The rapid march of the Northern Alliance is likely to negate scenarios regarding any Afghan engagement of NATO member states’ troops on the side of the US. This development, however, does not diminish the weight of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s decision to deploy up to 3,900 troops to support the war, despite the potentially serious domestic political repercussions on the Socialists’ coalition with the Greens. This decision, combined with Schroeder’s recent references to the issue of giving Germany a permanent seat on the UN Security Council (as reflected in his recent interview in the German journal Focus), indicates Germany’s attempt to reinforce its voice in the international arena. It is no coincidence that Berlin has decided to emphasize its full emancipation from the consequences of its defeat in 1945 and seek out a global role just weeks ahead of the EU’s Laaken summit. Above all, it is a clear declaration of its intentions, and the first transformation of the way it perceives its role in the international system since the establishment of West Germany in 1949. Berlin wishes to see a reinforcement of the EU’s political cohesion and its transformation into a federation but, at the same time, it aims to become a big power which will defend its vital interests with its own foreign policy when the inter-European bargaining process is sluggish or comes to a halt…

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