Saturday, February 01, 2003

COLUMBIA: Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in a letter to President George W. Bush:
I would like to express my deepest sympathy to you and the American people...
German-language coverage of the Columbia tragedy in a special section at the Netzeitung.
AMI GO TO POLAND: Cinderella Bloggerfeller has the exclusive translation of the exclusive lead article in yesterday's Rzeczpospolita -- Marines on the Vistula. The lead paragraph runs:
The leaders of Poland and the United States are holding confidential talks on the theme of transferring part of the American armed forces stationed in German bases to bases in our country.
Thanks to Amiland reader Richard for sending me the link to this valuable site. The Reuters report of the story is here, from yesterday at 10:25 AM ET. The US denial, barely an hour later, is here.

Richard also wrote:

I was never stationed in Germany when I was in the military... What I do know is that I was always impressed by the Poles I met (mostly PfP - Partnership for Peace days). They knew they were struggling, and they tried their hardest. Ditto the Lithuanians and Estonians (note one country is missing in my list, Latvia).
In a previous post, I cited an editorial where the Süddeutsche Zeitung rationalized Germany's problematic no because Chancellor Schröder just doesn't "feel as strongly" about the Iraqi threat. The Poles, it seems to me, know about struggling, and they feel quite strongly about freedom.
REGIONS OF DIPLOMACY: I missed this interview with Colin Powell on ZDF, but Geitner over at Regions of Mind caught it. You can also watch a streaming video of it here.

Powell offers quite a diplomatic response to the question about Germany's position on Iraq: "I think I know Germany, and I have the warmest feelings toward Germany and the German people. But we have an honest disagreement on this issue."

The key message that I hear in the interview, though, is found right after that bit of stock diplomacy:

Germany had a strong position against the use of military force under any set of circumstances that they see out there right now. ... We hope that in the days ahead as we discuss this issue in the Council that perhaps Germany, its leaders and the German people will look at this in a different light.
The emphasis is mine, to show where Powell is trying to go. He's essentially saying that Schröder doesn't have all of the information available at the moment. Based on that "set of circumstances," Powell can understand Germany's position. The goal, it seems to me, is to foster an environment where Schröder might still be able to say Ja -- and also justify it to the German people.

No doubt that such a move would require strong political courage from Schröder -- and maybe he'll find some after the elections on Sunday. But even an abstention to a second resolution, I think, would be seen as a welcome sign in Washington.

At the same time, the opposition parties CDU and FDP have made claims that the German government (specifically meaning Schröder's SPD and its Green party partner) has "explosive information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," as reported in the Netzeitung.

A spokesman for the CDU/CSU is quoted in the news report as saying:

If we trust our [security] services, and I do, then we know that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
He also cites the fact that the German government (again, to keep it in context, he specifically means the SPD and Green party) has bought millions of vaccines for smallpox. Unless a real threat is facing Germany, he is reported as saying, the purchases are a waste -- trying to imply, of course, that Germany is threatened.

While this is primarily the workings of domestic politics, Schröder's Germany stands where it does today as a result of domestic politics. The question still remains: How much would it take to give Schröder the political room to back away from his problematic no?

Thursday, January 30, 2003

AMI GO HOME: How long can the United States and NATO continue to use Germany as a critical foreign deployment of American troops? The US didn't ask to come over here. We helped to defeat Hitler and stayed to defend freedom against communism. Amiland reader Mike sent the following mail:
I’m a soldier and I lived in Germany for three years and felt somewhat of a kinship with the German people while I was there. I lived in Bavaria, which I’m sure is a bit more conservative than the rest of the republic, but I’ve really been shocked to see how things have turned in German / American relations in the last year or so.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we pulled our troops out of Germany and moved them to Poland, the Czech Republic, or somewhere else in the next few years.
If we have any readers who live on the bases in Germany, it'd be interesting to get your thoughts on the current situation here...
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: "Today, Berlin no longer needs to be defended, and in Baghdad not all."

Heribert Prantl, recalling in the Süddeutsche Zeitung the US slogan that "Berlin will be defended in Vietnam," declares Germany's independence from what can only be summarized as "US-style imperialism" -- freedom to build your own sovereign country and freedom to live in peace under the umbrella of American might.

I wonder if Iraq, 50 years from now, will also be able to gain its independence from this historically unique, American form of tyranny?

ABRA KADABRA: Josef Joffe, in this week's Die Zeit, writes:
Saddam must show what he has or what he has destroyed. In this country [Germany], mustard gas from World War I was incinerated drop for drop, over decades. And Saddam claims to have done this with magic -- abra kadabra -- without a trace.
If he wants to use his last chance, then he has to open his books. ... But he also should not be able to count on Berlin and Paris, who beat a hole in the wall of pressure with their abrupt Nein (Schröder) and their slippery non (Chirac).
In his report to the U.N., Blix used the word "evidence" almost 20 times. This is the key. Not more evidence from the US, but evidence from Saddam that he has destroyed all of his weapons. Even the remote thought that maybe Saddam is telling the truth is absurd on the face of it. In 1991, in 1998 and still today, Saddam claims that Iraq destroyed all of it weapons of mass destruction back in 1991.

Even the dim view of history that many Germans seem to share with old Europeans these days will allow that Iraq still had a nuclear program in 1994 and that 2-3 years later the U.N. and IAEA were still destroying nuclear and chemical materials. So tell me, why should we trust Iraq now?

I say that if Bush is able to present more-specific intelligence information without jeopardizing the sources or any possible war effort, then he should do so. If there is even a small chance that public revelation would be dangerous, Bush should hold his cards close to his chest and only lay down his hand when he's ready to run the table.

The once (and yes, future) allies of the US have shown their true colors. Whereas the real allies have come out to stand at America's side [English/German], Germany will never come -- and France was probably never gone. There is likely to be nothing more that can convince the naysayers, not even a spy plane photograph of Saddam hiding his weapons. We already know he does that.

ROUND 'EM UP: Amiland reader Jack Ben-Levi rests the case:
The obvious problem with the widespread German position that there can be no intervention without the imprimatur of the Security Council (and Schröder is certainly aiming to draw on this sentiment) is that Germany itself participated in the intervention in Kosovo, which took place without that backing.
With this position, aren't all the German critics of current American policy publicly proclaiming their own hypocrisy? Or at least saying that Schröder and his government belong before the ICC and not in Berlin?
It does seem that any German critics who take a pure Völkerrecht ("international law") stance are somewhat left in the cold by the U.N.'s inaction in Kosovo. Although maybe Kosovo was just the exception that proved the rule. Just because a coalition of willing (including Germany) acted once "against international law," doesn't necessarily mean that the concept of "international law" is bunk. (Ok, I'm being the devil's advocate here...)

But my point is a serious one. Many Americans -- even those who disagree with the administration's position on Iraq -- don't even need the Kosovo-exception to prove their rule: The United States is a sovereign land, and it must and will do anything and everything it can "for the safety of [its] people, and for the peace of the world" (Bush). Sometimes that might mean doing things that the other four countries of the Security Council don't agree with.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

GERMAN POLITICS, FROM EUROPA TO OMAHA: From the Netherlands comes a good, concise look at Germany's upcoming elections in Hessen and Lower Saxony, the Chancellor's home Land. Dilacerator has his eye on the ball:
As prime minister of Lower Saxony Schröder launched his bid for the federal chancellorship five years ago. The image of a reformed, young, new kind of social democrat who's in tune with business helped him get elected at a time when the CDU was looking old and out of steam. Defeat for the SPD in Lower Saxony would be personally painful for Schröder."
(Delacerator link via Regions of Mind, where Geitner Simmons also writes occasionally on German-related topics, from Omaha.)
The import of Lower Saxony to Schröder -- both politically and emotionally -- played a large role in his decision to come out so starkly against America's "adventures" when he did. But at the same time, Schröder is also being criticized for not being stark enough.

In the lead editorial of the Süddeutsche Zeitung today, Heribert Prantl argued that instead of using the word "adventure," Schröder should have used the [phrase] "against international law" [völkerrechtswidrig].

And from here, I think, grows the largest schism between the US and German positions. For most Germans, a US attack against Iraq, when not approved by a further U.N. resolution, would be a clear breach of international law. Prantl wrote:

The USA's palpitation of their right to preventive war is so crosswise legally that one could laugh about it if the situation wasn't so serious.
He's not being sarcastic. To him -- and to most Germans -- the U.N. stands as international judge and jury. No questions. If the U.N. says ok, then ok. If not, be prepared to face the ICC.

In contrast, one of the largest applause lines for President Bush last night explicitly said that the US would act alone, regardless of what the U.N. thinks, if necessary to protect Americans and peace:

We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.
The lack of a clear and resolute strategy from Berlin has also complicated the situation. Fischer, for his part, has already said that a second U.N. resolution would not be necessary to sanction US action. And Schröder is not doubling down on his hand either. Prantl sees this as the failure of Schröder to "make a strategy out of his Nein." As I see it, an even better approach would have been to have the Nein -- or perhaps even a Ja -- come out of a strategy.

So, where then does that leave Schröder's government? Yesterday, both the SZ and the FAZ [requires payment] characterized Germany's current strategy as a play for time. Such a strategy has nothing to do with either "adventures" or "international law." There's a simple word for that strategy: appeasement.

SMOKE AND SPIEGEL: On the topic of Der Spiegel's less-than-straightforward reporting practices, Amiland reader Godmar reported the following: "Here's a typical bait-and-switch example that you find at Spiegel-Online quite often. They put a quote in their headline above a brief abstract, and their combination is designed to mislead busy readers who only skim headlines."

On the start page of its website yesterday, Spiegel-Online featured this article, with the headline in the form of a direct quotation: "A person can be stupid, but states are not allowed [to be]"

In the article's abstract (in bold letters), we learn, "While the American President is still fine-tuning the last details of his ... State of the Union address, ... skeptical voices are making themselves heard even in the USA -- one of the [skeptics] is the Supreme Commander in the last Gulf War, Norman Schwarzkopf."

Any reasonable reader will first assume that the title's quotation came from Schwarzkopf, and that the former Supreme Commander essentially called the President stupid.

But Schwarzkopf didn't say any such thing. In fact, no one did!

You have to continue on to the very last sentence of the article -- and on the day it was published, you had to click to a new page -- in order to see that one Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil's new President, made the comments in Paris to Jacques Chirac.

So it wasn't even an American who made the comment, as the abstract coyly suggested, but the Brazilian President from the left-wing Worker’s Party.

And what did Lulu really say? "A person can carry out foolishness, but a state has no right to." Spiegel-Online can't even correctly quote itself in the same article. Such a blatant example of disingenuous reporting displays either gross incompetence or gross anti-Americanism. Or both.

If you care to read how a respectable news organization -- the US paper of record -- initially covered this politically loaded story, check out the Washington Post.

SPEAK FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR OWN COUNTRY: Ever since I wrote about Der Spiegel's mistaken/disingenuous/dishonest (they still haven't told us which) interpretation of Tom Friedman's opinion article from 01/05/03, the criticisms of Der Spiegel have been flooding in...

Amiland reader Emily in Munich wrote: "I find Der Spiegel recklessly and dangerously partisan. To me, their coverage of American issues in general shows that they are trying to influence the German public -- probably successfully -- by deliberately distorting or ignoring the truth.

"Leaving aside such obvious examples as the 'Blood for Oil' issue with its offensive cover, I'd like to point out that their bias against the USA shows itself even in seemingly innocuous, nonpolitical articles.

"Two recent examples are in the January 20th issue, which also highlighted the inflamed anti-American polemic by John le Carré (appropriately dubbed "blarney" by the Washington Post's Richard Cohen).

"In an interview conducted with American architect Daniel Libeskind, the Spiegel reporter brought Washington's Iraq war plans into a discussion of Libeskind's fascinating and elegant design for a new World Trade Center complex. Then the reporter asked Libeskind:

Will the new World Trade Center also be a symbol of a warlike, combative America?
"Further, while asking Libeskind about his experiences as an immigrant in New York, the Spiegel journalist stated:
Many immigrants report that they found the city not so much optimistic as frightening/intimidating (abschreckend).
"Also in the January 20th issue, in fact immediately following the Libeskind interview, was Der Spiegel's review of the low-budget hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." With his snide, sneering comments not only about the movie but about its success in the States, the reviewer Wolfgang Höbel also revealed his open anti-American bias:
The movie's success in the USA was certainly helped by the fact that the wild, fat, crazy Zorba band ended up revealing itself to be the perfect showcase of an American family -- and the land of the free and the brave to be a paragon integration machine. The real test, however, would be the first ethnic comedy made after September 11th that made a similarly conciliatory ruckus out of the life of Arabic-Muslim American immigrants.
"As an American living in a country with -- to put it mildly -- its own integration problems, I'm tempted to reply to Herr Höbel: Speak for yourself and your own country."

In my opinion, these passages do clearly convey a blatant anti-American bias and sometimes-latent (and not-so-latent) anti-Americanism. To be sure, critical comments and articles about the US are to be welcomed. Both the US people and the US administration can learn from European opinions and experiences. I wouldn't live over here if I didn't sincerely believe that.

But Der Spiegel often delivers their criticisms without any measure of balance, and has been shown, with misleading intentions. The examples provided by Emily also demonstrate a permeation of bias that I suspect most German readers hardly recognize anymore.

FIRST REACTIONS: According to my watch, the first German online source with a report on Bush's State of the Union address was the Berlin-based Netzeitung. They published at 4:16 AM in Germany, 9:16 PM Washington, D.C. The original (but now modified) headline:
US President Bush -- USA Will Submit Evidence to Security Council
If you like to read straight-shooting news in German, the Netzeitung appears to be a well-organized and professional site. Online since 2000, it was the first fully staffed online-only newspaper in German. And their news is on the level, I'd say. They also have a number of special sections, such as this one on the "Iraq Crisis," where all sorts of valuable information is made readily available and kept up to date.

In contrast, Der Spiegel's first take at the speech, from 5:59 AM in Germany, was pitiful. Its headline:

Analysis of the Bush Address -- New Start-Up for Adventure
But to call this piece an "analysis" is an insult to the word. After a self-congratulating old European aside about American "moralizing" and the fact that Bush didn't repeat "Axis of Evil," Spiegel-Online throws in just about every biased perspective it can think of. The article has practically nothing to say about Bush's address.

Spiegel-Online did finally come up with a news story covering the speech. But you could have gotten the same information, continually updated to remain current, six hours earlier at the Netzeitung. Slow and slanted -- Der Spiegel.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

MY FELLOW AMERICANS: Our resolve is firm, and our Union is strong.
HOW THE FRENCH FEEL: Again, Collin May at InnocentsAbroad puts us in the chaussures of the Frenchman. What particularly struck me when reading his post was the extreme complexity of the issue for the French.
DAY OF REMEMBRANCE: In Germany, Monday was the "Day of Remembrance for the Holocaust," a day to memorialize the victims of Nazism and commemorate the freeing of Auschwitz on August 27, 1945.

At a ceremony on Sunday, Paul Spiegel -- the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany -- criticized the German government's position on Iraq. "One can't be a priori against war," he declared. "The concentration camps weren't freed by demonstrators."

In Monday's Süddeutsche Zeitung, the opinion editors agreed that Spiegel is right: you can't be a priori against war. "But," they continued, "That does not mean Spiegel must equally [and] intensely criticize the government's 'No' to America's Iraq-war. The participation in a war cannot lead to reparation [Wiedergutmachungsleistung]. Even against dictators, war is Ultima Ratio, the very last means; it is never a Prima Ratio."

Then the editors continue:

The threat from Saddam Hussein is felt [empfunden] in different ways. Spiegel feels completely differently, and apparently very much more strongly, than Chancellor Schröder [feels]. For the Central Council's chairmen and for Jews throughout the world, Israel has become a counter-symbol [Gegensymbol] to persecution and extermination -- a counter-symbol that is threatened by someone like Saddam.
In Israel, which is fighting for survival, the Holocaust remains an immediately agonizing present. That worries [umtreiben] Paul Spiegel. And that is why, even though his criticism might be wrong, it is not strange [befremdlich].
Hmm. I too agree with the idea that our personal experiences and national heritage will influence how we react to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. After 9/11, many -- but not all -- Americans began to "feel very much more strongly" about this threat. In his State of the Union on Tuesday night, President Bush should remind Americans that 9/11 could happen again on 1/29, this time with nuclear or biological weapons.

Israel, due to its history of persecution and extermination, feels similarly. An article by Natan Sznaider in this week's Die Zeit is titled, "America, you do it better -- Why Jews througout the world have more faith in the US Army than in the peace movement." Sznaider wrote, "In the consciousness of many Jews, the attack against America was at the same time an attack against Jews. ... Any [future] attack against America will be understood as an attack against their own feeling of existence."

Much of Eastern Europe, for a variety of reasons -- including its less-than-free recent past -- is also ready to support the United States. And Germany? Well, Schröder just doesn't feel as strongly about it. Why not?

One place to look for an answer is a recent New York Times piece, where Karsten Voigt -- who is the Schröder government's coordinator for German-American cooperation -- is looking to justify Germany's problematic no. Voigt is content with the current situation, with American and British troops poised on the Iraqi border. The NYT wrote (my emphasis):

But using [the troops], he says, is another thing. "We know about containment," he said at breakfast the other day, gesturing in the direction of where the Berlin Wall once stood. "We lived with it for 50 years. It worked. And at the end, we got regime change."
In an email, Godmar refutes this ridiculous comparison better than I can: "It is needless to point out, yet missing in the Times article, that Karsten Voigt spent the 50 years he wants others to spend in containment on the west side of the wall."

So maybe we should just build a wall around Iraq and watch Saddam shoot anyone who tries to escape. Then, maybe in 50 years or so, the problem will eventually go away. Or, Saddam will continue his weapons research and eventually threaten the world with biological or nuclear war. How do we all feel about that?

GET YOURS TODAY: Ok, this is actually kind of clever: old Europe t-shirts. The offer comes from the Green party, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's partner in government. To announce the t-shirt, the Green party chairpersons (Angelika Beer and Reinhard Bütikofer) issued a press statement, at the end of which they offered this smack of humor, addressed to the US Office of Global Communications:
Hi fellas, don't misunderestimate Old Europe. That would be a wrong strategary.
Not a bad poke, I'd say. (But don't misunderestimate Dubya, either.) In the German part of the statement, though, the leaders of the Green party displayed what the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung labelled as "venomous pleasure." (FAZ articles are only available online during the day of publication.) According to the FAZ, the leaders' statement ran: "Rumsfeld's comments mirror the fact that Europe's strong resistance against the fatal US-Iraq-Policy is greater than the USA had expected."

The FAZ, for its part, concluded that the party leaders "were apparently not looking for a businesslike foreign-policy debate ... but instead welcomed the fray with Washington." The whole thing gets less funny, I think, when one bears in mind that this was an official press release from the governing coalition in Germany.

I can't seem to find the press release online. If anyone can send me a link, I'll gladly post it here. (± Thanks to the tireless Godmar for the link!)

FUEL THE BELLICOSITY: Today's German headlines today...

Spiegel-Online offers this headline in anticipation of Bush's State of the Union:

How Bush Wants to Fuel the Bellicosity of Americans [Wie Bush die Kriegslust der Amerikaner schüren will]
According to Spiegel-Online's crack analysis: "Bush will use at least half of the speech, which is shown across the country, to convey to the voters that he doesn't only have war in his head..."
AUF(W)ACHER: No one was expecting anything new from Dr. Blix yesterday. We already know that Iraq is not going to disarm itself. Saddam Hussein still contends that he has destroyed all of his weapons and biological agents that remain unaccounted for since 1998. Except for the 12 rockets the U.N. found and, oh, a few others that Iraq later remembered. Thank goodness he's now offering to cooperate fully [01/20/03, 01/27/03].

Here's how the two main German and some of the pan-European newspapers led the story this morning:

Süddeutsche Zeitung: Blix Solicits More Time in the Search for Weapons

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: El Baradei and Blix Decry Baghdad's Delay-Inducing Resistance

International Herald Tribune (NYT, Paris): Cooperation Falls Short, Blix Says
The Wall Street Journal Europe: Baghdad is Still Defying U.N. Inspections, Blix Says
Financial Times (London): Blix attacks Baghdad over lack of co-operation
While the Blix report was no big surprise, many are expecting President Bush's State of the Union speech to be monumental. But tonight will obviously not be the final word on Iraq. I suspect that German commentators will fail to grasp that Bush never had plans to present new evidence in his speech. Tonight, Bush will be talking to the American people -- not to the world community, not to the U.N.

Tomorrow's German Headlines Today: Bush Offers No New Evidence of Iraqi Arms

Monday, January 27, 2003

BETWEEN IRAQ AND ELECTIONS: Andrew Sullivan rightly asks, "Why is it that so many major news outlets keep reporting on Gerhard Schröder's attempt to derail any serious attempt to disarm Saddam without mentioning his domestic travails?" Even more damning than his 25% approval rating, is the fact that after wobbling on the issue for a few weeks, Schröder finally made his "absolute no" declaration at a campaign rally. "The timing and the choice of words were wrong," wrote Stefan Kornelius in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. To their credit, both leading newspapers in Germany have largely seen Schröder's America-critical and pacifist posture as not only election grandstanding -- the same skill he showcased to help win federal elections -- but as ineffective foreign policy as well.

On the day after Schröder's problematic no, Kurt Kister of the SZ put it perfectly: "The Chancellor has firmly committed himself, and it happened once again at a campaign event." Germans go to the polls on February 2nd, and a strong campaign push by the Chancellor is trying stave off what might be two demoralizing Länder defeats for his party. "In the face of this situation," Kister continued, "Schröder has again revived the model of the peace-chancellor from the federal elections. ... Politics is sometimes dreadfully simple." Kister does allow that a "large majority" of Germans don't support war and that Schröder also has "foreign policy foundations for [his] reasoned about-face." Another influence on Schröder's harder line comes from his pacifist partner, the Greens, who helped lock up the federal elections last fall.

Eckart Lohse of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (01/23/03) also mused on the local politics of Schröder's Kein Ja: "The supporters of Schröder and Fischer are nationalized America critics -- just like [Schröder and Fischer] themselves." (FAZ articles are only available online during the day of publication.) As a consequence, "it can't hurt" the chances of Schröder's party in the upcoming elections if he can manage to demonstrate "resistance" to Washington. "The fact that Schröder often makes his commitments at [campaign] events or in the committees of the SPD [his party], isn't just because he can't do it in America, on account of no one wants to see him there. It is also an indication that he continually has elections in his head when he talks about Iraq." The FAZ goes on:

Berlin doesn't doubt that a danger to world peace could come from Iraq; that's why it supported sending the U.N. inspectors to Baghdad. ... With the commitment to not [under any circumstances] vote for a military intervention, Schröder declared for irrelevant the highest U.N. committee [the Security Council] and the control process that it started. ... That is not rational foreign policy. In the best case, it is Glaubenspolitik, one which plays into the hands of Saddam Hussein. ... The red-green government [Schröder's SPD coalition with the Green party] has sacrificed Germany's good relationship with the world power that also heads the North-Atlantic alliance. Even considering the solidarity with Paris, which might not be as firm as Schröder would like to believe, you still have to ask yourself why.
Like the FAZ, Kister also touched on the German uncertainty that France will fully adopt a pacifist stance:
In foreign policy, however, France is known to decide pragmatically and based on the situation. Today, Paris is standing hand-in-hand with Berlin. But later, if the USA actually goes to war, France's Foreign Legion and Mirage jets still might fight on the side of their American ally, whom they have continually supported since the battle of Yorktown in 1781.
In Kister's final idea, I see the real looming issue for Germany. When (not if, when) France ultimately supports the United States militarily, Germany will be left standing alone.

At the same time, it must be said that neither the SZ nor the FAZ would back a saber-rattling chancellor, either. I guess they all want the middle way. For example, when he declared his problematic no, Schröder started with the platitude that "we want disarmament, if [wenn es denn] Iraq has the means of mass destruction, every sensible person wants that." Naturally... Now I'm just a German-language Lehrling, but Amiland reader Godmar wrote in to say, "It's not far-fetched at all to read wenn es denn in this context as a 'I don't believe it.'" Ok, so maybe Schröder doesn't believe Iraq really poses a threat, but he continued his campaign speech all the same: "Second, we know there's a possibility to achieve [disarmament] without war, and we're fighting for that possibility." (Cute play on "fighting," no?) But anyway, I say let's get to work immediately on this "possibility." Then, in eleven years or so, we should be right about where we are now -- except of course, wenn es denn or not, Saddam will be threatening the world with his own nuclear arsenal.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

DON'T MEAN DIDDLY: Well, on Monday the weapons inspectors will make their final 1441-scheduled report to the United Nations. Too bad Germany has already announced that the results of the report don't mean diddly. Check back Monday morning for a look at how Schröder's problematic no is playing on the editorial pages of Germany's mainstream press...
SAY WHAT: "Spiegel kritisiert Nein zum Irak-Krieg" [Spiegel Criticizes No to Iraq War]

Oh, they mean Paul Spiegel...

THE FRENCH CONNECTION: Collin over at InnocentsAbroad has the details on how the French newspapers le Monde and le Figaro are covering bad old Rumsfeld's comments. And after you read those two posts, read everything else on the page as well!
THE FAZ FOOLATHON, PART II: The editors of the Feuilleton at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung are going for the old European double Dutch (available online through 01/26/03). They ask themselves: "The clash of civilizations--now all of a sudden within the West?" And their answer: "That's how it seems [based on] the condescending remarks of the American Secretary of Defense and the answers from old, intellectual Europe..." Then they ask: "But is Europe even able to negotiate in a way that is required from such an 'old-European' model of politics?" This time the answer comes from Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute. Essentially, it's a call-to-arms (diplomatically speaking, of course) for the Europeans: Either put up or shut up. (The FAZ article has been translated from the English, so if anyone (Doug?) can point to an English version on the Internet, I'd be happy to link to it.)

Doug's answer consists of six main points:

(1) "The approaching decision over a war against Iraq offers a new chance for Europe." But only if France holds to a veto in the Security Council. Then it would be in a "position to pull both China and Russia to its side." A non from Paris, as well as vetoes from China and Russia, would demonstrate "to the whole world a shocking lack of international support for the American policy."
(2) Gerhard Schröder "must prove that his aversion to America's Iraq-Policy is more than just a cheap campaign trick." The only way for Schröder to prove this: forbid German participation in Nato-led AWACS missions; forbid access to German airspace; forbid the use of American bases in Germany.
(3) France and Germany "must encourage other governments to join their position." The dream team of global opposition would consist of Pakistan, Syria, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
(4) The British Labour Party "has to stand against the war," because it "won't be Blair's war alone, but also the war of the Labour government. Shrill protests from the Backbenchers don't change a thing. Only a public revolt can bring Blair ... to cancel his blank cheque for Washington."
(5) The "other allies of the United States should also reflect on their own interests." Australia is the first example. A war against Iraq "would drastically increase the danger of new, more horrifying attacks based on the pattern from Bali." South Korea and Japan are the next examples. "As soon as Iraq is defeated, calls for a military action against North Korea will become louder both inside and outside Washington. By then it will be too late for protests in Tokyo and Seoul."
(6) Finally, "Berlin, Paris and other countries should make it clear to the United States: Whatever happens, it won't just be America's war, but also America's peace." That is, it will be America's responsibility when peace breaks out.
And the High Noon conclusion: "The credibility of America's critics is at stake." If Germany and France don't take a stand, the United States "will inevitably repeat what is now happening in Iraq. Only the opponents will be different, probably Iran or North Korea. Maybe plans will also surface for a forced 'regime change' in Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, or for a violent disarmament of Pakistan."

In all fairness, Bandow is probably right. If France and Germany and Britain and Australia and China and Russia and Saudia Arabia did everything in their power to allow Saddam to continue developing weapons of mass destruction, they could probably stop the United States from intervening. A pyrrhic victory, to be sure.