Tag Archives: Germany

A German Perspective On The Next US President

German reporters for Der Spiegel reviewed for their readers the current situation in American politics and what Europeans can look forward to after the departure of George Bush from the presidency. The situation in the Democratic race is still unclear as Barack Obama added the states of Wyoming and Mississippi to his collection of primary wins. Clinton and Obama are fighting one another tooth and nail, but both are united on some basic issues regarding the necessity of change in American foreign policy.

According to Der Spiegel’s take on the current race: ‘Obama, Clinton and McCain have one thing in common. They have recognized that maintaining the status quo in Washington is not an option. They know that one of their main challenges will be to reestablish fundamental confidence in the United States, which has plunged worldwide. In this respect, each of them is a step forward for all Europeans, the overwhelming majority of whom are looking forward to the current president’s last day in the White House.”

Allthough we respect Der Spiegl’s analysis, we beg to differ on their interpretation of Senator John McCain. Although he does not have the bombastic style leadership of George Bush, the senator from Arizona lacks a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of change necessary for peace in the Middle East. He is too linked with military solutions and less understanding the military can only accomplish its goals if civilian efforts are successful.

German Embassy Incident In Iraq With US Soldiers

Germany’s top diplomat in Baghdad claims in a classified report that American soldiers mishandled three workers at the Germany embassy in Baghdad. The incident has created new tensions in Berlin-Washington relations. For some unknown reason, American soldiers placed three off-duty Iraqi guards under arrest and one of them was detained for four months where he claimed to be abused by guards. After complaints by German Ambassador Hanns Schumacher two of the guards were relased and given financial compensation. As of this date, no apology has been issued by American military authorities.

This is simply a minor incident, but, in a sense, it reflects some of the ongoing problems for America in Iraq. On one hand, the United States continually complains about the lack of effort on the part of Germany, yet, on the other hand, when Germans are present, they are treated with disrespect. During the past two months, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has criticised Germany’s lack of effort in Afghanistan in public statements. Perhaps, it is time to lower the anti-Germany rhetoric and work in a cooperative manner with allies.

Medvedev– Who Is He? Himself? Or Putin’s Stooge?

Chancellor Angela Merkel had her last visit with “President” Putin and, naturally, expects to have others with “Prime Minister” Vladmir Putin. Animportant reason for her visit in Russia was to initiate a dialogue with the new president, Dimitry Medvedev. Putin made it clear to th visiting German leader that she would not expect any dramatic changes from Medvedev. “Dimitry Medevedev is free to express his liberal views,” said Putin, “and sometimes it appears as if a few people in the world are just waiting for me to be gone. But nobody should fool themselves: Medvedev is no less a Russian patriot than me. He will represent Russia’s national interests.”

On Woman’s Day, the new president of Russia gave Angela Merkel a bouquet of flowers. The unanswered questin which will not be known for months, or even a year, is whether he is ready to give bouquet of freedom to the people of Russia. Putin feels confident his protege will tow the line, many previous leaders have had similar expectations about people they groomed for the succession.

German Neo-Nazis Under Fire

The list of legal problems impacting the far-right German NPD grew longer when its party chairman is forced next week to respond to charges his group distrubuted racist propaganda during the 2006 World Cup in Germany. According to a report in the Berlin daily Tgenspiegel, Udo Voight, head of the NPD and two senior party members, will be charged with incitement and defamation stemming from propaganda that was distributed which was entitled: “White! Not just the jersey color!” The comments were apparently directed at Patrick Owomoyei, the son of a Nigerian man and a German woman. A second flyer described him as “Kunta Kinte” referring to the character in an American novel and TV production.

Last September, Hamburg party chair, Jorgen Rieger, was charged with Holocaust denial and other members are being charged with distributing racist propaganda. I deplore what these men are saying, but the issue of freedom of speech is also involved. The Western world reacted with fury when Muslims protested Danish newspaper caricatures of Mohammed, but apparently freedom of speech is not provided idiots and racists in the NPD. If we truly stand behind the principle of freedom of expression, the right to publish cartoons or insulting flyers have equal rights. I see no evidence of what they did as violating the famous Supreme Court denial of freedom to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater. They are fools, men filled with hate, and the best antidote to their anger is the court of public opinion.

Hit Back Without Compromise Insists Israel Leaders

Prime Minister Olmert visiting in Berlin was told by German Chancellor Angela Merkel of her support in demanding that Hamas cease their rocket attacks on Israel. She agrees there is a humanitarian crisis in Gazaq and “the easiest answer to this is for the firing on the state of Israel, the terrorist activities, to be stopped , and then there is no need to talk about future sanctions.”Olmert urged Germany to end all further commerce with Iran, and when asked if attacking Iran due to its alleged nuclear development program was an Israel consideration, he responded: “No option is ruled out.”

Presdient Peres told the press the reason Hamas leader Prime Minister Haniyeh is in hiding is due to his fear that Gazans might kill him and Israel is prepared to strike Gaza rocket facilities without hesitation or compromise. This is a rather strange belief considering Israel has threatened to kill the Hamas leader. Meanwhile, the militant Israel Interior Minister, Meier Sheetrit, said he wanted to build a “modern Arab city” in Galilee for Israel Arab citizens.

The government of Israel has every right to defend itself against military aggression, but use of military is only one weapon in ending the rocket attacks. We beg to differ with the Israel president, but compromise is the essence of resolving problems. Israel has been relying on military action for years and still terrorism continues and rocket attacks go on. At some point, it must realize discussions with Hamas, without preconditions, offer the best hope for resolution of problems.

We find it strange that an Israel leader wants to construct an “Arab city” for its Israel Arab citizens. They are Israelis as much as any Jewish person. Segregation was never the dream of those who founded the state of Israel.

It’s Getting Better In Afghanistan– Or Is It?

The top American general in Afghanistan discounted stories about a growing insurgency in the nation and assured the world, things remain the same as always. As to the insurgency, General Dan McNeill, told reporters: “I think that it’s probably stayed the same as it was.” He claimed the only differernce is the presence of an additional eight or nine thousand more soldiers than previously which is probably what accounts for additional casualties. “We exposed ourselves to a lot more things than the force has exposed themselves to in times past. And, that, more than anything, created the increased levels of violence that are so often referred to in the news…there wasn’t a resurgent Taliban.”

On one hand, Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates is berating and scolding NATO allies for failure to dispatch more troops to Afghanistan, and General McNeill insists there is no surge in Taliban attacks. If we accept the McNeill thesis that more troops in the field result in more casualties, the answer is simple — reduce the number of troops in the field and the result will be fewer casualties. In fact, why not tell the Germans to go home. One is only left to wonder if commanders in the field ever communicate to Bush administration officials. Does Secretary Gates have any understanding how the words of General McNeill will be interpreted by German officials who are being criticised for not sending troops?

New NATO Claim: Afghanistan Heading For Peace

According to a new view from NATO, the Taliban insurgency is not spreading and 70% of the violence last year occurred in only 10% of the country. US Air Force Lt. Col. Claudia Foss, a spokeswoman for NATO’s International Security assistancce Force, said three-fourths of Afghanistan suffered just one violent incident per week. Her comments came after recent studies which indicate just the opposite. Last week, an independent study by retired Marine Corps Gen. james Jones and former US Ambassador Thomas Pickering warned that Afghanistan risks becoming a failed state becaue of deteriorating international support and the growing Taliban insurgency. Perhaps, the NATO spokesperson knows something the rest of the world doesn’t know about the Taliban.

The situation in Afghanistan is critical. Germany has rejected America’s plea for more troops fighting in the south, Canada is threatening to end its Afghan mission unless other nations dispatch more troops, and the US is going to send 3,000 Marines to Afghanistan. If he situation is so good why are Marines being sent from Iraq? Sorry, there is a credibillity gap which will not be closed by making positive remarks.

Nein To You, Secretary Gates, Responds Germany

Geman Chancellor Angela Merkel and senior members of her government flatly rejected a request by US secretary of Defense Robert Gates to send Bundeswehr combat troops to Taliban hotspots in Afghanistan. A Merkel spokesperson said the exting Afghanistan mandate is not open for discussion. On Friday morning, German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung rejected a call by Gates to send German troops to southern afghanistan where a Taliban-led insurgency has destabilized the area. The negative harping and critical tone of the Gates letter infuriated German leaders and made them even more certain to continue their present polciy of what Jung noted, “We need to keep our point of focus in northern Afghanistan.”

A Merkel spokesperson, Ulrich Wilhelm, made clear there were currently “no thoughts” about changing policy, a step that would require approval of the Bundestag. Wilhelm emphasized Gemany’s position has repeatedly been made clear to the United States and would not be subject to change.

The over-riding problem in Afghanistan is failure on the part of those fighting in that nation to agree on a long-term strategy. Militay action alone has failed to succeed in driving out the Taliban. There is need for vast economic and social changes if the Taliban are to be confronted in a successful manner. Part of the problem is that large sectors of Afghan society remain tribal and under the control of religious clerics whose views are closer to those of the Taliban than to Western allies. President Bush entered Afghanistan with vague desires to kill Osama bin Laden, but, as ususal, had no plan once the initial victory had been achieved. Until Secretary Robert Gates confronts that issue, asking for more troops is a dead end solution to failure.

US Demands More German Troops In Afghanistan-Nein

US secretary of Defense Robert Gates has sent a letter to his German counterpart demanding more German engagement in Afghanistan. In the past Germany’s response has been -nein. There is considerable opposition within Germany to dispatch more German soldiers to the Afghan fighting front. The Gates missive was eight pages in length and spelled out in detail the role expected by the United States of its German ally. Gates indicated 3,000 Marines would be arriving in Afghanistan, but they are only expected to remain for several months, and Gates insists when they leave German and other NATO allies should assume responsibility for completing the work done by the Marines.

Canada has already made clear it will withdraw troops unless NATO forces increase their presence in Afghanistan. The German government has imposed restrictive conditions on NATO commanders when using their troops. German troops are “barredf from the use of deadly foce unless an attack is underway or is imminent.” In other words, they are only allowed to fire in cases of self defense. These conditions run counter to what Gates is demanding from Germany. The Bundeswehr’s Web site states that fighting the Taliban is the “responsibility of the (US-led) Operation Enduring Freedom” and is thus “strictly separated” from NATO’s function.

A continuing problem is that NATO entered the Afghanistan fight without clear agreement as to their function. A second problem has been the disjointed American operation which became sidetracked by the war in Iraq.

Zimbabwe Goes On Attack, Attacking Chancellor Merkel

The old adage of the best defense is an offense rang true with attacks by Zimbabwe officials on Chancellor Merkel of Germany who had the audacity to make nasty remarks about the thugs who now govern the nation of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Minister of Information, Sikhanyiso Nidovu, ripped into Chancellor Merketl who had term Presdent Mugabe an embarrassment to the people of Africa because of destructive policies which have wrecked his nation’s economy and created an 80% unemployment figure as well as an 8000% inflation rate. The Zimbabwean government termed Merkel a “racist’ and a “Nazi remnant” for standing up and defending the oppressed people of Zimbabwe.

Chancellor Merkel made her remarks at the recent summit meeting of European Union and African leaders because none of the so-called “leaders” of Africa had the courage to defend the oppressed people of Zimbabwe. One of the tragedies of African nationalism in the post WWII era is failure on the part of Africa’s courageous leaders in the fight against colonialism to carry on that tradition by fighting against African corruption and brutality. Instead, the world is teated to worn out attempts to blame current problems on colonialism. Colonialism ended sixty years ago in South Korea and Singapore and India, but those nations have developed vibrant economies and India is the world’s largest democracy. It’s time for Africa’s leaders to put comments about “colonialism” in storage and stand up and fight for African rights.