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Bundestag Debate on the Deployment of Bundeswehr Troops in Afghanistan (November 16, 2001)
After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Federal Cabinet decided to send up to 3,900 German soldiers to Afghanistan to participate in the NATO operation “Enduring Freedom.” This decision was based on Article 51 of the U.N. Charter (the right to self defense) and Article 5 of the North Atlantic/NATO Treaty (case of alliance). Nonetheless, the deployment still required the approval of the Bundestag. Prior to the vote, eight delegates from Alliance 90/The Greens, a traditionally pacifist party, signaled their opposition to the deployment and, in doing so, jeopardized the government majority of the red-green coalition. As a final means of imposing discipline on his coalition, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder linked the Bundeswehr deployment to a vote of no confidence in accordance with Article 68 of the Basic Law. In the end, the government secured a majority in the final vote on November 16, 2001, because the eight dissenters agreed to a political compromise: Hans-Christian Ströbele (middle of photo, with red scarf) and three other Green Party members voted against the deployment (and thus against the chancellor), while Steffi Lemke (seen here in conversation with Ströbele) and three other delegates voted for the chancellor (and thus for the deployment). Photographer: Julia Fassbender