|Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 4):|
. As it did not appear to conflict with German interests for the United States to proceed as it did in Iraq, many of us were surprised that the previous Chancellor did not fully support our mission there.
Well, in fact the US mission DID interfere with a lot of vital German interests, so, while I am not a fan of SchrÃ¶der at all, I think that he raised a lot of valid points.
Fundamental values of Germany are especially rules which were set up because of the German aggression in WW2. For example, the German constitution forbids attack wars (Angriffskriege), and requires them to be put as a criminal offense (life sentence!).
Secondly, Germany thinks that the world can only be a safer place by strengthening mulilateral institutions, like the UN and an unified Europe. Multilateral cooperation tends to preserve peace, a vital stone of the German foreign policy: War is to be avoided whenever possible, as it should NOT be an appropriate way of achieving goals. A world under the rule of law should only use weapens when there is no other choice.
These positions were harmed by the US invasion in Iraq. I do not want to make this discussion a discussion about the pros and cons of the Iraq war, so I will only rise some issues:
First of all, the Iraq war was an unilateral move by the USA, basically saying "we want to start a war because we want to get rid of that guy sitting there". Regardless of the question whether the motives were good or not (I do think it was good to remove Saddam Hussein, but I would have preferred a better concept for the time after), this is unacceptable, because it creates a dangerous precedence for future operations. Whats next? China saying: "We want to get rid of Taiwan, so lets invade them?"
In the existing system of the UN, there shall only be one world police, the UN security counsil, which itself authorizes forces like the US troops or NATO to take appropriate actions. This was only ignored once, in 1999, when NATO acted in Kosovo despite Russian Vetos. That situation already was a very dangerous move. I do think that was necessary in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster, but already this situation created a dangerous precedence.
These acts threaten to undermine the fundamental principle of the public international law, that violence is forbidden and not to be seen as an appropriate way of solving conflicts. Germany is afraid of the US going back to an isolationistic policy ignoring the world and the UN system, because the functioning of the UN system is vital for Germanys security interests.
The basic reasoning of Angela Merkel would not have been much different than the one of Schrï¿½der, only the rhetorics would have been different. More or less, the critics were not about the Iraq war itself, but about the way the US did it, by not listening to its allies and using a "if you are not for us, you are against us" rhetoric.
Fortunately, it seems that the USA are also getting increasingly focused on listening again to the European allies, which also is a good move for the future.