a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Shades of green

Posted by Thomas Nephew on November 9th, 2001

Der Spiegel: Greens voters would support approval of the proposed Bundeswehr deployment, the chief of the Forsa Opinion Institute told the Cologne newspaper “Express,” if it was a choice between that and remaining in the coalition.

The Greens have the problem that their voters are split. On one side are the “value greens” — pacifists who haven’t changed their minds for the last 20 years. On the other side are those who, in the context of their social mobility, are more ready to compromise — for example, lawyers, doctors, teachers. This clientele is ready to support the deployment, according to [Forsa Opinion Institute chief] G├╝llner.

Nevertheless, it appears likely Schroeder and Fischer will not have a majority of their own party supporting them in the looming Bundestag vote (Die Welt, 11/9/01: Chancellor concedes own majority is lost). Green Party leader Roth, apparently channeling Mullah Omar, is demanding a Ramadan ceasefire, which both Socialist Chancellor Schroeder and Green Foreign Minister Fischer oppose.

Shades of red, too

The leader of the influential “Juso” (Young Socialist) wing of the Socialists, Niels Annen, warns that many could leave the party if the SPD strays too far from its identity as a peace party. In one interesting piece of analysis, Annen opines:

The chancellor smartly went to the Americans after 9/11, to prevent America from going it alone with retaliation.* I have to admire him for that. Now he must prevent this war from escalating further.

Notes to Niels:

* to all intents and purposes, the U.S. has gone it alone with retaliation.

* there’s not a thing in the world Schroeder could have done about it: both Bush and the American people, I think, feel like “all aboard who’s coming aboard, but this train is leaving the station one way or the other.”

* Schroeder’s own “uneingeschraenkt” (unconditional/without reservation) support suggest you doesn’t really know Schroeder.

* you’ll grow up one day, Niels; Schroeder was a Juso once, too (see photo accompanying the interview).

Another telling photo, to my mind, on the web page with the Annen interview, shows a peace demonstration sign that reads “our GRIEF is NOT a cry for WAR”, with “GRIEF NOT WAR” dominating the sign. Yeah, that’ll help. Cry me a river.

Why do I keep focusing on Germany, and on the Greens? I have family in Germany, and as a former Freeze activist, I really respect many of the German Greens (and Socialist SPD members) for attempting to reconcile progressive and sometimes utopian ideals with the real world of winning votes and working with other parties. Unlike a lot of progressives, they’re trying to actually get something done instead of always just engaging in empty theatrical gestures. I think they could help make a legitimate case for a moderating German influence on Western politics and US politics — someday. First, though, you have to ante up when the cause is just, and I think Schroeder and Fischer realize this. I think Joschka Fischer is, checkered past notwithstanding, one of the most interesting figures in modern politics, a kind of realist-idealist in the Orwell mode; maybe wishful thinking, but that’s what politics is half the time. So I’m crossing my fingers that he and Schroeder can muster a majority in their own party, not just the Bundestag as a whole (the CDU, CSU, and FDP are likely to approve deployment by wide margins).

What’s kind of amazing is that very, very few** of the 3900 troops are going to come anywhere near Afghanistan itself, let alone near shots fired in anger. With the exception of the couple of hundred BKA special operations troops and possibly the “Fuchs” reconnaissance tank platoons, German soldiers will mainly be engaged in logistics, field hospitals, sailing ships at sea and other indirect support work. Still, it could be a slippery slope towards actually shooting at mass murderers, so let the debate rage on.


* im Alleingang: “alone-going”, also “solo”. Doubtless meant to conjure “unilateral.”

** (AP, Tony Czuczka) Schroeder: Show NATO solidarity: “Schroeder is seeking authority for an initial one-year deployment, though he says there are no plans to send ground troops to Afghanistan or take part in airstrikes.”

One Response to “Shades of green”

  1. » Blog Archive » German Greens racing the Taliban to oblivion? Says:

    [...] spell the end for their party. Many of the Greens’ less ideologically pure supporters (see “Shades of Green” below, November 9) may calculate that the Greens will fall below the required 5% level, and would [...]

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