Tuesday, July 18. 2006
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Transatlantic Relations on Tuesday, July 18. 2006
President Bush visited Chancellor Merkel on her home turf in the northeast of Germany prior to attending the G8-Summit in Russia. It was the president's first trip to Germany since Merkel has taken office and his third visit to Germany as president. Merkel has been to Washington twice since taking over as chancellor in November 2005.
Apparently a number of issues were discussed, like Iran, Lebanon, Russia and Murat Kurnaz, the Guantanamo detainee from Germany. The press focused on the wild boar barbeque as the highlight of the Bush-Merkel "lovefest" aka "politische Liebeserklärungen". The BBQ is considered a gesture to President Bush, who considers personal relations as extremely important. In return, President Bush again praised Chancellor Merkel's leadership. He also credited Merkel for convincing him to join the negotiations about Iran's nuclear program.
At least one American TV station exaggerated the anti-Bush protests: "Around 5,000 protesters did their best to interrupt the outdoor meeting and meal." However, that was the number of expected protestors. In fact, only a small group of some 600-1000 demonstrators took to the streets far away from the Merkel-Bush meeting. The loudest protest President Bush heard were the cries of a baby he picked up, as this ABC affiliate reported as well.
Reuters surprises with:
Several western nations have asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to mediate in the Middle East conflict, weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday. The United States asked Merkel to speak to Israeli officials and she told them Lebanon was in a fragile state and should not be destabilised, the magazine said, in a preview of its latest weekly edition. (...)Stefan Nicola, Germany correspondent for United Press International writes about "A U.S.-German romance":
"The transformation of the relations is not just in tone, it's also in substance," Gary Smith, head of the American Academy, a privately funded, non-partisan policy research institute located in Berlin, Thursday told United Press International. "There's a new kind of diplomacy which both the United States and Germany are protagonists of. I think of it as a consequential diplomacy... the Germans have become tougher, mainly on Iran." Speaking of Merkel Thursday, Bush said he was "proud to call her a friend," and added: "I respect her judgement and value her opinion." (...)The Weekly Standard describes Merkel as one of President Bush's five favorite foreign leaders. Besides Merkel, they are the prime ministers of Australia (John Howard), Japan (Junichiro Koizumi), Denmark (Anders Fogh Rasmussen), and Great Britain (Tony Blair). The German government might have the most leverage over Iran and Russia.
If you can read German: Die Zeit reviews the German opinion pages concerning the Bush-Merkel relationship. And Fulbright Alumnus Josef Joffe has written a good editorial for Die Zeit.
STATEMENTS BY BUSH AND MERKEL ON ISRAEL AND LEBANON:The New York Times wrote that President Bush "gave qualified support for Israel's strike" against Lebanon and Mrs Merkel pretty much agreed with President Bush and Secretary Rice:
“It is extremely important that Israel exercise her restraint in its activities of self-defense,” Ms. Rice said. (...) The United States could also find help from Germany. Mrs. Merkel on Thursday took a similar, if more measured line, as Mr. Bush. “The parties to that conflict obviously have to use proportionate means,” she said. “But I am not at all for sort of blurring the lines between the root causes and the consequences of an action. There has to be a good reaction now, not from the Israeli government, but from those who started these attacks in the first place.”Later at the G8 Summit, Chancellor Merkel told reporter, according to ABC News (HT: Richard):
"We demand first that the Israeli soldiers be returned to Israel healthy, that the attacks on Israel cease, and then naturally for Israel to halt military action."
PRESIDENT BUSH AND THE WILD BOAR:Even before the BBQ, President Bush was asked many questions about the Middle East he did not want to answer more specifically than he had done initially. In consequence many American but only few German media outlets focused on the president's pleasant anticipation of slicing and eating the pig. Mark Silva for example writes in the Chicago Tribune and the Seattle Times:
With the world's most perplexing problems weighing on him, President Bush has sought comic relief in a certain pig. This is the wild game boar that German chef Olaf Micheel bagged for Bush and served Thursday evening at a barbecue in Trinwillershagen, a tiny town on the Baltic Sea.Jon Stewart's popular Daily Show made a clip with President Bush's numerous statements about the pig. Crooks and Liars got the video. Unlike the US media, the German media seems to have ignored this opportunity to criticize Bush for talking so much about the pig. Instead many German papers questioned whether this BBQ was so important to justify the huge financial costs: Some 10 million Euros for security measures.
UPDATE: The Seattle Times writes about Bush and Merkel as the "political odd couple", but points out:
While other European leaders, such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac, are in the twilight of their political careers, Merkel is on the rise. She has forged a leading role in Europe's efforts to prevent Iran from resuming its nuclear program. Next year, she will head the G-8 — composed of leaders of eight major industrialized democracies — while holding the rotating European Union presidency for six months.
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Don - #1 - 2006-07-18 01:29 -
Look. Bush's policy right now is to leave it alone. The Israeli's have a bunch of causus belli's here between the kidnapping and the rocket attacks. Everyone knows they have to respond. But if Bush said that in the press conference it would appear that he was telling a sovereign country (Israel) what to do - and most of the Euro pressland would squeal like a castrated calf because Bush will have endorsed Israeli 'agression'. The entire press-conference thing has become as spontanious as a film clip played endlessly. The press plays gotcha and preens for the microphone - Bush sidesteps. Then again, and again, and again until they run out of time or preening reporters.
Pinkerton - #2 - 2006-07-18 02:18 -
Don Really??? Bush has a policy??? LOL! And what's this I hear...Bush doesn't want to sound like he's telling a sovereign country what to do? I guess that is unless there is some oil there, and he can convince everyone they are hiding WMD....even if they aren't. The good news, however. I heard he did get to slice the pig. I'll sleep better tonight knowing that. ;)
Anonymous - #2.1 - 2006-07-18 02:49 -
How spontaneous.... Pinkerton. Did you get that from watching Jon Stewart?
Rosemary - #2.2 - 2006-07-18 14:09 -
Hey Pinkerton, First of all, France, Germany and Russia were the ones bathing in the oil for food program money and bribes, so why don't you grow up? They stole money and food out of the mouth of babies. If America wanted to "steal" their oil, tell me why they are having a fit over the high gas prices? If you disagree for a sound reason, fine. I will not deny you that, because I am not a communist. On the other hand, show some respect for those who disagree with you! Thank you, and have a nice day.
ADMIN - #2.2.1 - 2006-07-18 14:52 -
You write: > show some respect for those who > disagree with you! But in the same comment you yourself write: > so why don't you grow up? How do you define hypocrisy? We don't want flame wars in the comments section of our blog. Every comment should offer some insight, a different perspective or some arguments or little known facts etc. Debate in the comments section may be very controversial on the issues, but shouldn't get personal.
Rosemary - #126.96.36.199 - 2006-07-18 15:51 -
Dear Joerg and Pinkerton, You are absolutely correct. I apologize for bad behaviour and hypocrosy. I know better than to comment when I get upset, but I did not. That is no excuse. I do have some facts, however, that individuals in the governments did take bribes and had oil deals with Saddam. For countries who claim to have human rights as a goal, I do not understand how money can come before people. Before you can start, I hear it echoing in my ears!, I am aware that the US does this as well. At least here, I try my best to stop that behaviour. If I fail, I try to get them thrown out of office! Human beings are precious. More precious than any commodity ever found or created. Our constitution was built to protect PEOPLE, not objects. I agree with you there. We may just disagree who's responsible for taking care of each. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I would not want this to stand without mention. Have a good day, Joerg and Pinkerton.
Ralf Goergens - #2.2.3 - 2006-07-18 19:21 -
Rosemary, Germany had nothing to do with the Oil-for-food scandal.
Tom P - #3 - 2006-07-18 03:27 -
Merkel's public statement on the Israeli offensive is closer to the US position then her European neighbors. Does this reflect German public opinion?
Pinkerton - #4 - 2006-07-18 06:09 -
Anonymous Jon Stuart gets his material from me. ;) George Bush does make it easy for us, doesn't he?
Anonymous - #4.1 - 2006-07-18 17:00 -
Funny - I would have thought it was Charles Stuart. Or perhaps James I. It's that old. I encourage you to work on coming up with fresh material - this is rather boring. Ta....
Christian - #5 - 2006-07-18 09:01 -
Even more surprising news if you consider that the United States used to be the driving force in the Arab-Israeli peace process: "The European Union is ready to take part in an international peace-keeping force to calm hostilities in Israel and Lebanon if such a mission is dispatched, the EU presidency said Monday. "I am confident that the European Union and its member states which have been heavily contributing to such missions in the past will stand ready to take part if the conditions are there for such a mission," Finland's Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told a news conference in Brussels."
Don - #5.1 - 2006-07-18 17:41 -
The US wasn't the 'driving force' in the Oslo accords - self-interest was. The US can be an intermediary if both sides wish peace - but not otherwise. Over the past 15 years it has become obvious that many or most Palestinians regarded Oslo as a convenenient truce - not a peace treaty or anything leading to a peace treaty. The kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by the Palestinian government was a causus belli. If the Hamas government wishes the war to end they should return the soldier. The Hitzbollah/Iran attack on Israel from Lebanon was another causus belli - and another war. Mounted from within the borders of Lebanon with the connivance of the government of Syria. I personally would be more comfortable if Israel responded in larger part against Syria than against Lebanese targets. but nevertheless the attacks were done from parts of Lebanon which the Lebanese government is unable to control in most part due to the open interference of the Syrian government on the sovereign territory of Lebanon. Israel has no choice but to attack Hitzbollah in Lebanon - because that is where they are. Israel is destroying Lebanese roads and bridges to deny Hitzbollah the ability to run to safety before Israel can destroy them. I feel sorry for the Lebanese but can't disagree. I find many of the complaints of 'lack of US leadership' in this disingenous. What many of the complainers are actually complaining about is that Bush hasn't seen fit to tell Israel to stop. Yet what is clearly needed is a loud, pointed lesson driven home. That one does not attack Israel lightly, one does not tunnel under a boder and kidnap a soldier lightly. One pays a long price for so doing. Israel is providing one part of the lesson, Bush the other by his silence. And Anglela Merkel (to her credit and that of her country) merely pointed out the obvious yesterday. Return the soldier and stop the attacks and then - and only then - will the conditions for a cease-fire exist. One cannot hit Israel then run away and use a cease fire for a shield, only to repeat the ploy again and again. Which is obviously Hitzbollah's plan.
joe - #5.2 - 2006-07-19 00:08 -
joe - #6 - 2006-07-18 19:56 -
JW. I always thought Germany opposed the US so the SPD could win an election. The Germans see no evil therefore they have to do nothing. Finally they prefered Saddam.
Pinkerton - #7 - 2006-07-19 00:40 -
Rosemary: Thank you for the apology. To be honest, I have no idea why you became so angry. There was nothing in my post that I thought would stir up such anger. Now, to answer some of your questions. As far as the reasons we went to war in Iraq, I'll try to make it simple. First we were told WMD...then no WMD. We were told by Bush he didn't want regime change....then he DID want regime change. The list goes on and on. Now, as far as the question as to why our oil is so high since I said that we went in because of oil, the reason is simple. Bush blew it. Remember how they said that the oil was going to pay for this war? Not happening is it? Have you looked at our debt lately? Have you seen the price in dollars and blood that we are paying for this war? Things just didn't seem to go as Bush expected and now we are stuck in a quagmire. Something that he was warned would happen by the Pentagon and Colin Powell. There was poor planning from the beginning of this war that was based on lies and incompetent leadership by Donald Rumsfeld. As far as the oil for food, I couldn't have said it any better than JW. Rosemary, I agree with you, human rights and people should come before money. And that is why I feel that what Bush did by going to war in Iraq was, and still is, a travesty. All of our fine military who were killed or maimed in this war is Bush's doing. He had no consideration for our troops and no consideration for the families that they have left behind. That is obvious in the amount of cuts he has made in the military benefits since this war has started. Not to mention, the lack of good equipment he sent them into battle with. And lets not forget about the human rights of the Iraq people who are caught in the middle of this mess that George made. How long do you think it will be before they have their country back? And who is going to pay for the infrastructure? It will be generations before there is any form of normalcy in that country, if there ever is at all. So, you are right. George Bush is no laughing matter. What he has done to Iraq and to our country isn't funny at all. It's downright scary.
David - #7.1 - 2006-07-19 03:28 -
@Pinkerton, Well put. I think General William Odom has offered the correct analysis of what the Bush administration has accomplished by unleashing the violence of the Iraq invasion: it is a Reverse Domino Theory. http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/ Instead of the promised blossoming of secular democracy in the region, we are seeing an explosion of sectarian violence and popular support for fundamentalist Islamic theocratic rule. This is Bush's legacy. According to a UN report released today, more than 100 Iraqi civilians were killed EACH DAY in June in sectarian violence - and the numbers are rising.
joe - #8 - 2006-07-19 03:37 -
David, I am so glad read your always insightful comments. I knew you would not disappoint us.
Rosemary - #9 - 2006-07-19 12:31 -
Dear Pinkerton, I do a little too sensitive when I read too many stories about how bad President Bush is, so that was just a bad day thingy. lol. About the 'no regime change,' I was all the way with him. That was, of course, during the first campaign! Then there was September 11, 2001. I remembered that Germany was forced to pay an exhorbitant amount after WWI. We may never have had WWII if it were not for the treaty at France (Versaille, I think). From that I have learned that if you messed up a place, you had better make it right. Saddam had let Iraq deteriorate so badly that some things needed to be replaced. Might I recommend a site? At http://centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/default.aspx "Centcom." you may find that we are doing extraordinary things for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. I will meet you halfway on the reasons we went to war. I believe this is an expanded theatre, while others do not. We were told in the beginning the many reasons for having to do this. He chose to stick with one. Then he did not restate, restate, and restate again the progress, the reasons, etc. He does have only himself to blame. Trust me, I've called him and told him to get out in front and answer questions. He just isn't any good at it. So what are those reasons? 1. Human rights. The Iraqi people living worse than slaves. They feared for their lives everyday. Have you noticed the mass graves? That's because no one wants to take the time to discuss them! That, in itself, is an atrocity. 2. Weapons of mass destruction. They have been used before, and we have found many more. You did hear about that? I wonder why not? The 'dinosaur media' felt it to be an old story! Please don't allow the papers to limit your knowledge. 3. Violation of 17 UN resolutions. 4. Saddam tried to murder his Father. I don't care what anyone says. You go after my Daddy, you're dead meat to me! 5. He was paying terrorists $25,000 for murdering innocent people. In other words, he was a terrorist. 6. Saddam was shooting at both American and British airplanes as we covered the no-fly zone. 7. and on and on. See, there are so many that he was told to concentrate on one. He wanted to concentrate on human rights, but he was told the people would not accept that. I'd like to speak to the person that told him that! I wish he could and would speak more (and better, for crying out loud!), but he is who he is. I would no more make fun of the way he talks (like I just did, fondly) than I would make fun of someone who stutters, can't walk, etc. The only reason I mention it now is because he is well aware of it. I know he speak just fine when he is with friends. It is a very hard job he has been voted to handle, and he doesn't have very many friends, especially in the press. Thank you, Pinkerton, for accepting my apology. I'm not usually a hot head. I can be, however, I'm usually not. lol.
alec - #9.1 - 2006-07-21 02:24 -
On those conditions, why don't we invade Israel or Palestine? Or the Congo? Or Iran? Or Saudi Arabia? The problem wasn't the facts about living conditions in Iraq, but the manipulation of intelligence to make this war seeming pressing and necessary.
Rosemary - #10 - 2006-07-19 12:52 -
I forgot to answer a few more of your questions. About the debt: Due to the tax relief, we now have less debt. There was a story about that. I believe they projected it to be 450B, but now it is down to 300B. Yes, that is still quite a bit, but it is not as much as the welfare. We are at war, ya know! Also, if any of these American companies are complicite, I hope they fry. That is how I feel about that. That is UNACCEPTABLE. That is why I cannot stand this PFNS (Permanent Favored Nation Status). (PFNS doesn't seem correct, however, that is all I can remember at 3 am. lol) It just burns my hide. China does not deserve to have it. They abuse their people's human rights terribly! One day, we'll talk about it. Until then, go to http://www.rfa.org/english/. Have a wonderful day.
Pinkerton - #11 - 2006-07-19 15:10 -
Rosemary You talk of the "expanded theater". You say we went to war for human rights. Well, Sadaam was not the only leader who treated his people with attrocities. Korea? China? do they ring a bell? And do you suggest we start a pre-emptive war on any leader that we don't feel is running their country according to our vision? WMD, sure, they found WMD in Iraq. They were old shells, not considered weapons of mass destruction, and they were from the first Gulf War. Some were even old shells that WE sold to them. Not capable of that "mushroom cloud" that Bush and Condi liked to bring up at every opportunity. And if Bush was so hell-bent about finding WMD, he wouldn't have pulled out the inspectors who wanted to stay. Please don't let Fox News limit your knowledge of what was actually found in Iraq. Violations of UN resolutions. The UN was dealing with this. The US did have Sadaam contained and there was NO threat to the US from Sadaam after the first Gulf War. With the few weapons they had left, they made attempts to shoot down the fly over aircraft, and they were never successful. In fact, the air force laughed at their attempts because they were so lame. Sadaam tried to kill George's dad. I'm sorry, but if you recall that was already addressed by the US, there was no need to go after Sadaam again for this. In fact, if you recall, George Bush, Sr. didn't think it was a good idea to go into Iraq again and in an interview he said himself that this was not a reason that his son decided to go to war. It played no part whatsoever. Yet, the right wing wants to hold on to this as a viable reason to perform a pre-emptive strike on another country. He was paying terrorists to kill innocent people. If that is the case, then why didn't Bush bomb the living daylights out of Palestine? Weren't they sending suicide bombers into Isreal, to kill innocent civilians? And if you want to be a stickler about the WMD, Sadaam welcomed them to come back before the war started. Bush turned him down. Bush was determined to start a war with Iraq from the beginning of his Presidency. Do you remember how he wanted to link Iraq with 911? He just used Afghanistan as a stepping stone to get there. And if you think that all is well in Afghanistan...look at the news today. The Taliban has taken over two towns. They are NOT being contained. And what ever happened to Osama? The guy who REALLY had something to do with 911? First George said he wants him dead or alive...then says he isn't really concerned about Osama. George had so many reasons, that he couldn't concentrate on one??? George kept making up excuses everytime the last one failed to pan out. Therefore, he sent our troops into war without a clear mission, which is why we are failing in this war....this illegal war.
Rosemary - #11.1 - 2006-07-23 10:40 -
Dear Pinkerton, How kind of you to answer my last comment(s). I agree about the Taliban. I have a [url=http://dodnews.blogspot.com/]milblog[/url]. I can only answer you in this way about the other countries. I do not want to go around the world killing people. I hate Kim Jong Il, and I would love to see him assassinated. As well as Osoma, Hu (he's China, right?), the guy in the Sudan, Charles Taylor, Somalia, Nigeria, FARC, etc. But alas. I do not do these things. I can hope, though, can't I? lol. Let me try to explain the way I am looking at the situation. When we were attacked, it was life-changing. Not for a moment, a day, a year, but permanently. So how do we make the world safe for everyone? I would think that after the major combat (I know, it's falling apart) in Afghanistan, where next? Iran was very dangerous, but so was NK. In the scheme of things, strategically, Iraq would cut off Iran between Iraq and Afghanistan. Can you imagine if we had to go into Iran and Saddam was still in power? Yikes! I am very angry about China. They are the ones whom I believe pull the puppet strings on NK. I believe they were aware of everything that was going on, including the day of the missiles. After all, China is the country that keeps that regime going. I feel as though it would be interesting to sit in a room and have a conversation with you. My words do not seem to be flowing in a manner pleasing to me. I will leave you this: Love God, love your neighbor as yourself, and your life will be richly blessed. ;)
Rosemary - #11.2 - 2006-07-23 10:47 -
Oh dear! I forgot to mention that I do not have a cable TV, so I do not watch FOX. lol. It is quite possible for a woman to come to her own conclusions without the aid of the "boob-tube". I know you meant it innocently, so I will not take that as a sexist remark. ;)
Pinkerton - #12 - 2006-07-19 15:26 -
Rosemary I'm sorry, I forgot to reply to the comment you made about the debt. Our current debt is... $8,408,017,290,515.50 Each citizens share of that debt, to date is $28,107.97 Our National debt has continued to increase an average of $1.6 BILLION dollars per day! Have you any idea how many times our debt ceiling has increased? In March 2006 it was increased AGAIN to (drum roll,please!) $9 TRILLION dollars! Alberto Gonzolaz was asked yesterday, why was the budget cut and Federal funding taken away for the cops on the street program. He said that we need to budget because of the war. Now, we seem to have money for tax breaks for the top 1 or 2% of the country, yet not enough money to pay the police for our own country. Those police are our first responders in case of another terrorist attack. Those police are the ones who make our streets safe everyday. Tax cuts for the rich aren't going to protect us. Somebody needs to get their priorities straight. And, what was our debt when Clinton was President?????? Hmm.....Bush is doin' a heckuva job, isn't he?
Don - #12.1 - 2006-07-20 03:32 -
And what precisely does this have to do with the thres, Pinkerton? Except for general grousing and complaining - which you seem to have a weakness for, I can't see anything.
joe - #13 - 2006-07-20 05:06 -
Because we cannot find a cure for HIV/Aids We should stop all medical research. This is an excellent position to take. It shows deep thinking.
Pinkerton - #14 - 2006-07-20 05:08 -
Don My, you can be rude, can't you? If you would have bothered to read through the thread, my last comments were in answer to Rosemary's questions. And if you recall, it was the very first comment, made by you, that stated Bush had a policy. I found that amusing, since Bush has never had a policy regarding Isreal. Leaving something alone is not a policy, it's avoidance. You may not like my stance on politics, Don, but at least I've made an effort to answer questions addressed to me without just making insulting attacks on that person. My answer to your first comment wasn't in anyway personally insulting to you.
Possum - At the Zoo - #15 - 2006-07-20 05:19 -
Did anyone notice that since the German Chancellor wasn't in bed with him this time, Chirac went along with the G8 statement rather than be the odd-man-out? LOL! He's brave only when he can plot and gang-up like a mideval courtier, right? Schroeder and Chirac -- what a pair. Having Merkle there does make a difference.
Anonymous - #15.1 - 2006-07-20 09:35 -
Chirac still spins the G8 statement. He described the G8 statement as a call for a ceasefire. Without German support, Chirac's rhetoric just is not noticed in the US.
Possum - #15.1.1 - 2006-07-23 03:05 -
>>Chirac still spins the G8 statement. He described the G8 statement as a call for a ceasefire.
Possum - #15.1.2 - 2006-07-23 03:11 -
Sorry, I goofed the first time I tried to reply. "Chirac still spins the G8 statement. He described the G8 statement as a call for a ceasefire." Yes, I've noticed that before. Chirac can make anything out of anything. Blood out of wine, I bet, with nothing but words. "Without German support, Chirac's rhetoric just is not noticed in the US." Yeah, like when he threatened to nuke the US in the same speech he threatened to nuke Iran? (Transatlantic Intelligencer has the scoop.) Would we ever have heard the end of it if W had said something half that bad, even in private?
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