chapter  2
28 Pages

Sending Off the Living

Soldiers returning in coffins to Denmark, Germany and the UK have been received in a style consistent with their send-off to Afghanistan. After the terror attacks in the United States, the countries analysed here all perceived the same type of threat emanating from Afghanistan. In Germany, the newspapers referred to continuing fighting as the final skirmishes against fundamentalist die-hards. In Germany, humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and development quickly became buzzwords to justify deployment. Britain's approach represented a significant contrast, if not fully to the extent that Germany's media suggested at the time of the 2001 conference. Like the leaders of Germany and Denmark, Blair saw in Afghanistan a political opportunity to enhance his country's security profile while emphasising good intentions. Denmark's departure point for participating in Afghanistan differed radically from Germany's. In Germany, the narrow official focus on stabilisation and reconstruction meant that the military role escaped public attention, apart from the muted homage paid to coffins returning home.