Now for something new: the first non-David posting! Ray wrote this excellent piece on the German government's anti-Iraq position at the Madrid Donor Conference.
German Development Minister Heidi Wieczorek-Zeul (SPD) worried ceaselessly before the Iraq war about what she predicted would be "hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children" war victims and as many as "two to three million refugees." This same Heide Wieczorek-Zeul has now taken the position that it would be wrong for Germany to forgive Iraq its $4.6 billion debt. The same debt in question was actually run-up by Saddam Hussein's regime in his extensive dealings with the German government, some of which, we all know, were rather shady.
Wieczorek-Zeul, whose socially-concerned constituents were out in the streets screaming "no blood for oil" before the war, justified her decision not to forgive Iraq's debt (despite the country's grave financial situation after decades of rule by Saddam) by pointing out that "such an oil-rich country ought to have no trouble paying" what it owes. I guess she is forgetting that Iraq owes other countries an estimated combined total of $120 to $160 billion dollars in debt. Apparently the stifling effects that this debt will have on Iraq's women and children is of no great concern to Ms. Wieczorek-Zeul or her colleagues in the German government.
To underline her continuing disapproval of the war in Iraq, Wieczorek-Zeul is avoiding the Madrid donor conference and is instead sending a lower-ranking official in her place. Germany has decided that the whopping Euro 193 million already committed by the EU (Japan is committing $1.5 billion, well over six times as much) is all that can be afforded to offer Iraq at the moment and cited its own economic woes.
But don't be fooled, this is not just a symptom of the dramatic economic failure of Germany's SPD-Green government. It is also a clear sign of their continued pursuit of a cynical policy of opposing the United States to score political points at home with voters whose aversion towards America has been strongly reinforced by the relentless America-bashing in the German media over the past year. In fact, anti-Americanism is about the only thing Ms. Wieczorek-Zeul's government has going for it politically and it doesn't want to see this issue die lest her party's already weak grip on political power die along with it.
The irony of it all is that Germany is the very country whose economic recovery after WWII owed much to the generosity of donor countries, (remember the Marshall plan Ms. Wieczorek-Zeul?) Germany has attained its current position and prosperity in the world (which the current SPD-Green government is squandering mightily) because foreign countries were willing to put aside past enmities and extend a helping hand financially, militarily and politically to get the country back on its feet and to eventually bring about its reunification. And now this same Germany is too petty, heartless and short-sighted to help the Iraqi people in their hour of greatest need?
Shame on Germany and shame on Ms. Wieczorek-Zeul!