chapter  5
22 Pages

Killed on Our Behalf?

In Germany, the war in Afghanistan and the German soldiers killed there were such awkward topics to discuss that government and military leaders took refuge in euphemism and kept information about fatalities to a bare minimum. More often than anybody else, soldiers have been the ones to pose uncomfortable questions about how political leaders have related to the war and the dead. Both the British and the Danish governments moreover perceived Afghanistan as an opportunity to show that they were international military players. In Denmark, the debate has been less about what was really gained or lost in Afghanistan than about Denmark's own change in foreign policy orientation. The old slogan that soldiers were 'citizens in uniform' was taken to mean that nothing, not even courage and moral fibre, distinguishes people serving in the military. According to the historian Paul Nolte, Germany's soldiers are perceived as 'alien' to the country's political culture.