The New York Times writes that a classified US military study credits the German Federal Intelligence Agency for obtaining a copy of Saddam Hussein's plan to defend Bagdad and for passing this plan on to the US:
The plan gave the American military an extraordinary window into Iraq's top-level deliberations, including where and how Mr. Hussein planned to deploy his most loyal troops.
A German government spokesperson rejected the NYT report as wrong "in all its details," but Bill Keller, the NY Times's executive editor, said in response that the report published today was attributed to a classified Joint Forces Command study on the development of Iraq's military strategy, dated 2005, and that on the matter of German involvement, 'the Joint Forces Command study is explicit and unqualified. The United States awarded a medal to one of the two agents of the German Federal Intelligence for his support to combat operations The NYT also describes the German governments vocal public opposition to the Iraq war and the significant help the German armed forces provided nevertheless:
German ships guarded the sea lanes near the Horn of Africa as part of Task Force 150, an effort to deter terrorist attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, for example. The patrols helped safeguard the waterways the United States used to build up its forces in the Persian Gulf for the invasion of Iraq. German troops were also part of a "consequence management" team, at the United States military base at Camp Doha, Kuwait, which was charged with protecting Kuwaitis after a chemical attack. The measure was justified as defensive. German personnel also guarded American military bases in Germany, freeing United States soldiers to go to Iraq. When NATO debated whether to send Awacs radar planes and Patriot missile batteries to Turkey, a move the United States was promoting to help persuade Ankara to open a northern front in Iraq, Germany initially was opposed. But it soon dropped its objections. Germany later provided the missiles for the Patriot batteries sent to Turkey.
The German government acknowledged that two German intelligence agents based in Bagdad provided the United States with a few military coordinates during the 2003 invasion, but rejected allegations that they aided the U.S. bombing campaign. However, one of the agents received an US military award. The German government's declassified report to a parliamentary oversight committee quotes the US laudation for the German agent (page 35):
The United States of America [...] has awarded The Meritorious Service Medal to [...] German Army, for exceptionally meritorious achievement as Senior Analyst from 1 February 2003 to 30 April 2003. His critical information to United States Central Command to support combat operations in Iraq reflects great credit upon himself and the German Federal Armed Services, and the friendship between Germany and the United States of America.
The German government describes the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) agent's contribution as less significant than the laudation suggests and argues that the medal was awarded as a gesture in support of the German-American relationship, which would have been remarkable because at that time Germany was quite unpopular in the US due to its anti-Iraq war policy. The Schroeder government's strong criticism of the US led Iraq war and the former chancellor's pre-election pledge not to involve Germany in the Iraq war is the main reason why this affair has become such a sensitive subject in Germany.
In January the government said that the intelligence agency gave only the coordinates of non-targets (hospitals, mosques, synagogues, and embassies) to the US, but now the government report admits that the agency informed the US of seven military targets as well. Two of the three opposition parties called for an in-depth parliamentary inquiry (Untersuchungsausschuss) into the Federal Intelligence Service's involvement during the Iraq war, their role in interrogations of terror suspects abroad as well as the alleged CIA renditions, in particular the case of the German citizen El-Masri. Because both the Green Party and the Left Party only have small number of parliamentary seats, it depends on the third opposition party (the Liberal Democrats) whether there will be parliamentary inquiry.
Endnote: The NY Times reports that the German government has criticized the United States for the abduction of El-Masri for more than a year, but now "the police and prosecutors opened an investigation into whether Germany served as a silent partner of the United States."
Hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld asked his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement, according to notes taken by Stephen Cambone, now undersecretary of defence for intelligence. The notes have just been declassified under the US Freedom of Information Act in response to a request by law student and blogger Thad Anderson and published in the Guardian and elsewhere. (Time Magazine's Andrew Sullivan gives his post the title of Prof. Glenn Instapundit Reynold's new book An Army of Davids about ordinary people beating mass media, government and other Goliaths.) Bob Woodward apparently had access to the classified documents and quoted from Chambone's notes in his book Plan of Attack: "hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] @ same time—not only UBL [Usama Bin Laden]." According to Woodward, Colin Powell then said "What the hell! What are these guys thinking about? Can't you get these guys back in the box?" Paul. R. Pillar, the National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, describes in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs how from his standpoint the "Bush administration disregarded the community's expertise, politicized the intelligence process, and selected unrepresentative raw intelligence to make its public case":
The administration used intelligence not to inform decision-making, but to justify a decision already made. It went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq. (...) If the entire body of official intelligence analysis on Iraq had a policy implication, it was to avoid war -- or, if war was going to be launched, to prepare for a messy aftermath.
The essay of this former high-level official does not include any new revelations and accusations, but is a good summary of familiar criticism of the use of intelligence to justify the Iraq war. Concerning the prospects of a democratic Iraq, he writes:
Before the war, on its own initiative, the intelligence community considered the principal challenges that any postinvasion authority in Iraq would be likely to face. It presented a picture of a political culture that would not provide fertile ground for democracy and foretold a long, difficult, and turbulent transition. (...) The intelligence community argued that any value Iraq might have as a democratic exemplar would be minimal and would depend on the stability of a new Iraqi government and the extent to which democracy in Iraq was seen as developing from within rather than being imposed by an outside power. More likely, war and occupation would boost political Islamand increase sympathy for terrorists' objectives -- and Iraq would become a magnet for extremists from elsewhere in the Middle East.
UPDATE: American Future, a great US blog focusing on foreign and national security affairs, confirmed to host our transatlantic carnival in the United States. Now we got two German and one American host. As of today (Thursday) we have received ten submissions, which are displayed in the right column on our Carnival Submission Website. The first carnival was a big success: More than 20 blogs participated with interesting posts on various aspects of our transatlantic relations, and several thousand visitors read the carnival post due to the many links by many big bloggers. The next carnival will be hosted by Statler & Waldorf in German and by American Future and ourselves in English. We (Atlantic Review) have set up this Carnival Submissions Website with more information and instructions. The carnival hosts will pick the best submissions and introduce them on their blogs on March 11, 2006. Deutsche Blogger, Ihr könnt auch deutschsprachige Artikel einreichen! (We welcome both German and English blog posts.) Endnote: Extrablog seeks also submissions for an interesting carnival on the topic "Are we contributing sufficiently to the war on terror?"
The State Department plans to award 25 extended Fulbright scholarships to foreign graduate students in science and engineering, who will be chosen by "a blue-ribbon panel of experts in a global competition rather than through the traditional bilateral agreements," writes Science Now. This article, recommended by Fulbrighter Dr. Walter Berger, quotes Deputy Under Secretary of State Tom Farrell:
We wanted to send a clear signal that this country is intent on welcoming foreign talent, especially future scientific and technical leaders. What better way to do that than through our most important global brand name in international education, the Fulbright program?
Besides, Fulbrighters improve US security: The National Security Language Initiative expands the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program, "to allow 300 native speakers of critical need languages to come to the U.S. to teach in U.S. universities and schools in 2006-07."
The outstanding blog A Fistful of Euros is running their Second European Weblog Awards. And the Atlantic Review is nominated. The other nominees are Wos waas a Fremda?, Lyssas Lounge and the very popular Bildblog and Spreeblick. Please, click on the graphic, scroll down to "Best German Weblog" and vote for the underdog that focuses on transatlantic relations. UPDATE: The Atlantic Review is the winner! Thank you for voting for us.
Foreign Policy has a Valentine Day's special Who do you love? based on opinion polls conducted for the BBC World Service. If you haven't registered for free and don't care for the graphics with sweat little hearts, you can access the polls at the University of Maryland's PIPA, which was involved in conducting the 40,000 interviews in 33 countries. The results on Iran's popularity:
On average across the 33 countries just 18 percent say Iran is having a positive influence while 47 percent say Iran is having a negative influence. Countries in Europe and North America have the largest majorities expressing a negative view of Iran. The most negative are Germany (84%), the US (81%), and Italy (77%); followed by Finland (74%), Great Britain (72%), Canada (73%), France (68%), Spain (66%) and Poland (60%).
On the United States:
Within Europe there has been a hardening of negative attitudes toward America compared to a year ago. Those expressing a negative view have risen in France (from 54% to 65%), and Great Britain (50% to 57%) (...) Interestingly, no more Iranians were negative about the US role in the world than Germans or French (each with 65% negative).
Half a year ago, the Economist survey of America concluded that the US is an extraordinarily dynamic country, but its very mobility may now be drawing people apart. Now the Economist published one of its well written and researched surveys about Germany, which describes how
Germany's institutions have slid from virtue to vice: in politics, in the labour market, in education, in competition policy and elsewhere. It is not that the country has not tried to change. But most of these changes have been designed to optimise existing systems rather than change them fundamentally.
The summary of this survey is available for free and states that the risk of poverty has greatly increased, that Germany is already doing less well than many other European countries in terms of social justice. Germany has already ceased to be the "equitable middle-class society" with a "social elevator" for everybody, "if the think-tanks have their numbers right." However:
Many of its global companies have never been more competitive. With exports of nearly $1 trillion in 2005, this medium-sized country (smaller than the American state of Montana, but with 82m people) already sells more goods in the world market than any other. Investment and domestic demand are also picking up at last, so Germany's economic outlook at home, too, has brightened. (...) But the labour market does not seem to have turned the corner yet: in January, unemployment before seasonal adjustment again hit 5m, or 12.1% of the workforce. (...) Most importantly, if it [Germany] does not start tackling its structural problems in earnest soon, it may find itself stuck with something its people dread: amerikanische Verhältnisse, or "American conditions", code for a socially polarised society in which workers are hired and fired at an employer's whim. The risk is that Germany's labour market, in particular, will end up "Americanised", but without the good points of the American one, such as its openness and inclusiveness, argues Wolfgang Streeck, head of the Cologne-based Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
In August 2005, The Economist described the reforms much more positively and was more optimistic about Germany's economy. Access to that article only for subscribers, but there is a free German Handelsblatt report.