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ralf

I might have missed it, but I believe that so far Merkel hasn't said, let alone done, anything that would make Germany a solid partner in the WOT. I personally am inclined to give her more time, but I am not very hopeful.
I don't believe joe hates Germany, he hates the way Germany under Schröder behaved all those years.

WhatDoIKnow

well she did. as ray pointed out she supported the US position on iraq prior to the war and even supported the war - risking her political career.

@ Pogue

I agree that Clinton signed Kyoto for purely poltical reasons, knowing that it would never pass the Senate. His dubious motivation, however, does not change the fact that he stood behind Kyoto and, in fact, clearly still does.

@ joe

"Well it is decided. Merkel is not exploiting anti-Americism like Gerhard did. This is the new standard. We will only listen to her words. We will all become European confusing words with actions. Actions are unimportant."

So joe, do you believe that in order to be "pro-American" other nations must agree with America on 100% of the issues? You won't find too many allies with those sorts of standards I'm afraid. As far as actions go, I have yet to see Merkel take an action that I would interpret as intentionally anti-American or as aimed at exploiting anti-American sentiments for political gain and that was my point. Nothing more and nothing less. If you and Niko can find something that Merkel or the CDU have recently said or done with respect to the United States that compares to this or this or this, please let me know. I guess you may have also forgotten that it was the Berlin CDU that stood up against the city's SPD-PDS government in an attempt to save the Checkpoint Charlie monument.

And if you honestly compare Merkel to Schroeder throughout their respective careers and even just during the recent election campaign, it would be ludicrous and dishonest for me to say that she is just another anti-American in the same boat with Gerd. Does that mean she is perfect in every way in her approach to the USA or any other issue? Of course not. Is there still a whole lot of room for improvement in transatlantic relations? You bet. But there simply is no evidence to this point to suggest that Chancellor Merkel is exploiting anti-Americanism.

>>"well she did. as ray pointed out she supported the US position on iraq prior to the war and even supported the war - risking her political career."

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me it's not really that hard to distinguish constructive criticism from a friend from the usual fulminations of the America bashers. Given the current power relationships in the world, we need to have a very thick skin and a sensitive ear when it comes to the former. Dismissing all criticism as "America bashing" simply plays into the hands of the real America bashers, lending credence to their "objective criticism" ploy. We should at least give Merkel the benefit of the doubt.

@RayD
cmon Ray, regarding Clinton and Kyoto... don't spout such nonsense.
the thing was rejected by the SENATE in 1997
AL GORE -- remember AL GORE? Presiding leader of the Senate (he didn't have a vote, except for ties).
AL GORE.. author of Earth in the Balance, a book which states the greatest threat to mankind is the internal combustion engine.
AL GORE - who supposedly (along with Hillary) was close to being a co-president.
(CLinton used to brag about how much and how closely he and Al worked together).

NOW... If Clinton was so full blazers for Kyoto, why didn't he ask his VP and right hand man,
(who as presiding leader of the Senate certainly had SOME say as to what was discussed there) to DO something to get it passed?
As a (former) Democrat who voted for Clinton twice...
even then I knew he was a weather vane president. The only reason he said he was/is for it because..
1. It costs him nothing to do so. 2. It is the flavor of the month issue for the Bush Bashers.
(actually it is turning into flavor of the decade and it is getting on my nerves).

like your blog, but you are way off on this one.

@ commenters:

Be sure to have a look at Erik's link (in update above.)

@ Niko:

I've already addressed Gitmo and Kurnaz, but to say Merkel "accomplished" the release of Stethem's murder is to wrongly blame her for his short sentence. She had about as much to do with his sentence as Bush had to do with Tookie Williams' sentence.

Yes Yemen is a terrorist haven, but the kidnappers in Yemen were involved in a tribal conflict, not in Al-Qaeda activities. What was the German government supposed to do? Leave Chrobog to die and refuse negotiations?

As far as Osthoff goes, I think it was a mistake to pay ransom. But let's not forget that Germany's foreign ministry, which was in charge of negotiations and formed a team to gain Osthoff's release (as well as Chrobog's), is run by SPD man and Schroeder-confidante Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

And to claim that Ms. Merkel somehow does not care about human rights because she has not spoken out about each and every human rights violation in the world is not a particularly powerful argument. She herself conceeded in the interview that there has been a heated debate in Germany itself on the role of torture and how to deal with detained terrorists. Just go back and read what Merkel said in the interview and decide for yourself if she sounds like she's bashing the USA.

As I've said before, to immediately claim that she is playing to the anti-American crowd because she expressed an opinion that Guantanamo ought to be shut-down in the long-term is jumping to negative conclusions that simply don't fit into the larger historic record of Merkel and her party. Again, members of the Bush administration (see posting) have also said they would like to see Gitmo shut down in the long run. I'm not saying Merkel is perfect or always acts in America's best interest. Far from it. But if you expect her to be all those things, you will always end up disappointed in the end, unable to see the larger picture for what it is.

@ amiexpat:

I agree that Clinton was politically motivated. I'll point you to my most recent response to Pogue on that. That pretty much sums things up.

@amiexpat

>>"NOW... If Clinton was so full blazers for Kyoto, why didn't he ask his VP and right hand man,
(who as presiding leader of the Senate certainly had SOME say as to what was discussed there) to DO something to get it passed?"

Maybe because it had already failed by a vote of 95-0, and the idea of DOING something to get it passed was an obvious pipe dream and waste of time? Under the circumstances it would have been completely irrational to attempt to change so many votes in the Senate on the existing treaty. That goes double in view of the fact that the Senators had very good reasons for their opposition. I'm sure those reasons were no secret to Clinton. He did what any reasonable person would have done under the circumstances, and tried to get the Europeans to make some concessions. His effort was entirely credible and not just window dressing. He sent top-level negotiators with serious and reasonable proposals, as opposed, for example, to the Germans, who sent court clown Trittin to play to the crowds. Even Bush made some effort at an accommodation on Kyoto, sending Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary Of State For Global Affairs, a serious negotiator and not someone to be used as a pawn in a charade.

>>"like your blog, but you are way off on this one."

Sorry, but you're the one who's way off this time. Better stop waving your hands and come up with some facts.

"So the SPD part of the CDU/SPD is to blame when Merkel's government plays into the hands of international terrorism? How convenient!"

I'm just pointing out a fact. Germany's foreign ministry is run by the SPD. In other words, I'm not conveniently ignoring the SPD's key role in German government and foreign affairs as you have obviously chosen to do.

I've also thoroughly addressed Gitmo and Kurnaz.

"At this point I think it's better to leave it at this, else ever-bending bambus Ray might break.

... Oh, one more thing for the latecomers in this thread. You might want to consider Ray's ongoing defense of Merkel's policy in light of this. Integrity, Ray, integrity."

Yeah, you really got me Niko. You still haven't refuted a single point in my posting. Let's put it this way: If pathetic personal attacks and references to issues like the open letter that we've already covered are your way of saying you've run out of real arguments, I accept your surrender my friend.

Well, I can say one thing that I think most will agree with...you would be damned hard pressed to find a comment section anywhere else in the blogosphere that has such a lively and enlightening debate like you can experience here at DMK.

If you know of any others, please let me know.

RayD,

I agreed with your standard. What more do you want?

You have established a standard that says as long as Merkel does not do the things you so like to reference then she is not exploiting anti-Americanism.

In your life this must be an acceptable standard of behavior and conduct. I accept this is the standard you will use for Merkel. It would seem you expect little. This is probably wise.

In agreeing with you, I even pointed out the operative word was exploiting. That is in fact the word you used.

She has NOT overtly EXPLOITED anti-Americanism. I might ask you –

Does she really need too given the current environment in Germany?


As to your question of 100% agreement of course I do not. Equally I do not think working against the interest of the US by a so-called “ally” is what one would expect of an “ally” either. There is nothing she has done to this point to change that. While you have great hope for her, I do not share that hope if it comes to something more than words and even that might be a triumph.

I am even prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt that trading a terrorist who murdered a US service member for the release of a hostage is in some way the actions of a so-called “ally”. That is in fact, an action her government has taken. You can spin that anyway you want to but you cannot make that fact go away.

You are a fool if you think the German government lacked either the power or the ability to have prevented this had they so chosen. They chose not to because from a political stand point there was more to be gained or not lost by releasing him than to see that he was brought to justice. And no I am not taking about his sentence I am talking about his release.

Equally it would seem Merkel is very clever to pass off the responsibility of German foreign policy to SPD. This is not her lane and she is nothing more than a by stander. You will have to remind those of who are not accustomed to a form of government where the leader of that government is not responsible for the actions of that government.

So it really was not the German government who released the murderer of a US service member or paid a ransom for the release of one its citizens, it was the SPD.

So as Merkel has no authority or responsibility in this area then you are even correct about her actions or lack of actions as it related to the release of the murderer of a US service member.

This does make me wonder what she is going to discuss with the POTUS. It would also seem with the current distribution of responsibilities in Berlin, Merkel would have little to do with the future of the trans- Atlantic relationship.

As for the CDU and Check Point Charlie, that is about as impressive as the Chinese ratifying Kyoto. It was a nice gesture. Much like placing flowers at the American Embassy in Berlin after 9 – 11. At the end of the day, it meant nothing.

You act as if her having to deal with the US is in some way a surprise to her. Because of this she should get a free pass or you are more than willing to give her a free pass. Again this must be one of your standards. It is no longer even interesting that Germans do not apply the same standards equally. It is apparently too much to ask of them.

As to her positions before and after the election, the only ones, which matter are the ones from now on. I must have missed the speeches and news conferences she has given on supporting the US invasion of Iraq since the election.

As to Kyoto you framed the question as one of being anti American. It was reframed into being one of moral courage. Both Clinton and Merkel lack moral courage. They both do things for political gain.

Let us all hope her remaining 46 months in office will be as consistent as these first 2 months. If they are, I do not think we will have to worry about the trans Atlantic relationship.

One can only hope she will show solidarity with the Dutch.

Ray, it is good you are German so you can point these nuances out to those of us who are not.

ralf,

You flatter your vanity and ego to think I hate Germany. I am very indifferent toward Germany as I am to most of Europe. I do at times find the hypocrisy coming from Germany a bit more than say france to be annoying, but only annoying.

I do not consider the actions the German government has taken to be consistent with those of an ally. Allies either support or they do not support. Allies do not work to undermine each other.

If on the other hand you do feel the actions of Germany were those of an ally, then this would go a long way in explaining why Germany has such difficulty in winning the wars it starts.

What I object to are the current defense related treaties the US has entered into with Germany. Not only are these costly and are relics from the Cold War, they put the US at risk. Equally as has been demonstrated by Germany, these agreements are one way. The US gets nothing from these except basing rights. Hopefully in time there will be an alternative to having bases located in Western Europe just as there will not be a need to have Gitmo.

I am a supporter of the EU, if the EU will assume total responsibility for the defense of Europe without the US. I am even ambivalent about the EU becoming a counter pole to the US.

Ralf, while you might believe the US and Germany are “allies”, I do not. If you call that difference hate, then so be it. Use your own terms and own standards to judge my position.

Merkel has done nothing to change my position since her election. In fact, believe it or not I have much more respect for her predecessor than I do for her.


Helian,
I admit that I don't have all the knowledge of Clintons efforts re Kyoto that you have but I do have a few questions

If Clinton expended any real effort on Kyoto - why didn't ANY Democratic Senators vote for it?
It was hardly a tight vote was it

And if Clinton DIDN'T expend any effort on Kyoto - knowing it was a lost cause because the Europeans would change the terms - why hasn't the Clinton camp been out defending Bush against the constant charges that he killed Kyoto?

Actually - I know the answer to the second one already : )

Acch. I leave for 24 hours and you all forget the discipline of the internet. Google the facts.

-Everything about the Kyoto agreement and the Clinton admin can be found with a simple google search. There is no point using this bandwidth.

@Helian
but the claim that he put no effort into coming up with a workable Kyoto agreement is simply false

Helian is right. What he fails - probably because like me he's tired of pointing out the obvious - Al Gore sucked him in to it. One would think that as Vice President and the role that gave him in the Senate, he would have been able to line up the votes. Instead, the Senate voted to send a msg to Clinton - "Don't bother - you will lose". The salient point here is not about Kyoto. The salient point is that with all of Gore's political and public credibility as an environmentalist, he failed. Clinton's action can be summed up simply as cutting his losses.

go Google. Shame on you if you haven't already.

@joe
You are a fool if you think the German government lacked either the power or the ability to have prevented this had they so chosen.

Beware of tarring the German gov't at the Federal level with the sins of the (U.S. equivalent) state level. German media blamed Bush for not preventing the execution of Tookie Williams, when in fact, Bush had no jurisdiction. Nor did Merkel over the release of Hamadi. It was the German equivalent of a state-level decision.

Ray, it is good you are German so you can point these nuances out to those of us who are not.

I'm going to give you a pass on this as none of us gets to monitor all the blogs we read 24/7. But the fact is Ray D. has posted that one of his parents is German, one is American, and he lives here in the U.S. Your comment sinks to the lazy slur. And if Ray D. were of 100% German heritage and had never lived anywhere except Germany, your comment would say nothing so much as no one of such a profile has an opinion or insight of value. Which leads me to ask "What are you doing here?"

Shame, joe. So much of what you post is invaluable. That was not.

@Ray D.

Reading thru this whole thread I can see you think you got bitch-slapped into next week - without good reason.

In this one case - and you know I've been here for a year or 3 - you underestimated us. You and David have been our mentors in learning how to read the media, how to understand the manipulation, and how to tease out what has meaning and what doesn't.

Your headline was ALMOST right. It should have read something like "Merkel will not use MSM to exploit anti-Americanism".

The use of the MSM in exploitation of anti-Americanism got a lot of us digging down to the next level. Exploitation of anti-Americanism in the media means what? A little. But that's talk. Everyone here who has posted has noted that if she wants to be given credit for talking the talk, she had better walk the walk.

So:
- demanding the release of a Turkish citizen who is a suspect terrorist and who's being denied entry to Germany because in the words of Germany's Interior Minister he poses a threat to Germany's national security

Ray & David, please give us some credit for at least trying to focus on what the bottom line is. As much as we have learned from you.......

So, my next question is: does this have anything to do with Turkey's admission to the EU? At first Merkel opposed it, but for some reason my memory tells me she later backed off from that and supported it. Could this be related?


@ joe,

Pamela is right. With all due respect, you don't even know me. I was born and raised in the USA and I am a proud US citizen. My mother is German and I also hold German citizenship.

And allow me to be very clear about something else: I haven't worked on this blog for nearly 3 years (for free) so that people like you and Niko (who don't even know me) can come into our comments section and pollute it with insults against David and me. David and I have more than shown that we can take a punch and we can take a joke. But we won't put up with repeated denegration of our blog and/or our characters on this website. Niko decided he was going to stop debating the merits of the issue and attack us as intellectually dishonest and character assassins (in comments and emails that we've since deleted). So he won't be commenting on our site anymore.

We all have our limits and we just reached one. I hope you and others continue to argue the merits and don't go down the same road. We honestly do appreciate your contributions and well-argued objections, but everyone here should also be clear that we will not tolerate repeated attacks on our characters.

BTW: There is a difference between saying the foreign ministry is run by the SPD (which I said) and saying that foreign policy is run by the SPD (which I never said). It was never my intent to say that Merkel has no responsibility or control regarding foreign policy. She clearly does. It was my intent to point out that the SPD plays in important role (along with Merkel and the CDU) in the foreign policy field since an SPD man is running the foreign ministry. Those are simple, indisputable facts.

@ Pamela

No worries, I certainly was never under the impression that I was losing the argument, especially not against someone who thinks it is outrageous that the German Chancellor might actually support a seat for her own nation in the UN Security Council. Imagine that!

That said, maybe I am being a bit too optimistic about Merkel and I certainly might be proven wrong by future events. But at this point I'm going to stick with what I wrote above because that is what my gut and what the evidence tells me. I can also understand joe's pessimism. Actions certainly DO speak larger than words. The request for Kurnaz's release is one particular action that is not conducive to better relations, but it does not, by itself, make or break German-American relations. The same goes for the Gitmo comments, they clearly do not make or break transatlantic relations. The US government itself has made that very clear by speaking of bilateral relations significantly improving since the elections. Again, Merkel is not perfect. No one is. But she is a heck of a lot better than Schroeder and she is not into exploiting anti-American sentiments in my humble opinion.

Here's the bottom line for me right now: Merkel's got a long past of supporting the US (even when it was highly unpopular) and has only been in power for less than 2 months. I'm not going to brand her a failed anti-American just yet.

@Pogue

>>"If Clinton expended any real effort on Kyoto - why didn't ANY Democratic Senators vote for it?
It was hardly a tight vote was it."

I agree that the answer to your second question is obvious, so let's concentrate on this one. In general, Clinton knew as well as the Republicans that Kyoto as it stood was a non-starter. It unfairly demanded serious sacrifice only from the U.S. Among the most significant reasons for this were:

1. The Europeans were able to take advantage of a massive windfall due to the closing of failed industries in formerly Communist East Germany. It would have been necessary to shut down these industries regardless. No such windfall was available to the US. During the same period, Russian emissions of greenhouse gases were reduced 30% for the same reason. Ukraine reduced its emissions by a whopping 40%. How do you think Schroeder and his pals would have reacted if the Russians had struck moralistic poses as "stewards of the environment" for the "sacrifices" they had made to achieve the 30% reduction, and demanded similar, but in this case real, sacrifices by the Germans to achieve the same numbers? That is precisely what the Germans and other Europeans demanded of us. Good luck finding any mention of this in the German media.

2. During the period from 1990 to 2000, the Europeans had been able to take advantage of massive new gas resources from the North Sea and Russia. Natural gas produces half the greenhouse emissions of coal in generating equal amounts of electricity. No such new gas resources were available to the US.

3. The economy of the US during the decade of the 90's had been strong and robust, compared to the lame performance of the European economies. Thanks to their environmentally "virtuous" lackluster economies, the Europeans picked up another emissions windfall.

Of course, you're extremely lucky if you've seen any of this mentioned in the European media in general and the German media in particular. Instead, the Germans are fed the propaganda lie that Americans don't care about the environment, and most of them swallow it because they want to believe it.

Clinton and the Democrat senators, on the other hand, were very well aware of the above facts, and realized that approval of Kyoto without modification under the circumstances was tantamount to political suicide. Imagine how it would have played back home if industrial jobs were slashed to meet our Kyoto benchmarks while the Europeans, from whom no similar sacrifices would have been required, smirked from the sidelines. As you may have noticed, their efforts to date to comply with Kyoto have been purely cosmetic.

Under the circumstances, it was necessary for Clinton to negotiate some adjustments with the Europeans to at least achieve some semblance of fairness. He had visions of Kyoto as a crown jewel in his "legacy," and, as a consequence, worked very hard to get the Europeans to cut him some slack. His motives for working so hard to get a Kyoto agreement are certainly debatable. However, there is no question that he was serious about attempting to rescue the treaty, and wasn't just going through the motions. His efforts were all torpedoed by the Europeans. Why should they make any concessions just to restore some semblance of fairness to the treaty? They could strike heroic poses as saviors of the environment and, as usual, blame everything on the US. They knew their gullible citizens would swallow the farce, and, of course, they were quite right in that belief. As I've noted above, Schroeder was so sure that the peanut gallery back home, carefully "informed" by the German media, could be easily bamboozled as usual, that he didn't even bother to send a serious negotiator to the talks. Instead, he sent his pet demagogue Trittin, a clown who, in all the years of the Schroeder administration, was never entrusted with anything more serious than coining propaganda one-liners. The rest is history. We still have to endure the usual pious sermonizing of the Europeans, who are still as clueless about all this as ever.

RayD,

I am not sure how to response to what you perceive as my insult to you. Since that was never my intent nor did I think I had done that’ also to my knowledge I have never insulted David. If I have then I truly wish both of you would point out to me where so I can insure it does not happen again.

If you actually feel you were insulted by my reference to the fact you have one German parent, then please accept my apology. As you have said this several times before, I did not realize it was an off limit area. Trust me I will not go there again.

Equally I wished you would point out where I have denigrated you or David. What I have questioned is your position and views on this particular topic. If you would like to label that, as an attack, then that is what it is as this is very much your blog.

It would seem the best course of action is to make a comment and then leave it alone.

Until you pointed that German foreign policy was actually run by the SPD, I did not know that fact. I really did think the Chancellor of Germany had more power than she obviously does.

This is what led to my question of why is she going to Washington if she has no authority or even responsibility for foreign policy. I very much thought that was a valid question. Obviously you do not or did not.

Equally having worked in another life with parts of the German government, granted some time ago, I am not convinced had the murderer of a US service member had really wanted to be turned over to the US that it would not have happened, some how some way.

Since you do not believe that is not possible under any set of circumstances, then I feel I do need and do owe you an apology for calling you a fool. Probably a better choice of words would have been naive. BTW to be naive is something we all are about certain topics. I am also.

As for your statement about polluting your blog, I have to assume that to disagree strongly with a position you take is what you mean. OK. I understand. You have made your point.


@ Pamela

Fair enough. Maybe I am being too optimistic about Merkel

No your're are not. Fidn the links, bookmsrk them

RayD,

I failed to delete the part about the FM and Merkel in my previous reply to you. You addressed that issue. Thank you for clearing that up

You did leave me with the impression she had limited authority in the area of foreign relations.

@ joe

It's all right, nothing personal. I was mainly unhappy with the "you're a fool if" comment as well as the reference to my background. I think you can certainly strongly disagree with me on the issues without going there. That said, the attacks from Niko haven't exactly created a light atmosphere today and that's not your fault. So don't worry about it, you are welcome here as always.

PS: As far as Merkel and foreign policy goes: She does not have absolute power. The SPD still has its say as well. The point is that it is a coalition and both parties have a say.

As far as the release goes: Yes, I believe Merkel had the potential authority to turn him over to the US. I wish she had but she decided not to change the sentence. My point is that her failure to do so does not mean she is anti-American or even playing to the anti-American crowd. She clearly has some differences of opinion with the American government on the handling of certain issues and I think she is wrong on quite a few of them. But she also has FAR MORE things in common with the US government on quite a few issues than Schroeder ever did. Again, no foreign government will ever 100% agree with the USA or always cooperate. If we expect them to, we will only be disappointed. But taken as a whole, I believe that Merkel will improve German-American relations and is genuinely interested in doing so. Could I be wrong and overly optimistic? Sure. We will all have to wait and see on that.

Pamela,

As in my post to RayD, I simply do not believe the Chancellor of Germany could not have affected the transfer of a murderer of a US service member to the US. It does not matter at what level this action took place.

Granted not being a lawyer, and surely not being familiar with German law, it would appear this terrorist broke no national laws but broke what would be comparable to US individual state laws. I for one would have thought air piracy and murder outside of Germany on an American aircraft of an American would have be some form of national crime and not a state crime. It is obvious that I was wrong on this.

It would appear the US Department of Justice has the same limited knowledge of the German government and how it operates as I do. The USAG called the German Ministry of Justice in Berlin. He should have been speaking to some state AG instead.

As for the comparison of Tootie Williams to this terrorist, the POTUS could have granted him a relief in one of several forms had he chosen to. I am not saying this President or any President would under these circumstances. He did have the power to do so. The President is granted this pardon power under the United States Constitution, Article II, Section 2: Which says…

The President ... shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

Equally I believe this President or any President might consider relief if he was to receive a request from an important ally that this individual be transferred for the purpose of administering justice. There is a whole other world called black ops which exists in each and every nation that could have be used to do this.

And actually you are correct about my comment sinking to a lazy slut. It was not intended to be but the road to hell is paved with good intentions or even bad ones.

There was surely a much better way to have expressed the concept that Americans do not understand the complexities of a particular statement, comment, situation or event. We just don’t understand nuances. This is a very common reframe from Europeans. It is the nicer form of being called stupid. It was obvious I did not understand the statement of Merkel, how it was being reported in the international press or even in a machine translation of the German M$M or the intent of her statement. RayD had a very much different interpretation of both her statement and her intent. I felt there was some nuance I was missing.

Those differences seem to not be reconcilable. I based this on Merkel’s actions to date, the actions of her government, her comments prior to her departure and her agenda when she arrives. Combined, these do not seem to be a strong foundation to support her supposedly desires to improve trans-Atlantic relations.

From reading the English translation of her news conference her answers were more consistent with the answers one would have expected from her predecessor than one would have expected of someone desiring a new start. If she was properly prepared she would have known before hand most of the questions she would be asked. I think even you Pamela would know what most of these would be.

It would have been easy to have added to her comment about Gitmo such as those people who are imprisoned there have been classified enemy combatants. They do not fall strictly under the Geneva Convention. This is a problem of classification and the threat the world faces. They are not criminals and therefore are not afford the rights one would normally think they would have.

Her handlers could have easily come up with something much better than that which would have answered the question, kept a degree of disagreement between the position of Germany but at the same time been much more supportive.

If you don’t think that is done or can be done then you have forgotten the POTUS trip and speeches he made when he visited Europe earlier last year.

All of this is even more difficult to square given I think Merkel is an extremely smart woman, who is always being under estimated much like the current POTUS.

I do agree with you on actions as compared to talk. One can say whatever they want about the previous Chancellor but when it came to walk the walk he did. With the exception of when he actively worked against the vital interests of the US at the UN and initially within NATO, he did everything the US asked of him. While most of this was not difficult, he did spend some of his political capital to accomplish it.

I have always believed he got caught in a trap of his own making and was never able to recover from it. He tried to balance one set of positions within Germany and another entirely different set of position outside of Germany and he was unsuccessful.

Where I disagree with RayD is on his optimism for Merkel. It is not in what she is not doing, in this case exploiting anti-Americanism. It is what she is failing to do. It is going to take much more to improve US-German relationships than reframing from comparing the POTUS to Hitler or calling American’s efforts in Iraq some adventure.

It is going to require her to engage her own elites, political establishment and citizens in a positive forceful way in support of the US. It is going to actually take some of the points that have been made here and present those to these groups.

I am not sure she has the necessary moral courage to do this. Having said that there are only a few political leaders who do.

Iran is going to be her first big test. To make a solution for Iran work I fear is going to take more than some watered down UNSC resolution. It is going to be painful for all parties involved. Merkel and Germany can play a positive role or they can stand on the sidelines and harp about their moral superiority while the US and others do the heavy lifting.

As RayD said time will tell how this plays out. We have 46 months.

The immediately preceeding posting with my name on it was not posted by me. My 6-yr old niece is staying with us and was practicing her HTML in the wrong window. Sigh. 6 years old and she's wiping the floor with my butt. Fortunately for Aunt Pam's ego, she screwed this up. But I give it two weeks tops.

Then I'm shipping her back to her mother. Gah.

joe, I'm with you on being cautious about Merkel. Her political will, whatever direction it may lean, is much circumscribed by a fragile coalition gov't.
I think it is incumbant on Americans, though, to be careful about not letting feelings rubbed raw by the continual insults (mild term) to get in the way of understanding limitations of the German political and legal systems. Culturally, we really are less nuanced that most others. We call it pragmatism. Everyone else calls it 'cowboy'.

Having said that, The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper, is not giving Merkel good marks. Note that the byline is a reporter from the paper, not a news service byline like AP or Scripps-Howard.

Merkel criticism taints U.S. visit

BERLIN -- Germany's new conservative chancellor, Angela Merkel, is winning plaudits at home, but has soured the tone for her inaugural visit to Washington this week by bluntly criticizing the U.S. detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

[snip]

German commentators suggested that the chancellor was trying to defuse disagreements with her coalition partners over domestic issues, ranging from economic policy to nuclear power.

@Pam.
if being 'less nuanced' means not understanding 'I voted for it before I voted against it',
yes, then call me a 'reckless cowboy'.

@joe - "Of course FranZ, would like us to believe Old Martin at the FM's office that this was not a trade for hostage."

Joejoejoejoejoe, you're really trying to raise the level of doubt to where no man has been before. So I have to present you with my doubt too.

During the Beslan siege, the German site which Iranian chief librarian Mohammed Khatami had visited in June 2000 burned down:

"There is no reasonable sign that this was deliberate arson", says local police investigator Rolf Wagner. The specialists also verify why sniffer dogs have noticed traces of gasoline or diesel near the origin of the fire. "We cannot exclude that fuel has escaped", says [police investigator] Schrehardt. This might have happened after the quenching of the fire, from a little excavator or the chainsaws used to recover the ceiling. According to the president of the Weimar classics foundation, Hellmut Seemann, the smoke detectors have worked in the night of the fire. The question was however how the fire could spread that fast. Whether and how a deflagration might have occured is still to be determined.

If you want to play that level of doubt, please give me a reason why I should believe that the Anna Amalia Library fire was not another Hisb'Allah attack on German soil. For your inspiration, here's a gallery of images from before, during and after the fire.

Why should I believe the BKA's conclusion that Anna Amalia was an electricity accident any more than you believe the German foreign ministry spokesman's statement on the Robert Stethem affair?

For what it's worth, today's Wall Street Journal Europe headlines it's front page with the following:

"Merkel scores early gains in global political arena"

Without getting into a speculative dialogue about whether the WSJE and the Washington Times are merely serving their respective constituencies, my vote for substantive analysis goes to the WSJE. Its article (no point in even trying to provide a link to subscription only pages) has a broader scope than US-German relations, but points out Merkel's good and bad points (from the US relations perspective). All in all, the article provides support for anyone who's optimistic about Merkel without denying any obvious deficiencies. Here's the money quote:

"Ms. Merkel, says Mr. Joffe (publisher of 'Die Zeit'), 'is perfectly unemotional about the U.S. and, in fact, anything else: countries, issues, people' . . . The new chancellor's rational, pragmatic style . . . has won her newfound popularity at home."

Rational pragmatist. Has a nice ring to it, particularly in contrast to Schroeder's emotional opportunist.

And, coincidentally, not one word about releasing murderers from prison.

I also think it's worth remembering not only that Merkel has been in office for a very short time, but that she was elected with a narrow plurality and is governing via a coalition with her main adverseries. The balancing act she's carrying out would be challenging for a seasoned pol, and she's a relative neophyte.

Like every politician, she has a responsibility to her own constituents and - for my 'duh' comment of the day - in foreign relations that means Germans not Americans (as much as joe would like it to be otherwise). So, while we can expect to hear from her some talk that she has to talk, we will judge her ultimately on her walk. From what I've seen and read, she's wise enough to know the difference. Her career - as Ray D. points out - has been far more US friendly than not, reasoned criticism from her should not be conflated with anti-Americanism or even with playing to the masses, and we should at least give the lady a chance to walk the walk beginning on Friday.

Cheers,

PS - Though I'm not about to change my opinion about any one-sided threads in the past, this thread has been an outstanding rebuke to my comments about an echo chamber. Congratulations and well done !

Rofe,

I have no problem with Merkel worrying about Germans. That is in fact what she is suppose to be doing.

Pamela,

If you can sort through all the clutter in my postings you would find I have been saying the same thing that is reflected in the Times article for some time.

I had previously read Merkel’s statement about the breath of US-German relationship. What will be interesting is how she is going to define this. Once she has defined it, then just what is she going to do about it.

In general I am in agreement with the Times article. I do not think these 3 events will have damaged Merkel but I would equally say she is on a much shorter leash than most people might consider. I doubt she or her handlers realize this either.

Like the US, Merkel is going to have a lot of nice words to say during her visit. At the end of the day, I think they will amount to the same thing as the CDU defending the removal of Check Point Charlie.

There is very much a new reality, which I think Merkel understands better than many in the US about this relationship. Yet, she too seems to want to go back to a time that no longer exists or her words would indict. I find this much like trying to catch the flame of a lost lover.


FranZ,

I need to catch up....LOL

First the 5 million. Go for it. Fund some art project. Promise it will not change your life or life style unless you allow it to. You can become a patron which is much better than a rich elite.

I am not sure what you believe about the fire. It would cause me to wonder a bit if it was arson, act of God, or an accident.

If we were to check our usual sources....

Old Pat ....act of God.

Old Martin..... accident.

This does not leave you and I much but to shift through the ashes and come to our own conclusions.

It is possible having moved beyond "the thrid way" we could find ourselves in a fourth dimension known only to the crew of the Enterprize.

"We have 46 months."

I very much doubt it. There are already a couple of issues out there that given a little time, will develop into real knock-down-drag-them-out rows; the Bürgerversicherung (a new type of mandatory health insurance scheme) and the shutdown of perfectly good nuclear power plants being good examples.
I give it about 15 months until a failed no-confidence brings down the grand coalition, and I wouldn't be surprised if the CDU actually initiates it because they think their chances in a new election will be much better. Where have we seen that precedent?
Fifteen months. Actually, I'll be surprised if they are able to smell one another even that long.

@joe - Talk about the money you offer, not the one others might, and I still won't allow it to leave its decisions to me. This blog doesn't have a commenter-to-commenter online payment system anyways, so these remarks are theoretical.

It is interesting that the up to now most snarky language from Iran ("the German chancellor's brazen remarks about prohibiting Iran from gaining access to the complete nuclear fuel cycle") coincided with that fire, and that there is a record of Iranian terrorist attacks in Germany, including personal involvement of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Conclusion, I would rather see investigators browse through the confiscated Stasi files of the current Iranian regime than have to shift through the ashes of Weimar. My benefit of the doubt for the Ayatollahs in this case is just as much as for the Taleban in the case of the statues of Bamiyan.

As for your fourth dimension, it is not a dimension in the literal sense of the word, it is the shadow of the Salman Rushdie fatwa. This February it would become seventeen years for which the Ayatollahs have claimed jurisdiction over Europe, including book burnings.

David and Ray, I love you but I don't buy that crap about Merkel. You are making party politics here, which is alright, just don't say you don't.

Guantanamo isn't Merkel's fucking business, just as it wasn't Schröder's (or ANY German politician's) fucking business.

Antiamericanism (which has a lot in common with antisemitism) is in the German makeup. And even, for argument's sake, granted that Angie has not an antiamerican bone in her, then she is STILL sucking up to the German mainstream. There are elections to win, after all. Not now, but sometimes in the future.

Just don't say it ain't so!

@ Editrix:

I think you have to be very careful here. Germans are not inherently anti-American and it must be possible for nations to honestly disagree with the USA on the issues without immediately being villified as "anti-American." Ms. Merkel may be expressing the will and opinions of most German people on Guantanamo, but she isn't doing it in an exploitive or anti-American manner as her predecessor would have. She has also supported transatlantic relations over relations with Russia throughout her career which is in stark contrast to Schroeder. Those are the facts and it is ludicrous to say we are "playing politics" because we see the obvious and massive historic differences between the two administations.

That doesn't mean Merkel is perfect or that she isn't flat wrong on some of these issues. But she is a hell of a lot better than Schroeder because she's not out to bash the USA for political gain. Not so far anyway...

Ray, let's hope you are right.

I am German, am am living among them, I know how "IT thinks inside us" (to misquote Rainer Werner Fassbinder).

I'll gladly apologize for the "party politics" accusation and, again, I hope you are right and I am wrong.

I found it interesting in how Merkel chose to answer the question asked her about Gitmo when standing next to POTUS as compared to her answer in Germany.

“Well, it is true that we addressed this issue openly, and I think it's, after all, only one facet in our overall fight against terrorism. I made it very clear and I completely share your assessment as regards the nature and dimension of this threat, and that the Federal Republic of Germany, just as other European countries, need to come up with convincing proposals as to how we ought to deal with detainees, for example, who do not feel bound by any law; and how do we deal with people who come from countries where such structures don't exist. “

“So I think what we need to address is how we further want to proceed. We need to, for example, find a reform of the international law in this respect, and I think the United Nations is, indeed, a good forum to do that.”

RayD has taken the position that Merkel has not overtly exploited anti-Americanism for political gain. At this point one can agree with him. She has not however taken a position with Germans that would foster a new beginning in the US-German relationship.

Her answer in Washington would have better served this goal had she given it to the German people.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/01/20060113-1.html

@Pamela,

I knew, as you probably did too, her handlers were capable of finding a much better reply than she used in Berlin. This very much ties back to the article you posted from the WSJ.

So one must ask why she did not reply to the same topic in the same manner.

Equally if her stated goal about the current relationship is an actually goal, which answer best moves toward accomplishing that goal?

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