Serious responsibilities

As others have already pointed out, being considered a “serious” member of the American foreign policy community has one overwhelming requirement: you must firmly believe, without a shred of doubt, in the right of the United States to use military force to violate the sovereignty of other countries in pursuit of its own national interests (or in pursuit of universal values, if you’re of the liberal hawk subspecies).

But as the German Greens are discovering, the ability to grant or withhold the status of “serious” from political parties or individuals is not unique to America. With their recent grassroots vote against prolonging Germany’s participation in NATO’s Afghanistan mission, the Greens have — at least according to Der Spiegel writer David Crossland — “[abandoned] the pragmatism which former leader Joschka Fischer had stamped on the party to make it electable and fit to govern as junior partner to the Social Democrats”. And not just unfit to govern, but immoral too. Tut-tutted the general secretary of the Christian Democrats, “The Greens are apparently unwilling and unable to take responsibility for the people of Afghanistan.”

So that is what a party must believe if it is to be a serious player in German politics. I wonder if the Afghans are aware that they are considered the “responsibility” of the German government? That will cheer them up, surely.

 Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden”, 1st stanza, 1899

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