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Cablegate: Germany/Afghanistan: Is the Csu the Weakest Link

VZCZCXRO2941
OO RUEHAG RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHMZ #0328/01 3561442
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 221442Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL MUNICH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5006
INFO RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO IMMEDIATE 0320
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE IMMEDIATE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MUNICH 000328

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR S/SRAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/23/2019
TAGS: PGOV EUN GM AF
SUBJECT: GERMANY/AFGHANISTAN: IS THE CSU THE WEAKEST LINK
IN THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT'S AFGHANISTAN POLICY?

REF: A. BERLIN 1601
B. MUNICH 324

Classified By: Consul General Conrad Tribble for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d
)

SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) Support within Chancellor Merkel,s partner
Christian Social Union (CSU) for sending more German troops
to Afghanistan is not a sure thing. CSU chief and Bavarian
Minister President Seehofer, rattled German policy makers
nationwide when he told Bild on December 7 that he had
"little sympathy" for increasing the number of German
soldiers sent to Afghanistan and that "someone would have to
convince him of a clear alternative" and "any further German
engagement had to be linked to a clear exit strategy." CSU
insiders privately regretted Seehofer's remarks, but the CSU
General Secretary told us that it reflected realistic
thinking. Edmund Stoiber (ex-CSU chairman and ex-Minister
President) acknowledged December 10 that the CSU was not
automatically a firm U.S. ally on this question but said he
expected all federal coalition parties to "live up to their
responsibility" and take the right decision following the
January 28 Afghanistan conference. However, if he is wrong
and there are significant defectors in either the CSU or the
FDP, it will be difficult for even supportive SPD and Green
parliamentarians to vote in favor of the revised mandate.
End Summary.

SEEHOFER MIGHT ECHO POPULAR CONCERNS
------------------------------------

2. (C) Echoing concerns expressed privately by some
Consulate contacts, many commentators reacted badly to the
December 7 timing of Seehofer's skeptical Afghanistan
remarks. They accused him of populist posturing while
Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, also CSU, was
under intense political pressure for the Kunduz tanker
bombing, Ambassador Holbrooke was in Germany to receive the
Augsburg University Peace Prize, and President Obama was
heading to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. However,
others acknowledged that Seehofer reflected "proper concerns"
and that Germany "needed to deliberate as carefully as the
U.S. had done before committing new troops." State
Chancellery and Ministry officials, including the State
Secretary for Federal and European Issues, told the Consul
General in a private meeting on December 8 they were
"embarrassed by Seehofer's remarks" and suggested he had
reacted "like a populist" to recent opinion polls that showed
69 percent of Germans opposed sending more German soldiers to
Afghanistan. (NOTE: Another recent poll reported that 69
percent favored immediate withdrawal.) A CSU contact called
us that same morning from party headquarters to express his
frustration over Seehofer who had "once again not consulted
anybody before giving his two cents." In contrast to this,
CSU Secretary General Alexander Dobrindt told CG Tribble on
December 8 that Seehofer's statement was by no means new but
reflected "common CSU thinking." Seehofer had "said this
many times before," he insisted, without producing proof.

AFGHAN ENTANGLEMENTS SPOOK THE CSU
----------------------------------

3. (C) The CSU and Bavaria have a well-documented aversion
to sensitive engagements in Afghanistan. The CSU has refused
to accept any of the 17 Uighurs to be released from
Guantanamo, even though Munich is home to an estimated 500
Uighurs, the largest Uigher community in Germany. Bavaria
resisted for over a year all entreaties to send police
trainers to Afghanistan; the first Bavarian police trainers
just left in November after a change of heart by the Interior
Minister. CSU Bundestag deputy Peter Gauweiler, together
with his CDU colleague Willy Wimmer, appealed to the Federal
Constitutional Court in March 2007 to rule against German
Tornado reconnaissance aircraft "assisting the U.S. in a
mission in Afghanistan that was violating international law."
In October 2008, Gauweiler again voted against German ISAF

MUNICH 00000328 002 OF 002


engagement. While Gauweiler is generally seen as an outsider
within the CSU party caucus, he may have some secret
followers. Another CSU Bundestag deputy, Thomas Silberhorn,
said in October that the debate on Afghanistan "should not be
limited to discussing more and more foreign soldiers but
rather appealing on Afghanistan's own responsibility."

CHANCELLOR NEEDS TO WORK HARDER TO CONVINCE THE PUBLIC
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. (C) On December 10, Ambassador Murphy called on Edmund
Stoiber, Bavarian Minister President from 1993 to 2007 and
CSU party chairman from 1999 to 2007. Stoiber praised the
new U.S. Administration and President Obama's "courageous and
honest" speeches in West Point and Oslo. He reminded the
Ambassador how German engagement in and responsibility for
two world wars had "left marks of deep trauma on the German
people." The largest demonstrations ever, he recalled,
occurred in the fifties when over one million Germans
protested German rearmament. The decision to support the
NATO two-track decision in the early 1990,s even led to the
resignation of Helmut Schmidt, one of Germany's most popular
chancellors. Stoiber said he did not expect any new insights
from the January 28 London Afghanistan conference, but he
expressed the hope that all parties of the federal government
coalition would live up to their responsibilities. In order
to get broad CSU support, the leadership had to develop a
realistic exit strategy as President Obama had showed the way
with his 2011 target for the United States. Stoiber said he
had much confidence in Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu
Guttenberg (CSU) who was politically well-connected, an
expert on foreign policy, and sensitive for what had to be
done. However, he called on Chancellor Merkel to start a
"public relations initiative" aimed at explaining to the
German public why these operations were so vital for German
security interests. At the same time, Stoiber predicted the
SPD and Greens would "return to their anti-war propaganda."
Leaders like Gerhard Schroeder and Joschka Fischer had left
the political scene, and ex-Foreign Minister Steinmeier was
about to get marginalized in the new SPD.

COMMENT
-------

5. (C) At the Consulate in Munich, we heard unprompted,
mostly negative, reactions from CSU leadership and working
level operatives around Seehofer to his skeptical remarks
concerning Germany's Afghanistan troop levels. However, it
is clear that the CSU is on the fence and remains to be
convinced about the need or wisdom of sending additional
troops, especially combat troops as opposed to troops sent
to train the Afghan National Army or to provide force
protection for police mentoring teams. He may be accurately
reflecting the opinion of a skeptical German public that
"wants to take its time, just like the United States'
President did." Embassy Berlin observes that unanimous or
near unanimous support from the CSU is critical to Chancellor
Merkel's goal of obtaining a broad majority in the Bundestag
for a revised ISAF mandate after the London Conference. If
there are significant defectors in either the CSU or the FDP,
where there is also significant skepticism about a troop
increase, it will be difficult for even supportive SPD and
Green parliamentarians to vote in favor of the revised
mandate.

6. (U) ConGen Munich and Embassy Berlin coordinated this
cable.
TRIBBLE

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