On February 1, 2010, New America welcomed Dr. Andreas Schockenhoff, for a discussion of German foreign policy in Afghanistan. In his discussion, Dr. Schockenhoff acknowledged that the war in Afghanistan was grossly unpopular in Germany. According to his figures, 80% of the German population is currently against the war. However, he and the German government were resolute in continuing the struggle. “We all want to leave Afghanistan,” he said, “but what kind of Afghanistan do we want to leave behind?” Dr. Schockenhoff emphasized the importance of executing a “responsible handover” of the conflict to the Afghan people.
The “responsible handover” Dr. Schockenhoff described had five necessary objectives: First, to train the Afghan army. Second, to train the Afghan police force. The third, to fund civilian reconstruction; the fourth, to fund the reintegration of ex-fighters into society. The last initiative is the creation of a clear timeline for building Afghan administration and government infrastructure. Dr. Schockenhoff announced that, in order to bring about these changes, the German government has decided to send an additional 850 soldiers to Afghanistan, bringing the total to approximately 6,000.
Dr. Schockenhoff stressed that Germany has no desire to wage war on the Afghan people. Its goal is simply to prevent the re-emergence of a hot bed of terrorism in Afghanistan. Dr. Schockenhoff concluded his talk by imploring the German government to better communicate to its population the significance of their mission in Afghanistan. It is time, he said, to be the giver of aid, rather than the recipient.
--Kalie Pierce, Research Intern with the American Strategy Program