After weeks - make that: years - of relentless Bush-bashing the left wing German weekly SPIEGEL suddenly changes course. Ahead of Chancellor Schroeder's meeting with US President Bush this Wednesday the SPIEGEL is almost thankful: "Bush forgives the Chancellor".
Here is what Bush actually said in the Fox News interview:
HUME: And France seems perhaps amenable. What has happened with the Germans? Have you been in touch with Schroeder? What's going on there?
BUSH: I haven't had a chance to visit with him yet. I will. And I think it's Wednesday -- either Tuesday or Wednesday of this next week.
I just look forward to talking to him. I think that the idea of -- he needs to answer this question better than me, but I think he got into an election and the German people are essentially pacifists because of their -- many still remember the experience of World War II. And they may not have seen Saddam Hussein as evil a person as a lot of other people have.
But having said that -- and he made the choice not to commit troops -- they are willing to help train police in Iraq, for example. They are taking an active role in Afghanistan. And I appreciate that support.
Doesn't really sound like "forgiving"... You just wonder about the SPIEGEL's new, modest reporting style.
And the daily newspaper "Sueddeutsche Zeitung", also no stranger to Bush-bashing, strikes a reconciliatory tone. Of course, the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" has still some poison left ... but it's no comparison to the usual "Idiot Bush doesn't get it"-litany.
What's the reason for the "fence mending"? Well, the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" gives it away: Germany wants to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. "Hey Bush buddy, we sure could use some help..." (Translation by Ray D.)
Commentary from Ray D.:
Did Bush Really Forgive Schroeder?
Following the Bush interview with Brit Hume of Fox News, the big headline in Germany is "Bush forgives Schroeder." In fact, Bush made absolutely no mention of "forgiving" Schroeder for his opposition to the Iraq War anywhere in the entire interview. His exact words were:
"He (Schroeder) needs to answer this question (as to why he opposed the Iraq War) better than me, but I think he got into an election and the German people are essentially pacifists because of their -- many still remember the experience of World War II. And they may not have seen Saddam Hussein as evil a person as a lot of other people have.
But having said that -- and he made the choice not to commit troops -- they are willing to help train police in Iraq, for example. They are taking an active role in Afghanistan. And I appreciate that support."
At best, Bush expressed his appreciation for Germany's support and offers of
support, but again, the word "forgive" is nowhere to be found.
You may be thinking, ok, what's the big deal, maybe the German media's translator had a few too many beers at the Oktoberfest and the whole thing is just a big misunderstanding. I wish it was that simple, but I see this bogus interpretation of Bush's comments in the German headlines as a further cynical attempt to stoke anti-Bush sentiment in Germany. Here's why:
It is critically important to remember that the majority of the German people are still firmly convinced that they were right to oppose what they still see as an unjustified, illegal war of aggression against Iraq. Many Germans also despise President Bush with a passion, especially because the US President has been systematically and unrelentingly demonized and attacked by Germany's left-wing media for years on end. So when your average German reads the headline "Bush forgives Schroeder" he or she is probably thinking, "How dare Bush forgive Schroeder when he is the one who should be down on his knees apologizing for his illegal adventure in Iraq and begging us for forgiveness? Our Chancellor (incompetent though he may be domestically) has nothing to apologize for with regard to Iraq! After all we were right to oppose the war all along!"
In fact, the erroneous use of the headline "Bush forgives Schroeder" turns what was, in fact, a very diplomatic statement by Bush into a humiliating attack on the dignity of Schroeder and the majority of the German people. Remember, in the German culture authority and being right are very important, so the idea of someone condescendingly "forgiving" Germany's leader must be incredibly insulting.
I am sure that this "mistake" on the part of the media was not unintentional or the result of the translator having spent too much time at the Oktoberfest. Indeed, it was a very skillful and deceptive means of further increasing German anger and dissatisfaction with President Bush and the United States.