From Spiegel: But the most pressing problem will likely be the development of a new course in Afghanistan, [director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Volker] Perthes says. Although the Afghanistan mission, he says, is not a ‘vital question for NATO’ — the alliance is too stable for that — Germany’s behavior could clearly become a “vital question for our position within NATO.”

The United States, as the leading power in the Western military alliance, expects its allies to make new efforts. For Germany, this would probably mean increasing its contribution in all areas, including police, military and reconstruction personnel, as well as boosting its financial contribution.

Perthes warns that the Germans must prepare themselves for his new role. “We must know exactly what we want…”

Eberhard Sandschneider, 54, head of the research institute of the German Council on Foreign Relations, goes even a step further. “German foreign policy will have to slaughter several sacred cows after the election,” he says.

The world Sandschneider describes is not a pleasant place. He believes that reforming the United Nations is an illusion, and that the establishment of a new world government headed by the G-20 group is nothing but a pleasant dream. “All that we will see in the future is the creation of temporary alliances in varying configurations,” says Sandschneider. Germans and Europeans, he says, should get used to the idea, so they won’t run out of steam when confronted with the maneuverings of the powerful — the Americans, Russians, Chinese and Indians. (photo: DPA)