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Cablegate: German Political Reactions to the President's Announcement

VZCZCXRO5671
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHRL #1527/01 3361802
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021802Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5946
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE
RHMFISS/CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE
RHMFIUU/HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BERLIN 001527

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR NATO GM AF PK

SUBJECT: GERMAN POLITICAL REACTIONS TO THE PRESIDENT'S ANNOUNCEMENT
ON THE WAY FORWARD IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

REFS: A) STATE 123222, B) BERLIN 1507

BERLIN 00001527 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: German politicians across the political spectrum
welcomed and endorsed President Obama's plan for the way forward in
Afghanistan and Pakistan, seeing their own views largely confirmed
in his speech. However, the opposition SPD and Greens criticized
the CDU-CSU/FDP coalition government for declining to reveal its
plans for possible additional contributions until after the January
28 Afghanistan Conference in London. Both the SPD and Greens
emphasized civilian reconstruction and the build-up and training of
the Afghan police over the possible deployment of additional German
troops. The Left Party, which polls only about 10 percent
nationwide, was alone in criticizing the U.S. way forward, arguing
that deploying more soldiers would just exacerbate current problems.
END SUMMARY.

MERKEL: STICKS TO POSITION
2. (SBU) After her telephone conversation with President Obama
yesterday, Chancellor Merkel reiterated her position publicly that
the government would wait until after the January 28 London
Conference to decide "whether and if so, what" Germany would further
contribute to the international effort in Afghanistan. In the face
of uncertainty over the U.S. strategy and the Afghan presidential
election results, the government decided in early November to seek
only a simple roll-over of the parliamentary mandate for Bundeswehr
participation in ISAF when it came up for renewal this month. The
Bundestag vote on the renewed mandate is scheduled for December 3.
The current troop ceiling of 4,500 will remain unchanged. Before
the December 3 vote, Merkel is especially keen to avoid giving any
indication that her government is already considering a possible
troop increase.

CDU: DECLINES TO PLAY THE "NUMBERS GAME"

3. (SBU) The foreign and defense policy spokesmen from Merkel's
Christian Democratic Union also supported the planned U.S. troop
surge, noting that it would provide a window of opportunity during
which the international community and the Afghan government could
put the country on a path toward sustainable stability. They argued
for focusing efforts on civilian construction and the build-up of
the Afghan national security forces. Like Merkel, they referred to
the January Afghanistan conference as key for determining possible
additional troop contributions, declining to participate in a
"numbers game" before then. They referred to the announcement last
week that the German Development Ministry would increase its
assistance for Afghanistan by an additional 52 million Euros beyond
the 92 million Euros budgeted for 2009 (ref B) as showing that
Germany was ready to do its part.

FM WESTERWELLE: SPEECH CONFIRMS VIEW

4. (SBU) In a press conference following the President's speech, FM
Westerwelle (Free Democratic Party) refused to discuss additional
German military contributions, arguing that a debate on troop
numbers at this point was counterproductive. He said that there
would not be a "European and German position" until after that
January 28 conference. "The U.S. Government does not expect an
answer from us before we have spoken with our Allies and the Afghan
government at the Afghanistan conference," said Westerwelle. While
declining to discuss the possibility of increasing troop levels,
Westerwelle said Germany was prepared to do more in building up and
training the Afghan police forces. "That is the only way that
Afghans can guarantee security for themselves, and the only way
there can be a transfer of responsibility," he said. "No one wants
this mission to go on forever." Westerwelle said he had emphasized
since becoming foreign minister in late October that Germany had to
pursue a strategy that would allow German withdrawal within the
current legislative period (i.e., by 2013): "I really feel confirmed
in this view from what the President said in his speech."

SPD: CRITICIZES DELAY IN DECIDING CONTRIBUTIONS

5. (SBU) The Social Democratic Party defense and foreign policy
spokesmen welcomed the President's speech and called on the
government to inform the Bundestag about its plans for additional
contributions right away rather than waiting until the January
conference. They confirmed that the SPD put a priority on civilian
reconstruction and attributed strategic significance to the build-up
and training of the Afghan national security forces. They warned
against restricting the discussion on the way ahead in Afghanistan
to just troop increases.


BERLIN 00001527 002.2 OF 002


GREENS: PUSH FOR DRAMATIC INCREASE IN CIVILIAN AID

6. (SBU) The Greens foreign policy spokeswoman also argued that with
the U.S. plan on the table, it was time for the German government to
provide a concrete plan and time schedule for ending the Afghanistan
deployment and turning over responsibility to the Afghans. She said
that a troop increase, like the one proposed by President Obama,
made sense in certain areas of the country, like the Pakistan border
region. However, she thought that the arming of tribal leaders in
other areas would be counterproductive because it would weaken the
Afghan state. She called for a "civilian development offensive" by
dramatically increasing development funds and immediately deploying
at least another 500 police trainers.

LEFT PARTY: PREDICTABLY CRITICAL

7. (U) The Left Party, which has consistently opposed the
Afghanistan deployment, predictably said the U.S. decision to send
more troops would just lead to more fighting and did not really
represent a strategy.

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