Politics, Europe

West's failure in Afghanistan no cause for schadenfreude: German president

We failed on many things in Afghanistan, such developments threaten us all, Frank-Walter Steinmeier says in UN speech

Oliver Towfigh Nia   | 24.09.2021
West's failure in Afghanistan no cause for schadenfreude: German president

BERLIN

Germany’s president on Friday acknowledged that the West had failed in Afghanistan following last month’s takeover by the Taliban, but warned others against rejoicing over the failure as the “developments threaten us all.”

“Yes, we failed on many things in Afghanistan. But our failure should not be cause for schadenfreude for others,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in his address at the UN General Assembly in New York.

“I am deliberately using this German word that has made its way into many languages: schadenfreude. A mindset in which loss to one is gain to another fails to do justice to the reality of our interconnected world.”

He emphasized that the world needs to collectively respond to a range of pressing challenges.

“Regional instability, weakening state structures, refugee and migrant flows, religious extremism and terrorism, and new forms of conflict – hybrid, digital, environmental and resource-based. Such developments threaten us all and we all have to deal with them. Small and large alike,” Steinmeier said.

He lamented that the West was not able to help create a genuine popular Afghan government that could stand on its own feet.

“The fall of Kabul marks a turning point. We achieved our goal of defeating those who wrought horrendous terror on this city [New York] 20 years ago. But despite immense endeavor and investment, we were not able in two decades to establish a self-sustaining political order in Afghanistan,” he said.

“My country also shares responsibility. And we have an ongoing responsibility, particularly toward the many Afghans who had hoped for a more peaceful, free and democratic future.”

Germany concluded its military withdrawal from Afghanistan in late June, wrapping up the country’s most major mission since World War II.

According to the German Defense Ministry, around 150,000 German troops served in the 20-year mission in Afghanistan, which cost at least 12.5 billion euros (over $14.5 billion) and claimed the lives of 59 soldiers.

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