Chancellor Helmut Kohl

In response to "With Aid Pledge, Kohl Tries to Show Germany Is Dependable" (Part A, Sept. 17):

Chancellor Helmut Kohl belatedly and begrudgingly announced increased West German assistance toward the Persian Gulf effort. He has been occupied with the extraordinary political and economic considerations of German unification (no small task).

The reality that German help primarily takes the form of financial support is not surprising. West Germany is Europe's richest nation. However, as the article rightly suggests, a precedent exists for German out-of-area participation. On Aug. 30, 1989, the cabinet decided to allow uniformed and armed West Germans to undertake duties outside of the German and NATO zone. Fifty troops joined a U.N. supervisory force in Namibia. This action took place despite interpretations of the constitutional limits on the West Germany's armed-force deployment.

Another example of West Germany's flexibility on military assistance is its indirect participation in "Operation Cleansweep"--Western Europe's coordinated effort to support 1987-88 U.S. minesweeping activities in the Persian Gulf. West Germany replaced any units in the alliance zone that were sent to the gulf and made a financial contribution to the operation.

Bonn's slow response to the international effort to contain Iraq suggests a Germany unwilling to take on political responsibility and leadership proportionate to its economic strength and represents a crisis for U.S. decision-makers regarding our "special relationship" with West Germany.


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