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"I'm completely fed up with Germany"

Part of a comment from our reader Jean:
At this point, I'm completely fed up w/ Germany - had to sit at a dinner where German generals declared the Iraq War lost, and then smirked about it.  This from a country that pays $5 million per German hostage, money which is then used to buy weaponry to kill US soldiers and Iraqis!
Indeed. That's bad! And it is not an excuse either that -- according to the US Government Accountability Office -- the Pentagon has lost track of about 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. And as of January 2005 nearly $9 billion of money spent on Iraqi reconstruction is unaccounted for and might have ended up in the hands of evil-doers. The difference of course is that -- according to unconfirmed media reports -- the German government deliberately gave money to kidnappers or to groups who bought the hostages from the kidnappers, while the US unintentionally lost money and arms. One is deliberate (and evil?) carelessness, the other unintentional (incompetent?) carelessness.

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Fuchur on :

I wonder how Jean thinks Jill Carroll got free... I guess her kidnappers simply had a sudden change of heart and let her go, eh?

Kevin Sampson on :

Carroll was released because she was A) a member of the media, B) not Jewish, and C) female. Even Zarqawi was not crazy enough, or stupid enough, to start off-ing Gentile Western female reporters.

Fuchur on :

Margaret Hassan was a popular CARE worker, and even married to a Muslim. But that didn't save her. Besides, Micah Garen and Paul Taggart are two other American hostages that were released.

Kevin Sampson on :

Garen and Taggart were both media. The Western media does not respond well to having it's own targeted, and this is all about the media.

Fuchur on :

Hostages have been killed although they were journalists (Enzo Baldoni and Salvatore Santoro according to Wikipedia). Besides: The Western media does not react well to kidnappings and beheadings, to suicide attacks, and to killing women and children. So, according to your logic, we shouldn't see any of that in Iraq... We're talking about guys who bait children with candy and then blow themselves up. And you want to tell me that these people didn't kill Jill Carroll because they were afraid that it would be bad publicity??

hans_harz on :

@ Jean. where took this dinner with german "generals" place? do you belive that there might be also people in the US considering the war lost? do you have any theory, why the are almost no kidnapings among US civilians in Iraq?

Anonymous on :

Ransom paid for some of these US hostages? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_hostages_in_Iraq#United_States

Sue on :

Yes, obviously the journalists' employers paid their ransom, whereas the contractors were killed because their employers will not pay. However, in the long run, not paying discourages kidnappers from grabbing contractors, because there is no economic point and no propaganda payoff.

Badboy Recovered on :

Yes Yes Yes, We can forget about Germans HELPING the enemy by pointing out an American screw up. The good ol liberal bait and switch. I know I know, the Germans killed 6 million jews in WWII, BUT none of that would have happened if the Americans didnt wait years to get involved. So obvously we are to blame as well. F*** you!

Anonymous on :

Yeah, losing some billions is just a "screw up." America has good intentions. That is all what counts. Because America has done everything with in Iraq with good intentions (democracy, freedom), it cannot be blamed for any sufferings. It is the Iraqis fault that they cannot cope with freedom. If US soldiers kill thousands of civilians, it has to be excused as a screw up, because the US has good intentions, but sometimes stuff goes wrong and a stupid civilian is standing at the wrong place. When two German female hostages (one an aid worker, the other the wife and mother of an Iraqi) get released after months of captivity, then there must have been a $5 ransom, but if some US media reporters get released, it must have been because the media is evil Anti-Bush and therefore the kidnapping was just a misunderstanding and not done to get any political and financial benefits. Just a screw up. Never mind that they work for press outlets that enabled the Iraq war because of their patriotism gone stupid after 9/11, which led to uncritical coverage of all the WMD fear mongering. One day, Americans will hopefully learn to stop blaming their international problems on Europe.

Sue on :

Americans do not blame their "international problems" on Europe, which in any case can't be expected to contribute much to their solution. However, it's easy for Americans to get annoyed at European bile and hypocrisy.

Zyme on :

My goodness, why do americans have to take things so personally. Those generals probably simply made fun of the "mighty" americans losing control so quickly. The russians are having a hard time getting some satellite regions under control as well, but they never boast about "mission accomplished!"

Don S on :

Possibly because the Bundeswehr didn't show up, Zyme? Obviously not in Iraq, but almost as obviously not in Afghanistan. The Canadian army (with 2500 deployed) has taken about 300% of the deaths that the Germans have in Afgghanistan . I find it extremely telling that a nation of 20 million who has been a net contributor to NATO throughout it's history takes 3X the losses of a nation of 65 million who has been NATO's biggest net beneficiary thoughout. Because Germany has decided not to fight. Geermans now need to answer the question of why their allies should fight for them should it become necessary - and you have an extremely weak case.....

Fuchur on :

We've been an ally to the US for over half a century, and Don still thinks that this accounts for "an extremely weak case". Frankly, if half a century won't get you any acclaim, then nothing will. We shouldn't fool ourselves: It wouldn't change anything if we sent more of our soldiers into harms way. And if we sent 10,000 troops and had 100 casualties - some people would still just shrug it off. I myself think that Germany should send more troops to Afghanistan, and also send them into the South - but not in order to please the Canadians or the Americans or whomever, but because I think it's an important mission. Btw, how do you make out who's a "net contributor" and a "net beneficiary" of NATO? Of course, one of the great benefits that Germany got out of NATO was the fun prospect to become a playground for tanks in case of a Soviet attack...

Don S on :

Well Fuchur. The US has been an ally of Germany for as long as Germany has been an ally of the US - and Germans cound that a 'weak case' in 2003, did you not?

Anonymous on :

Canada volunteered to go into the South! Canada wanted the tough spot to make up for not going into Iraq. Now Canada realizes that it took its mouth to full.

Jean on :

Sorry it's taken so long to get back to everybody - it's been a busy day. First, for Joerg - in debating circles, what you're doing is called 'moving the goalposts'. It's neither valid nor does it mean you've won any debate. As for missing weapons, wait until the investigations are complete, please. The bureacracy in the Pentagon is huge and complex - it could be a simple administrative error, it could be Bloch, or it could be a case of human error. When my husband deployed for the war, he worked 15 hour days, seven days a week. When people are that tired, mistakes get made, easily. It's not a sign of incompetence, despite Germans wanting it to be so. Do you ever wonder why the US is so successful, if it were filled with idiots the way the German press reports it? Um, Zyme, in my husband's next job, he'll be travelling to both the 'Stan and the sandbox - I would take being made a widow a tad bit personally. Anonymous #5 - the US and the coalition aren't killing thousands; that would be the Iraqis themselves, and AQM. Hans - Blackwater. @ all Germans who care about German foreign policy. You seem to think you have a choice between a trans-Atlantic policy or a European one. What if the other nations in Europe are as mad at you as some Americans are? If you don't want to be a part (functioning) of NATO, fine. But you had better make sure that the rest of Europe will join you in a military coalition first - or your only option may be Germany, alone. Maybe Belgium?

David on :

It is quite clear that there has been massive corruption and incompetence in how the US has administered funds earmarked for reconstruction in Iraq. Just last week, the chief procurement officer for the US Air Force - Charles D. Riechers - committed suicide as the result of the investigation into Iraq contracts. The US cannot account for [url=http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/01/30/iraq.audit/]$9 billion[/url] that vanished during Paul Bremer's disasterous reign as US viceroy in Baghdad. For this, President Bush awarded him the Medal of Honor. When will the US taxpayers wake up to the fact that the entire Iraq debacle has been paid for by credit so that wealthy Americans could get their tax cut? Our great-grandchilden will be paying for this terrible mistake long after those responsible are gone for good.

Pat Patterson on :

If the deficit has been dropping since 2003, since going into Iraq, just where is this new debt being hidden? Or possbily it's the same debt created by both Democratic and Republican administrations? The debt to GDP ratio is less now (64.7%) then it was during the Clinton administration (65.8%). Plus one could also ask where exactly did almost $1 billion dollars in nonexistent armament expenses go during World War II? Our great grand children will be paying on the national debt regardless of whether the 1st Air Cavalry is still in Baghdad or not.

Joerg on :

Three questions. Those are fact questions that I am interested in. I am not asking to keep you busy. 1.) Which year of the Clinton admin are you referring to? I'd assume that the percentage number was much smaller in 2000 than in 1993. 2.) For the assessment of economic health: Is the debt to GDP ratio *much* more important than the total value of debt? Isn't the total value of public debt also important? Especially in conjunction with private debt and when considering, that foreign powers own many of the government bonds? I forgot the third question, but I found this graph about the change of debt as a % of GDP for Democratic and Republican admins. The Democrats look better. Carter and Clinton reduced the ratio, while Reagan and Bush increased it: [url]http://www.intelligentguess.com/blog/2007/04/09/usa-relationship-between-total-debt-data-from-1929-and-external-debt-as-a-of-the-gdp-data-from-1995/[/url]

Don S on :

"For the assessment of economic health: Is the debt to GDP ratio *much* more important than the total value of debt?" It's important, because the ratio provides some measurement of the ability to carry debt at whatever level. It's a flawed measure in that it does not take interest rates into account - any given level of debt will be much more destructive to carry at 20% interest than at 5%, obviously. The rate of economic growth also factors into the equation. Nations running a rate of growth of 6% may handle even very high levels of debt much more easily than nations growing at 1%. This because the national income is growing much faster means that the ability to support the debt will measurably improve. Debt incurred on effective infrastructure projects may serve to increase the rate of economic growth while debt incurred to buy political peace by stuffing the mouths of the complainign segments of society may only make things worse. Not all social spending fit's that category; some education and public health spending probably qualify as infrastructure as well as social welfare. Some but not all. Nations such as Belgium, Italy, and Japan currently carry much higher levels of debt than do most OECD countries, but what concern me is high debt coupled with low economic growth in these places. Italy may be the next 'advanced' country headed for an IMF reform package at some point....

Pat Patterson on :

And a close look at the graph indicates that the lowest level of public debt was during the Nixon/Ford Administrations. At which point under both Democrats and Republican presidents and Congresses the debt rose except as a percentage of GDP. It's better to owe $20,000 on a salary of $40,000 then $15,000 on a salary of $30,000. Yet the percentage is exactly the same.

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