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Commentary \ The case of Kunduz

Release date: 2015-10

In their commentary on the return of the Taliban to Kunduz, Katja Mielke and Conrad Schetter, researchers at BICC, call for a critical analysis of the Bundeswehr deployment to Afghanistan. “The question isn’t whether or not more soldiers ought to be deployed to Afghanistan, but rather what has been neglected during their deployment.”

They posit that the Bundeswehr in Kunduz has never been in a position to carry out its assignment to create a secure environment for reconstruction. “When the Bundeswehr left, nearly the entire province was divided up between rivalling, heavily armed commanders. The Bundeswehr had given up security in Kunduz a long time ago—we’re talking about security of the population, not necessarily their own”, comment Mielke and Schetter.

In their assessment of the local situation, policymakers have used simple enemy stereotypes: “All too quickly, dissatisfied or rebellious Pashtuns were categorised as Taliban; blindly, they were drawn into local politics—without noticing that the Bundeswehr, but also development aid agencies, took sides in their everyday work.” No one questioned whether their choice of local partners was a good one. Nor were the needs of the Afghan population properly assessed. “Those intervening have taken a colonial attitude in defining the Afghan population’s needs and devising strategies of how to address them,” comment Mielke and Schetter.

They argue in favour of a critical analysis of what went on during the ten years of German engagement in Kunduz so that lessons can be learned for future activities. “This analysis has to mercilessly review problems, ignorance, failures and misjudgements.”