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German President Koehler Calls for more European Help to Stabilise Iraq

In an interview with Frankfurter Rundschau on November 11, 2006, Federal President Horst Koehler said:
The war has led to a disaster, but we can't sit back and say it's a problem for the Americans. That would be dumb, short-sighted and arrogant. (...) We cannot allow the region to slide into chaos. We have a direct, existential interest in preventing this. (...) Ducking away and just watching is a worse alternative.
Reuters has made the above translation and adds "Germany has helped train Iraqi security personnel outside of the country and provided humanitarian aid in recent years." and points out "Koehler has limited powers in the largely ceremonial post of president, but he can influence the national debate and has not shied away from controversial topics."
Original quotes from the Frankfurter Rundschau interview:
Der Krieg hat zu einem Desaster gefuehrt. Aber wir können uns nicht zuruecklehnen und sagen: Das ist das Problem der Amerikaner. Das waere dumm, kurzsichtig und ueberheblich. (...)
Wir Europaeer sollten das Gespraech mit den USA darüber suchen, wie das transatlantische Verhaeltnis neu belebt werden kann. Es geht um unsere gemeinsame Verantwortung, aber auch um gleiche Augenhoehe in dieser Verantwortung - und um das Bewusstsein, dass Verantwortung etwas kostet. Da haben sich die Europaeer bisher oft kunstvoll herausgeredet. (...)
Die Zeit der Koalition der Willigen ist vorbei. Es muss jetzt eine Koalition der Einsichtigen und der gemeinsamen Verantwortung für globale Stabilitaet geben. Dies ist uebrigens auch nicht mehr ohne Russland und China erreichbar. Wir muessen uns auf neue Koordinaten in der Weltpolitik einstellen.
Reuters does not mention the last four sentences, which roughly translate as: 'Europeans have made excuses for not sharing the burden. (...) The coalition of the willing is over. Now we need a coalition of the realists/reasonable/insightful who understand the need for shared responsibility for global stability.' [A better translation would be appreciated.]
Koehler also criticizes European and American double standards in their Africa policies and a lack of a concept to tackle the illegal drugs problem in Afghanistan: "Aber ohne einen Plan zur Loesung des Problems der illegalen Drogenwirtschaft wird es dort keinen Frieden geben. Darum hat man sich viel zu wenig gekuemmert, dafuer gab es kein Konzept. Das Militaerische und rein Politische stand im Vordergrund."

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Atlantic Review on : Iraq Study Group Recommendations and the European Union

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In presenting the Iraq Study Group report, James A. Baker III. (video) made a blunt assessment: Struggling in a world of fear, the Iraqis themselves dare not dream. They have been liberated from the nightmare of a tyrannical order only to face the nightma

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Don S on :

That is pretty amazing.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Politicians agree with Koehler and want to help Iraqi reconstruction, but are concerned about the security situation: Debatte: Deutsche Hilfe für den Irak? - FAZ.NET - Politik "Mehrere Außenpolitiker aus Koalition und Opposition unterstützten im Grundsatz den Vorstoß von Bundespräsident Horst Köhler, daß die Europäer mehr Verantwortung für den Irak übernehmen müßten. Der außenpolitische Sprecher der Unionsfraktion, Eckart von Klaeden (CDU), sagte dieser Zeitung: „Der Bundespräsident hat in allem recht.“ Allerdings sei die Sicherheitslage im Irak so angespannt, daß auch für den zivilen Aufbau „guten Gewissens“ niemand in das Land geschickt werden könne. Ähnlich äußerte sich der stellvertretende FDP-Fraktionsvorsitzende Werner Hoyer: „Wenn wir kommende Woche für Aufbauarbeit in den Irak gehen könnten, ohne unsere Leute zu gefährden, wäre ich sofort dafür.“ Doch angesichts des brutalen Kriegs und Bürgerkriegs im Irak sei das nicht möglich. „Wir haben ein vitales Interesse daran, daß sich im Irak etwas ändert“, pflichete Jürgen Trittin, außenpolitischer Sprecher der Grünen, dem Bundespräsidenten bei. Doch erst nach einer „dramatischen Veränderung der Sicherheitslage“ sei ein Engagement im Irak möglich. (...) Trittin äußerte: „Keiner wird sagen: In dieses Desaster schicke ich noch eigene Soldaten hinterher.“ Der stellvertretende Vorsitzende der Unionsfraktion, Andreas Schockenhoff (CDU), sagte, allein mit dem Hinweis auf Deutschlands Widerstand gegen den Krieg könne man sich nicht gegen jedes weitere zivile Engagement wehren. Hoyer sagte, eine Änderung der amerikanischen Strategie im Irak sehe er noch nicht. „Auch die Demokraten haben noch keine Strategie, wie sie aus dem Krieg herauskommen könnten.“ Deutschland könne sich erst im Irak engagieren, wenn Ausländer nicht mehr als Besatzer betrachtet würden. „In diese Situation haben uns aber leider die Amerikaner gebracht.“ [url=http://www.faz.net/s/Rub594835B672714A1DB1A121534F010EE1/Doc~E7657B62F44ED404CA396DE8A3EE7C0F0~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html]Source: FAZ [/url]

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Quick semi-automatic translation of the above: “Several foreign affairs politicians from coalition and opposition parties supported the statements by Federal President Horst Koehler in the principle that the Europeans would have to take more responsibility for Iraq. The speaker with regard to foreign policy of the Christian Democrats, von Klaeden (CDU), said to this newspaper: „The Federal President is right in everything. “However the security situation is so strained in Iraq that nobody can be send to Iraq for reconstruction with a good conscience. Similarly the deputy leaders of the FDP faction Werner Hoyer expressed itself: „If we could go to Iraq and do reconstruction without endangering our people, I would be in favor of it. However, “In view of the brutal war and civil war in the Iraq that is not possible. „We have a vital interest that the situation in Iraq changes (improves)“, said Jürgen Trittin, speaker with regard to foreign policy of the Greens. But "a German commitment is possible only after a dramatic change of the security situation in the Iraq. (...) Trittin expressed: „None will say: Into this disaster I will send our own soldiers. The deputy chairman of the Christian Democrats Union faction, Andreas Schockenhoff (CDU), said that Germany opposition against the Iraq war is not sufficient to resist a civilian committment. Hoyer said, that he does not see a change of the American strategy in Iraq. "Also the democrats have still no strategy, how they could get out of the war." Germany can engage itself only in Iraq if foreigners are not anymore regarded as occupiers. "Unfortunatly, the American, have brought us in this situation." [By "situation" he means that foreigners are seen as occupiers.]

Assistant Village Idiot on :

Well, even if their back-reasoning is a little poor, if the realism of needing to stick together to at least defang the worst of the jihadists is the result, I say fine.

Olaf Petersen on :

AVI, our back-reasoning isn't 'a little poor' (I assume you're talking about Germany and not the USA). It wasn't our idea to go own ways and start a war of aggression. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent, 150000 elite soldiers, the most sophisticated weapons abused for what obviously can be reduced to the private crusade of the Bush family against Saddam Hussein. Germany has warned the USA that the war against Iraq would destabilize the middle east. We have no reason for back-reasoning how we could increase our contributions to America's desaster. Russia excused, France punished, Germany ignored? Ha!

Assistant Village Idiot on :

Olaf, a test: are you even able to articulate what the case for OIF was, even if you don't agree with it? Because your reductionism suggests that you have not even understood the argument. I will state again, as I have to others: when someone uses the word "obviously" or some equivalent like "everyone knows" or "common sense," it nearly always describes a thought that is only obvious to one tribe. The person uses the hyperbole, not to make an intellectual argument, but to declare tribal membership and assert that one's tribe should be dominant. I am already aware that the elite opinion of northern Europeans is that they know how these things work, and everyone should listen to them. I now also know you are a proud member of that tribe.

Olaf Petersen on :

AVI, I was one of those supporting OIF 2002/2003 because Saddam was a threat to international security (and because Saddam deserved it). Even in these times I knew OIF was against the UN-Charta and international law - the only nation to declare the end of cease-fire with Iraq, according to all relevant resolutions including 1441, was Kuwait itself. But that never happened, Kuwait remained silent. And please note, unlike in centuries past, a cease-fire in today's diplomacy means the restauration of the state of peace. Before this background it might be nessessary to remember that military operations in Iraq startet long before OIF officially began, the first commando operations against the airport of Bamerni in the north and the H2/H3 bases in the west started august 2002. The US Army took several large airfields on Iraqi territory and destroyed Iraq's air defense capabilities before 'war broke out'. Nonetheless I've supported OIF because I don't like to see international law abused by dictators, I strongly reject the idea of 'personalized' sovereignty for statesmen in international diplomacy that protects both the good and the bad. And I possibly would support action against political gangsters like Saddam again, but rather despite of OIF than because of. "Obviously" --- just a word. "As seen on CNN" if you like. I won't repeat the litany of thousand of mistakes in Iraq here. You know it's a desaster, everyone knows it's a desaster and it is even getting worse and worse every day. Obviously. That's what your tribe =D should focus on, it's your time that's ticking away, not our time. Bush has ruined the whole thing, not only a lame duck but also a sitting duck.

Olaf Petersen on :

But I say: What is falling we should still push. (Nietzsche) =D

Anonymous on :

I'm an American, and I'm with Olaf. And I agree that Germans would be crazy to commit troops and money to the mess in Iraq. Germans learned the lessons of WW II and should not forget them. The U.S. has not won a war since the end of WW II. (I don't count turkey shoots like Panama and Grenada, of course.) But we're a bit slower on average than Germans, I guess. Even on the details we're really bad. As in the opium growing situation in Afghanistan, a huge problem that gets virtually no mention in the U.S. press. And the Democrats are not in the disarray that conservatives would like to imagine them to be, either. Most obviously, the Dems swept the Repubs out of power in Congress, even with the gerrymandered districts and the unsecured voting machines and the dirty campaigns. There is going to be some housecleaning in the next two years. We'll get the Iraq situation straightened away, no thanks to the Republicans who created this stupid mess for us to clean up. Just you watch.

joe on :

I guess you have to define winning. If you mean their is a lack of political will, then you might be right but I think you might be hard pressed on the first Gulf War as defeat. If you are talking about military victory, then I suggest you take off your liberial blinders and read some history.

Hattie on :

This is in response to "Joe." I posted anonymously by accident. Don't patronize me. I have a long memory. If Gulf One was a victory, I'm a twelve-toed goony bird. The Bushes have done their damage to my country, and I have had it. Now you conservatives stop trying to keep us from cleaning up the mess you boys have made. Make yourselves useful for a change.

joe on :

Hettie, And just which mess might you be referring and what is going to be your starting point? Do you want to start with the UN in Korea? Want to go back a bit or do you want to leap forward. As to your comment about being useful, just what useful things have you contributed?

Hattie on :

As to your comment about being useful, just what useful things have you contributed? Don't assume things about me. You don't know me at all. Let us now move on.

joe on :

Hattie, I assume nothing about you. Since you were the one who brought up the topic of making a contribution, it would seem to be a fair question to ask what your contributions have been. As you also talked about your memory being long, it should be reasonable to ask just at what point that memory begins. If you feel those are unfair questions, then don’t answer them.

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