PRESIDENT'S TALK TOO TOUGH WITH GERMANY
The last thing the United States needs right now is a spat with a major European ally.
THE RECENTLY concluded German elections kept Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats in power, albeit with a slimmer majority. Schroeder's campaign included opposition to a United States attack on Iraq, and while that helped boost his standing with German voters, it angered the Bush Administration and led to what was termed a "poisoning" of relations between the two countries.
That German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin compared Bush to Hitler certainly didn't help the situation.
SCHROEDER HAS said he will not commit German troops to an attack on Iraq, even if the United Nations approves action. Bush has said, "Either you're with us or you're with the enemy."
Such talk is dangerous, and both sides need to recognize the greater issue here. Removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and destroying Iraq's ability to create and use weapons of mass destruction are paramount to the U.S. mission. To gain worldwide support, the Bush Administration must court the United Nations and is doing so.
YET IT IS unreasonable to expect Germany to play along, especially when the Iraqi endeavor may seem to veer from the American mission of defeating terrorism in a post-9/11 world. The president's tough talk, putting the Iraq matter in black-and-white, for-us-or-against-us rhetoric, risks alienating countries on the fence regarding Iraq, and threatens legitimate endeavors to eliminate terrorism in the Middle East and southeast Asia.
Germany, Hamburg specifically, was also where the 9/11 terrorists plotted their deeds. Weak German-American relations could jeopardize efforts to investigate the events leading up to the attacks and prevent further atrocities.
The Germans may not want to go to war, at least not at this time, and President Bush should not make them feel guilty or alienated for democratically making their decision. Besides, behind the might of the U.S. military, their help is scarcely needed.
SHARE YOUR VIEWS
Should Germany and other European community members be solidly behind a U.S.-led war effort in Iraq before any attack occurs? To what extent does the United States need international support before proceeding?
SHARE YOUR thoughts in a letter to the editor. A debate is occurring on how to bring Saddam Hussein to his knees. And a newspaper's opinion page is a good place for the discussion to occur.