Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Obama, Westerwelle, and Afghanistan
Barack Obama's election, like the reign of Condoleeza Rice as George Bush's Secretary of State, and Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, radically challenge the fantasy that we can expect an anti-war, anti-imperial, egalitarian, or in any way newly humane politics from an elected or appointed official simply because they are members of a traditionally oppressed social group---e.g., African Americans, women, or, African American women. And now, the first openly gay leader of a mainstream German party, Guido Westerwelle, is set, after the Sunday, 09/27/2009 election, to become Germany's next foreign minister. Westerwelle's Free Democratic Party favors nuclear power---which, in Germany, means stalling the nuclear power plant phase-out---and "Thatcherite" economic reforms. Westerwelle is also the most powerful and articulate proponent of sustained German engagement, with the U.S., in the War in Afghanistan.
Telegraph.co.uk: Guido Westerwelle profile: FDP leader
The Local, Germany's News in English: Westerwelle: Germany must stay in Afghanistan
Germany's election is a blow to the Afghanistan War's opponents, as we await what most see as inevitable---Barack Obama's approval of another 40,000 pair of "boots on the ground" in Afghanistan, as requested by General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan.
And, as Obama appeals to NATO to view the Afghanistan War as their own War on Terror.
Before the election, Global Security reported that:
1) Seventy percent of Germans were demanding immediate withdrawal from the Afghanistan War,
2) Five of six parties in the German Parliament, nevertheless, favored ongoing German engagement, and,
3) German Parliamentarians had therefore postponed the annual vote required to sustain troop support, until December, after the election.
4) European opposition to the Afghanistan War mirrored Germany's.
(Global Security: As Germany Votes, Afghanistan Gets Growing Attention.)
It's hard, from a distance, to interpret the newfound strength of the German Green and Left Parties, but the rescheduling strategy of the pro-war German political class---rescheduling the war vote until after the election---seems to have been a success.