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Rep Lantos Calls Ex-Chancellor Schroeder a Political Prostitute

German Press Agency (HT: Don):
Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's close business ties to Russia amount to 'political prostitution' that would even offend people who sell their bodies for money, a top US congressman said on Tuesday. Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who chairs the House of Representatives committee on foreign affairs, attacked both Schroeder and former French president Jacques Chirac for failing to support the United States in its 2003 invasion of Iraq.
It seems that every time Rep. Lantos says something about Germany, the media points out that he is a Holocaust survivor, as if this fact would be very relevant to his analysis of Germany.

I think most of those Germans, who care about politics, agree with Lantos's assessment of Schroeder's job for Putin.
Video of Lantos' speech at Youtube.

Related post in the Atlantic Review about Tom Lantos: Europeans have "lost their moral compass" on China.

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Zyme on :

"I think most of those Germans, who care about politics, agree with Lantos's assessment of Schroeder's job for Putin." To put this into perspective, you would have to add that most of those Germans, who care about politics, would agree to this assessment with regard to all of our established politicians. And that´s the reason why this causes a far bigger outrage abroad than it did in Germany itself: Nobody expects anything different from any politician here. Such a behaviour is suited to make the people envious than to outrage them.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Well, yes, sort of. But I am sure you agree that many Germans are outraged by what Schroeder is doing. This outrage is bigger than the general complaints about the political class. No chancellor or minister has ever done something like Schroeder, right?

Zyme on :

"No chancellor or minister has ever done something like Schroeder, right?" I guess that´s what they call the progress of a system, right? :)

Axel on :

"No chancellor or minister has ever done something like Schroeder, right?" What do you exactly mean by that? Some people were outraged because Schröder accepted a post as the head of the shareholders' committee in Gazprom, not because of the agreement with Russia to build the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea to supply Russian gas directly to Germany. I can't remember a similar US complaint about Franz Josef Strauß who was primarily responsible for a loan of 3 billion Deutschmarks ("Milliardenkredit") given to East Germany which definitely prolonged the life of the then-bankrupt GDR.

Pat Patterson on :

As much as I might sympathize with the intent on Rep. Lantos' intemperate comment I have to disagree with him. I just don't think, except maybe in wartime for propaganda purposes, that elected officials should make ad hominem attacks against the heads of state or ex-heads of state for any country. Especially when Lantos has raised the interesting mental picture of a group of mini-skirted and fishnet stockinged constituents in his congressional office complaining because his choice of words damaged their self esteem. As to the mention of Rep. Lantos being a Holocaust survivor I think that the identifying tags are used by media to forestall criticism. I mean, who is going to criticize a survivior for inappropriate remarks against a German? Just as Sen. McCain generally gets a free ride concerning military affairs because he is usually identified as a former POW.

Don S on :

I somewhat agree with what Pat said - I don't think the headline quote was terribly helpful coming from the Chairman of the House Foreign relations committee. Lantos is But..... I though some of Lantos OTHER comments were most interesting: " Speaking at the dedication ceremony for a victims of communism memorial in Washington, Lantos said their departure from the European scene heralded a closer relationship in the Atlantic alliance, which was badly splintered over Washington's decision to launch the invasion of Iraq without strong European support. Lantos' remarks reflected the lingering bitterness over French and German opposition to the war, as he recalled how the US saved Europe from fascism and protected it from communism for generations. He said the two leaders had turned their backs to the US and its fight against the next wave of tyranny, Islamic fascism. " A lot of europeans like Joerg seem to believe that US outrage is confined to right-wing 'wingnuts' like myself and that the US Left is profoundly wise and very Mitteleuropean in their view (but I repeat myself)! There certainly is a very loud segment of the US Left which ascribes to the view that Bush is the sole problem and everything will return to normal when (and if) a Democrat is elected President. Lantos remarks show that that view is much less than universal, that there are prominent Democrats (and others on the Left) who see and feel the European betrayal on Iraq/Afghanistan every bit as piercingly as any neocon does. I think there are quite a few of them - and the better informed the Democrat the more likely they are to see it this way. Lantos is quite left and very outspoken. For every Lantos there are probably any number of others who feel similarly but have kept their mouth shut. I suspect Senators Joseph Biden and Hilary Clinton are others. Not all democrats are as clueless as you seem to believe, folks....

Zyme on :

"Lantos remarks show that that view is much less than universal, that there are prominent Democrats (and others on the Left) who see and feel the European betrayal on Iraq/Afghanistan every bit as piercingly as any neocon does." How dare you call this a betrayal? We had good relations to Iraq, so the leadership of the US couldn´t expect France and Germany to take part in a war against Iraq - in case it bothered to get at least some information on the respective relationships. Especially Germany always had good relations to the arabian world. Taking part in such a war would have brought this fundament of influence in the region to the brink of destruction.

Don S on :

I dare, Zyme, because it was and is a betrayal. It remains a betrayal which has calcified into permanent national policy for Germany, France, Spain, etc. You chose your Arab 'allies' over your NATO allies. Very well, so be it. Tom Lantos comments were rather more positive than my analysis of the situation. Lantos comments that relations are improved because Schroeder and Chirac have left the scene, which is true. But my feeling (and I suspect his feeling) is that if Chirac/Schroeder lost 100 'points' on the relationship, Merkel and Sarko have clawed back no more than 10 or 20 'points' of the 100 that were pissed away by their predecessors. There is a long way to go on this and few Europeans seem to be taking it seriously. Or even seeing it at all. Very well, the US can play the betrayal game also. Or if we can't stomache betrayal the way you sophisticated Europeans do so well - we can play the more honest distance game. Next time there is a problem in the Balkans (or anywhere) - good luck! The Yank's ain't coming!

Zyme on :

"You chose your Arab 'allies' over your NATO allies. Very well, so be it." Hearing statements like this one, I am always tempted to agree when people say americans are not receptive for the nuances of diplomacy. First of all don´t you agree that there is something in between "with us or against us"? Benevolent neutrality to both sides for example. Or a critical position of one side hurting our strategic interests, which would be more appropriate in this case. Even more importantly: Don´t you agree that an alliance as the NATO is for defense purposes only? If you chose to invade other countries, that is your choice. If you can persuade others to follow your lead, well then good luck. And if some won´t follow your lead anymore, then I would call it tough luck or bad persuasive skills on your side and not betrayal of our side. "Next time there is a problem in the Balkans (or anywhere) - good luck! The Yank's ain't coming!" So? It´s a rough region with little strategic value. Who cares if they solve their problems the hard way. There is absolutely no need for an american intervention. Don´t you think the european powers will be able to interfere in case they consider it opportune?

Don S on :

"I am always tempted to agree when people say americans are not receptive for the nuances of diplomacy." That old saw. When there is a falling-out it's not because there are genuine issues - it's invariably because Americans don't understand the 'nuances of diplomacy'. The chief of these nuances seems to be that Europeans are always correct and the US always wrong except when it agrees with whatever set of Europeans one belongs to of course. A second chief nuance is that diplomacy is only successful if it serves European interests. Whether it serves US interests is of no importance whatever. Whomever asserts otherwise is merely showing no grasp of the nuances. Feh.

Flocon on :

Don: "The US can play the betrayal game also." Like it never did... Ever heard of Suez 1956? Didn't Eisenhower choose "your Arab 'allies' over your NATO allies?" (your words)

Don S on :

Yes. Of course there are many more examples on the Euro side - but bring up this one, will you. I'm shocked you don't bring up the other supposed US betrayals, the failure to enter WWII in 1939 or WWI in 1914 in support of their British and French allies!

Zyme on :

Don face it - diplomacy and international relations don´t have anything to do with charity. Nations act according to their own interests. That is their purpose and their roadmap. There is no need for bitterness on your side. You only have to let go of the staunch idealism and breath some more realism.

Don S on :

Face it, Zyme - diplomacy is about self-interest - and Schroeder's Germany chose to pursue the passions of the crowd and fleeting political advantage. He threw the long-term out completely. Merkel is trying to repair the damage but won't be able to. Chancellors many years from now will curse Gerhard Schroeder's name.....

Zyme on :

"Chancellors many years from now will curse Gerhard Schroeder's name" Far from it they will be glad about the amount of influence in Europe acquired, the german diplomatic and military sovereignty regained and the options in foreign policy increased under his government.

Kevin Sampson on :

'You only have to let go of the staunch idealism and breath some more realism.' Sound advice. Of course, if we had taken it to heart in the past we would not have entered World War I at all. Nor would we have intervened in Yugoslavia. Be careful what you wish for.

Flocon on :

DOn, your refer. to " prominent Democrats (and others on the Left) who see and feel the European betrayal on Iraq/Afghanistan" has me puzzled. What has Afghanistan to do with "betrayal"? There are French and German soldiers in Afghanistan alongside Americans. Betrayal???

Jon on :

French and German soldiers do NOT fight "alongside Americans" in Afghanistan. The French and Germans stay in the rather quiet regions.

Flocon on :

So, does the location of French and German soldiers qualify for "betrayal" on Afghanistan?

Kevin Sampson on :

No, but their near total refusal to participate in combat operations in the restive south does.

Zyme on :

While off-topic this should be interesting for international relations: http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/0,1518,488713,00.html Key Message: German exports into the US and Japan have decreased from the first quarter in 2006 to the first quarter in 2007 for 4,9 and 6,7%. Exports into Russia on the other hand have increased in the meantime for more than one third - in one year.

David on :

The question Don needs to ask himself is this: is it better to be Putin's whore or Bush's poodle? My sense is that Blair is a far more unpopular politician than Schroeder.

Jon on :

Blair might be stupid, but he is not bribed.

Zyme on :

"My sense is that Blair is a far more unpopular politician than Schroeder." And this is easy to explain: Blair´s way has caused a huge amount of proplems for the UK. Schröder`s way has served his and the interests of the country - so there is effectively little reason to dislike him for his move.

Don S on :

Blair chose to shore up the long-term relationship with the US at the cost of shorter-term problems domestically, politically, and commercially. Schroeder chose to drastically weaken Germany's long-term relationship with the US (and other NATO allies) to strengthen commerical ties in the Middle East and gain a fleeting political advantage. They both succeeded. Blair's 'blowback' came immediately. Germany is only beginning to see the long-term 'blowback' of Schroeder's decision - and is in almost complete denial of the damage Schroeder's decision caused. I wonder what the historical versict will be on the two men in a decade's time. Schoeder may well be considered Germany's worst post-war leader (he's already well on his way there). Blair will come out rather better - the foremost statesman of his era.

Don S on :

The answer is neither, David. Blair never was Bush's 'poodle' any more than Chretien, Martin, or Harper of Canada were his 'poodle'. Canada and the UK merely are countries which take their alliance obligations seriously. France and Germany used their copies of the NATO alliance for toilet paper. So be it. They will learn the true meaning of 'reciprocity', in the fullness of time.....

Zyme on :

"Canada and the UK merely are countries which take their alliance obligations seriously." Don, again - isn´t NATO a defense alliance?

Don S on :

I'd say that NATO is no alliance at all, right now. Apparently it was never more than a one-way alliance even in it's heyday. The US defends Europe - Europe refuses to defend the US.

Zyme on :

You will have to face the fact that it is a defense alliance. When the US are the aggressor, under no circumstances can you qualify those states as traitors who consider the aggression as not opportune.

Don S on :

Zyme, you and your fellow Germans will have to face the fact that NATO is no alliance at all - and Schroeder killed it stone cold.

Zyme on :

And you and your fellow americans will have to acknowledge that even if Nato was a real alliance, due to its defensive nature you as the aggressor would still have no right at all to call us traitors.

Don S on :

I don't recall calling anyone a traitor, Zyme. Treason in international affairs makes no sense at all. Betrayal, yes, treason no.

Zyme on :

Oh - I guess I mixed betrayal and treason up. It´s the same word in german.

Don S on :

Funny pparadox here. Unsophisticated Americans with no sense of nuance nonetheless speak a language with considerably more muance than German has - at least in this case. Must be the British influence and never mind that Britain has not produced a truly great writer since Charles Dickens. Ireland has, other English-speaking places have, and the un-nuanced US has produced several. Nonetheless we remain inferior. Anothe paradox.

Zyme on :

Not so quick with your assumtions. The german word "Verrat" applies to both betrayal and treason as I said. But being a precise language, you can easily use prefixes to "Verrat" to make it clear that you are not talking about betrayal and even further about which kind of treason you are talking: "Hochverrat" (the same as "high treason") or "Landesverrat" (there is no english equivalent, it means "treason to the country") would be such combinations.

Don S on :

"Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth." "I can understand German as well as the maniac that invented it, but I talk it best through an interpreter." "The Germans have an inhuman way of cutting up their verbs. Now a verb has a hard time enough of it in this world when it's all together. It's downright inhuman to split it up. But that's just what those Germans do. They take part of a verb and put it down here, like a stake, and they take the other part of it and put it away over yonder like another stake, and between these two limits they just shovel in German. " - Mark Twain, American writer and journalist

jolly rogers on :

Don S: Who was killing NATO "stone cold"? I guess it was rather the Bush-Administration by leading a war based on lies and a mislead public opinion than Germany! When 9/11 occurred Schröder was the one who backed the American people the strongest: German soldiers were sent to Afghanistan almost immediately.

David on :

There is a fundamental contradiction in the view that Americans are supposedly bitter at Germany's "betrayal" in not joining Bush's Iraq invasion when the overwhelming majority of Americans view the invasion as the greatest strategic blunder in US history. 5 more American troops killed in Iraq today. US military deaths "surge" to 3,519.

Don S on :

Not neccesarily, David. A: it's not the greatest strategic blunder in US history. Only a historical ignoramus would seriously assert this. There are several serious candidates for greatest strategic blunder in US: - The Long Island campaign during the American Revolution - Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Fredricksburg, Chickamauga, Hood's Atlanta campaign, or Lee's Pennsylvania campaign during the Civil War. Lot's of faffing up during that war! - Pearl Harbor, Monte Cassino, Anzio, New Guinea, Arnhem in WWII. Also in WWII. - Little Big Horn. A perfect little example of a *complete* disaster. - Vietnam B. Insofar as Iraq *is* a strategic blunder from some POV's (but not necessarily from other POV's) - part of the reason for that was the betrayal by a large part of NATO. Thus one may very easily believe that Iraq/Afghanistan is BOTH a strategic blunder AND a betrayal. I suspect that's Tom Lantos' view and that of Joe Biden as well as the view of any number of 'dissident' generals.

David on :

Living in the UK you have little sense for the growing anger in the US about the war, and how it is destroying families across the country. The effects will be felt for decades, and the cost ($500 billion+) will be borne by our grandchildren. BTW, it was the "ignoramous" General William Odon who described the Iraq war as the the "greatest strategic mistake in US history".

Pat Patterson on :

I can't find any comment from Gen. Odom that calls Iraq the "greatest strategic blunder in US history" but would be willing to read this assessment if a link provided. Odom called the invasion a mistake and a blunder from the beginning however he also predicted that the elections would subsequently put into power a Shiite theocracy headed by Ayatollah Sistani. Who has consistently and repeatedly called for a secular republic while ignoring the entreaties of other imams to call for an Islamic republic. He also called for a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq but held out the idea that somehow the Europeans and the UN would be more than happy to grab barehanded that hot potato. So I would admit an educated contrary view but neither Delphian nor representative of the majority of the US officer corps. Considering the worse that can happen is an actual civil war in Iraq which would only mean the possible withdrawal of US forces to Northern Iraq and Kuwait, how then has the strategic picture changed for the worse? Even after the debacle of Vietnam the US had successfully reformed and modernized the military, began the deployment of cruise missiles in Europe, promised to roll back the "Brezhnev Doctrine", began armed anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan and Nicaragua. While at the same time bolstered the democratic movements of Eastern Europe and Central America. Oddly enough, year later, Gen. Douglas MacArthur admitted that the greatest strategic blunder the US made, prior to WWII, was his and others insistence that the Phillipines remain part of the US posture in the Pacific. Stretching and breaking the ability of the US to defend Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands and the Panama Canal. The Filipinos lost some 157,000 soldiers and civilians in combat operations and prison. While the US lost some 11,000 men, over 56 B-17s(in fact the bulk of the newly deployed bomber were lost) and most importantly the reputation of being better fighters than the Japanese. That is a strategic disaster not the difference of opinion concerning a war that can hardly be called settled.

Nidal on :

How many Holocaust survivors are there?

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