• Germany's news in English

'We've lost credibility in the Security Council'

Amrit Naresh · 18 Mar 2011, 18:19

Published: 18 Mar 2011 18:19 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The United Nations Security Council, where Germany currently holds a temporary seat, backed limited military action against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s regime to halt its brutal suppression of pro-democracy rebels.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Berlin could not vote for the resolution because it would not commit troops to any intervention. However, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany generally backed the Security Council’s aims.

Riecke, an expert on Transatlantic Relations at the DGAP, spoke with Amrit Naresh about the foreign policy repercussions of the abstention and what it means for Germany’s credibility with its international allies.

Germany recently joined the UN Security Council for a two-year term. Berlin has made clear its desire to play a more active role in global security – but has Germany isolated itself by abstaining from voting on a major resolution like the Libyan no-fly zone?

I think that NATO itself is not really united, so to be isolated within NATO is probably saying too much. The abstention didn’t come as a real surprise. Westerwelle had made clear rather early on that, although he dislikes Qaddafi, wants him to go – that’s the government’s position – he also did not like the necessity of military action to achieve that. That’s reasonable, because none of these instruments, the no-fly zone or others, is a silver bullet. And of course there is no clear agenda, what expectations there would be for a Libya post-Qaddafi. So one would rather have that mandate, and the ensuing military action – not only in air, I assume – with a clear agenda of what one wants from Qaddafi. So when Merkel says it’s not really thought through, there’s something to that.

But this has been a very difficult decision. I, myself, would rather have been in favour of an intervention, and would like to see Germany play a role, even if it’s a minor role, in joint units like the AWACS [Airborne Warning and Control System] or something, but I think Westerwelle was rather principled in that. And he didn’t want to risk sending Germans into a war that he wasn’t convinced of. Did we isolate ourselves? In a way, yes. Did we damage our room to manoeuvre? Could be. We have lost a little bit of credibility in the Security Council, I believe, with this cautiousness.

Do you buy into Westerwelle’s scepticism based on the inherent “risks and dangers” of imposing a no-fly zone?

Yes, it’s not as if this is a bogus argument against some military operation that one doesn’t want domestically. I think there are good reasons to be sceptical. It’s a complex situation on the ground. There is, of course, the risk of an escalation that would draw allied forces into direct combat, and many read this resolution as being open enough to allow for that kind of measure. And since it’s all about protecting the civilian population, it will be very easy to argue for extending operations if Qaddafi doesn’t comply. Also Qaddafi knows this. This is a scenario that he doesn’t like, and this is why, now, he has already announced a ceasefire and an openness to dialogue. So he complied pretty quickly – but you don’t know how far, and you really don’t know what the inner workings of the Qaddafi regime are. But I think the decision of Westerwelle, in that sense, was driven mostly by concerns about what could be achieved by military means. This is, of course, honourable, because the Germans know that the price might be high.

Westerwelle has said he understands why Germany’s allies are taking action, and he has also demanded that Qaddafi step down. But by abstaining, do his words lose some of their clout? Does he risk giving the impression that he fails to back up words with actions?

Yes, I think that is the problem. He is demanding that Qaddafi should leave office, and then threatening with measures that do not really threaten him, that he could survive easily. The alternative might be loss of life for Qaddafi, or loss of political position. I think the sanctions that Germany is working for are not tough enough to hurt Qaddafi enough for him to leave office, I would assume.

Westerwelle seems to be walking a political tightrope. He doesn’t want to seem hawkish, yet he says he fundamentally opposes Qaddafi’s regime. Do you think the German public’s weariness of the war in Afghanistan has made the government politically unwilling to enter the Libyan conflict?

I have changed my opinion on that during the course of the day. I would have believed that the incoming elections do play a role for the government, for (Merkel’s) Christian Democrats as well as for the liberals. But people close to the liberals have told me this is not the case, especially (Westerwelle’s) Free Democrats. Although they always are very sceptical with regards to the military, they are also very supportive and idealistic when it comes to democratic movements and uprisings. I think the Germans are quite sympathetic with the opposition in Libya, because they are reminded of (East Germany’s democratic revolution in) 1989.

So it may well backfire: to say, we now want to win an election and so we keep a lid on the military rhetoric. This might backfire, if it looks like doing nothing, and the people are frustrated with the government because they want something done, and see that the other states do, and only the Germans don’t. So I don’t think this has played such a big role, especially not for Westerwelle. Maybe for Merkel.

Will Germany’s decision to abstain – and thereby align itself with countries like China, Russia, India and Brazil – affect its credibility with vital allies like the United States, Britain and France, who all voted in favour of the resolution?

Story continues below…

I don’t really sign onto that, that we side with China and Russia. I mean, China and Russia have no real interest in that. People abstain for different reasons; we did not oppose it. I think you are right that the Americans and especially the French will be frustrated by the German cautiousness, and this is one of the prices we have to pay. We have to mend the relationship with these countries, when they find themselves bogged down somewhere in [Libya].

One way of doing this would be to see when things go well, and imagine a scenario in which Qaddafi leaves office and goes into exile and a transition comes into being. It would be a very good role for Germany to do whatever it could to support that transformation with civilian means, even if it’s a little bit costly, to show that we do care about what happens in Libya – we simply didn’t believe in military means. If it goes wrong, in a sense that maybe the allies get into an escalation and find themselves in a year-long civil war mission, it would not suit Germany well to lift up a finger and say, ah, I told you so. So we have to take care not to be the know-it-all with the allies, but rather try to step up engagement elsewhere.

I think Westerwelle has proposed even to have more engagement in AWACS and in Afghanistan, to help the allies elsewhere and to increase their room of manoeuvring in Libya. But I think we will have some problems with regard to the French and the Americans. We had just mended our relations after the clashes over Afghanistan policy in 2007 and 2008. That was a very difficult phase, and it had just turned around again and the Germans were again part of the Western community, and we stopped that.

Is this blow to German-French relations on the same scale as the conflict between the two allies over policy in Afghanistan?

Not quite, I think. It’s not as big. And things could turn out differently. We could be lucky and find a quick solution in Libya, or an escalation could be avoided because Qaddafi is complying, I don’t know. How long it will take, and how severe these problems will be, it’s too early to say right now.

Amrit Naresh (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

19:11 March 18, 2011 by Victor Scicluna
'We've lost credibility in the Security Council'

Yes and how and I honestly hope other nations take note, Merkel demands the dictator step down - then votes to abstain from the no-fly directive and a few hours later supports the UN decision.

To abstain as they do not want to send soldiers is unexcusable, having voted would not have bound them to take military action but they risked having the whole thing collapse ... now we already see first positive results of the resolution and they want to to say no we do not vote for it, no we will not support it but of course find it good.

I honestly hope they keeep them away from the Permenant Security Council seat they are seeking.
21:39 March 18, 2011 by catjones
The Security Council vote seemed to have divided Europeans, with Germany saying it would not take part while Norway was reported as saying it would.
22:31 March 18, 2011 by Expat IV
We have an American saying for what happened when the vote come in--"It separated the sheep from the goats."

Another comes to mind, "Put your money where your mouth is or shut up"
23:07 March 18, 2011 by Englishted
German are as much use as a chocolate teapot in the Security Council,they can't make their minds up on anything ,to back up Russia and China shows their self interest as exporters, I think German politics are a missmash at home so why do you think they are better abroad? take a look at their track record it is not pretty or helpful.

I just find it strange to turn on France ,no surprice to turn on G.B and U.S.A. standard practise.
23:38 March 18, 2011 by jmclewis
It is not fare to ask for leadership from Merkel and Westerwelle on human rights; before they have had time to deploy a battery of public opinion polls. Which way is the wind blowing?
00:13 March 19, 2011 by fryintl
Interesting comments here. I can't see where you absolutely say Germany has sided with Russia and China. As Mr Naresh stated, a comon no can be done for different reasons. The russians will not need Germany to vote one way or the other. THey can stop and Veto anyways. So, It is probable that Germany had its own reasons for abstaining.

As for cowardice, I think they may be over cautious, and I prefer them to have said yes, but, once again, you cannot equate their abstension as cowardice. Germany is losing lives in Afghanistan. They havent pulled out adn are still there supporting their portion o fhte mission. Of cowardice. I think they are being overly cautious, with regards to going somewhere where they may get into a quagmire. The end result is that they do nothing, and Qaadafi continues undeterred by the lack of armies on the ground.

Too bad they said didnt vote, but no major loss to the world one way or the other.
00:13 March 19, 2011 by Wim van Couveren
your title - 'We've lost credibility in the Security Council'

Should read -

'Germany has won credibility in the world and amoungst its own citizens!'

Merkel is to be congratulated for not tying Germany along to the likes of neo-colonialist hypocrites like Cameron and Sarkozy.

German people do not want to participate in any unjust wars and it will be just a matter of time that they realize what a mistake it has been to be in Afghanistan.

The idiot Khadafy is a Libyan problem for the Libyans to solve on their own ­ Westerwelle is spot on when he says he does not want Germany involved in a North African civil war.

I am proud to live in a country that has the courageous to swim against the stream with bellicose and mindless allies who would want to repeat the folly of Vietnam and Iraq all over again.

Let the stupid English and French pull the coals out of the fire for the US ­ that is really all it is.

Your so-called expert interviewed above says he ¦quot;would rather have been in favor of an intervention¦quot;. He represents that part of the ruling group in Germany who would love to tie the country more closely with the war mongers in Washington and London. He is in the minority.

It is not about ¦#39;being right¦#39; but about ¦#39;doing right¦#39; in this case ­ and abstaining was the right thing to do.

The above article sort of wants the reader to believe that Germany will be seen as somehow ¦#39;losers¦#39; for not being in the ¦#39;George W Stupid¦#39; school of ¦#39;shoot now ­ think later¦#39;. In fact just the opposite is the case!

Germany has won respect where it matters ...........on the streets in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.
01:13 March 19, 2011 by maxbrando
The final solution for Germany is for the U.S.A. to pull all of its soldiers out of Germqany immediately. All soldiers ,sailors, airmen, equipment and families should go back to the U.S.A. beginning next week. Why should the USA defend Germany. You all are a bunch of cowards. All of you.
03:50 March 19, 2011 by wenddiver
Wow, talk about exagerated sence of self-importance.

Newsflash, Germany's vote in the UN didn't even make the news back in the US.

Even if it did, since when did US Military planning ever take in to consideration Germany's help.

List of not theres:

1. Korea

2. Viet Nam

3. Cambodia

4. Grenada

5. Panama

6. Iraq 1

7. Afganistan-Willing to train police, and under two thousand troops-don't strain yourselves

8. Iraq 2

@Wim Van Courens-"Let the stupid English and French pull the coals out of the fire for the US ­ that is really all it is."

Congratulations!!! That is the least intelligent comment I have ever read in the Local. What was the war again that the US was invaded and the British and French Fleets crossed the ocean and liberated us again??? Please tell us alot about that, because we missed it. In case you missed the history of the world for the last 70 years the US Military really hasn't needed anybody's help, they have managed to go all over the world fighting wars and still had the ability to defend the US, Western Europe and most of the Pacific with spare muscle.

The US doesn't want to be in Libiya, but if the President says our Men are going, you can bet the US Military will be doing most of the heavy lifting in this job, because we are one of the few Western Democracy with a decent size military. This is definetly the dumbest thing Obama has done.
05:45 March 19, 2011 by OutWest
This was a chance for the Council to put forward a strong voice in opposition to the brutal force Gaddafi is using on his own people, to help set a standard in the Middle East that goverments must respect the wishes and aspirations of their people. Germany's very weak, floundering here does diminish credibility. What would it take for Germany to vote for the use of force? 10,000, 20,000 or more brutal deaths? Not impressed with Germany's performance.
06:47 March 19, 2011 by proclusian
What a lovely mish-mash of Monday morning quarterbacks and militaristic triumphalism this comments section is today.

I'll just add to this my own prediction: six months from now, Germany will be seen by most everyone to have made the right choice here. If only they could have the courage of their convictions and stop all this hand-wringing in public. Unseemly. Let's hope the elections over the next two years bring us some real leaders (by whom I most definitely do not mean KTzG).
06:48 March 19, 2011 by belladons
The majority of the comments on this story are pretty good including the two extreme comments. I've got to tell ya, being a proud German-American who lives by the greatest morals and values any Germany citizen could live by, I do understand Germany is a nation who's power is well respected throughout all the world. Knowing Germany's tumultuous , it is my belief Germany must support and defend security measures voted on by NATO and UN Security Council members to protect the freedoms of others. There are numerous non-state actor war mongers throughout the world who attempt to control others lives through the forces of terrorism and etc..and if a powerful nation like Germany fails to support national and international security measures, Germany will face a long and winding road of not being trusted to support security measures as a member of NATO and the UN. All encompassing, Germany does not want to be viewed by the international community as a weak nation like many currently view Spain. It's not about the U.S., it's about the coalition of nations who team together to protect mankind.
08:03 March 19, 2011 by delvek
Stay out of Muslim countries, let the Arab league and the Muslim citizens affect their OWN change. I applaud Germany.
08:36 March 19, 2011 by tallady
I certainly will not applaud the German decision, it reeks of self interest and contempt for it's allies.

If Qaddafi wins this civil war he will slaughter thousands to purge the country of those opposed to his dictates.

We now see what a joke the "cease fire" was..

It took Hilary Clinton and Rice to convince Obama that some form of intervention is necessary.. No one wants to put foreign troops on the ground there. This has been justified by the UN and Arab league.
08:45 March 19, 2011 by ajcberlin
"We have lost credibility",,,,,no in truth you never had any
09:19 March 19, 2011 by storymann
Living in a free society with excellent opportunity to education , travel ,health care ect. is the wish of most peoples around the world. The creation of instant communications has shown the less fortunate how others in a free society live. These people want the same for themselves and a better opportunities for their children.As citizens living in a free society we should render all the help and support we can to free the world of Dictators like Qaddafi and others that use their vast oil money or power or both to enrich themselves and favored few, instead of providing a better life for their citizenry.
10:03 March 19, 2011 by catjones
At least now the German armed forces are safe. Mayday is coming up, we can use them for crowd control..unless the crowd starts getting out of control; then retreat and let the cops do their thing. If that doesn't work, yell 'free beer!'
11:03 March 19, 2011 by Conan the Librarian
Germany is duty bound to fight with conviction against the world's evil dictators and tyrants.

You owe it to the 25 million Allied soldiers who laid down their lives to free this country from the shackles of a monster.

It's just a shame the current German government is only decisive in shying away from its world responsibilities.
11:26 March 19, 2011 by Altdude
Considering the history of the last century, I welcome a timid German foreign policy and a concomitantly passive military. The Security Council's decision making is based upon consensus, not majority rule. An abstention does not destroy, but rather supports, consensus, and should be thus appreciated.
11:30 March 19, 2011 by beckyhead
Maybe Germany can send Quadaffi a stongly worded letter.
11:48 March 19, 2011 by Conan the Librarian
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest showed abstention by walking by. If Germany wants credibility on the world stage it can bloody well earn it.
11:57 March 19, 2011 by Expat IV
Concerning the "no fly zone" vote, an old but apt fable about "Everybody", "Nobody" and "Somebody" applies:

"Everybody" said "Somebody" should do something, but "Nobody" did anything so nothing was accomplished.

Each of us can decide which category best describes the stance our individual countries have taken on this issue.

How can anyone deny that German sided with China and Russia when it voted the same way they did? Neutral is a coward who won't say "yes" and is afraid to say" no". Germany has chosen to be "Nobody" while France, Canada, Great Britain and the US have chosen to be "Somebody" who has the guts to do "Something".
12:15 March 19, 2011 by twisted
What's with the Germans? As a major campaigner for human rights, why are they prepared to let the pro-democracy protests be overrun by that slime-ball Qaddafi? Too close to election time? Cowardice? Please, someone explain?
12:32 March 19, 2011 by Englishted
What was the war again that the US was invaded and the British and French Fleets crossed the ocean and liberated us again???

O.K. smarty which war did the U.S.A. liberate Britain?
13:22 March 19, 2011 by tallady
Germany has been praised by Gaddafi, how sweet. It's to bad that the oil will now be tainted with all that blood,,hope it was worth the praise and condemnation.

Germany always seems to be on the side of Germany. Lets take a vote in the UN on giving them a permanent seat.(:
13:23 March 19, 2011 by Chicago1996
I think that no matter what Germany does militarily and Security Council wise, it will always be crucified for its actions in the fickle world of public opinion. If it had voted for the Resolution, The Guardian and other fear mongering UK newspapers would have written panic stricken headlines touting the rearmament of the evil German empire and the immanent hostile takeover of the European Union by the secretly formed 4th Reich.

On the other hand,if Germany had voted against the Resolution or abstained from it, (which it did the later), a lot of the US expats on The Local and other internet websites whine and complain that the coward Germany is once again stabbing the US in the back. News flash…. Germany is a sovereign country whose government is accountable to the tax payers and voters of Germany, not the US. I think that if one thing history has shown over and over again, is that the US has always been very good at underestimating the financial / human cost and length of a military intervention in another country.

Let us not for forget here: The US is completely and totally broke, and on top of that, it also has a really bad reputation in the Middle East (thanks to Bush and all of his then White House buddies). The US needs to stay out of the Libya conflict entirely as well. In my opinion, other Arab nations need to intervene in the Libyan crisis in order to set an example for the entire region and to have some skin in the game. As for Germany, it has a limited amount of military personnel, and when conscription ends in a couple of months, it will even be smaller. Right now, I think Germany and the US should focus all of their financial and humanitarian efforts on natural disaster stricken Japan.
13:43 March 19, 2011 by AirForceGuy
But why abstain? Couldn't they decide to at least say yes or no. You don't make anybody happy, and you don't make anybody mad. But you do make both sides fell you don't care.
13:47 March 19, 2011 by Expat IV

It will take a great deal longer than a few months for Germany to re-gain respect in NATO, the UN and international opinion. Are you not aware that , in diplomatic circles, the phrase "a German decision" is already sarcastically being substituted for the´word "abstain"?

Every nation has the right to vote as its conscience dictates. No criticism there--that is democracy at work. Each nation must also take responsibility for the consequence its decision whether those consequences are fair or not. That is human nature at work.

If Germany were to face a horrific internal crisis in the next few months and turn to the UN and NATO for help, how many nations would be tempted to make "a German decision" on the vote? If we are not willing to risk ourselves for the sake of others, we lose a bit of our humanity.


US humanitarian efforts in Japan? How many Germans are there at this moment physically helping the Japanese people? The blood thirsty US military is flying helicopters over the reactors helping to try to cool them as well as taking in military equipment to provide whatever help possible US military personnel are out in the villages helping the Japanese people search for their dead and clean up devastated villages not their own--unasked. What about the young British teacher who rescued 48 of his Japanese students then stayed in the village to help with its recovery?

Throwing money at a disaster is the easy way--it allows one to feel good about himself while keeping his hands clean.
13:56 March 19, 2011 by tallady
Expat 1V well put ,thank you..
14:24 March 19, 2011 by Chicago1996
@Expat IV: I think that once you cool yourself off from your blinding rage, (have a beer that might help), and re-read my post, you¦#39;ll see that nothing in my post insinuates that the US is blood thirsty or that it isn¦#39;t doing anything to help the poor victims in Japan. It is unfortunate that in the heat of the moment, you have completely missed the point I was trying to make.

As for the world opinion of Germany, I can tell you that Germany¦#39;s non-vote the other day, was a mere blip on American Television screens. Not much attention was paid to it at all state side. And in terms of the opinions in diplomatic circles, I¦#39;ll have to wait for the next round of Wikileaks cables to come out, so that I can read up on all of that tidbit of juicy gossip as well…. (That was a joke, so don¦#39;t get all upset about that too).
14:41 March 19, 2011 by Victor Scicluna
Very nice discussion, kept to a high standard, I think most of us would agree that we are not arguing Germany´s right to keep out of a decision, the main point I wanted to make and my feeling is that most of you agree is that if Germany feels it should be part of the Security Council as a Permenant Member than it has to start to be bolder and take what perhaps could be unpopular decisions at home but for the good of many others.

This was a decision to protect the people of a country against a tyrant who is prepared to use bombs against them.

No Democratic loving country should abstain.
15:45 March 19, 2011 by Sastry.M
Reviewing opinions expressed in the various comments above regarding Germany I wish to express my own considerations for probable German impasse which Mr. Amrit Naresh should also keep in mind for impartial judgement.

1) Except Germany all commenting nationals have well kept national boundaries. Germay could not 'keep' her boundaries as declared in the unified Reich under Kaiser Wilhelm-1 of Prussia by the first Chancellor Otto von Bismarck encompassing all ethnic German states(Laender) in 1870's. The borders of present day Germany are those pruned due to national disasters consquent to defeat in two world wars of 20'th century that befell once world acclaimed 'welfare state' of German people as attested to by recent European history.

2)The dire consequences of un merited embargos and humiliation of Germany coupled with exorbitant reparations on demand cautioned against by Mahatma Gandhi but insisted upon by the colonial powers Britain and France had led German people to grope for hope which, as is the case of disaster with fate forsaken, the gloom of world economic depression had loomed large taking away that little.

3)The soil thus supported hatred due to national humiliation led the raise of hands with Roman Salute to the herangues of Hitler which promised a ray of hope and indeed did revive resurrection under his dictatorial chancellorship which was only short lived finally leaving the nation to geographical ruins after ww2 and forcing the people to unimaginable destitution.

4) Are the commentators or their fore fathers ever suffered under such conditions or aware of a national situation like Germany to bear the shame in common and their lips stiched up with the thread of collective guilt for the supposed atrocities of the Nazis which like the general public of all present nations may not even be aware of their own calamities?

5)History only saved bitter experiences of learning to the present Germans whose grand parents watched the vagaries of Weimar Republic with hungry stomachs and bear the horrors of holocaust with shameful guilt and reminded to the progeny with memorials. Did the U.N ever conduct or prompted to do any impartial and internationallly adjudged inquiry into those horrors which concern all of humanity by sheer magnitude?

6)Democracy probably taught them dithering decision making because definite dictatorship spelled an irrevocable doom to their dignity as an honourable people.

7) Restore their German ethnic borders and return their national honour like any of their western allies and fix their responsibilty with full membership in all U.N departments.Can we do it without wavering and with confidence in their wisdom from hard won democracy?
16:52 March 19, 2011 by red7
some cannot get enough posting many times here with different names just to say germany is blah blah... multiple personality disorder maybe? Come on take a rest , than making yourself here like a group against germany.
16:52 March 19, 2011 by stablemate
yes germany loose creditabilty in a vary big way!!!!!
17:14 March 19, 2011 by red7
ja, ja....
17:19 March 19, 2011 by Englishted
Wim van Couveren

"Germany has won respect where it matters ...........on the streets in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in the world."

The Middle East asked for help the Arab League !!,

What use are you on The Security Council if you will not provide security ?,

as for the street of Europe Germany is really respected? by whom?
18:00 March 19, 2011 by mrblunt
Ok to make it more lively.I have a counterpart of the whingers here.

whingers vs whingers

18:08 March 19, 2011 by Frenemy
At this point I suspect its already too late for any Western military intervention to do much good.

But its damn near certain that if NATO doesn't intervene TONIGHT (while the night-vision lacking Gadhafi loyalists are at their most vulnerable, and before they fully secure Benghazi) then all of this Western blustering is for naught.

The way I see it, the two major challenges faced by the West are:

1) Gadhafi loyalists with SA-7 MANPADS who are highly mobile and can hide within civilian populations.

2) Gadhafi's infantry primarily use civilian transport to get from point A to B (significantly increasing the probability of collateral/bad international PR)
19:00 March 19, 2011 by snowey
Very disappointed in Merkel. First she flip flops on the Nuclear Reactor issue. Then she abstains on the "No Fying Zone" at the UN aligning Germany with a Communist dictatorship (China) & a Mafia ridden Goverment (Russia). I was going to vote for Merkel & the CDU at the upcomming municipal elections in Frankfurt but no longer.
21:14 March 19, 2011 by Frenemy
Well, it looks like the US has started firing TLAMs from the Med. At over half a million $ a pop, I hope the targets are worth it ;-)

...although thats still politically cheaper than what the French are doing, risking pilots in Rafaels and Mirages (planes that aren't really designed for "wild weasel" ops) to hit Gadhafi's AA
21:46 March 19, 2011 by Bertie
Nobody has understood it yet: Germany is only interested in exports, including weapons.
23:19 March 19, 2011 by Omnikron
My question is why is it that you can be for ending the oppression in Libya, but not for doing anything about it? Are stern lectures going to stop Ghadafi? Why is it somehow morally superior to smugly declare yourself above the nasty business of actually taking a stand? In many ways, Germany gets to enjoy an enviable position. It can take moralistic high horse positions, knowing that Britain, France and the US will do the dirty business of actually doing something.
23:43 March 19, 2011 by Expat IV
Omikron's questions go straight to the heart of the matter.
00:38 March 20, 2011 by Frenemy
Most people (mainly ppl who don't live here in Germany) have no idea what the domestic political situation is like over here. Geopolitical rationality is constrained by misguided domestic politics and a grossly warped view of the world.

Realist Germans with actual international experience, like myself, are overwhelmed and politically ostracized here at home by left-wing, self-absorbed, naive, neo-hippy idiots!

And unlike those idiots, I for one didn't develop my geopolitical perspectives in a haze of bong-smoke!
00:52 March 20, 2011 by Incredible14U
Well Germany has stayed out of Libya. Problem is not wether Germany is in or out of this but that why when in Bharain, Yemen etc dictator's are shooting people in the streets but when Quadaffi does it UK USA et al blow a gasket? I reckon they should have let Quadaffi sort his country out too as if he goes Libya will be 1. occupied long term by USA etc 2. Become another somalia 3. there is another reason for this attack on Libya and that is to obtain the oil from Quadaffi's/Libya's control as we are seeing a long term strategy to attack Iran. This conflict could bring major obstructions to oil supplies hence the grab for Libyan Oil???
05:29 March 20, 2011 by AmericanDave
The only respect Germany really needs to worry about (in my own opinion) is the respect of the German people. I think Germany did the right thing, though it's hard to tell at this point whether anyone did the right thing. Still, even as a member (temporary or permanent) of the UN, Germany's first support and loyalty must go to... Germany. And you all have my respect.
09:52 March 20, 2011 by pseu
Maybe Germany has monetary business interests with these dictators and that is why they try not to offend any of them. Companies like Siemens are raking in the dough with nuclear enrichments facilities and such.

This whole thing is probably about Libya no longer wanting to sell oil to the West, but to China.
10:22 March 20, 2011 by ngwanem
i'm afraid there are a lot of clueless warmongers on this forum and it is astounding to notice numbers that fall for this crap. since when has the UN security council has been siding with one group of a conflict. yeah Gaddafi is a mad man and has made wild comments - does it mean the Libyan troops bear sole responsibility on the atrocities being committed? what about the rebels?

the Libyan revolution is dead as the word goes... now we have in its place a civil war and the international community is siding with one party of the conflict. it should not even be put in the same category as the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia because:in the aforementioned countries, the protesters did not form an in armed unit and were requesting for foreign military help. this campaign being pushed by France and aided by England and USA shall boost their defense expenses and sweet molly! there is some oil to grab after the conflict. we just need to sit and watch how the "democratic"government after Gaddafi shall propose modifying the state constitution and introduce more "western-friendly" clauses so that fruits of the current "war labor" shall be paid 10-fold

as for the supposed humanitarian gesture of saving the innocent lives in Libya - are the lives of protesters in Yemen and Bahrain worth less saving? Why did the security council look the other way when Qatar and Saudi Arabia provided police to Bahrain under the umbrella of the Gulf Council? the international community should just inform us of the criteria they use to justify a non-flying zone in a country!!!
11:45 March 20, 2011 by michael4096
If things go well in libya, germany is the bad guy; things go badly, it was prescient.

However, the decision must be seen in the light of the government's current vulnerability. First distract attention by blowing up the integration issue, then panic everybody with nuclear hyperbole and now play the "we refuse to be bullied into doing something we don't want" card. Though nobody actually asked what people want. It would be easy to say people aren't fooled - but, I suspect most are.

As far as the hypocrites above:

- the us frequently abstain from un resolutions they agree with when playing to the home crowd; usually on motions censoring israel

- germany was nowhere to be seen in korea? Apart from germany being under rubble at that time, the us invaded north korea against un resolutions (yeh, I know it never said that in american school books but look it up)
14:34 March 20, 2011 by Englishted
- germany was nowhere to be seen in korea? Apart from germany being under rubble at that time, the us invaded north korea against un resolutions (yeh, I know it never said that in american school books but look it up)

What a strange way to look at things, so the U.S.A. started the Korean police action did it ?, the North attacked the South was driven back and then the U.S. must go no futher than the border? thank goodness the U.S.S.R. did not think like that in WW2 .
18:14 March 20, 2011 by Arlington
I agree with the German position. Whenever large and powerful countries or alliances get involved in other peoples' civil wars the result is that more innocent bystanders get killed that would otherwise have been the case.
10:51 March 21, 2011 by Ami-In-DE
I also agree with Germany's position, and respect and admire them for taking the high 'road less travelled'.

The New World Order that the UN and its Security Council (Germany aside) is attempting to define is a very confusing and hypocritical mix of policy.

Consider the following:

- A civil genocide has occurred in Darfur. No UN resolution for any kind of military intervention, probably because Darfur is not an oil-rich nation.

- North Korea has been violating Nuclear regulatory policy for years, and also bombing and killing civlilians in neighboring South Korea. No UN resolution for any kind of military intervention, probably because the North Korean military is too large.

- Iran has been violating Nuclear and UN resolutions for years, and has been violently oppressing its civilian uprisings on the streets. No UN resolution for any kind of military intervention, probably because it would inflame the Islamic world, and Iran is no slouch of a military power either, even though this one is certainly oil-rich.

- Sadaam-era Iraq was a brutal dictatorship whereby he had attacked and murdered his own people, attacked other countries, thumbed his nose at UN sanctions over a 10 year timeframe, and attempted at one point to develop WMDs. No UN resolution to intervene militarily. The US and the UK, of course, did it anyway and the world saw the ugly consequences of that.

- Now we have Libya, an oil-rich north African nation with a dictator brutally suppressing a rebellion uprising, i.e. another internal conflict. The UN security council has passed a resolution for military no-fly zones, with Arab League approval of this. But a mere few days after that, allied air-to-ground bombings are occurring, which at least some members of the Arab League are already publicly complaining about, that its going too far. Its only a matter of time before one of those allied bombings takes out a swath of innocent Libyan civilians...I see mission creep all over this.

So, as I see it, here is the UN's policy on military intervention: "If we can get away with it, we'll do it".

From the perspective of the autonomous countries of the world, here's the message from the UN:

"The world community respects your autonomy and international borders. We want your people to be free and unoppressed. If your county's leadership oppresses and brutalizes you we may come to your aid, but no guarantees--it just depends on how big and strong your dictator is. Sorry."
12:38 March 21, 2011 by Prufrock2010
I think Germany's abstention vote in the Security Council, following a mealy-mouthed condemnation of Qaddafi, was an act of political cowardice. But it wasn't surprising, considering the impending elections and the vulnerability of Merkel and her sock puppet, Westerwelle. Germany always acts in its parochial self-interest without regard to the tide of world events.

As an old lefty (as many here know), I personally believe that Qaddafi must be killed as quickly as possible. He's been a bona fide state terrorist for 40 years and a cancer on the @ss of humanity. Like any cancer, he needs to be removed either surgically or by radiation. And I don't care who does it so long as it gets done.
13:23 March 21, 2011 by ngwanem
excellent comment Ami-In-DE!!! :)
14:41 March 21, 2011 by Sastry.M
True observation by American Dave applicable basically to all human beings Every personality has an ego which expects respect from others but begets only as a consequence by extending it to others first.
22:05 March 21, 2011 by Beachrider
I don't know about Sastry's territory discussion. It is fraught with fact problems and asymmetrical comparisons.

Germany gets to vote however it wants. Germany's abstention is completely different from China or Russia's abstention. C&R are voting to not-stop action, they could have stopped it. Germany is doing something much less decisive. A lot of the comments here about Germany's right to abstain really should be arguing a NO vote. Abstaining for Germany is a really odd thing.

The other ad-hominem stuff about Sarkozy and Obama is plausible, but they are getting consensus from others and were not blocked by people that can block it. I really wanted the soldiers to come home, I have no love or commitment to Libya. There is a cost to being held accountable for the Colonel's actions, though.
22:28 March 21, 2011 by wenddiver
There should be an accounting for Lockerbie and the Dico bombing in Germany, but this should have been the done with the CIA or a predator drone like any other common terrorist. The President was wrong to commit US forces to fighting the Libiyan Regular Army without consulting the US Congress.

That said, if he had consulted Congress, somebody would have asked:

If the US shoots 122 Tomahawk Cruise missiles and Great Britain fires two, who is really fighting Libiya?

Next would have been what Government are we supporting??? How do we know that we are not supporting somebody worse than Kadafi.

Based on the pure illogic of this situation, Germany should have voted NO, and kept their mouth shut in the lead up to this situation, instead of being a Cheerleader for war.
13:25 March 22, 2011 by peter douglas
Talking like a true American take out your gun ,aim and then start thinking what you really wanted to shoot,the reforms in the UNsecurity council are long overdue the time when usa,Britain ,France or any other pemanent member could lay down plans engraved in stone is over.why should countries that pay more in the UN like Germany not have their say as permannt members.
14:00 March 22, 2011 by Gilly58
Germany had no credibility within the UNSC in the first instance because it is not a permanent member. Judging by its current performance, it will remain to be a non permanent member. Sitting on the fence can not be accepted, either the UNSC has full unanimity or it doesn¦#39;t. It must also depend on all member state countries to be able to implement and enforce if required, what ever unanimous mandate is decided. Clearly there is deep division within this forum but ultimately unanimous decision has to be made and consequently implemented, otherwise the whole structure becomes a mockery and will only lead to more disarray around an already unpredictable world.
15:06 March 22, 2011 by Sastry.M
Beachrider--I agree with your

doubts of 'fact problems' and 'asymmetrical comparisons'.As an Indian I

submit that this problem of human mind is the prime subject of Indian

philosophy. Facts evolve around thoughts based on personal knowledge

previously established with study and experience. However the phenomenal

events we see and experience 'daily' or expressed as 'history' are

based upon Truth concerning any subjective observation.Eg.the slow fall

of a feather and a tennis ball dropped from a height present two Facts

of observation referred to the irrevocable Truth of earth's

gravitational pull.Thus philosophy implores human minds to be cautious

of this "Trick" of phnomenal presentations and train them to observe

'rationally' from a maze of presented Facts to arrive at the Truth

sifting logically with careful discrimination.

The 'present' we see and experience is the consequence of the 'past' in

general of any related interest. Again to speak of the above "Trick"

looking into star studded night presently is seeing into past events

from stars many light years away. Back on earth if we presently see

events of human world in a given presentation we have also to reckon

with the causative consequences of the past relating to Germany and her

people including policy decision making of their political leaders in

view of my long winding comments and apparently asymmetrical

15:31 March 22, 2011 by Prufrock2010
@wenddiver --

The Congress was consulted and the Senate passed a resolution on March 1 condemning Kaddafi's actions and asking for a UN resolution establishing a no-fly zone, which is precisely what happened.

15:47 March 22, 2011 by Major B
Westerwlle has got to be the worst foreign minister Germany has ever had. She should consult with other strong female foreign before speaking or giving advice to the chacellor.

Alas, Germany's role continues to evolve. Understandable the caution. There will be plenty more situations in this unpredictable world and thus chances to regain credibility.

Am just getting over my anger over U.S. involvement. @ Freenemy. Hey man, Quadaffi has been halted. The intervention did help and saved Benghazi.

U.S. get out quick, like Sec Gates has said. We don't need to be in another Arab country with the military and as I predicted the controversy is brewing back home!!!! Leave it to Napoleon IV, I mean Sarkozy, and give up command and control now.
16:53 March 22, 2011 by Sastry.M
@wendidiver--Truely we cannot assess whom we are supporting taking sides in present day events and adjudging cosequences thereof. Also taking ever present curse and abuse against democratic Germany and her dithering political leaders the same can probably be turned into secure wisdom in view of their regrettable past and hard learned democratic values for over sixty years. As long as Germany is not threatend by WMD's virtually/actually from any Arab states and also themselves greed to extend their Lebensraum within European confines the best policy is to remain silent (schweigen) with mouths shut and enjoy the unmerited abuse with the hard earned democratic wisdom. Virtue alone ennobles (Virtue sola Nobilitat)inspite of that claimed as a matter of right for enforcing the so called democratic values.
19:50 March 22, 2011 by Frenemy
@Major B: Perhaps, but this is far from over. Lets see what happens if/when Qaddafi is deposed and the internecine violence begins (power vacuums don't exist for long).

Somehow I see this turning into another "nation-building" exercise :-(
04:06 March 23, 2011 by Redfeather
China, Russia and India said stop attack immediately on Gaddafi.
08:52 March 23, 2011 by wenddiver
'We've lost credibility in the Security Council'

It sure as hell would be nice if the US would lose some credibility with these bums, because I think most Americans are tired of paying for this world congress of Dictators, beggars and Anti-American nuts. For the record Qadaffi was always a big hit there with the AntiWestern Democracy crowd.

Go ask another country for help the US has less important things to do. Time to get back to improving the lives of the American People and let the world police itself. Don't like the way your home government is run? Suggest you immigrate.
14:35 March 24, 2011 by Englishted
5:47 March 22, 2011 by Major B

Westerwlle has got to be the worst foreign minister Germany has ever had. She should consult with other strong female foreign before speaking or giving advice to the chacellor.

Major B what is the above ? It makes no sense.

p.s. What about Joachim von Ribbentrop ?a little worse or ?
00:44 March 25, 2011 by Frenemy
Let me just summarize the situation for my cousins across the pond: As our recent actions in the security council suggest, we're with ya (in principle), but we ain't gettin' shot at for ya!

We don't do that "democracy" spreading, "nation building" bullsh!t. If Nicolas, David, and the work-horse Barack want to go on a north african adventure in the sand for god-knows how long, you're on your own with that (as @wenddiver so nicely put it, we have "less important things to do".

Oh yeah and by the way, according to recent intel, those rebels you're supporting in Libya are also being backed by al-qaeda (AQIM)... So, um, good luck with that in the long run! ;-)
14:27 March 25, 2011 by jopetjp
".....before they have had time to deploy a battery of public opinion polls. Which way is the wind blowing? "

Personally I think more leaders SHOULD consult their constituents before they jump into a war. Leading is fine untill you ask other peoples children to die, at that point it is not asking too much to make sure this is something your country realy does want to get involved with. How many useless military conflicts could have been avoided? How many lives not lost?
16:43 March 25, 2011 by Avidror
It's incredible how so many people logs in The Local in order just to insult and offend both Germany and Sweden.
00:42 March 27, 2011 by wenddiver
Things the US President could have done, that make at least as much sense as fighting a war for people who hate the US against Qadaffi:

1. Check own belly button for lint.

2. Call George W. Bush and see if he found the Legal briefs for all those unlimited Presidential Powers cases.

3. Hold Popsicle while dog eats it.

4. Throw Nuclear football back and forth with aide(briefcase).

5. Go back to Brazil-WITHOUT mICHELLE.

6. always time for free helecopter rides from the White house lawn.

7. Go sho the kids in Walter Reed your Nobel Peace Prize.

8. Go to "HOOTER" for Presidential treatment.

9. Join the rest of the country in front of the TV, eating Dorritos.

10. Find clip of film that proves Japan was destoyed by giant Lizard and not greedy industrialists.
Today's headlines
Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd