This is a recording I conducted with Mr. Ruediger Lentz - the Director of Deutsche Welle North and South America - earlier this year. We spoke about German media coverage of the United States and the problems of bias, sensationalism and anti-Americanism. We discuss the motivations of German journalists and the connection between governments and media coverage - a fascinating conversation that also includes a discussion of Iraq and American media - and we don't always agree. To listen - CLICK HERE.
Majorities in USA and Europe Favor Saddam Execution
The recent results of a poll conducted by Novatris/Harris for the French daily Le Monde on the death penalty shocked the editors and writers at Germany's left-leaning SPIEGEL ONLINE. When asked whether they favored the death penalty for Saddam Hussein, a majority of respondents in Germany, France and Spain responded in the affirmative. Here the results by country:
Percentage of respondents in favor of executing Saddam Hussein:
Clearly, there is a gap between the United States and the European nations polled. On the other hand, the western Europeans polled demonstrated that there is majority support for the death penalty in particular cases. In other words, the gap that exists across the Atlantic is not at all the clear-cut, "black-white" divide that some in mediamake it out to be.
Die Zeit: "The Europeans condemn the use of the death penalty" / Do they? The poll numbers above contradict that assumption.
Frankfurter Allgemeine: "President Bush praised the execution, from Europe came sharp criticism." / A tempting -and in the media oft used- opportunity to again pit "Europe" against Bush. A more intellectually honest headline would have pointed out that the majority of the criticism coming from "Europe" has emanated from a tiny media-political elite. The rest of society is evenly divided.
ZDF Heute Online: "Bush Welcomes Saddam's Execution - Criticism from Europe: Divided Reactions to Death Penalty: US President George W. Bush greeted the execution of Saddam Hussein as a milestone on the way to a democratic Iraq. In contrast, criticism came from European countries and human rights organizations - they reject the death penalty as a matter of principle." / ZDF is clearly attempting to create an "us versus them" - "Europe versus Bush and America" wedge issue out of the death penalty. This piece also totally ignores the opinions of the average German.
Deutsche Welle: "Europe condemns death penalty" / But what about the more than half the population in Germany and other European nations that does not condemn it in Saddam's case? Do they simply not matter? Do they somehow not exist for certain media-political elites? Why are their views systematically ignored?
Sueddeutsche published a piece entitled: "Worldwide Sharp Criticism of the Execution." The piece goes nation by nation and lists criticisms as if they represented the view of the entire country. It does not mention poll results that indicate majorities in many of the same countries actually favored Saddam's execution.
Other media outlets, including Financial Times Deutschland and even SPIEGEL ONLINE have actually treated the death penalty question as a debate instead of falsely claiming that an imaginary, monolithic "Europe" has "sharply criticized" Saddam's execution. Another major theme in most of the Western media is that Saddam's execution does not help Iraq - in other words, more of the usual pessimism.
Additionally, there has long been a heated debate on the death penalty in the United States. Several U.S. states do not legally permit executions or do not make (wide) use of them. From the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s, executions came to a near standstill in the United States, in part because of legal challenges which culminated in the Supreme Court's 1972 Furman vs. Georgia decision. Recently, a botched execution in Florida led Republican Governor Jeb Bush to suspend the death penalty as a federal judge in California imposed a moratorium halting executions in that state.
Put another way: There is a lively debate on the death penalty on both sides of the Atlantic, with significant numbers and powerful factions on either side. Unfortunately, many in the German media have made death penalty out to be a divisive, "good versus evil" wedge issue. This stems in part from the transatlantic legal contrast: Most European nations have banned the death penalty while it remains legal in much of the United States.
The desire in influential segments of German media and society to reduce the death penalty to the level of a transatlantic wedge issue is also deeply rooted in another key factor: Ideology. The far-left in Germany is a political force to be reckoned with. Its representatives dominate wide swaths of the media, academia and certain political parties including the SPD, Greens and the PDS. Not only do representatives of the far-left reject the death penalty in all cases (putting them at odds with many ordinary Germans), they also oppose American-style free-market capitalism, smaller, less restrictive government, and the projection of American power in the world. This movement consists largely of an assortment of 68-radicals (including ex-Maoists, Leninists, RAF sympathizers, and your run-of-the mill Socialist demonstrators); ex-eastern-bloc-Communists; young people radicalized through academia, media and far-left political parties and movements; and out-and-out America-haters. Quite honestly, these folks would have rejected the execution of Hitler and Eichmann just as they reject the execution of Saddam. Ironically, they see the issue as a "black-and-white" - "with us or against us" issue. (Sound familiar?)
Nonetheless the death penalty remains contentious. Conservatives, libertarians and European Liberale, who traditionally favor a less powerful, less intrusive government, must ask themselves if they trust the state to determine who should live and who should die. Furthermore, they must consider whether the death penalty in the United States has become so legally contentious (filled with endless appeals, challenges and expenses) that it is practically (if not also ethically) questionable?
These are the debates that citizens on both sides of the Atlantic should be having with one another and not against one another, as many on the far-left would have it. The real "wedge", in this and many other cases, is not a transatlantic one. The real "wedge" is and has long been firmly lodged between the Angry left and the rest of society.
As the poll numbers above demonstrate, the peoples of the United States and Europe are not nearly as far apart on the death penalty as some would have us believe. Sadly, in a media culture that thrives on creating new controversies and divisions and exacerbating old ones (whether real or imagined) you might never know it.
UPDATE: Watch the full Saddam execution here:
A quick and painless death for a tyrant responsible for the murder and torture of so many.
Caption: German opinion of the United States could change after the midterm election results
The article also contains the following quote:
"If Europe perceives that the United States are striving to take on a new tone and a new direction, then public opinion here will turn positive,"
That's right. Just do what the Europeans want and America will be loved again across the Atlantic. All the U.S. has to do is cut and run in Iraq, ask for UN permission before taking any further action and implement several economic and environmental policies that will cost a few (million) jobs. But hey, isn't European friendship worth it? Just look at how fairly the United States has been treated in the European media over the past five years. The sophisticated graphic above is just further evidence that anti-Americanism is disappearing all around Europe now that the Democrats are in power...doesn't it just warm your heart...? Let's kiss and make up.
When attempting to convince the American friends that Germany is really on their side, German diplomatic elites often point to Germany's miniscule training program for Iraqi police. Well, it turns out that the program itself is so pathetic that even the Iraqis see little point in continuing. Here are excerpts from a report from Deutsche Welle, a source actually sponsored by the German government:
Iraq Stops Sending Police for German Training
Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Baqer Sulagh has criticized the training of Iraqi police recruits by German experts in the United Arab Emirates and said they would no longer participate in the program.
In an announcement whose timing may be more than mere coincidental, Sulagh said he expressed his dissatisfaction to Germany's ambassador to the UAE and added that they were seeking "training programs which were more serious and more effective."
"We aren't convinced by the level of training of the Iraqi police officers by the German experts, nor by their barely seriously manner," the minister said Tuesday during a press conference in Abu Dhabi, according to the UAE news agency Wam. (...)
In February, then German Interior Minister Otto Schily visited the Al Ain military camp in the United Arab Emirates to see for himself how German police officers were training a first batch of 30 Iraqis.
Schily was surprised see a number of recruits at the course who would evidently derive little benefit from training in hand-to-hand combat because they were physically unsuited to it.
"There are weaknesses in this program," Schily said. "But we know that Iraqi policemen lead dangerous lives and we can only admire them for taking on such a job."
In the meantime Schily has left the German government and the complaint about ineffective German training methods will land on the desk of his successor Wolfgang Schaüble.
Isn't the German government's commitment to the American friends just overwhelming? They can't even manage to train groups of 30 Iraqis without the program breaking down. The article actually suggests the German authorities may have caved to terrorist demands in ending the program as well. With "allies" like this who appease the Islamofascists at every turn...who needs enemies?
(Our friend DL from Heidelberg has done all of us a tremendous favor by translating an interesting article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, referring to the competition for a radio broadcasting license in Germany. The applicants are both U.S. based.)
The below article appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 23 June 2005. It discusses the upcoming competition for a radio broadcast license in Berlin later this year and reports that National Public Radio looks to win the competition at the expense of Voice of America.
Three points you should know before turning to the article. Point One. The author observes that Voice of America is U.S. government financed and its opinions are close to those of the Administration in Washington. This should not be a surprise. What he doesn’t mention is that Germany’s own state funded propaganda organ, Deutsche Welle, goes far beyond reporting Berlin’s official spin and has actively interfered with America’s internal politics.
In September of 2004 Deutsche Welle’s web site devoted an article to expat Democrats living in Germany. Linked to the article was the website for the organization Democrats Abroad where Germans could contribute donations to Kerry’s campaign. Nothing subtle there. Imagine the German media’s reaction if a U.S. government funded information outlet openly encouraged U.S. citizen donations for the CDU and its campaign against Schroeder. (BTW, there was no corresponding article about Republican expats living in Germany or a link to the web site for Republicans Abroad.)
Point Two. The author alleges had NPR been available in Germany prior to the war in Iraq it would have mitigated the stubborn perception in Germany that there was no debate in the U.S. over the war and that all U.S. media had fallen victim to patriotic frenzy. Perhaps he was not watching Germany’s state-funded television prior to the war because the rest of his countrymen were subjected to a relentless parade of reports, documentaries, interviews and panel discussions featuring every stripe of U.S. politician, academician, former U.S. government intelligence official and disgruntled American diplomat with an axe to grind and provided them a platform to denounce the need to go to war. Then again, maybe he’s unaware of CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, and their cable cousins.
Point Three. The typical German state-funded television and radio strategy uses interviews with Americans, usually conducted in the United States, to illustrate how Americans agree with the German left. These interviews always take sound bites out of context and are never balanced with an opposing view. The point is to prove that even Americans agree with what Germans want to hear. The uninterrupted diet of this type of reporting explains why Germany along with the rest of Europe was shocked to wake up the day after the U.S. election and discover that Bush had unambiguously won. Another purpose of these sound bite interviews is to show Americans in the most unflattering light possible. The subtext is always: See how (fill in the blank – ignorant/uncultured/worse off) these Americans are than we are.
A final observation. Should NPR obtain a broadcast license in Berlin, it will reinforce the German media’s left wing echo chamber. The German left will tune into NPR and hear the U.S. blame America first crowd reinforce Germanhy’s worst suspicions.
There is a way, however, to get to the objective truth about what Americans think. Instead of relying on political agenda news reporting, Germans should pay attention to the one activity where Americans share their opinion with the world – elections. Perhaps one day the idea will even catch on in the EU. (emphasis added)
Who Broadcasts for America?
National Public Radio, from the United States, is competing for a radio license against Voice of America. Naturally NPR couldn’t have prevented the transatlantic dispute over the Iraq war but had the American NPR been broadcasting in Berlin before the attack on Baghdad then at least some of the most stubborn prejudices about America could have been moderated. Anyone who regularly listens to NPR could not allege that there was no debate in the United States over the intervention or that all the media had fallen into a patriotic frenzy. As Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld explained in his typically abrupt fashion after the start of the war that America was supported by a larger group of nations in its advance against Saddam than in first Gulf War in 1991, NPR carried the quote
Anti-Bush activist journalist Daniel Scheschkewitz of Deutsche Welle - a government sponsored public broadcasting channel "informing" the world about Germany - is shocked - shocked! - to learn that President Bush post-election hasn't transformed into a liberal dove:
President Bush's trip to Canada has shown that Bush is still the same as ever: tough, obstinate to the core, and ready for compromise only when there is no other choice for America...
So compromise isn't a goal by itself for Bush? What a contrast to German politics!
In substance, Bush showed his usual stripes. He unapologetically declared to his hosts that the Iraq War was justified and that his foreign policy has received convincing voter support. The election analysis has demonstrated, however, that Bush was in fact re-elected in spite of the Iraq War, and not as a result of his foreign policy.
Actually, our election analysis proves convincingly that Bush was elected because he promised to make the right to gay marriages, a permanent UN Security Council seat for Germany and signing of the Kyoto treaty top political priorities of his second term. Looks like he doesn't make good on his promises... What a disappointment!
And, suddenly, in contrast to earlier appearances, the necessity of evicting Israeli settlements was no longer a topic. In the main, Bush made only conciliatory gestures to his hosts. He also said that multilateral oganizations are capable of doing great good, but only if also able to act effectively...
OHMYGOD! Bush doesn't support ineffective multilateral actions!!
What's next? I wouldn't be surprised if Bush even cancels the promised tax hikes!
The millions of Americans living abroad may decide this year's tight US presidential election. Seeing the effects of Bush's foreign policy firsthand should boost Kerry with expatriate voters, says DW-WORLD's Marc Young. (...)
When expatriate Americans cast their ballots for president on November 2, they will be better prepared than most of their countrymen back home to assess whether that foreign policy has been marked by taking calculated risks in troubled times or if it's an unmitigated disaster harming the nation's interests more than advancing them. (...)
... long before the Iraq war, Bush's government had decided to take a unilateralist tack on a host of other issues, including the environment, arms reduction and international law. Much to the chagrin of the rest of the world, Washington rejected the Kyoto Treaty on greenhouse emissions, dismissed the Biological Weapons Convention and refused to join the new International Criminal Court.
... the latest opinion polls in the United States have Bush leading Kerry for the race for the White House. Why such a disconnect between US and world public opinion? It may be partly explained by the fact that most Americans are not confronted by the powerful antipathy for Bush and his policies that US citizens living abroad experience on a daily basis. Those back home also don't see the specter of rising anti-Americanism that Washington's arrogance has helped breed.
Like many overseas, I shuddered when long-standing allies France and Germany were branded as traitors for their reluctance to take part in Bush's war of choice in Iraq. There are myriad other examples of how the Bush administration has alienated much of the world, but the point is that such attitudes have seriously damaged America's standing abroad.
In Germany, the hard-left, far-right and anti-globalization groups can now freely peddle their own particular brands of anti-Americanism. Besides seeping into the mainstream media, anti-Americanism is becoming not only accepted, but normal. In central Berlin, no one bats an eye when a US flag is hung upside down and painted with the slogan "Against America." A direct result of Bush's unilateralism, it is now vogue simply to be opposed to the United States.
The complete lack of goodwill toward Washington is particularly worrying in light of the current disarray in Iraq and how badly the international community's help is needed there. The risk of a second term for Bush is that even if America makes progress in the war on terror, Washington will have lost the battle for the world's hearts and minds. For many Americans abroad, that danger is clear to see.
That's why John Kerry's comments that he would once again turn towards multilateral methods are encouraging. Not that electing Kerry could undo the damage to America's reputation overnight, but his plans to make more use of "soft" power to further the country's goals would be a good start. (emphasis added)
OK, expats, you're told now whom to vote for. And as to the use of "soft" power, here's a suggestion. And here is another one...
And don't forget to sign Kyoto and the ICC!
Also, it would help to issue an apology to German foreign minister Joschka "I am not convinced" Fischer, one of the world's most sophisticated diplomats.
And we want you to vote for a German seat in the UN Security Council.
All this won't change your country's dismal reputation in Germany "overnight", but it's a start. Also, it would teach your clueless American dummies from the back woods a thing or two about nuanced diplomacy...
BTW, here's another article by Marc Young, the author of this enlightened piece:
As Germany's state-backed international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle's mandate is to provide unbiased news and information to people who may not necessarily understand German. Funded by German taxpayers, DW-WORLD is able to compete in the rough-and-tumble world of English-speaking media.
"Unbiased news" - you'd have guessed that anyway, right?
Since the territories before the Six Day War in 1967 weren't part of a sovereign state, one couldn't speak of an "occupation," therefore the Geneva Convention wasn't applicable, the argument went. But out of "generosity," Israel said it was prepared to follow parts of the convention.
But after the ruling in The Hague, the days of such selective generosity should be over. Now, it's official: Israel is an occupying force, and does have to abide by international law if it doesn't wish to be treated as a pariah. (emphasis added)
Now, it's a safe bet that Israel will not abide by the ICJ ruling, so how exactly would Israel's pariah future look like?
WASHINGTON - Many of the worst abuses that have come to light from the Abu Ghraib prison happened on a single November day amid a flare of insurgent violence in Iraq, the deaths of many U.S. soldiers and a breakdown of the American guards' command structure.
Nov. 8 was the day U.S. guards took most of the infamous photographs: soldiers mugging in front of a pile of naked, hooded Iraqis, prisoners forced to perform or simulate sex acts, a hooded prisoner in a scarecrow-like pose with wires attached to him.
The actions of a few idiots on a single day will reveberate in the German media FOREVER as proof for the moral decline of Pres. Bush, of the US army, of "Amerika".
Nick Berg will long be forgotten - his beheading already now is rarely mentioned in the German media - and we will still read and read and read about the "new shocking pictures from Abu Ghraib" (Deutsche Welle).
Officials at German centres for the treatment of torture victims say the graphic photographs of Iraqi
prisoner abuse have triggered painful memories among their patients, most of them asylum-seekers."
Just let us analyze this sentence grammatically:
1) Torture 2) Trauma 3) Asylum-seekers 4) Germany
It states that the photos had traumatized many of the patients at the centres. The reaction of a single patient was produced as evidence.
Not only is the opinion of other Iraqis missing here, but also - when one considers the text as a whole - it is simply a description of the torture-victim centres with some anti-Americanism in the margin. And that all under a racy headline. The whole text focuses on the work of the torture victim centres with, as it were, something Iraqi as embellishment.
Then another Iraqi is cited, speaking on (what other than) Al-Jazeera about the sexual humiliation. Moreover a torture victim said that he couldn't bear to show his face in Iraq any longer and therefore
Deutsche Welle is a government financed German Radio and TV channel aimed at an international audience outside of Germany. The articles and program excerpts on their web site appear unbiased, as long as you look at the English language section.
The German language section spills all the hate and disgust that has become the trademark of German reporting on the Iraq invasion. Introducing Peter Philipp's commentary:
No Success in Iraq
The commentary is in German, and was translated for this blog by Pinglun.
One year after the „official“ victory over Iraq, the country is hardly in better shape than under Saddam Hussein. The US hasn't succeeded in establishing democratic order. ...
This is a typical report in the German media: nothing has changed compared to Saddam's regime - if
at all, things have gotten worse. Remember Germany in April 1946? "The US hasn't succeeded in establishing democratic order."
A war, like one had feared it: In the cities, against an invisible enemy, who hides among the civilian population and in mosques, and who gets new followers when civilians and mosques are hit. Washington doesn´t know how to oppose that with a successful concept. And others in different places don´t know about , for example, the Israelis in their conflict with the Palestinians.
It's the old "quagmire" prediction that the German media has hoped to materialize ever since the
start of the invasion. It's much too early to conclude that "Washington" doesn't have a concept against the
insurgents. And the reference to Israel serves only to remind readers of the latent anti-Israel, anti-Sharon
bias of the German media.
...one knows exactly, that military power cannot solve the problem.
The mantra of the German left: only peaceful transformation will succeed. Isn't it amazing that in a country that was freed by military power (no chance of convincing Mr. Hitler through peaceful means or expecting the German people to democratically vote him out of office) - the same military power has been demonized as a means of liberating people and countries?
It's of no use to quote Mr. Philipps any further. His commentary is just another biased, anti-American piece - full of criticism, pessimism, and completely lacking in any positive vision for the future of Iraq.
Next doomsday prediction, please...
(Thanks again for the English translation, Pinglun. And thanks to Robert for his assistance. His blog "Divided We Fall" is definitely worth a visit.)
German President Johannes Rau has cancelled a stopover in Djibouti on the last phase of his east African tour after German security services warned him of an alleged assassination plot by Islamists. Instead, he's flying back to Germany, direct from Tanzania. Rau's office said German intelligence agencies had a tipoff that terrorists had wanted to target Rau as a representative of a Western nation.
Germany is no threat to terrorism! After all, President Rau in Africa repeated the mantra of Germany's appeasement policy:
In Tanzania on Tuesday, Rau had said terrorism could only be tackled effectively by combating root causes such as poverty and inequity via policies of development.
"...only be tackled effectively by combating root causes..." - the German government isn't even able to tackle the root causes of economic misery in Germany, much less poverty and inequity in Africa and the rest of the world. And if Germany and all the do-gooders of this world in fact would succeed by some magic formula to get rid of poverty and inequity everywhere, how would that keep Al Qaeda from suicide-bombing infidels? After all, suicide bombers are promised 70 virgins in paradise from the prophet Mohammed.
This is what the Palestinian government of Mr. Arafat had to say to Yassin's death:
On the eve of this painful and tragic occasion, the Palestinian government expresses its deep condolences to the Palestinian people imploring God to forgive our beloved martyr Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and accepts him as a martyr.
In cohesion with the Palestinian Leadership’s decision, the Palestinian government declares a 3-day mourning effective Monday morning and to suspend work this day at all Palestinian institutions and schools.
"...beloved martyr...3-day mourning": Yassin was responsible for numerous terror bombings aimed deliberately against Israeli civilians. It is obvious from this statement that Arafat had no intention whatsoever to stop Yassin and Hamas in their deadly pursuit of all things Jewish.
What were, in the opinion of the European Union, the Israelis supposed to do against Yassin's murderous bombings?
"In a statement, the EU foreign ministers said Hamas was guilty of "atrocities ... which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Israelis" and that Israel has the right to protect itself against terrorist attacks. "Israel is not, however, entitled to carry out extra-judicial killings," the EU statement added.
Instead, the Israelis should rely on the truly heart-warming collection of platitudes(scroll down page for English version) German foreign minister Fischer uses to express regret for Israeli victims of terror.
And of course, there is pity with a poor guy in a wheelchair:
But it was probably the Polish foreign minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz who hit the nail on the head when he bluntly stated, "I understand that Israel is defending its own country, but the picture of a person in a wheelchair with a rocket….this is no way to promote Israel's security."
Sitting in a wheelchair didn't hamper Yassin's terrorism. He was already wheelchair bound when he founded Hamas in 1987. BTW: "Deutsche Welle" is supposed to be an impartial news organization (funded by the German government). The release, though, clearly demonstrates the anti-Israeli bias of Deutsche Welle ("...hit the nail on the head").
Again: Israel is supposed to keep quiet while innocent children in school buses are murdered - because killing a known terrorist would invite more terrorism.
Well, this suggested strategy has failed the Jews before. Germans should know better... Israelis certainly do.#
Update: "Human Rights Watch" - unsuccessfully - appealed to Yassin in 2002 to stop targeting Israeli civilians. He should have heeded the request. (Hat tip Niko)
Building the bomb: North Korean exiles reveal 15 year history of nuclear cheating
North Korea had developed a nuclear bomb by the end of the 1980s and probably has many such weapons after pursuing its secret programme under the noses of international inspectors, according to defectors from the country.
Ever since President Bush coined the term "Axis of Evil", German media poke fun at it ("Axis of Evil" = "Achse des Bösen"). It was classified as just another fundamentalistic neocon perception, that eventually would prove to be a failure. What the world needed, so the mantra of the German media, was not violent "strong America" rethoric, but understanding and sophisticated policies.
Germany's brightest and best qualified young professionals are leaving the country in droves and securing lucrative positions abroad. ...
After investing tens of thousands in education and training costs, Germany is losing its best qualified professionals to better paid positions elsewhere, economists complain. And the growing brain drain is compounding Germany's economic woes through the loss of skilled labor and human resources.
Nearly 118,000 people packed up and left the country in 2002 for jobs abroad, the German Statistical Office reported. ...
Every seventh person with a doctorate in science leaves Germany for the United States, The Scientist magazine has reported. Three of the four German Nobel Prize winners work in the United States. "The trouble is that we are losing our highest achievers," Christoph Anz of the Confederation of German Employers Associations told The Scientist. "We have reached the point where we will no longer be able to compete in the booming biotechnology sector." ...
"American universities offer scientists better pay conditions, more time for research and less time spent teaching," said Peter Doermann, a research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology near Berlin. Some estimates say that scientists can earn three times as much money working in the United States compared to Germany.
We may not have the brightest scientists in Germany any more, but our politicians are second to none. Foreign secretary Fischer at the Munich Conference on Security 2004:
One year ago this Conference was the venue for a frank debate on the question of a war against Iraq.
Our opinions differed on whether the threat was analysed as sufficient to justify terminating the work of the UN inspectors, the consequences that a war would have on the fight against international terrorism, the effects of a war in Iraq on regional stability, whether the long-term consequences of the war would be controllable, and whether the controversy surrounding the legitimacy of the war would dangerously reduce the sustainability so essential in the post-conflict phase.
The Federal Government feels that events have proven the position it took at the time to be right. It was our political decision not to join the coalition because we were not, and are still not, convinced of the validity of the reasons for war.(emphasis added)
The whole world envies Germany for having the brightest and best qualified politicians...
Update: As Bill observes, Austria's brightest and best qualified has left the country, too...