NoUFO
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Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 4:55 am

As far as the possibility of war against Iraq is concerned, I have frequently expressed my opposition to Mr. Schröder's categorical 'No'. So, I'm absolutely not surprised by criticism from the U.S. administration. Schröder's 'No' indeed lacks a perspective as well as a 'Plan B' for the disarmament of the Iraq.
Has Germany become 'irrelevant' to decision-making as far as Iraq is concerned? Frankly, I don't know; the term 'irrelevant' may be too strong but I understand that Germany has now less stature.

But at the same time I do not understand the generalization that regulary comes with the criticism:

"Schröder is making Germany irrelevant to global peace and security"
(Senator Hesse Helms)

"I wonder if Germany is still a commited and steady allly"
(the U.S. ambassador in Berlin).

Uh-oh, well ... over the last years, Germany showed growing readiness to participate in crisis management and peacekeeping operations as well as Germany is still increasingly involved in providing forces for multilateral military missions.

Financially, Germany continues to play a major role in supporting the democratization of Central and Eastern Europe, (as a result) advancing security and stability - regardless of the downturn of Germany's economy. After a little research on the net I found out that, in 1998 "the Defense Ministry budgeted over $23 million dollars on Soviet drawdown costs, bringing the total costs between 1991-1998 to nearly $13 billion". This is reportedly by far the largest amount of assistance.
Afghanistan's reconstruction costs another 2 billion Euro per year.
Furthermore, Germany contributes to the cost sharing for the deployment of U.S. forces.

Over the past decades, our military forces have been an army to foremostly defend Germany, but especially Schröder's government nevertheless has sent numerous troops to take part in peacekeeping missions, humanitarian assistance and police monitoring:

(www.bundeswehr.de)
With some 8.000 to 9.000 soldiers, Germany ranks second only after the U.S. (the British deployment of forces to the Gulf region still lacks an UN mandate).
Shortly after 9/11, Germany has offered to send some 4.000 soldiers (in addition to the KSK special forces) to Aghanistan to battle against the Taliban regime; German soldiers have secured U.S. airspace, they will likely do so again and they are now securing U.S. bases in Germany as well as in Kuwait. Furthermore, Germany provides defense weapon systems to Israel.
Germany, together with Italy, leads the new multinational brigade in Kosovo and, together with the Netherlands, has the lead nation function in Afghanistan, providing the second-largest military contingent.


German Fundamental Law (the Grundgesetz) bans all preparations for war of aggression. As soon as there is an UN mandate for war against Iraq, one could still argue that the participation would not fall within the Grundgesetz, as - for some people - this war would not fully be thought of as defensive.

Regards,
NoUFO
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Klaus
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NoUFO

Sat Feb 08, 2003 5:05 am

NoUFO : German Fundamental Law (the Grundgesetz) bans all preparations for war of aggression. As soon as there is an UN mandate for war against Iraq, one could still argue that the participation would not fall within the Grundgesetz, as - for some people - this war would not fully be thought of as defensive.

"Not fully"? That hardly covers it!  Wink/being sarcastic

I´m not aware of any Grundgesetz commentator who would have agreed that a so-called "preemptive war" would not be an act of aggression.

Any participation in the attack would have the chancellor in breach of the constitution - with mandatory consequences. He could have been a bit more subtle in his public presentation. But there really wasn´t any other option.


The official US reaction has a lot more to do with an attempt to downplay the dangerous international role the USA are manoeuvering into than with their own perception. This is domestic marketing at work!
 
Banco
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 5:22 am

On a general issue, the German refusal to ever send troops because of their constitution often irritates because Germany is clearly not the same nation it was 60 years ago, as we are constantly (and correctly) told. Therefore there is often the feeling that Germany is happy for others to get their hands dirty, but won't involve itself. It often comes across as a selfmade get out clause, whatever the intention behind it. Making a financial contribution is not the same. Having said that, I don't believe that is the rationalisation for German policy on Iraq, after all Germany sent troops to the Balkans only recently, albeit in a peacekeeping role, but that was still something new.

It is certainly true that Schroder would find it impossible to carry the German people with him on this one, and of course Germany is completely within its rights to disagree.

However, arguing that Germany remains a steadfast ally of the US in the current environment is unlikely to cut any ice in the States and that is understandable as well.

Klaus is correct, many of the comments emanating from across the Atlantic are domestic politicking, but every country does the same. Some of the Chancellor's comments are clearly intended for domestic consumption, particularly in terms of the strength of German opposition to military action.
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Klaus
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Banco

Sat Feb 08, 2003 5:35 am

Banco: Klaus is correct, many of the comments emanating from across the Atlantic are domestic politicking, but every country does the same. Some of the Chancellor's comments are clearly intended for domestic consumption, particularly in terms of the strength of German opposition to military action.

Absolutely!
And - except the partially clumsy presentation - rightly so.

I think there also was a major miscalculation involved on the part of Bush&Co: They really appeared to believe that Schröder´s opposition was just a campaign ploy which would be easy to "right" with a healthy yank of the leash.

That turned out to be incorrect: The leash broke.

And - once engaged - Bush felt compelled to increase the pressure further, in order to avoid appearing weak to his domestic constituency.

I can´t be certain, but I think it´s a reasonably probable scenario... After all, most really big screwups aren´t planned but based on blunders and mistakes...  Wink/being sarcastic

It just lets you wonder what Bush&Co still have in store for us in the blunders department...  Sad
 
NoUFO
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 5:44 am

Banco,
Germany is not the same nation it was some 60 years ago, but nevertheless Maggie Thatcher heavily opposed to Germany's reunion. And countries like the Netherlands, Poland, as well as France would react .. er ... flabbergasted if a bigger Germany would see no problems in the deployment of troops all over the globe (I can hear Klaus' "'Flabbergasted' hardly covers it" from here  Smile ).

The holy Grundgesetz can not be changed overnight to fit a "New World Order".

NoUFO
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Banco
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 6:56 am

NoUFO, to slightly move away from the matter of the present argument over Iraq, apart from the inevitable response from those who view everything in terms of past history (and lip service does need to be paid of course), do you really think that the world at large would view German deployments overseas in "Nazi" or "Kaiser Wilhelm" terms? I would have thought that the likes of Bush and Blair would be delighted to see Germany shouldering some of the burden around the world.

German troops are well trained, and they would be an asset to any operation.

If Germany really does want to be seen as an entirely different nation to that of the early twentieth century, surely the time has come for Germany to act like a modern nation,and not be scared of its own past. Those responsible for the events up to 1945 are long dead.

I'm curious to hear your views as a German on this.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
Klaus
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NoUFO

Sat Feb 08, 2003 6:57 am

NoUFO: I can hear Klaus' "'Flabbergasted' hardly covers it" from here

Yay!

 Big thumbs up
 
Banco
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 7:02 am

Your opinion too, Klaus!

Come on, Germany is a modern democracy. We're constantly told to stop referring to German history, should the same rules not apply to you??  Big grin
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
Klaus
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Banco

Sat Feb 08, 2003 7:15 am

Banco: If Germany really does want to be seen as an entirely different nation to that of the early twentieth century, surely the time has come for Germany to act like a modern nation,and not be scared of its own past. Those responsible for the events up to 1945 are long dead.

That´s exactly what Germany is doing right now. And it still doesn´t seem to be right...!  Wink/being sarcastic
 
Klaus
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Banco

Sat Feb 08, 2003 7:18 am

Banco: Your opinion too, Klaus!

At your service! Big grin


Banco: Come on, Germany is a modern democracy. We're constantly told to stop referring to German history, should the same rules not apply to you??

So why do you think we couldn´t come to a different conclusion if we´re so fresh and free?  Wink/being sarcastic
 
Banco
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 7:21 am

No, Klaus, that's why I separated it from the current situation. Whatever the views of an individual about Germany's current position, it has nothing to do with a reluctance to commit troops. after all, even a Germany hugely in favour would still refuse to send troops to fight in the Gulf. My question concerns why it is that a modern, democratic Germany refuses to send fighting troops abroad, even when it agrees with other nations doing so. surely, that is a Germany telling the rest of the world that it still can't be trusted? It just seems strange to me, that's all.

Go on, give me chapter and verse....!  Smile
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NoUFO
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 8:12 am

Banco, Germany, along with other nations, does shoulders a lot of burdens and does not "only" provide financial support and I do consider Germany a "modern nation" (your words).
At the same time I still do not wish to hear another easily said "Germans to front" again. Deployment of troops should always fall within an international mandate, issued by either the NATO or the United Nations. Why shouldn't that be a "modern" approach? At the risk of repeating myself: I think, days should be gone when one or two countries can go in and battle against a certain part of the world without the world's approval.

As for "being scared" of our own history: our neighborhood is even more scared of our history and we have to deal with it. Reportedly, soldiers from the Netherland ISAF corps are notorious for painting swastikas on German vehicles, and not too long ago I argued with one woman (who spoke fluent English and yes, she was from the Netherlands but that doesn't really count) whether I too am responsible for what the Nazis did. Hello, I was born in 1967!

Personally, I'm absolutely pleased with the framework our Federal Constitutional Court set up before ECR-Tornados were sent to Kosovo. A brief overview:

Germany's constitution does not allow the government to start war against whatever country as long as neither Germany nor an ally has been attacked.

- After Gemany's reunification same was stated during the Two-plus-Four Treaty and guess what? The U.S. administration (Bush sen.!) signed the treaty.

- In the mid-90's the Bundesverfassungsgericht (the Federal Constitutional Court mentioned above) ruled that German armed forces could participate in operations within NATO or WEU activities in support of the implementation of resolutions of the UN. According to the judgment of the Court, the same applies to the participation of German armed forces in United Nations peacekeeping troops.
What you have here, is the framework German forces can (they can, they don't need to ..) join multinational armed forces.

With this framework the Bundesverfassungsgericht "expanded" the Two-plus-Four Treaty to the maximum extend possible, so care must be taken not to break the treaty. The Iraq is a threat but as long as there is any chance to ban this menace without military activities, it is clear that Germany will not start to prepare for war.

NoUFO

[Edited 2003-02-08 00:25:02]
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racko
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 8:19 am

"My question concerns why it is that a modern, democratic Germany refuses to send fighting troops abroad, even when it agrees with other nations doing so."

That's not true. That was the policy until the end of the Kohl government in 1998. After that, ironically a Red-Green government coalition was the first to send fighting abroad for more than 50 years. It was the end of the so-called "Scheckbuchdiplomatie" - we pay, you fight. In the Gulf war Germany paid more than 16 billion Mark to the US.

In 1999, the Luftwaffe was participating in the Kosovo war. They were involved since the first day.

After the end of the Kosovo war, German KSK special forces played a major part in the chase of escaping Serbian politics and catched several of them.

In 2001 and 2002 German KSK special forces fought along with American Delta forces and British SAS forces in the mountains of Aghanistan against the Taliban.

Also, Germany is the 2nd biggest contributor to UN missions - we have more Soldiers abroad for peace-keeping (what can be very dangerous as the permanent attacks in Aghnaistan show) - we have had more troops based outside our borderlines than any other european nation until the UK decided to wipe out Saddam.

[Edited 2003-02-08 00:23:16]
 
GDB
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Committed Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 8:38 am

I have no problems with Germany providing troops on extra-NATO/WEU operations if they want to.
If the situation in Iraq was a bit different, say Saddam HAD been caught out helping Al-Queda and/or clearly demonstrated aggressive intent towards it's neighbor's with a powerful WMD capability, with a clear UN mandate for action, it would be ironic to see German Panzer divisions operating alongside the British 'Desert Rats', a bit different to how it was in WW2!
But a positive demonstration of how far Europe has come in 60 years.
I totally understand Germany's reluctance though, some of their critics would do well to remember that there are many in Germany who have first hand experience of war on their territory, a bit different to only seeing the death and destruction in documentary's or Hollywood movies.
 
Klaus
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Banco

Sat Feb 08, 2003 8:45 am

Banco: My question concerns why it is that a modern, democratic Germany refuses to send fighting troops abroad, even when it agrees with other nations doing so.

Your premise is already wrong.
German KSK forces have been fighting in Afghanistan for quite some time, already. Alongside Americans, Britons and the others.


Banco: surely, that is a Germany telling the rest of the world that it still can't be trusted?

See above...


Banco: Go on, give me chapter and verse....!

Okay, you wanted it, you´ll get it:

Grundgesetz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (our constitution)

Excerpt from this page:

Artikel 25
[Völkerrecht und Bundesrecht]

Die allgemeinen Regeln des Völkerrechtes sind Bestandteil des Bundesrechtes.Sie gehen den Gesetzen vor und erzeugen Rechte und Pflichten unmittelbar für die Bewohner des Bundesgebietes.


My translation:

Article 25 (international law and federal law):

The universal rules of international law are integral part of federal law. They override individual laws and are generating immediate rights and obligations for the inhabitants of the federal area.


An unprovoked attack on Iraq would clearly be in breach of international law and is therefore automatically in breach of the constitution.


But wait, it gets better:

Artikel 26
[Verbot der Vorbereitung eines Angriffskrieges; Kriegswaffenkontrolle]

(1) Handlungen,die geeignet sind und in der Absicht vorgenommen werden,das friedliche Zusammenleben der Völker zu stören,insbesondere die Führung eines Angriffskrieges vorzubereiten,sind verfassungswidrig.Sie sind unter Strafe zu stellen.

(2) Zur Kriegführung bestimmte Waffen dürfen nur mit Genehmigung der Bundesregierung hergestellt,befördert und in Verkehr gebracht werden. Das Nähere regelt ein Bundesgesetz.


My translation:

Article 26 (prohibition of the preparation of a military attack; arms control):

(1) Actions suitable or intended to disrupt the peaceful coexistence of the peoples, specifically preparations for a military aggression ("Angriffskrieg"), are in breach of the constitution. They are to be put under threat of punishment.

(2) Arms suitable for warfare can only be produced, transported or put in circulation with authorization of the federal government. Details are to be determined by a federal law.


(Phew. Next time, I´ll go searching for a translation, first... Wink/being sarcastic)

So if Gerhard Schröder had indeed followed GWB as Tony Blair did, you can be reasonably certain we´d have a major uprising around here. And I´d be in the middle of it.


You could be tempted to argue that our constitution is "a stupid document of fear of our own shadow". But it´s not as simple as that.

Actually, it is an expression of the determination to never again let international law be compromised or overridden by whatever despot and however convincing the excuses might sound.

And I do indeed prefer the rule of law to the rule of power.


Instead of actively wrecking the only institutions that could have the supranational legitimacy to put a dictator out of his job, I´m convinced it is imperative to strengthen the rule of law to the point where we would actually be able to do it properly - and with at least a chance of actually creating something constructive that lasts.

With post-soviet Russia being as cooperative as never before, China eager to be accepted into the global community, the chances would have been better than ever before to pull it off.

A strategic chance blown to hell by stupidity, greed and shortsightedness, with a generous helping of self-interest and bias.

War just breeds war. Plus terrorism, these days.


Just as an aside humiliating the emerging Europe, betraying one´s allies a few days after a common declaration - wow, what a performance! That one will surely be remembered for some time. (Of course, it´s just the proper response to disobedience on an issue!)


Next time either the USA or Britain are rising from their chairs and pleading for "democracy" and "rule of law" they definitely deserve to be laughed out of the Security Council.

Sorry for the cynicism; But I could go lose my dinner just about now.
 
747-451
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 8:50 am

....war just breeds war. Plus terrorism, these days.

No, terrorism brings war, as does complaceny and appeasement.
 
Guest

RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 8:58 am

this is about the fifth or sixth topic on Germany's reaction to the Iraq war. you guys are obiously pretty confused and self-conscious about it, so instead of wasting your time on this silly board, go do something proactive about it. wriite your lawmakers, research saddam's human rights history, reinterpret your constitution or engage in constructive dialogue with decision makers, becasue all your doing now is arguing yourself silly.

TNNH
 
Klaus
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747-451

Sat Feb 08, 2003 9:09 am

747-451: No, terrorism brings war, as does complaceny and appeasement.

If appeasement has suddenly become the only alternative to war then let´s hear it for WWIII - and IV and V and...

Propaganda had reached that point many times before.


"Do you want the total war?" I can hear them screaming, already.  Sad
 
Guest

RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 12:00 pm

I posted some of this in another thread, but it is also relevant here:

We must realize that most Germans, whether ordinary people, intellectuals, or political leaders, oppose the war. Since Germany is a democracy, doesn't it make sense that the governmnent would reflect the people's view in this matter? In other words, Germany is not behind this war in part because it is a democracy.

Our allies have no obligations to agree with us on every single issue -- or even major ones for that matter. They do have a moral obligation to be a part of the democratic world, and Germany does its best to spread the West's democratic values.

Being a much smaller power than the US, its contributions, particularly military ones, will always be more limited in scope and geography. However, you should not underestimate what Germany has done -- economically and politically -- to make Central and Eastern Europe democratic and prosperous.
 
Banco
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 9:20 pm

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not having a go at Germany's response to the current Iraq situation - Germany is free to make any decision it wants to, I was just questioning using history (and only history) as an argument why Germany shouldn't send troops abroad. On the one hand, Germany wants to be seen as (and of course, IS) a modern deomocracy. On the other hand, German history is used as a justification for not taking action in any given area. I do accept that Germany has done so in recent years, but I often hear the 1940's used as an argument why Germany shouldn't get involved, which seems a bit silly to me.

All I'm saying is that many of us would welcome a German military free to work around the world without harking back to the Nazi era. I'm British, I know that some would say that it's just the Germans hell-bent on world conquest again, I just think we should have moved past all of that.
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NoUFO
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 10:17 pm

Banco,
I think there is no monocausal explanation why Germany doesn't want to go to war. As far as I can recall, the German government never mentioned our history.

NoUFO
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Banco
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 10:21 pm

No UFO - I quote your own comment:

"Germany is not the same nation it was some 60 years ago, but nevertheless Maggie Thatcher heavily opposed to Germany's reunion. And countries like the Netherlands, Poland, as well as France would react .. er ... flabbergasted if a bigger Germany would see no problems in the deployment of troops all over the globe (I can hear Klaus' "'Flabbergasted' hardly covers it" from here )."

Does that not imply that German history is behind the reluctance to commit troops overseas?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, I'm not having a dig, I really do think that we should be beyond this now.
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Klaus
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Banco

Sat Feb 08, 2003 10:26 pm

Banco: Don't misunderstand me, I'm not having a go at Germany's response to the current Iraq situation

Don´t worry; I don´t think that.

Banco: I was just questioning using history (and only history) as an argument why Germany shouldn't send troops abroad.

It´s the "(and only history)" where I think you´re wrong.

Germany has tried (with some success) to fundamentally change the way it operates in the world. What you seem to propose would basically come down to reverting back to the same old ways after an appropriate "period of shame".

In Germany´s case that would mean one of these:

- A scattered bunch of feudalist mini-states without real significance in foreign affairs.

- An absolutistic monarchy with a strong imperialistic tendency - the classic "rule of power" principle modeled after the other colonialist powers of the time.

- A weak democracy, torn apart by universal distrust and extremism.

- A fascist state under martial law, again aggressive and self-serving.

- An occupied territory with very limited sovereignty (several times, actually).

Germany has always been more than just a state, fortunately. But there has been no real alternative to completely re-invent our role in the world after world war II.

And although the immediate nazi past had a big influence on the creators of our Grundgesetz, it´s been more than just that.

Taking a page from the american book, the Grundgesetz was intended to be directed into the future, not just based on the past.

The constitutional articles I quoted express a fundamental distrust against the self-serving use of power to force one´s will on others (excuses have always been found - history has amply demonstrated that!); And, in parallel with the founding of the United Nations, the Grundgesetz made it very clear that the relations to other nations must be based on the rule of law - in this case, supranational law. It´s the reason why the imminent dismantling of the UN hits a lot closer to home for most germans than it does for others.

And it´s not just theory - in spite of the occasional spike of economical egoism, these principles have actually determined most of our foreign policy and are universally accepted by the population.


Banco: but I often hear the 1940's used as an argument why Germany shouldn't get involved, which seems a bit silly to me.

The question is what "involved" means. It has been mentioned before that Germany has more troops deployed in crisis regions than anybody else, only except the USA (although the british attack forces might currently change that; I don´t know the numbers).


Banco: All I'm saying is that many of us would welcome a German military free to work around the world without harking back to the Nazi era.

What´s looking so bizarre from my perspective is that you´re using the word "freedom" synonymous with the opportunity to breach international law whenever it´s in the way of a perceived domestic interest.

My (german) questions to that:

- What exactly do you want your freedom for? And would the freedom of others have any relevance in that context?

- Is the rule of law just strictly optional when it temporarily helps secure your flanks? Or would there be an actual fundamental value to it?

- Wasn´t the rule by power fundamentally flawed and didn´t it always ultimately lead to disaster, when not limited by laws and treaties?


Britain and other nations may not have the same reservations about reverting to past behaviour as Germany does; But I´m asking you: Is it really because their past would be a good model for our future - or could it be simply because those bygone wars had been won for the most part?

If so, what does that say about the upcoming world order?

"Vae victis"?

[Edited 2003-02-08 14:29:49]
 
Banco
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sat Feb 08, 2003 10:34 pm

I'm not suggesting any such thing Klaus. But to take the current Iraq situation, let me pose a hypothetical scenario:

If Saddam hussein was found by the UN to be in breach of UN resolution, and if a second resolution authorising action was approved, and if Germany agreed with that action (there are a lot of "if's" here I know, that's why it's hypothetical!), both in terms of government and people, would Germany then commit troops, or would it not?

If not, why not? Would that be because of German history leading to a reluctance to commit forces overseas to fight, or for another reason?

If the UN approval is forthcoming, the British and American forces would not be in breach of international law, and assuming that Germany was in favour of action - as it was in 1991, then I cannot see a reason why Germany shouldn't join in, unless it was for introspective, historical reasons.

Now, I know damn well that much of this is never going to happen, but if you follow the logic, can you see what I'm driving at?

Incidentally, the British commitment is for around 45,000 personnel in the Gulf. Just to let you know.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
racko
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sun Feb 09, 2003 12:26 am

"If Saddam hussein was found by the UN to be in breach of UN resolution, and if a second resolution authorising action was approved, and if Germany agreed with that action (there are a lot of "if's" here I know, that's why it's hypothetical!), both in terms of government and people, would Germany then commit troops, or would it not?"

Yes. Examples? NATO war in the Kosovo and the war on terrorism in Afghanistan.

"If the UN approval is forthcoming, the British and American forces would not be in breach of international law, and assuming that Germany was in favour of action - as it was in 1991, then I cannot see a reason why Germany shouldn't join in, unless it was for introspective, historical reasons."

The behaviour of the Kohl government during the 2nd gulf war in 1991 was criticized by many, including the current government. Chancellor Schröder has said repeatedly that the time of the "Scheckbuchdiplomatie" (we pay, you fight) is over - if we agree, we also take the responsibility. Foreign Minister Fischer has just today said the same thing at the annual Security conference in Munich.

The only time I can remember history being mentioned as a reason was when there was a discussion about a possible peace-keeping mission in Israel/Palestine. And to be honest, if the peace-keeping forces were attacked by Israelians and had to shoot them, the israelian and american press would go mad.
 
Klaus
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Banco

Sun Feb 09, 2003 1:44 am

Racko has already answered to your immediate response, but I´d like to hear your opinion on the rest of my post as well, if possible...
 
Banco
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sun Feb 09, 2003 3:44 am

OK, Klaus. I don't really like the quote and response technique, but I think I'll have to adopt it to go through what you've said:

Klaus: It´s the "(and only history)" where I think you´re wrong.

I hope so. I really do.

Klaus: Germany has tried (with some success) to fundamentally change the way it operates in the world. What you seem to propose would basically come down to reverting back to the same old ways after an appropriate "period of shame".

Period of shame? I didn't mean that at all! There is a difference between taking a full part in the world community and that does sometimes mena taking military action, depending on circumstance, although I fully accept that you may disagree with action on any given subject, such as in Iraq.

Klaus: In Germany´s case that would mean one of these:

- A scattered bunch of feudalist mini-states without real significance in foreign affairs.


- An absolutistic monarchy with a strong imperialistic tendency - the classic "rule of power" principle modeled after the other colonialist powers of the time.

- A weak democracy, torn apart by universal distrust and extremism.

- A fascist state under martial law, again aggressive and self-serving.

- An occupied territory with very limited sovereignty (several times, actually).


You're talking about winding the clock back. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the current British position on Iraq, the Britain is hardly the same country it was 60 years ago, and not just in terms of relative power. Why should it be one thing or the other?

Klaus: Germany has always been more than just a state, fortunately. But there has been no real alternative to completely re-invent our role in the world after world war II.

I completely agree. But the time has come for Germany to shake off its guilt over WWII and become a "normal" state.

Klaus: The constitutional articles I quoted express a fundamental distrust against the self-serving use of power to force one´s will on others (excuses have always been found - history has amply demonstrated that!); And, in parallel with the founding of the United Nations, the Grundgesetz made it very clear that the relations to other nations must be based on the rule of law - in this case, supranational law. It´s the reason why the imminent dismantling of the UN hits a lot closer to home for most germans than it does for others.

I actually think the way that the US has been persuaded down the UN route means that the reports of the death of the UN have been greatly exaggerated. It is notable that there is no great enthusiasm in the US (or the UK for that matter) for war without a second resolution.

Klaus: And it´s not just theory - in spite of the occasional spike of economical egoism, these principles have actually determined most of our foreign policy and are universally accepted by the population.

I don't disagree with you. Nor would I dream of belittling the deep held beliefs of the German people.


Klaus: The question is what "involved" means. It has been mentioned before that Germany has more troops deployed in crisis regions than anybody else, only except the USA (although the british attack forces might currently change that; I don´t know the numbers).

I answered this point earlier. Although I'm intrigued by your point that Germany has more troops in crisis areas than anyone else apart from the US. Are you sure? Certainly British forces are spread around the world and have been for years. Do you have any evidence? Not because I disbelieve you, I would be interested to know.


Klaus: What´s looking so bizarre from my perspective is that you´re using the word "freedom" synonymous with the opportunity to breach international law whenever it´s in the way of a perceived domestic interest.

No international law has yet been breached. indeed, it is interesting that international law (such as it is) is so rarely breached by the likes of the US, UK, Australia and Canada (interesting common ancestry here, at least in terms of how the countries were constituted. That's a topic for another time)who are admittedly, more ready to use force than many others.

Klaus: My (german) questions to that:

- What exactly do you want your freedom for? And would the freedom of others have any relevance in that context?


A strange question this. I mean whether you agree or disagree with US/UK policy, the Iraqis are hardly living in an oasis of democracy, neither now, nor ten years ago. Nor was Yugoslavia, or even Argentina twenty years ago. When as the last time two democracies made war on each other?

- Is the rule of law just strictly optional when it temporarily helps secure your flanks? Or would there be an actual fundamental value to it?

I don't see the relevance. International law has not been breached.

- Wasn´t the rule by power fundamentally flawed and didn´t it always ultimately lead to disaster, when not limited by laws and treaties?

Of course. Do you really believe that the US and UK believe they are free to ignore international accords? On public opinion grounds alone, both nations would have difficulties with that.


Klaus: Britain and other nations may not have the same reservations about reverting to past behaviour as Germany does; But I´m asking you: Is it really because their past would be a good model for our future - or could it be simply because those bygone wars had been won for the most part?

Past behaviour? Are you really equating the current situation to say, the grab for Africa in the 19th century? I don't know of anyone who is advocating a return to old values, I'm actually a bit surprised that an intelligent man like you would believe it to be so.

Klaus: "Vae victis"?

It was ever thus, in truth. But the holding of a higher authority has always been used throughout history, usually by both sides. Often it is only history itself that can assess the truth, and even then it becomes subject to argument.

She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
Klaus
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Banco

Sun Feb 09, 2003 10:14 am

Banco: OK, Klaus. I don't really like the quote and response technique, but I think I'll have to adopt it to go through what you've said:

It´s the closest thing to an actual face-to-face discussion. That´s why I usually stick to it.


Banco: Period of shame? I didn't mean that at all!

No offense taken at all! I think that collective shame is just as appropriate as collective joy or pride about things that went well, on the other hand.  Wink/being sarcastic
It´s just part of what Germany is today. An essential part, but just one of the parts that make it complete.


Banco: There is a difference between taking a full part in the world community and that does sometimes mena taking military action, depending on circumstance, although I fully accept that you may disagree with action on any given subject, such as in Iraq.

I think I can just refer to the new fraco-german Iraq plan that was leaked to the Spiegel today. There is no hesitance to take part in a solution. Just a strong reluctance to choose war where other options had never really been considered.


Banco: You're talking about winding the clock back.

Your request of "letting go of the past" could ultimately curtail one´s capability to learn from it as well.

I agree, we cannot be hostages of our past; But that´s not really a plausible danger today.


Banco: Regardless of whether or not you agree with the current British position on Iraq, the Britain is hardly the same country it was 60 years ago, and not just in terms of relative power. Why should it be one thing or the other?

If I didn´t think that all european nations had come a long way since WWII, I wouldn´t promote my stance for a full british EU membership as fervently as I´ve done (as you might recall Wink/being sarcastic).

However, as much as it´s been relegated to a tendency, I still have the impression that british leaders haven´t really written off the old reflexes of power politics, when faced with tough decisions. Even when alternatives are present (the franco-german plan should have been a american-anglo-franco-german-... plan).

Discarded chances...


Banco: I actually think the way that the US has been persuaded down the UN route means that the reports of the death of the UN have been greatly exaggerated.

I´d say the american gun to it´s head ("comply... or else") is kinda hard to miss...


Banco: Although I'm intrigued by your point that Germany has more troops in crisis areas than anyone else apart from the US. Are you sure? Certainly British forces are spread around the world and have been for years. Do you have any evidence? Not because I disbelieve you, I would be interested to know.

I was myself more than just a bit surprised when I heard it for the first time. According to the Bundesverteidigungsministerium, the total number is above 8000 at the moment (as NoUFO had quoted initially).


Banco: No international law has yet been breached.

The UN has been threatened to be bypassed unless it does Washington´s bidding. That is a clear threat of launching an unprovoked attack - with the UN degraded to the role of the priest who - unable to stop the carnage - is merely "allowed" to bless the cannons.

Basically, it adds the threat of destroying the basis of the law on top of breaching it!

Bush and Blair seem to be betting on the UN crumbling just in time to give their blessing - thereby signing their own certificate of insignificance.

Maybe so. Maybe not.


Banco: I mean whether you agree or disagree with US/UK policy, the Iraqis are hardly living in an oasis of democracy, neither now, nor ten years ago. Nor was Yugoslavia, or even Argentina twenty years ago.

The current problem lies in the tacit acceptance of the Bush doctrine that "anything else but war is useless by definition". Not resisting that is the failure I´m criticizing.


Banco: Do you really believe that the US and UK believe they are free to ignore international accords? On public opinion grounds alone, both nations would have difficulties with that.

With Britain, I wouldn´t really disagree.

With the USA under the Bush administration, it´s a completely different story, I´m afraid.

The USA under Bush has:

- Breached the ABM treaty, daring Russia to do anything about it, which Russia wasn´t able to for several reasons and grudgingly had to accept.

- Not just rejected the Kyoto Accord but also tried to shoot it down.

- Ditto with the International Court. On top, has threatened to attack any country that would dare to indict US troops - war crimes or not!

- Has imposed steel tariffs in breach of standing WTO treaties.

- Has breached international treaties by sentencing non-nationals to death (in itself a violation of the declaration of human rights) without involving their ambassador or consul.

- Was close to pulling off the same stunt after 9-11 Bush is trying now.

The list may be incomplete...

Don´t get me wrong, the Bush administration is still worlds apart from a third-world dictatory regime. But there are a few things that positively stink. (No, ours is not perfect, either. But we´re not trying to run the world, any more.)


Banco: Past behaviour? Are you really equating the current situation to say, the grab for Africa in the 19th century? I don't know of anyone who is advocating a return to old values,

As a tendency, the old reflexes seem to be lingering, still.


Klaus: "Vae victis"?

Banco: It was ever thus, in truth. But the holding of a higher authority has always been used throughout history, usually by both sides. Often it is only history itself that can assess the truth, and even then it becomes subject to argument.

The hope of our times had been boosted by the USA and others when they incepted the United Nations, to be built on a fundament of human rights and the rule of law.

I think it is deplorable that so many world leaders seem to have lost all faith. Preferring violence without even really trying to test the limits of the alternatives is a sign of miserable failure, nothing else.


Call me biased, but what I know about the french/german Iraq plan shows quite a bit more guts and a lot more promise in the long run than the old method of just bombing everything into the ground and installing a vassal regime. Haven´t we seen that latter idea failing and failing again?
 
Banco
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Sun Feb 09, 2003 7:21 pm

I don't think we're a million miles apart on this Klaus. I do think that the list of American "breaches" is a bit of weak case. All countries have international disputes, but generally speaking the US do abide by international law. The likes of the Kyoto accord do not fall into that category. For one thing, the whole global warming debate is based on a scientific theory that is hardly proven - indeed the most recent evidence from the UN shows that the ice caps are actually increasing in size. Now, you can disagree with the US position, but that is not the same as saying that we are back in the bad old days of nations acting alone.

Nor do I believe that the thinking from the British is based on some kind of empire reflex. On the whole topic of the EU, you have to accept that the Franco-German view is not necessarily the right one. Others disagree, you cannot simply say that the Franco-German perspective is forward looking, and everyone else is stuck in the past, it isn't like that at all, there are fundamental principles at stake. Where you sit on the matter is up to you, but you musn't just dismiss the opposition so lightly, and the same applies here.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
Klaus
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Banco

Mon Feb 10, 2003 2:30 am

Banco: I don't think we're a million miles apart on this Klaus.

I agree.


Banco: I do think that the list of American "breaches" is a bit of weak case. All countries have international disputes, but generally speaking the US do abide by international law.

It is indeed a list of exceptions, not the rule. Thank god! Big grin

Still, it is strong evidence of an emerging pattern of disregarding and overriding international agreements at will, consistently putting domestic priorities above international ones. Aggressive egoism, for short.


Banco: The likes of the Kyoto accord do not fall into that category. For one thing, the whole global warming debate is based on a scientific theory that is hardly proven

Despite individual uncertainties, the scientific evidence is still mounting and solidifying day by day.


Banco: Now, you can disagree with the US position, but that is not the same as saying that we are back in the bad old days of nations acting alone.

I couldn´t if the Bush administration hadn´t (even more than their predecessors) attempted to sabotage the efforts of the global community on top of just not participating.


Banco: Nor do I believe that the thinking from the British is based on some kind of empire reflex.

I wasn´t thinking of anything as flashy as that. I just see a tendency in that direction. A slight bias.


Banco: On the whole topic of the EU, you have to accept that the Franco-German view is not necessarily the right one.

That´s why participating in the community is so important - it gives weight to arguments and ideas that might remain unheard otherwise. I may be closer to the positions of some of our partner countries on some issues than to those of my own government. Some of the smaller countries have contributed ideas and solutions far beyond their own weight.

But your voice is heard best if you´re in the room.
(Okay, I´m sure we´ll have an opportunity to expand on that thought in another thread, eventually... Wink/being sarcastic)
 
747-451
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Klaus

Tue Feb 11, 2003 7:03 am

"If appeasement has suddenly become the only alternative to war then let´s hear it for WWIII - and IV and V and..."

However, France and Germany continue only to choose appeasement even in full view that 1441 has been breached repeatedly even with ceaseless inspections, breaches, thrown out inspectors, viloation of no fly zones etc etc. There are other methods other than appeasement or even war, but you have to do SOMETHING, instead of one meainingless reolution after another....

 
Klaus
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747-451

Tue Feb 11, 2003 8:19 am

747-451: However, France and Germany continue only to choose appeasement even in full view that 1441 has been breached repeatedly even with ceaseless inspections, breaches, thrown out inspectors, viloation of no fly zones etc etc. There are other methods other than appeasement or even war, but you have to do SOMETHING, instead of one meainingless reolution after another....

I´m following the statements and actions of our german government pretty closely, and I have not yet found them arguing for appeasement.

It may look weird when looking from the USA under these circumstances, but the german position´s difference to the Bush administration´s one actually consists of the following:

- The general loathing of Saddam is very much shared. But the sentiment that this in itself is reason enough to attack Iraq with predictably significant loss of civilian lives as the only solution is not.

- There is criticism of the rush to war. Exactly why there is not enough time for a few weeks of inspections exactly now has not really been aswered.

- There is the impression that after US-internal decision finding, any further outside contacts where considered irrelevant except for "somehow" getting the allies in line.

- Bush´s announcement of the unconditional outcome regardless of any decisions by the world community is seen as an attempt to destroy any future influence the UN may have. (People like Richard Perle have been preaching this strategy for many years, which makes the impression even more plausible. People in Europe have noticed these discussions.)

- Since in the last campaign about 90% of all destroyed weapons of mass destruction had been achieved by the inspectors and not in the war, Bush´s unconditional rejection of the current inspections is not shared. The stunted state of Saddam´s capabilities is partially owed to his defeat in Gulf War I, but to a considerable extent also to the previous inspections and to the ongoing sanctions, as problematic as they still are.

- The evidence presented by Colin Powell is widely regarded as plausibly incriminating, but not rising to the level of proof that would be inevitable for a decision as severe as starting an otherwise unprovoked attack. (Yes, emotionally, most people would agree to have Saddam tarred, feathered and probably killed. But same as in our justice system, emotional judgments are easily clouded and therefore are not deemed acceptable as the primary basis for justice.)

- Especially with the very late addition of US intelligence info, the inspections are considered promising. (The outside pressure is definitely helping Saddam to see the light; But at least it´s beginning to work.)

- The pressure created by the military buildup is not criticized per se. The difference is in the perception, that Bush desired to have an automatic attack right from the start of the campaign, regardless of details like the outcome of the inspections or Security Council decisions.

I hope I´ve not forgotten any major point.


To some extent, I can understand the very emotional state of many people in the USA right now. There have been terrorist attacks and horrifying tragedies in the past years up to a few days ago which have created a sense of threat that hadn´t been felt for a long time.

My problem with that is not on the personal level. We don´t feel all that differently and there is much sympathy for what americans are going through during these times.

But on the purely factual level, when shining broad daylight on the arguments proposed by president Bush, without the media frenzy and without the fervent nationalism he´s so fond of, the case just doesn´t appear to add up.

Or, paraphrasing Joschka Fischer: "I´m just not convinced. What should I do? Tell my people: 'This is what we´re gonna do!' And I myself am not convinced it is the right thing to do?"


We´ve had more than our share of fallings-out over this topic in this forum lately. But maybe there´s still room for an actual exchange with a somewhat lower level of adrenaline.
 
747-451
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RE: Why Germany Is Still A Commited Ally

Tue Feb 11, 2003 9:28 am

Klaus:

Perhpas "appeasement" isn't the right word. It appears here that the appearance of not wishing to do anything "forceful" or "distasteful" is more to the point.

As far as solutions, 12 years worth of doing nothing is too much. Un resolutions, violations and "cat and mouse" games have gone on long enough. No one here is pushing for some sort of "glorious war led by cowboys" as the European Media suggest since we don't wish to see blood of US soldiers spilled needlessly either. It is hard for us to understand the US perception that we would send our soldiers in at great risk for something which is so difficult; it appears that EU opinion is that we don't palce any value on US soldiers or civillian lives which is completely wrong and quite frankly an affront to us here.

12 years is not a "rush" to "war" or to even take some sort of action to rid the world of SH's threats; it is something that has lingered on for way to long. The recent inspections have gone on for only "weeks", but what have the last 10 years been up until SH had the arrogance to remove the inspectors?

Diplomatic solutions have been exhausted. Sanctions have failed and failed miserably.

The impression of "only US" fact finding is flawed, since the eveidence of past actions (such as gassing of Kurds) has been well established. That perception is also contraveined by your own statement that UN inspectors have destroyed a majority of WMD's in Iraq in the past.

I cannnot understand why Collin Powell's evidence is not enough to justify some sort of action, not neccessarily warfare but something above and beyond sanctions and censure--something France and Germany clearly do not want to do anything more than just maintain the status quo.

"Especially with the very late addition of US intelligence info, the inspections are considered promising. (The outside pressure is definitely helping Saddam to see the light; But at least it´s beginning to work.)" keep in mind that the US has classified information which we chose not to divulge until the time is right--explaining the "lateness"--doesn't EU intellegence agencies keep some things under wraps until they have more substantiation??? And no, it is not working, since SH is still palying games by hiding things, moving around from place to place etc etc. If all of this were to work, SH should abdicate his rule. But meglomaniacs rarely if ever capitua;te to anything other than severe force.

Please watch what you say; it can be percieved as "arrogance" on the part of Europeans to say our emotions are running high. That may in fact be, but logic prevails since we are members of the world community just like France and Germany. Secondly, we have always strived for the kind of security we had before 9/11; we never would put up with the kind of Terror that Europe has and continues to endure--since that is so uncivilsed. I also suggest that the European press avoid the hyperbole that they accuse the US press of doing so that the clear facts of how BAD SH and the fact that we are not "reckless cowboys" would be presented properly.

The one fact that cannot be ignored is that SH is terrible and has to go, period.



 
Klaus
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747-451

Wed Feb 12, 2003 10:22 am

747-451: Perhpas "appeasement" isn't the right word. It appears here that the appearance of not wishing to do anything "forceful" or "distasteful" is more to the point.

Well, I sincerely hope that every halfway civilized society has some inhibitions against bloodshed. But the german refusal to tow the Washington line goes deeper.

The overwhelming popular support wasn´t created, it was already there right from the beginning of Bush´s war campaign. And it has more than just one root. Some of them reach back to the east german peace movement which was one of the main forces in overcoming the former socialist regime of the GDR. Most of the churches have joined the peace movement with uncharacteristically strong statements. Even the american anti-Vietnam-war protests have had a strong and lasting influence on the development of the german democracy.


747-451: 12 years is not a "rush" to "war" or to even take some sort of action to rid the world of SH's threats;

That´s exactly one of the arguments from the critics: Why don´t we suddenly have enough time to achieve a properly legitimized UN decision after all these years of (so far successful) containment? Why does Washington have to put on this break-neck schedule exactly now?

Saddam is no more or no less a criminal than before; There is no perceivable immediate threat coming from him, while the fight against terrorism has already lost a lot of momentum due to this "detour".

People in Europe have had many years of experience with terrorism; It looks strange to many that Bush so willingly seems to sacrifice the difficult but necessary anti-terrorism campaign for a "fresh war".


747-451: The recent inspections have gone on for only "weeks", but what have the last 10 years been up until SH had the arrogance to remove the inspectors?

Saddam is certainly arrogant (and not the only one at that); But the inspectors in fact left Iraq when the allied attack on Iraq was immediately imminent. Saddam had no part in it. It´s a popular myth, but still just a myth.


747-451: Diplomatic solutions have been exhausted. Sanctions have failed and failed miserably.

Wrong. The inspectors had no flashy "smart bomb camera" videos, but they did a lot more damage to Saddam´s strategic aspirations than the war did, as hard as that seems to believe. The war threw his troops out of Kuwait - which I am in full agreement with - but the military impact on his stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction was minimal to nonexistent, I´m afraid. That tough and dirty work was done by the inspectors and was kept up by the sanctions (although the latter have side effects that need to be addressed).


747-451: I cannnot understand why Collin Powell's evidence is not enough to justify some sort of action,

Unless any of the evidence can be verified independently, it does not rise to the level of proof, as much as it insinuates incrimination. And the best tool for independent verification is still the ongoing inspection campaign, even though it can be a challenge to our patience.

One of the problems is that the Bush administration has demonstrated an early eagerness to "get Saddam" that makes them a clearly interested party in the process, which - as in any trial - weakens any evidence produced by them.


747-451: not neccessarily warfare but something above and beyond sanctions and censure--something France and Germany clearly do not want to do anything more than just maintain the status quo.

I´ve read and heard american and british commentaries to that effect, but I wonder where the commentators got their information from. Knowing the german position from up close, I can only guess that they didn´t bother to keep track of current events in Germany. Which I don´t have a problem with in principle; It just takes away from the weight of their opinions.

One of the main problems in that context has often been that almost all proposals that would have a noticeable effect in a difficult situation like Iraq´s would also require military backing. Which - at this point - more or less automatically means american involvement.

It is not even necessary to presume ill intent, but american administrations have been somewhat less than enthusiastic in response to outside suggestions. It usually wasn´t quite as bad as it is now, but usually the US side refused to get involved in plans that hadn´t originated in the White House. Effectively, Washington has monopolized discussions about topics possibly involving their strategic assets. Which is understandable, but it basically nullifies whatever influence others might have had.

As bad as the current situation is, I think there is a real possibility that Germany might start thinking a little more independently in the future.

The emotional friendship between our nations will endure; I´ve got little doubt about that. But the open displays of contempt and derision as the primary response by the US government to a disagreement on the issues has certainly soured the quiet acceptance of a "serving role" in the transatlantic relationship for many german people. An actual discussion about the issues, as appropriate among real partners, would have prevented the entire mess.

I´m not sure how many discrete attempts at a discussion had preceded the more blunt and public remarks of Gerhard Schröder, so it is somewhat difficult to actually assign blame for the start of the malaise. But the deterioration would have been stoppable - and it still is.


747-451: keep in mind that the US has classified information which we chose not to divulge until the time is right--explaining the "lateness"--doesn't EU intellegence agencies keep some things under wraps until they have more substantiation???

Neither the publication of the satellite photographs nor of the audio tapes would have "burned the sources". So there was no good reason to withold this information. Unless it was intended for propaganda use, it appears.

That it was also based in part on an outdated, plagiarized report from teh british side damages its credibility further. As do the verifyable alterations to the original text, which are closely consistent with an attempt to boost the propaganda value of the original, somewhat more differentiated statements.

It does not shed a favourable light on the pure intentions of the report´s proponents, either. It is obviously necessary to scrutinize all parts of the evidence very carefully.


747-451: And no, it is not working, since SH is still palying games by hiding things, moving around from place to place etc etc. If all of this were to work, SH should abdicate his rule. But meglomaniacs rarely if ever capitua;te to anything other than severe force.

There is still no legitimation to unseat Saddam. If there was to be such a thing, it would by necessity be bound to a broad global consensus. Right now we´ve got a unique global situation where real progress could be made in reforming and beefing up the UN to the point where such a change of objective might actually be achievable.

But as things stand, Saddam is difficult to impeach from the outside - except maybe through the international court for his past war crimes. But even then, the burden of proof remains on the prosecution. If the world community doesn´t apply the most basic rules of proper procedure in high-profile cases that would otherwise be available to every "civilian" murderer, it automatically loses any right of indicting offending dictators or war criminals.

So at this time, the mandate is only good for disarmament, not for an offensive war with a predictable civilian death toll in the thousands.


747-451: Please watch what you say; it can be percieved as "arrogance" on the part of Europeans to say our emotions are running high.

One of the things that is grating on almost everybody´s nerves is the impression that many americans - certainly including the sitting administration - equate criticism of any kind with some sort of lese-majesty instead of seeing it as a mere opinion of other people who may have a point but who just as well may be mistaken. I´m no more infallible than anybody else.

But especially when some people are crying for other people´s blood, they cannot be above criticism. That is just not possible. I still try to be as objective as I can, so maybe there´s some value in my observations. And I do not model my opinions to insult people, as much as I don´t modify them just to please them.


747-451: That may in fact be, but logic prevails since we are members of the world community just like France and Germany.

No, that does not follow. Holding logic above emotion takes an effort, it is not just granted automatically by merit of one´s status. And it looks as if such an effort is drowned out (if present at all) by the fervent nationalism currently coming from the White House. That is my main point there. Believe me, I would love to see evidence to the contrary.
Or what else did you mean with that statement?


747-451: Secondly, we have always strived for the kind of security we had before 9/11; we never would put up with the kind of Terror that Europe has and continues to endure--since that is so uncivilsed.

I don´t get your point, I´m afraid. What do you mean by "putting up with Terror"? What do you expect? Would you nuke Northern Ireland? Or the basque territories? Or the whole of Germany because there were (and maybe still are) some terrorists somewhere in there?

Or what is your concrete proposal, exactly?

My point is this: All experience with terrorism has demonstrated that it is a very, very difficult, often very long-term and exceedingly complex task to fight terrorism. Short bursts of action are a rare exception, not the rule. Ask the britons, they´ve also got a lot of experience, and they´ve not been squeamish about it.

On the emotional level, the incredible amount of chest-thumping and big rethoric currently heard from George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft may have a soothing effect on the collective emotions of the american public. But as important as it is to not lose faith in the future and to not let the attackers create a sense of panic, propaganda is almost completely inconsequential for the actual fight against terror.

That one is lead and possibly won mainly by hard work, intelligence (in both senses of the term) and endurance in the long run. And there still is no absolute security, as sad as it is.

Waging an offensive war on Iraq will almost certainly raise the terrorist threat in the short run and do almost nothing against the long-term threat: If you fear islamist terrorists with their hands on nukes, look no further than to Pakistan, where the (currently allied) dictator Musharraf is fighting to keep on top of a virulent islamist scene right next to the nuclear weapons he´s currently waving at India. This situation is a lot more dangerous than Saddam´s Iraq with the inspectors at work. Not even speaking of North Korea, threatening South Korea, Japan and possibly China and Taiwan.


What makes the global public so incredulous at Bush´s strategy is that it is difficult to actually recognize any consistent strategy at all - beyond "he tried to kill daddy" and probably oil and other strategic interests. And that is just not enough to justify the dismantling of the UN and the predictable destabilisation of the entire "Koran Belt".


747-451: I also suggest that the European press avoid the hyperbole that they accuse the US press of doing so that the clear facts of how BAD SH and the fact that we are not "reckless cowboys" would be presented properly.

There´s no lack of presentation of Saddam´s crimes.
And - when you´re looking beyond the occasional cheap rag - the reporting is actually pretty differentiated over here. The level of emotions is still relatively low, almost clinical, in fact. And I do look at US and british media for comparison.


747-451: The one fact that cannot be ignored is that SH is terrible and has to go, period.

Emotionally, I agree. But when thinking about starting an invasion that would foreseeably kill thousands of civilians in addition to possibly several thousands of allied and iraqi soldiers, the standards need to be a lot higher than just loathing the one guy that hides behind these civilians. "Well, but I just hate Saddam!" is a weak excuse when the body bags and pictures of mounds of corpses in iraqi streets are coming home.

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