Germany thinks twice

Germany thinks twice
: It looks like Germany may be starting to regret siding with France (France?!?) against us. See the soul-searching about its role in the U.N. below. Now see this news:

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for the first time called for the removal of Saddam Hussein in a speech to parliament on Thursday, dropping his objection to regime change as a goal of war.

The turnaround marked a significant attempt to patch up differences within Europe as attention turns to rebuilding a post-Saddam Iraq.

“We all hope that the earliest possible end to the war will keep the number of victims as low as possible,” Schroeder said. “And we hope that through the defeat of the dictatorship, the Iraqi people can realize its hopes of a life in peace, freedom and self-determination as soon as possible.”

And this:

Germany’s foreign minister [Joschka Fischer] says he hopes the Iraqi government will collapse quickly so a humanitarian catastrophe can be averted.

The statement marks a stark turnaround from Germany’s previous opposition to regime change as a goal of the U-S-led war.

  • disclaimer: i am german
    imho, this whole thing is not NATIONS against NATIONS. it is not about GERMANY against the USA or FRANCE against GERMANY or the USA against IRAQ.
    it is interests versus interests. it is elected leaders (with a more or less hidden agenda) against other leaders (with different agendas).
    most germans i know have nothing against americans. most dutch i know have nothing against germans. most french i know have nothing against the people from iraq. yes, we are all different. yes, some of us may stink. and yes, we all have to go to the toilet at some point during a day.
    unfortunately, the current elected leaders though like to limit their point of view to nothing but good (“we”) against bad (“them”) – at least that is what is the message that is picked up by media and broadcasted all over the place.
    maybe they need to make it that simple when they go to war. but i for one don’t like that.

  • what heiko said. and additionally, i don’t think anyone regrets being against this war. none of the people i know and apparently not the german government. they all want a quick end. if this looks like regret to you then because you have fallen for bush’s “either with us or with the terrorists” logic. the world is not as simple as your president wants you to believe.

  • Pithpott

    Couldn’t be that now the Iraqi terrorists have been rumbled at a price only the coalition has paid, those carpetbagging Europeans are fauning up to the US for a piece of profitable rebuilding pie? Or could it?

  • isn’t that cute? “those carpetbagging europeans”… you would have made a nice addition to the stuermer‘s editing team.
    to me it seems as if some people took this war as a good opportunity to let their old prejudices break out. or to create new ones.

  • Pithpott

    Yeah, and you can find most of them marching in the streets of Europe. (that’s a capital E, btw)

  • pithpott: could you please elaborate? or give an example of what you refer to?

  • Dan

    Of course they are rethinking their position. America is winning and there are still slots to get into the economy of Iraq. Might as well score points with the US now.

  • @pithpott: you didn’t notice that i consequently avoid capital letters, did you? never mind.
    and if you took a look at the protesters throughout europe, the rest of the world and even the u.s., you would see them being against bush’s policy (regardless of the fact, that he’s only a dumb-looking puppet for the other guys accompanying him). only few of these protesters objected “the americans” or “america”.
    i admire america, nevertheless i am against this war, because it doesn’t solve any problems. nobody will be living safer afterwards. i know you don’t believe that, but i’m afraid in the near future some misleaded “martyrs” will try to convince us.

  • Danjo

    Germanys position changed after Rumsfeld stated that we would pull out of all US bases in Germany. Probably just a coincidence.
    Vasili: I disagree with you. I think that this war does solve several problems. I agree it doesn’t solve the “Entire Problem” or bring world peace, but this is what it does solve, in my opinion.
    1) This is the 2nd goverment that will be
    eradicated from the face of the earth, that was supporting terrorists. The message is very clear, you support terrorists, you are going to lose power and no longer live in your luxury palaces. The USA doesn’t want the job to police other countries, we want them to do it themselves. This is a stark reminder that what will happen if you don’t.
    2) Saddam will no longer torture and kill people. (Or is that not a problem for you?)
    Just 2 off the top of my head.
    A Simple American

  • danjo,
    the united states’ withdrawal from some of their army bases has been discussed long before iraq came to topics. and the u.s. government never threatened to pull out completely – they know that would be a decision way to dumb, even for them. once the u.s. army leaves germany, they’ll never be allowed to come back, and it’s never been u.s. policy to give up something they once acquired.
    you’ve said, this war solves two problems: eradicating the second “evil” government from earth’s face (by the way: the second of your former allies), and saving the iraqis from being suppressed by ba’ath party (saddam hussein isn’t the real problem) any longer. i agree that these goals are to the use of the iraqi people. but what do they get from it? they are being occupied by either a western coalition or by iraqis that spent most of their lives in the u.s. or europe – both parties are not welcome, neither of them is likely to be of any use to stability, peace and wealth in iraq.
    and what prize will we (all of us) pay for achieving these goals? fundamentalistic muslims might well use this war as another proof of the western world’s intentions of “fighting islam in a crusade”. we will suffer from new terrorist attacks (that cannot be prevented, not even by establishing ‘code red’ permanently or installing authorities of “homeland security”), we will be the target for hatred and prejudices. on the other hand, every government throughout the world will try to acquire or develop weapons of mass destruction – they just have to look at north korea to see that having such weapons is kind of a life insurance. we can’t deal with all of them, not even if we stood together.
    and what’s worst, is the fact that the u.s. government missed to convince their allies. they not even asked their allies to help them. i know, they don’t need help from europe or anybody else (even having the british troops involved is more a sign of good will than military necessity). but what would have helped them is the “moral” support. instead they now have bush being regarded as the worse threat to world’s peace – compared to an asshole such as saddam hussein, not only in the middle east but also – even more surprising – in europe. they now have themselves being regarded as greedy colonialists – did you ever ask yourself how the world is judging the fact that the u.s. government will allow only u.s. firms to explore iraq? all the talk of a “new world order”, of american superiority – what do you think what fears this is likely to release among those who are not american?
    one day the u.s. might well need “old europe”. and i think your government knows about that. their attempts to change the world the way they do is proving it. they might now be able to treat us like shit. we won’t forget. the u.s. have accumulated a large amount of “good will” in europe – they, accompanied by the soviets, have freed europe, they explored europe to the use of both themselves and the europeans, they were our insurance against communism. so we’re likely to take a number of blows to the face. europe’s attempts to form an opposition against the u.s. is no sign of missing gratitude, it’s a sign of hurt pride. treat us as partners, treat us with respect, and we will thank you by being reliant allies again.
    best wishes,
    simple german – aren’t we all “simple”?

  • Danjo

    Dearest vasali:
    Thanks, excellent response. I think the aftermath of this war will be very interesting. I agree that americans do not understand the european opinion or feelings. I think the opposite is also true. In a history that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years, friends are made and treaties broken. Americas short history, we really haven’t experienced that “diplomacy” yet. Although, one of the things we want to avoid is all the wars that european history produced. Its sort of do we play by the old rules are by the new rules.
    I freely admit, that I don’t have the answers and am just speculating out in type.
    BTW, my last name is Joachim, my great great great grandfather was from Munich. Have always been proud of my germanic heritage.
    “Ich bin ein Berliner”
    PS: three years of German in high school and three years in college and all I remember is the curse words.

  • dear danjo,
    it’s true “the europeans” hardly understand what’s in “your” minds. you mentioned the wars in our history – but they are the reason why old europe opposes this war. there have been too much of them among us, and many of them were caused by changing coalitions that were meant to substitute long-built friendships.
    anyways… we are different. but why don’t we talk about it? the europeans should have told the americans et vice versa. but neither did. this makes no difference, because neither would have listened to the other side. even now, nobody is trying to speak about the problems ahead. the u.s. are definitely willing to lead the rebuilding of iraq. as mentioned in yesterday’s news, germany will refuse to pay its share unless the united nations are responsible for the rebuilding. as i understood, this might be common opinion among old europe.
    and i have to correct myself: i was wrong when i said “the u.s. might need europe one day”. they do need them today. i checked the figures of the u.s.’ trade deficit, which has been an incredible $484 billion in 2001. that means, the u.s. economy needs some $1.3 billions a day (sic!) of fresh money from europe (and asia). the reason is, that the u.s. consume more than they produce. with that fact and a growing european and asian distrust (when speaking of the safety of invested money, think of enron, worldcom etc.) among investors, bush has another reason to go to war – war isn’t a time when you speak of economic problems. by the way, it’s the same in germany. i’m sure the war in iraq (and its economic effects) will be the one and only “reason” for our government having failed their economic goals again. ;-)
    danjo, i enjoy our discussion, even if i do not think i will convince you. but it’s good to see that there is still a possibility to speak to each others. we’re not from venus and mars, yet.
    if you like to continue our discussions, feel free to send me an e-mail (, unfortunately this weblog hasn’t a notification on new comments and it’s quite uncomfortable to look after replies that way.
    best regards,
    p.s.: given the fact that you remember only the “bad” words, i appreciate that you didn’t try to write in german. ;-)