The headline and the accompanying articles in SPON and SZ refer to 13 arrest warrants issued by Munich prosecutors against CIA agents in the case of the alleged abduction of Khaled Al-Masri. We have frequently quoted in our blog the investigation of John Rosenthal into the questionable activities and connections of Al-Masri. (Historians know: it's not the first time the U.S. secret intelligence service meddled into German affairs...)
Al-Masri reaches almost a saint status in the German media's reporting (with very few exceptions) - after all, he is considered a victim of the evil American empire and it's stromtroopers. Oops, mistyped: should of course read "thugs".
You may throw up now...
Additional commentary from Ray: The most appalling aspect of this is that the holier-than-thou European governments issuing these arrest warrants almost certainly knew of and collaborated with the CIA's covert action program of rendition from the very beginning. Furthermore, the German government has known about the Masri situation since at least 2004 and chose to remain silent until now. These warrants are little more than cynical moral grandstanding to win points with the electorate from a government that has repeatedly demonstrated that supporting human rights and confronting real "thugs" in places like Iran and Sudan take a backseat to German trade interests.
As usual, the German media would rather focus on bashing the United States. After all, they wouldn't want to dig too deeply into the dark dealings of their ideological allies in the former Social Democrat-led Schroeder government. Once again: Germany good. America bad.
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.
Here is Christian Wernicke, U.S. correspondent of left-wing daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, asking questions to Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, during a press briefing about "U.S. Policy Toward Iran" at the Foreign Press Center Roundtable of the State Department on November 13, 2006.
No need to comment on the apparent bias in the questions of the malinformed Sueddeutsche correspondent:
QUESTION: [Christian Wernicke, with Sueddeutsche Zeitung] Ambassador, you mentioned in your introduction that the U.S. is not seeking a regime change, what we are seeking is a change in behavior. Is that totally in line with all parts of the government or even Congress legislation, which kind of asked -- not by military means, but by political and diplomatic and communication means -- to change the mullah regime in Iran?
AMBASSADOR JEFFREY: I would have to know the specific piece of legislation you're referring to. The --
QUESTION: Especially in the House. I mean --
AMBASSADOR JEFFREY: But once again, there are certainly voices. You know, I mean, America is, like many other societies including your own, a very pluralistic place.
The last legislation, the renewal of what we call the ILSA legislation against Iran and Libya, only this time Libya was dropped off thus we can't call it ILSA anymore -- I think we can call it ISA -- certainly did not go as far in calling for a change in regime as the -- what was it, the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998? I would say -- I would cite that as a good example of regime change legislation. I don't see the same thing.
In fact, the ISA legislation was quite remarkable. While it urged the promotion of democracy in Iran, it was very, very careful in stating explicitly that this is not to be done by military force. And I mean, as one who has worked with European Union diplomats extensively in the Balkans, in a way we were looking for what amounts to regime change or deep-seated changes in both institutions and behaviors and policies that amount to something approaching regime change. Part of the European Union accession process is something that I would consider regime change. So I think that part of the concern about regime change and the fact that I mentioned it is tied to this idea of regime change through lightning* military strikes.
QUESTION: Ambassador Jeffrey -- sorry, I didn't introduce myself. Christian Wernicke, Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Coming back to the two questions of my friends, you mentioned the parallel situation when -- in Afghanistan, which leads me to the point that a colleague of yours, or former colleague of yours, Jim Dobbins, is always citing this period, even including 2002, that there's a lot of missed options.
It all boils down to the question that has been raised: How do you weigh the different interests? I mean, if there is -- you like it or not, there is a tradeoff between the nuclear program and security and Iran's help in -- for security in Iraq. So is the -- is the U.S., for example, willing to give in to the Iranian demand or at least consider the Iranian demand for a kind of security guarantee for this regime? That's what they're asking for. They want to have the security that the big power of the world -- and that's your government -- is not interfering there.
AMBASSADOR JEFFREY: If I could shape that into a question as opposed to a debating point, I would say have -- has Iran asked for a security guarantee? I don't really know where they have actually asked for that. A lot of people both here in Washington and Europe assume that that's what they want, but I think that assumption needs to be, you know, questioned until someone comes up with an authoritative statement of the Iranians that that's what they want. I haven't seen it. But you know, maybe I missed it. I've only been doing Iran now since June. But you know, but that doesn't preclude the fact that maybe that's what they want but they haven't said it.
We have said, as part of the dialogue that was placed on the table by Mr. Solana discussions on regional security. That's the most we do. We don't give regimes security guarantees. There are good reasons for that. If a regime is well-behaved, such as Switzerland, it doesn't need a security guarantee. And if a regime is a bad actor, there probably are good reasons why you would not give it a security guarantee, because you would then be basically saying that no matter what it does nothing will happen to it. And we have friends, we have allies, we have interests in the region that we have responsibilities to defend and protect in a variety of ways.
Bush: "Leave me alone, people! I have to talk to God again!" Caption: God's own President Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Oct. 30, 2006
Last time we presented examples of irresistibly funny Sueddeutsche Zeitung cartoons, we commented:
Sueddeutsche Zeitung: Anti-American Hate, But No Humor
These two cartoons from Sueddeutsche Zeitung go a long way toward explaining the different mindsets of German and American left-wing media.
In a nutshell: the German media's reporting on American affairs lack humor and finesse. Their disregard of the Bush administration is blunt, brutal, unsophisticated to the extreme. While I don't appreciate the attacks of American left wing media on the Bush administration the least you can say is that they try to exhibit a certain kind of intellectual style, a tiniest bit of objectivity and - in cartoons - they make their point in a sharp and funny way.
I guess, in the wake of the U.S. November elections Sueddeutsche felt the need to reminds us of the truthfullness of this statement in a particularly shameful way.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung: the very definition of German media trash.
Guess what: The US military is at the end of its rope. It is stretched to breaking. It is about to collapse. The German media has seen this coming. It's all Bush's fault. America is demoralized. Iraq is the greatest disaster in human history. It's all over folks...
Sound like a recurring theme in German media? That's essentially the message of defeat and hopelessness that Germans have been fed on Iraq since the conflict first began. Before the war even began it was all about "Blood for Oil." During the initial campaign, the "Ghost of Vietnam" had the great "Superpower Stuck in Sand" at SPIEGEL ONLINE. Not long thereafter it was the "Endless Blitzkrieg." In 2004, Iraq became "Bush's Vietnam." For most of the past year, the country has been embroiled in the massive civil war that wasn't. Whatever the case, Iraq has been described as a disaster-catastrophe-quagmire-debacle so many times by biased German media that many Germans simply assume that the situation is beyond hope.
Americans in biased German media: Blood-thirsty, oil-thirsty, torturing Rambos stuck in another Vietnam...
The latest installment in the series is a Sueddeutsche article entitled, "American Soldiers in Iraq: The Final Contingent." The author, Reymer Kluever, writes of the recall of 2,500 Marines as if they represented the last, desperate gasp of US military efforts in Iraq.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Kluever also points out that (according to one poll) 61% of Americans now oppose the war. He certainly does not mention how few Americans (a whopping 19%!) would support immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Kluever also quotes Senator Jack Reed (D) on the burden faced by US troops. No one from the US military or the Republican party is quoted. (Big surprise! Who needs problematic opinions when we are trying to reinforce readers' views!?) The article concludes that none of these horrible strains on the US military matter because Bush will keep America in Iraq until the war on terror ends, and for him there is no end in sight. (Bush lied and people died!)
Now let's look at an American article on the same topic at ABC News. It mentions the strain on the troops involved, but it also avoids alarmist populism and mentions key facts omitted or ignored by Kluever:
"This is the first time the Marines have had to use the involuntary recall since the beginning of the Iraq combat. The Army, meanwhile, has issued orders recalling about 10,000 soldiers so far, but many of those may be granted exemptions.
Marine Col. Guy A. Stratton, head of the manpower mobilization section, estimated there is a shortfall of about 1,200 Marines needed to fill positions in upcoming deployments.
"Since this is going to be a long war," said Stratton, "we thought it was judicious and prudent at this time to be able to use a relatively small portion of those Marines to help us augment our units." Some of the military needs, he said, include engineers, intelligence, military police and communications. (...)
The call-up will affect Marines in the Individual Ready Reserve, a segment of the reserves that consists mainly of those who have left active duty but still have time remaining on their eight-year military obligations.
Generally, Marines enlist for four years, then serve the other four years either in the regular Reserves, where they are paid and train periodically, or in the Individual Ready Reserve. Marines in the IRR are obligated to report only one day a year but can be involuntarily recalled to active duty.
To date, about 5,000 Army IRR soldiers have mobilized, and about 2,200 of those are currently serving, according to Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman. Of those 2,200, about 16 percent are volunteers, he said. A typical Army enlistment obligation is also for eight years.
According to Stratton, there are about 59,000 Marines in the IRR, but the Corps has decided to exempt from the call-up those who are either in their first year or last year of reserve status. As a result, the pool of available Marines is about 35,000."
Clearly, the call up is directed towards filling special positions including "engineers, intelligence, military police and communications." With the facts mentioned above in mind, it is difficult to imagine that the US Armed Forces are nearing a breaking point as Mr. Kluever implies. If they were, why would they exempt 14,000 IRR Marines from potential call-up? Why would the Army exempt many of the 10,000 soldiers from potential recall if the strain were so unbearably great?
Mr. Kluever does, in fact, point out that the recalled Marines are needed to fill specialized positions, but he makes it sound as if the 2,500 in question are the last gasp and the last contingent (thus the article's headline) that the military has to offer and not simply an effort to plug specific bottlenecks. The entire article makes it seem as if the US military is on its last legs in Iraq, a proposition that has no basis in fact but one that clearly sparks the imaginations of America bashers worldwide.
Unlike ABC and most US media, Kluever completely fails to place the recall into the broader context of the actual military reserve situation. He completely fails to mention that the increased US troop presence seems to be reducing violence levels in Baghdad and potentially saving lives. (But, then again, positive news on Iraq is forbidden in Germany! It will be a disaster-debacle-quagmire for at least another 50 years or until the Amis run away in defeat mein Freund! Just think Ghost of Vietnam...) Instead, the article shows a photo of American soldiers and Iraqis standing over a puddle of blood and the caption reads: "Bloody daily life for soldiers in Iraq."
Here is our suggestion for a new motto for a publication famous for reinforcing readers' negative views on the USA and most other topics: Sueddeutsche Zeitung: Biased daily life for media in Germany...
(We interrupt our regular programming for one of our occasional German postings, we will be posting recent submissions in the next few days)
Heribert Prantl ist Ressortchef Innenpolitik der Süddeutschen Zeitung. Seine politische Linie ist weit links - anders hätte er es nicht in eine journalistische Führungsfunktion bei der Süddeutschen Zeitung geschafft. Der Mann formuliert brachial, polternd, schimpfend. Er versteht von manchem ein wenig und von vielem nichts, und, schlimmer noch, weiß dies nicht. Selten findet man einen Menschen, dessen Physiognomie so auskunftsfreudig seinen Seelenzustand beschreibt. (Nein, er ist (wohl) nicht mit diesem Herrn verwandt.)
Niemand recht bei Sinnen würde ihm die Fähigkeit zur differenzierenden, abwägenden Beurteilung nachsagen; wer ihn, wie Ursula Heller vom Bayerischen Rundfunk, dennoch als "Edelfeder" preist, stellt sich selbst ins ewige journalistische Abseits. Er eignet sich für die Rolle des Ressortchefs Innenpolitik der gerne nachdenklich wirkenden Süddeutschen Zeitung wie der Dj Ötzi als Dirigent der Münchener Philharmonie.
Und ausgerechnet dieses Urbild eines bayerischen Grantlers ließ sich nun zu einem Kommentar über Israels Kampf gegen die Hisbollah hinreißen. Bei diesem Ausflug in die Untiefen der Aussenpolitik ist er, vorhersagbar, grandios gescheitert.
Natürlich ahnt Prantl, daß er nicht gleich mit beiden Stiefeln in das Thema hineinspringen kann. Schließlich, bitte schön, gibt es da eine deutsch-jüdische Vergangenheit. Da kann man nicht so einfach deftig lospoltern wie sonst von Montag bis Samstag, das versteht er.
Er beginnt daher mit einer Finte: Prantl, der ganz anderes will, tritt als Beschützer Israels auf. "Hinterfotzig" nennt man es in Bayern, wenn jemand, den der Herr mit eher bescheidenen geistigen Gaben ausgestattet hat, andere hereinlegen möchte.
Auge um Auge, Zahn um Zahn
Die Überschrift dieses Artikels ist antisemitisch. Sie findet sich, als Chiffre für Rachsucht und Vergeltung, Hochmut und Vernichtungswut, in jedem zweiten bösen Kommentar gegen Israel – „Auge um Auge, Zahn um Zahn“.
Diese Regel steht im Alten Testament, und wer diesen Satz zur Erklärung der Situation im Südlibanon oder im Westjordanland gebraucht, unterstellt damit eine jüdische Mentalität, die von Moses bis Ehud Olmert reicht.
Der biblische Satz wird so zur Formel für einen angeblich religiös-genetischen Defekt; und aus der Formel wird ein politisches Deutungsmuster dergestalt: „ ... so steht es im Alten jüdischen Testament und so praktizieren es die Israelis.“
Prantl wendet sich also gegen "böse Kommentare", die den Israelis einen religiös-genetischen Defekt, eben eine Mentalität "Auge um Auge, Zahn um Zahn" unterstellen. Das sei doch anti-semitisch. Chapeau, denkt da der israel-geneigte Leser. Der Mann hat meine Zustimmung. Wären die Israelis der
Revelations of American "spying" on international financial transactions have provided further opportunity for some in German media to take the usual cheap shots at the United States. One particularly ugly example is a commentary by SZ author Kurt Kister that seems to imply that US soldiers are involved in an organized campaign of murder. He writes:
"The number of cases in which US soldiers have murdered in Iraq and not just killed in fighting has gotten so big that one can no longer speak of regrettable isolated incidents."
So what is Kister implying? It sounds as if he believes American soldiers are engaged in a campaign of murder that is simply being allowed to take its course.It sounds as if he believes the US government condones (or even encourages) murder. It also sounds as if Mr. Kister is confusing murder charges with murder convictions and, like so many in the German media, believes American soldiers to be guilty until proven innocent. In fact, the reason we hear about such cases is often because soldiers charged with misconduct are tried in a court of law by their own government.
Mr. Kister also claims that the collection of information on international financial transactions by the United States is a further sign that the US is willing to violate, "established law, international conventions and moral benchmarks." At the same time he does not offer a single specific example of which law, convention or benchmark has been violated.
He claims that he calls the "intelligence-political complex" can kidnap, torture and disappear those it finds suspect whenever it deems the action appropriate. The "intelligence-political complex"? Is this a new construct (much like the "military-industrial complex") that the paranoid Euro-leftist must now fear? It is true that in the war on terror, individuals have been wrongfully detained, tortured and even killed. But to claim that an "intelligence-political complex" exists which seeks to engage in such activities is simply absurd. Above all, it is the typical one-sided telling of the story that we have come to expect of wide segments of the German media.
Additionally, Mr. Kister insists that the United States has repeatedly violated or suspended the common values that serve as the foundation for German-American relations. But perhaps he failed to consider that German trade with Iran, Sudan and Cuba might also be perceived by some Americans as a violation of "common values." Perhaps he failed to recognize that housing discrimination against minorities, which is perfectly legal in Germany, might be considered a threat to common values. Perhaps he failed to reflect that prostitution and human trafficking in Germany are a threat to common values. What Mr. Kister clearly did assume is that Germans, and particularly German journalists, occupy the moral high ground and have only to lecture down to their American "friends."
Here's an idea: Maybe Mr. Kister and other Germans worried about America's "transgressions" against their "values," particularly at places like Camp Gitmo, should consider the advice of journalist Florian Klenk. Mr. Klenk writes that if Europeans are really interested in seeing Guantanamo shut down, they should offer asylum to the remaining inmates. His article's name: "Volunteers Forward!" So far no one has volunteered...
The kings of cynicism at Sueddeutsche Zeitung managed to spin a story about saving Flipper the dolphin into a diatribe against Guantanamo Bay. The article in question, "George W. Bush, Discoverer of the Oceans," blames Bush for reaching the decision to protect the ocean without consulting others. How rude! How insensitive! He didn't ask Congress or the European "friends" whether it was ok to save the whales! The opening passages and accompanying photo say it all:
"Acting alone, President Bush made the small Hawaiian islands into the world's largest protected area. But why? Did he want to do his wife a favor?
The decision came overnight, and surprised even those environmental groups friendly to the government: The President, who terminated (US participation in) the Kyoto Protocol, who wants to open the last pristine wilderness in Alaska to oil drilling platforms, has with one stroke of the pen and with one signature, with practically no prior notice, created the largest oceanic preserve in the world.
Caption: Bush doesn't swim with the group like these Hawaiian fish; He reaches decisions unilaterally."
It is roughly in this manner that we arrive at the article's final section. Naturally, it is about the evils of Guantanamo, perfectly designed to please the Bush-hating groundlings who read SZ. According to Reymer Kluever, Bush set up Guantanamo and arbitrarily decided to strip the inmates of the Geneva Conventions, just as he arbitrarily decided to protect the oceans. Mr. Kluever conveniently forgets that the Geneva Conventions were created to protect members of national armies, not stateless terrorists. He also ignores the fact that former President Clinton also issued an Executive Order (two days before leaving office) for the same region affected by the most recent Bush decree.
But what do details matter? Bush is always wrong. Why won't Americans just listen to the honest, heartfelt, constructive criticism coming from their cousins on the German left? Forget about protecting Flipper American friends...it's time to let the terroristsinnocent vegetable gardeners at Camp Gitmo go.
(b) Sueddeutsche Zeitung, June 3, 2006 ("Collateral damage")
These two cartoons from Sueddeutsche Zeitung go a long way toward explaining the different mindsets of German and American left-wing media.
In a nutshell: the German media's reporting on American affairs lack humor and finesse. Their disregard of the Bush administration is blunt, brutal, unsophisticated to the extreme. While I don't appreciate the attacks of American left wing media on the Bush administration the least you can say is that they try to exhibit a certain kind of intellectual style, a tiniest bit of objectivity and - in cartoons - they make their point in a sharp and funny way
In contrast, the two cartoons shown above, both from a leading German left-wing daily, hammer home simple anti-American messages:
Picture (a): Reckless USA derails Iraq and Afghanistan, which both - without American interference - would be heading in the right direction.
Picture (b): Murderous GIs, under the order and the approval of the U.S. government resp. of "Amerika", go on a senseless killing spree, much in the tradition of My Lai.
Both cartoons are accompanied by run-of-the-mill, viciously anti-American comments from Christian Wernicke. No need to present details; suffice to say that Wernicke is a tragic victim of the "Bush Derangement Syndrome", as are so many other German journalists.
For a different view of the Haditha incident read this posting at Instapundit (and follow the links given).
If you thought America-bashing couldn't get much worse in Germany: Think again.
Estranged SPD Chairman Oskar Lafontaine elevated the hate to a new level this past Friday, labeling Americans "terrorists." Mr. Lafontaine, who many remember as Gerhard Schroeder's running mate and right-hand man in the SPD's successful 1998 campaign, has since departed the SPD (Social Democrats) and currently finds himself at the head of Germany's radical "New Left" party (a recent merger between the WASG and PDS parties) in the German parliament. It was during a speech to "New Left" party members that he made the following statements as recorded by several German media outlets; (primarily local newspapers):
"Lafontaine Calls Americans Terrorists
Koblenz - For the boss of the leftists fraction in the Bundestag, Oskar Lafontaine, US-Americans are comparable to terrorists because of their actions in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
"For us - the Left - terrorism is the killing of innocent people to achieve political objectives," said Lafontaine in Koblenz.
According to that the attackers who flew into the World Trade Center in 2001 are terrorists. "But following this definition the Americans are also terrorists when they bomb cities and villages in Afghanistan (and) Iraq and kill tens-of-thousands of innocents," shouted the former SPD Chairman during an election event of the "Wahlalternative Arbeit und Soziale Gerechtigkeit" party (WASG).
Only the Left formulates this "simple recognition of humanity," that no power in the world is entitled to kill innocent people for its political objectives. So the wars in the Middle East are not wars for freedom, democracy or women's rights. "They are entirely and alone wars for the oil supplies and the gas supplies," said the fraction chairman as a part of the election campaign for the Rhineland-Pfalz state election on March 26."
It is worth noting that Rhineland-Pfalz is also home to tens-of-thousands of American military personnel and their dependents and the site of several large US bases including one of America's largest military communities outside the United States in the Kaiserslautern/Landstuhl/Ramstein area. How might Mr. Lafontaine's repugnant statements, directed against all Americans, potentially threaten the safety and well being of those American men, women and children?
The 1998 SPD Election Victory: Two Avid America-Bashers in a Former Life... (Schroeder left/Lafontaine right)
And note that Mr. Lafontaine didn't just blame anyone for America's perceived crimes. He didn't just vilify Bush or Republicans or conservatives. Instead, he shamelessly and indiscriminately wrote-off all Americans as terrorists. If that isn't evidence that the "New Left" is a radical, racist party, then we don't know what is.
Let's also not forget that half of the "New Left" consists of the PDS, the successor to the SED party, also known as the dictatorial ruling party of Communist East Germany. These people are hardly in a position to lecture others on the killing of innocent civilians. During the Cold War, the SED was directly responsible for the death, imprisonment and torture of thousands of its own citizens.
"Killing of Innocent People to Achieve Political Objectives": One of Thousands Victimized by East German Communists: The Predecessors of the "New Left"
In other words the "New Left" is hardly in a position to slander all Americans as terrorists when many of them supported (and in some cases even worked for) a bloody, oppressive Communist junta less than two decades ago.
Lafontaine's Statements: Not Big News in Germany
Despite the radical nature of his statements, few large media outlets have picked up on Lafontaine's outrageous hate-mongering. Most of the online sources that ran the story are small, local newspapers. Perhaps major German media are reluctant to shed light on the growing monster (anti-Americanism) that they have helped to create. Perhaps they would rather not embarrass a member of Germany's hard left anymore than he has already embarrassed himself. After all, he is one of theirs. Whatever the reason, the mainstream German media has dropped the ball on this story. We haven't.
Is this the hundredth article SPIEGEL ONLINE has done on the "tragedy" at Guantanamo? Are the German people obsessed yet? Is it (along with Abu Ghraib) the new Mai Lai? Do we have enough material to hold over the Americans' heads now? Does this cancel out the Nazi crimes? The Amis murdered the Indians and the Eskimos too...
This article is called "Guantanamo: Cry for Help before the Tenth Suicide Attempt." It tells of the "horrible" conditions and injustice of Guantanamo. Like this recent Sueddeutsche article, it portrays Guantanamo inmates as hapless victims of America's war. They're all terrorists innocent Afghani vegetable gardeners after all. Wrong place at the wrong time. Now they're all committing suicide and going on hunger strikes. The Horror...The Horror!
Well, let us make one suggestion in the interest of balance: How about SPIEGEL or Sueddeutsche or Stern or any of the other cynical, self-righteous propaganda rags do just one front-page article on the children and relatives of the nearly 3,000 victims of September 11, 2001. Remember them? Yeah, the families of the people who slowly burned to death in a metal hell. The people who fell 100 stories and splattered their guts all over the New York pavement. The people held captive in airplanes until they were instantly immolated. Maybe the German people should read just one article about the plight of their families. (Let's not forget that some of the victims were German.)
More American inhumanity in Iraq...
And after they finish with that, SPIEGEL & Co. ought to write a few more articles on the hundreds-of-thousands of victims lying in Saddam's mass graves. They ought to write a few more about the hundreds-of-thousands imprisoned, tortured and murdered in North Korea and Iran. They ought to write a few more about the millions murdered, imprisoned and forced into exile in Cambodia and Vietnam by Communist thugs. They ought to write a few more about the German government's current business dealings in Sudan.
But hey, none of that matters. This is all about America and America is evil baby. Face it. That's what Germans are going to read about. It's on our agenda. We've known it since 1968. We'll keep on pushing back until the Nazi crimes don't hurt anymore: Indians-Slaves-Mai-Lai-Vietnam-Abu-Ghraib-Guantanamo. Until we get our moral authority back. That's right. Until we don't have to feel so "grateful" to the American "friends" for "liberating" us and "protecting" us anymore. Eben.
Juergen Todenhoefer is one of those German self-proclaimed experts on Islam who regularly blame the U.S. for all the evils that have befallen the world, and in particular the near East.
In his latest polemic "Der unbekannte Feind" (The unknown enemy) in the February 4, 2006, edition of the left-wing daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Todenhoefer presented his usual agenda: Iraq war is practically lost; hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed (pre-war and during the current Iraq war) as a result of the disastrous policies of the U.S.; the Iraq war is a trigger for terrorism, etc., etc., etc....
I don't want you to read the full article - it's pay content, and it's definitely not worth to pay for his meandering ramblings. Regular readers of this blog will remember that we quoted this simple minded anti-American expert's Iraq war critique already in 2003: "We must fight against evil. But evil lies not only in the Middle or Far East. It also lies in the West, it lies in us." This pretty much summarizes what Todenhoefer has to say in his 2006 Sueddeutsche piece.
As to the origins of "evil" I strongly recommend the serious attention of Mr. Todenhoefer to the speech Donald Rumsfeld held this last weekend at the Munich Conference on Security Policy:
Today, there is a threat to our community - to our very way of life. Violent extremism is a danger posed as much to Europe as to America and elsewhere. (...) Unlike previous struggles, the enemy today is not a country, or even one particular organization. While
Another proof - as if we needed one - of the unbiased, unparalleled quality of the German media's reporting on American politics: the Patriot Act.
Dec. 14, 2005: The House voted to renew a modified USA Patriot Act to combat terrorism on Wednesday and sent the bill to the Senate The vote in the House was 251-174, with 44 Democrats joining 207 Republicans. "Renewing the Patriot Act before it expires in December is literally a matter of life and death," said Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla.
Dec. 22, 2005: A much-debated domestic surveillance law won a reprieve last night when senators agreed to continue it for six months to allow House and Senate negotiators to resume efforts next year to rewrite it for the longer term. ... House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., has shown little willingness to renegotiate the four-year extension his chamber had approved. "Any talk of a short-term extension is fruitless," his spokesman Jeff Lungren said several hours before the Senate deal was announced. "Chairman Sensenbrenner will not accept anything less than a four-year extension of the Patriot Act."
Congress on Thursday approved a one-month extension of the Patriot Act and sent it to President Bush in a pre-Christmas scramble to prevent many of its anti-terrorism provisions from expiring Dec. 31.
The Senate, with only Sen. John Warner, R-Va., present, approved the Feb. 3 expiration date four hours after the House, with a nearly empty chamber, bowed to Rep. James Sensenbrenner's refusal to agree to a six-month extension. ...
Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the shorter extension would force swifter Senate action and had the support of the White House and Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. ...
"A six-month extension, in my opinion, would have simply allowed the Senate to duck the issue until the last week in June," the Wisconsin Republican told reporters.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Dec. 23, 2005: The Next Low Hit for Bush U.S. President George W. Bush again had to accept defeat in the House. The U.S. Parliament decided to approve only a one-month extension for the anti-terror laws.
News AgencyAFP (Agence France Press), Dec. 23, 2005: Bush Again Duped in Dispute Over Patriot Act The House in Washington against the will of U.S. President George W. Bush has approved only a 5-week extension of the anti-terror laws of the Patriot Act. ... For the U.S. government, who initially wanted to extend the law indefinitely, the decision of the House means a heavy defeat.
News Agencydpa (German Press Agency), Dec. 24, 2005: ...again a heavy defeat for U.S. President Bush...only one-month extension of the Patriot Act...
To sum up things: The House rejected the Senate's proposal of a 6-month extension and approved just a one-month extension with the intention to force the Senate to accept a4-yearextension. So this was not a defeat for President Bush - rather, the House's decision gives his 4-year proposal a renewed chance.
The German media's reporting on the matter can safely be described as misleading, with a massive anti-Bush bias. On the other hand, one might argue that the German media are simply clueless about U.S. politics.