Ok, everybody, now it gets political. And German. German-political. Feel warned.
The reasons for Germany´s engagement in Afghanistan are manifold.
There is a commitment to the Nato. A mutual commitment of "I help you and you help me", which of course means, even a country as conflict-phobic as Germany cannot always avoid being drawn into international politics.
It was either Iraq or Afghanistan and since it had been impossible to justify the participation in an attack on Iraq in the light of the German constitution, or against the rejection of the German people, Afghanistan it was.
Yet still, Germany is Germany and it was hard enough to make anybody admit, that this was not just a humanitarian effort, but that our soldiers were dying in a war. It only took them what? Six years?
And then there is our Head of state, or, the President, who is not, as I might remind you Angela Merkel. The Chancelor is the leader of the Parliament.
A division that dates back to the Weimar Republic.
The post is mostly ceremonial, only weilding real power, when the chancelor wants to step down and when he signs laws, the Bundestag has passed, to make them official.
Now, what´s the problem and why are we all of the sudden without a president.
Well, it seems, he didn´t like some things that were said about him after he uttered those words in a radio interview:
for an export-orientated country like Germany, it was sometimes necessary to deploy troops "to protect our interests... for example free trade routes".
Indignation in Germany was huge, I can tell you, at least, with those, who cared.
Mind you, we just won the Eurovision song contest for the second time since it exists, and most people didn´t quite give a damn about Afghanistan.
I even daresay, Germans are just overwhelmed by the whole thing, war, dying German soldiers, whatever.
But of course, even hinting at things that are un-constitutional in a public interview, when you are the German president, is a no go.
And he went there. (And I wont say, he was wrong, but that´s a totally different matter and has alot to do with how Germany treats its soldiers)
Now, let´s take a look at Afghanistan and what economical interest Germany might hold in a place that´s as desolace, backward and barren as they come...
There is oil in Afghanistan, there is copper, iron, coal, Lapislazuli and all of that might be enough to at least finance the country, but not enough to justify the costs of several years of war.
And there is TAP - Turmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Pipeline, which would connect the Turkmenian oilfields to the Indian ocean... wait, that´s the Indian ocean.
India and Pakistan would be delighted.
And that is that, Afghanistan isn´t Iraq... while there may be a lot to be gained there, a strategic point with connection to Iran, Pakistan and China, there is no real money.
There ARE private companies who run mines in Afghanistan, but the only guys crazy enought to try this, are the Chinese, which isn´t exactly what aides Germans economical interests.
Now why am I doing this funny little excourse about Afghanistan?
It might be my wacked sense of humour, but somehow, I can´t help but find it very funny, that the German president stumbles over a comment about war for economical reasons in an interview about Afghanistan.
Especially, when he actually was talking about fighting off piracy in international waters.
The truth rarely is pretty and many of us like to believe our boys and girls are dying for something important. We need to believe this.
We don´t want to know, that the evil dictator we are throwing down, to free his people, just had power over way too many oil wells for our liking.
We don´t believe, that hundreds of people died, just because this one street/pass/bridge shortens the route to the harbor/trading partner/airport by two or three dozen miles.
But that´s how it is. That´s why young men die and children are killed.
And yes, even Germany might have to deal with it one day, no matter how much they try to make the evil w-word go away, by ignoring it.
That he brought it up in a public interview... I like that.
That he tried to justify it... was wrong.
But that he now, with stepping down, creates a public discussion about his words, and this very subject, is just very very right.
I like my country, as war weary and conflict shy as it is and I´d like to keep it that way.
We are at war in some godforsaken, barren place with totally insufferable weather and way too much sand and it costs us.
Do we have way less dead than the US or GB, yes. And who wants to go to the mother, who lost her son and tell her that?
(I deleted a huge part here, even if it burns holes in my soul, I can´t write it, because it will get someone in trouble, but believe me, the subject of war and when it´s justified to destroy people, by making them kill others, is one that´s very close to my heart.)
In the end, it´s the people who decide for their country, if they dare to do it. Take the responsibility and do some good long thinking, if all the money our companies could be making is worth the life of one German soldier.
Letting the government decide is the coward´s way, the way, that lets us all say in the end "we didn´t know about it" and we had that one already, didn´t we?
So, if out president stepping down is starting a discussion about the costs and the gains of war and what´s worth fighting for and what´s not, then, thank you Mr. Köhler for serving your country well for 6 years and for publicly opening your mouth without thinking.