The German president, Horst Koehler, resigned last week because he said something government officials are not supposed to say. He said that Germany was fighting in Afghanistan for economic reasons. No reference to democracy. Nothing about freedom. Not a word about Good Guys fighting Bad Guys. The word “terrorism” was not mentioned at all. Neither was “God”. On a trip to German troops in Afghanistan he had declared that a country such as Germany, dependent on exports and free trade, must be prepared to use military force. The country, he said, had to act “to protect our interests, for example, free trade routes, or to prevent regional instability which might certainly have a negative effect on our trade, jobs and earnings”.

“Koehler has said something openly that has been obvious from the beginning,” said the head of Germany’s Left Party. “German soldiers are risking life and limb in Afghanistan to defend the export interests of big economic interests.”[1]

Other opposition politicians had called for Koehler to take back the remarks and accused him of damaging public acceptance of German military missions abroad.[2]

As T.S. Eliot famously observed: “Humankind can not bear very much reality.”


[1] London Times Online, May 31, 2010

[2] Associated Press, May 31, 2010