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Germany on the Hindukush

A Bundeswehr soldier on duty in Afghanistan
A Bundeswehr soldier on duty in Afghanistan. Photo: picture-alliance

On 10 June 1999, the war came to an end. Milosevic withdrew his forces, NATO and UN moved in. But the episode had profoundly reshaped German foreign policy. Paul Hockenos concludes:

The Kosovo intervention established that not only could a united Germany participate in foreign wars in the name of humanitarianism but that its neighbors and allies expected it to do so. At the same time, the general skepticism in Germany about involvement in armed conflicts provided the Berlin Republic with a unique, built-in check against irresponsible military ventures. In no other country was the debate over war and peace in the Balkans as heated as it was in Germany. There would be more to come. The unique role that Germany could play in world trouble spots, as it did in Kosovo, came more sharply into focus. Taking a page from West Germany's Ostpolitik, Berlin could act as mediator, as bridge between East and West as well as between Europe and the United States. Germany could also come up with alternative security options. Germany was both a loyal ally and the source of constructive, diplomatic options. Kosovo showed that Germany was in the position to lead when it has sufficient support and allies behind it.

Looking back on the Kosovo war and the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Fischer writes:

Loyalty to NATO and the United States, and because the facts were irrefutable, had led to Germany's first participation in a war since the end of World War II - and under a red-green government. What more ruptures in continuity would there be waiting for us […]? […] Germany would neither be allowed nor able to keep itself out of a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the fight against international terrorism.

[p. 273]

Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic. 2007. [Oxford University Press]

[pp. 432-433]

Die rot-grünen Jahre. Deutsche Außenpolitik – vom Kosovo bis zum 11. September. 2007. [Kiepenheuer & Witsch]

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