connection between the two. However, the German-debates largely was largely dominated by the idea that Germany, German civilians and German armed forces are doing the good thing in the north. You know, building bridges, laying water pipes, building schools and they may get increasingly attacked by Taliban, but that is only because of Taliban are on the rise all over, because the Americans and the other allies are doing the wrong thing in the south. So in other words, it's the inverse logic of what I have just said you know, in fact yes there is a connection between the two, but it's negative in the sense that the way OEF is being fought in the south is actually making things more difficult and possibly one day impossible for the Bundeswehr in the north which if they if they only let them alone, if the rest of the world only let the Germans alone, they would do a fantastic job and rebuild Afghanistan you know, and painting a cartoon picture here but this is the just of some of the comments that we have had. And Tornados, the reconnaissance planes is an interesting thing. If you remember in 2006 when it was decided that they should go and provide and answer to an actual request by the allies to provide a good good intelligence and good reconnaissance. At the time, this was a reaction to the angry spat that had developed or they had started at the North Atlantic Assembly some time early in 2006. Over an incident in which a Canadian unit had gotten under a Taliban fire asked for assistance from from a German army commander in the north who said that, "Hey folks, I would love to send my boys and girls down there but, Berlin Berlin says, I can't". Now whether this episode actually took place the way it was presented by British and then also American Canadian participants of the North Atlantic Assembly is a different question, but there was a problem. And actually you know, there was a wider problem with the so called caveats with the things that forces and units can do and can not do in Afghanistan we have we have an inflation of these national caveats all over and they are actually making things very very difficult. But we are probably going to hear going to hear more about that from our our experts around the table. In any case, the German reaction was largely not only deny that this episode ever took place but also to say, well we are not going to send military force to the south. We are not going to fundamentally change, we are not going to change our caveats, we are not going to change our posture in Afghanistan, what we are going to do is, we are going to create like a link to OEF and another link to Operation Enduring Freedom by sending these reconnaissance planes which will work all over Afghanistan you know, it's not like they are only working for OEF activities, of course they are they are also supporting ICEF. But they needed a separate mandate because there the personnel this mission the Tornado Mission required was higher than the 3000 maximum that was allowed by German parliament for ICEF. So that's why there had to be a separate mandate. What was amazing at the in the Bundestag were at the time was that despite variant and very very intense efforts by the SPD leadership especially the Caucus leadership in Bundestag out of 300 SPD, members of parliament, 100 against the tornado sending the tornado planes to Afghanistan which which gives you an idea of which party may be the most interesting one to watch in the next couple of years - on the general question of German forces. But you know, having said all these of course not only has the Bundestag as a whole with a comfortable majority renewed all three mandates 12th of October this year for Afghanistan but also SPD party convention last weekend confirmed even staying the confirmed Germany is also staying in operation joint freedom. Now I will give you two quotes here which gives you a picture of may be two opposite ends of a political spectrum on this question and let's see let's see how what you make it the first desire is the newspaper commentary on the SPD convention last weekend. The way the Americans are acting in the south of Afghanistan is nothing that you want to have anything in common with but if you want to convince the United States that its wrong to bomb a village just because you presumed that's a terrorist hideout then you should not demonstrate that you should not publicly finish cooperation with them right. So in another words the only rational for staying you know we have is that you have some chance to influence those gung ho Americans and sort of you know in the way from their counter productive and aggressive tactics. The other one is by the ISAF Commander General Kastov who says it would be a mistake to get out of how we have but so far agreement with a journalist the Americans would probably not accept this and if you if you consider that the forty thousand soldiers that we have overall in Afghanistan with all allies together, in order to assure security then then the ten thousand OEF soldiers that are fighting in Afghanistan play a decisive strategic role for all of us so another words OEF is positively needed all we ask is positively needed it's a part of a whole deal otherwise you can actually forget about Afghanistan and this is general Kastov. So you know both still agree on staying within OEF but they have a completely different ratoinalte for it and if you can see the journalists the journalists riding in a year or so well so obviously its hasn't worked we couldn't convince the Americans and lets pull out and actually this is now what is one possible scenario that I could see for the federal elections in 2009, we are going to have the next election in 2009 I do not know the things that will have premature elections you know, the grand coalition is probably one its its its going to be a -- its going to be a difficult two years head of us where we were just in the mid-term now, and the coalition seems to have exhausted its potential for constructive ideas and is the bickering has got more more fundamental, more basic and more aggressive recently, but still both parties of the grand coalition is social democrats and Christian democrats are determined to stick it out until 2009, which does not mean that the SPD doesn't panic in the mean time. Why would they well you know, on the negative side I think there is a clear where we have to go into the domestic politics in the Germany a little bit they they do feel threatened by the so called left party which is which is a conglomerate of Post Communist from East Germany and you know the radical fringe of Trade Union Oriented and radically spoken this party polls let me see - pretty pretty constantly its its very strongest political force in the country and and they draw their support largely from former social democratic scholars so the SPD has a clear problem here. You know one of their former top politicians the afore mentioned is one of the figure heads of left party of Germany at the moment. So they are making life hard for the SPD and also think that many of the domestic said last weekend's convention of the SPD were due to this fear that the SPD has a competition further left and that they have to move left, therefore you know inverted to regain therefore, you know you know to to regaining some ground. So this could actually a cause the social democratic too and now we come to the positive point to pull a shelter on America right. So to speak to to use the trick that already used in summer of 2002 and later on, but in the election campaign of the summer of 2002 to appeal to a late anti-Americanism which is there and not only on the left in the Germany and to present the SPDS - The Party of Peace the words is already being used during missiles debate you know, on the on the antiballistic missiles to be based in the Czech Republic and Poland. And it and to therefore seek an area where they can public - opinion behind - solidly behind them and polarize against [0:26:05] ____ and the CDU CSU. The risk is there, whether that means that there the German forces are going to going to be withdrawn out of Afghanistan or whether there Germany is getting getting out of operations during freedom as a different question. But but I could see that the the relative peace that is holding at the moment made might - may may not last. So we we - if you consider that will come along way since since the cold war in the development of out of area use of Germans forces then we still have way to go and this also concerns the material equipment training of troupes I mean logistics, air transport all these are fields where where German forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere out of area are are in comparatively poorly equipped compared to compared to Britain and France for example. The public opinion already mentioned one poll says 61 percent against the Afghanistan presence of German forces altogether whether its ISF or it's its the distinction is not that really that much made in public opinion, and the 61 percent against Afghanistan only 29 percent in favor. Other missions are equally - similarly critical but none is as spherical critically seen as Afghanistan. And what's also important to see is that we are not speaking of difference between social democrat and Christian democrats and and the German parliament, but actually the risk goes to both big parties. That party we will get in to detail here. The left party are of course completely against any out of area missions at the moment and the that the Greens and the FTP are between that position and position in varying degrees, but its important to see that both big parties in power now have opponents and and - of the missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Happen now, I think it still hasn't happen a miracle should be start thinking about is national debate, ____ says an inevitable that they know our mission in Afghanistan is important and International interest are because because we can ____ terrorist and for for drug smuggling and organize client at at if we are serious about staying there we need to re-fact that that means killing and being killed and this had never being publicly addressed at least that includes of course sending more forces not own by Germany, may be not lost by Germany but someone has to sent more forces so they would need 100000 instead of 40000 soldiers. The question is way to take that from but there needs to do more quantitatively. One practical idea that that might be used in future is in bet more German resource also in the south with afghan military units for training and bend them you know not send them for three months seminar or something but in bend them their and make them stay for several years. It proved police training that's police training or something that frustrated soldiers like to point to where looks even worst than than the military comment thus it will did the whole the whole concept during police training for companies forces has to be over abroad. I think politically it's very important to move away from the principle of approving and re-approving the mandates every year. This is a tedious procedure that - that actually offers radicals like those from the left party a fantastic ground to- to gather public support to reutilize public opinion. And we might want to change our defense minister. I can see back, who - who all are laughing. Private private comment okay. He is considered I mean look. I may say this that some people consider him the biggest failure in this comment okay. Not more than that. And in fact if if there is if there is another chancellor appearing we are finding this because not only because of this pass it also because he is one of ark enemies of increasing the overall German presence in Afghanistan but especially of of going south or increasing the the links between between north and south and between ICEF and OEF. He, at the major I mean we have come to a point where Mr. Steinmeier, Social Democratic Foreign Minister tends to publically demand more extension and refinement of German military activities in Afghanistan than his colleague CDU CDU defense minister. But again this only goes to show you. I mean I don't know how much of this is just rhetoric you know, may be if if the if the overall mood in the cabinet was different, then Steinmeier wouldn't go as far this possible. But the fact is that it shows it shows you how to how some one locked by the way - sounded like it. Oh, Christ. No it goes to show you how complicated the German debate has become and all this. So, but but most importantly and this is my last sentence. We need to address this the question of of the war if that our security means real war fighting that we still have way to go to develop our forces and this ultimately means killing and being killed. Thank you.