From the Australian Literary Review
The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism
By Pascal Bruckner Princeton University Press.
ABOUT 5000 German soldiers are stationed in northern Afghanistan, which is as far from the centre of the battle against the Taliban as they can be without leaving the country. If domestic opinion had its way, the Germans would follow the example of the Dutch and get further away from the fighting by raising the white flag and heading home. At the time of writing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was refusing to accede to popular demands to pull out, but she was also refusing to listen to Washington and London, which have been begging her to send men south to join the American, British and Australian troops fighting the Taliban in Helmand province.
Even in the north, the German army has seen combat and brave men have lost their lives. But for most of the war its soldiers have been under curfew. They must return to their camps by dusk, when they have little to do but grow fat drinking prodigious quantities of wine and beer. A report for the Bundeswehr found almost 40 per cent were overweight. Man for man, kilo for kilo, the average German soldier was more obese than the average German civilian.