Some quick hits on Afghanistan:
“I’ve talked to the president, since I’ve been here, once on a VTC [video teleconferece].”
Once in 70 days? In the 70 days leading up to a decision on whether to send tens of thousands more American soldiers to the country, or possibly to scale down the mission drastically? From a president who this week and last week alone has found time to attend Bill Clinton’s gabfest and to travel all the way to Denmark to make a pitch for Chicago’s 2016 Summer Olympics bid?
For the U.S. and other German allies, the election result will bring continuity in German foreign policy, including on Afghanistan, where the FDP is expected to continue to support German troops’ presence, while calling for an exit strategy in the medium term. Unlike the SPD, which has had a sometimes difficult relationship with the U.S., the FDP has long been a staunch proponent of Germany’s trans-Atlantic partnership.
Germany’s involvement in Afghanistan has always been limited — and unpopular. The Social Democrats were campaigning on a possible immediate withdrawal from the country. The election was decided more on economic issues, but its result will also allow Chancellor Angela Merkel to pursue a more muscular foreign policy.
NATO still needs to provide more help in Afghanistan, and the German election means there’s a chance help is on the way — or at least not on the way out.