Remember the Wehrmacht? It was a formidable fighting force. The modern German army, the Bundeswehr, is also very effective. Thing is, it is reluctant to fight or even place itself in danger.
[…] Some of this counterinsurgency toll is the work of U.S. and other special forces in the separate American-run Operation Enduring Freedom — the more secret of the Afghan campaigns. Still, NATO is at war here.
That, however, is a fact Europeans are reluctant to accept, just as the link between slaughter in Madrid, London or Amsterdam and the Afghan-Pakistani terror nexus seems unconvincing to many Europeans floating on an Iraq-comforted wave of moral smugness.
[…] One German retort I’ve heard is that it’s no good having the United States demand that its allies fight and die in southern Afghanistan when Washington refuses debate over the role of its pampered friend, Pakistan, in the violence.
That’s a fair point. Still, it’s time to bring on the Bundesmacht and past time for continental Europe to overcome its pacifist mirage and accept that these are dangerous times demanding serious defense budgets and sacrifice.
Well, what else is there to say after reading that? The problem with Cohen is again that one gets the impression that history is destiny and that there is fundamentally wrong with Europe because it has been so many times on the wrong sides of history. I think that it is shameful always to come back to World War II when one needs to slam the Germans and the Europeans for what is perceived to be at best pacifism and at worst cowardice. I believe that it is impossible to dissociate Afghanistan from Iraq and then not to focus on the central issue, which is one of American leadership. Europeans didn’t become Europeans yesterday, and yet the world didn’t come explode and the west managed more or less well to stay united. To me, the issue is therefore not what not the Europeans are not doing in Afghanistan, but why the Americans are unable to use Nato effectively in that region of the world and to lead. Maybe the proper answer to the Afghanistan situation is that in spite of Merkel and of the Sarkozy’s revolution, Europeans don’t trust the American’s leadership because there is a competence crisis. My guess is that for all the glamorous images of the reconciliation between American and Old Europe, things will remain at a stalemate until the next US administration.