IN OTHER WORDS : German army

Germany has made it official: it is prepared to move out of its post-war pacifist mode and undertake a greater role in global security. Good.

There has been no good reason for some time why Germany should not do its share of global peacekeeping and peacemaking. Berlin’s new position paper on international security, issued last week, points to a welcome expansion of Germany’s role in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and anti-terrorist actions.

The taboos against deploying German troops overseas have been steadily falling away at least since 1992, when a few German medics were dispatched to Cambodia. Today, Germany has about 10,000 soldiers on missions in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Congo, and German warships are patrolling the Lebanese coast. Under the new policy, Germany would presumably engage in all aspects of peacekeeping. The spectre of German militarism is a thing of the past; Germans are more sensitive than their neighbours to episodes of military wrongdoing.

Last week’s publication of photographs of German soldiers in Afghanistan toying with a skull prompted an anguished public reaction. But it should not raise questions about transforming the Bundeswehr into a global intervention force. There’s a lot of work to be done,

and it’s time the Germans joined in.