German press slams US over Afghanistan bombings

10th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

The papers concentrated their fire mainly on the head of international forces in Afghanistan, amid reports he criticised Germany's actions after the bombing.

Berlin -- Germany's media lashed out at the United States on Wednesday for criticising Berlin's role in a devastating air strike in Afghanistan which left scores of people dead.

The papers concentrated their fire mainly on General Stanley McChrystal, head of international forces in Afghanistan, amid reports he criticised Germany's actions after the bombing, which NATO said also resulted in civilian deaths.

"Bin Laden himself could not have orchestrated a better attack on NATO unity," said the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily. "The American disappointment at setbacks in Afghanistan may be understandable, but even in a far less critical situation, pillorying an ally, for this is what McChrystal has done, whom one wants to use for more combat missions would be a pretty stupid thing to do."

The Sueddeutsche daily said that McChrystal's diplomatic skills were "underdeveloped" and that "he is a problem for NATO."

"Irrespective of what the NATO inquiry into the tanker bombardment concludes, McChrystal has discredited himself as a superior and as an ally," the paper added. "It is highly likely that the German commander made mistakes, but McChrystal's actions reveal a lack of understanding of leadership."

According to the Washington Post, McChrystal questioned why German commanders took so long to get to the bombing site following the air strike instead of sending a team to determine whether civilians had been killed.

The Washington Post also reported that the German commander who called the air strike had possibly been in breach of NATO rules recently ordered by McChrystal, as he based the decision on just one intelligence source.

In contrast, papers took a broadly favourable view of Chancellor Angela Merkel speech in parliament Tuesday, in which she defended Germany's role in an unpopular engagement in Afghanistan, while regretting any civilian casualties.

"Merkel delivered a lesson to Germany's allies on both sides of the Atlantic: Germany won't be treated like this," wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine in an editorial.

All parties except the far-left Linke party supported Germany's continued presence in Afghanistan in Tuesday's debate but the mission is unpopular just over two weeks until the country goes to the polls.

The Financial Times Deutschland wrote: "People will now conclude from this episode that we have to get out of Afghanistan."


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