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Ignoring completely the good things in Iraq, accentuating exclusively the evil and forgetting the overwhelming international consensus on Saddam's WMDs - this is the template on which to build an opinion, which doesn't have much real life relevance or resemblance, but is ideologically rewarding. Throw in some pseudo-historical analogies to the Soviets in Afghanistan and you have the crowds on your side, especially when contradicting positions don't find their way in the media.

The German media has pulled the curtain on the world stage, keeping the German audience in the dark and allowing only heavily filtered opinions to get out. The most shocking and incredible experience for me when I was living in Germany was not the opposition to the war or the infantile Bush-bashing, but the total absence of opposing views in the media. It really felt like nobody, literally nobody in the entire world would support Bush's position (except for his minions). Being fed that kind of propaganda day in, day out, year after year after year completely inhibits one's ability to interact with facts and truths.

No one knows how history will judge Bush - maybe a visionary, maybe a complete failure. History is still being made in that regard. One thing is already certain though, regardless of Bush's legacy - the (German) media has failed to properly fulfill its duty, its one and only purpose: disseminating information in an objective and complete manner. This is the media's darkest hours (or years); not because they don't praise Bush, but because they have chosen to ignore a plethoria of events and facts and became just as partisan as any other political party. They have become the loudspeaker of oportunistic politicians like Fischer, using the credibility built in the past for patching up a failed ideology.

The media's advantage was that they were above the political arena, untouched by dirty battles; now they are down in the mud, wrestling with political opponents, while pretending that they still wear a white shirt. More and more people (in the US, not in Germany) realize that the referee has become an active player and they are withdrawing their trust.

The United States and its government have made a number of mistakes and the insurgency continues.

Probably not as many mistakes as leading up to, during and after the Normandy invasion.

If one wants to look over New York Times Articles on the GERMAN Occupation they will be strangely familiar and similiar to those in the last couple of years.

America has Won the War, but Lost the Peace. The Prestige of the US has never been lower in Europe. We had no Plan for the Occupation.

Go here and see how Leopards never change their spots.


Want to Compare the Iraqi Occupation to the German?

Have we seen anything in Iraq like:

New York Times; Mar 24, 1946; pg. 11

Will employ armored forces if necessary
to halt food disorders in their zone.

Note: food disorders= hunger riots

Oh and the article also mentions

"Sabatoge Groups"

You make many good points, esp. but not only on Afghanistan!

Yes, not everything as gone wrong in Iraq, there are some positive developments and yes, everybody was wrong about Iraq. However, whose miscalculations have been worse for international security and the war on terrorism and for dealing with Iran's nuclear program: Fischer's or those by these guys? Fischer criticizes them and their wishful thinking primarily. Most Americans and most foreign policy experts do the same.

You quote SPD and Green party officials, who are NOT their party's foreign policy experts. Why don't you quote what Steinmeier, Klose, Schroeder, Fischer, and others said? What was Fischer wrong about? Did he say that Iraq had WMD and that those WMD are a grave danger or did he just say that Saddam's quest for WMD is of concern to him?

Both the US and Germany had contradictory intelligence information concerning potential WMD in Iraq.
The US government focused on the intelligence information that said Iraq had WMD and sidelined the intelligence information that suggested otherwise.
The US strongly believed in the accuracy of its intelligence assessments and decided to go to war. Germany was not so convinced from the accuracy of the pro-WMD intelligence info and decided not go to war and try tougher sanctions for the time being. Half a year more inspections might have convinced Germany and many other countries (like Turkey) to join the war effort.

Besides, I think Fischer discusses more the US policy mistakes in Iraq than the decision to go to war.

I think your BBC article from February 2001 omits some qualifiers and does not tell the full story, because in August 2000 the Bundesnachrichtendienst said that Iraq's nuclear program could be back to the 1990 development status within the next three to five years, IF the UN inspectors don't return to Iraq. It is possible, but not very likely that the Bundesnachrichtendienst reversed its assessment so drastically within a few months. I have not found an alternative source to support the BBC report that Iraq could have the bomb within three years.

[i]Secondly, Iran will only receive long-term benefits from the US presence in Iraq if the US and its allies decide to abandon the country before it has the capacity to defend itself from threats foreign and domestic.[/i]

Will you call it abandonment if there will be less than 50,000 troops in twelve months? They way thinks are in Iraq right now, I fear that this is quite likely.

[i]"If anything, Mr. Fischer was Saddam's secret helper, and for that he should be held accountable."[/i]

First of all, Spiegel is responsible for the headline "Tehran's Secret Helper". Not Fischer. Authors don't determine headlines in the MSM.
Fischer just wrote that Iran is the main beneficiary of Iran. Right now that is the case. Without the Iraq war, Iran would not dare to be so confrontational and more concilliatory with its nuclear program, because they would be afraid of an US attack. Now they don't worry much about the possibility of US strikes. Fischer writes that Iran's assessment is wrong.

Second, are you suggesting that Dr. Rice is the not so secret helper of Equatorial Guinea's dictator and should be held accountable?
According to State Department reports, the president's goons have urinated on prisoners, sliced their ears and smeared them with oil to attract stinging ants. So it is uncontroversial to observe that Mr. Obiang is no friend to his people. But he is a "good friend" of the United States, at least according to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who met with him last week in Washington. "I'm very pleased to welcome the president," Ms. Rice told reporters after the meeting. "Thank you very much for your presence here." Mr. Obiang purred back: "We are extremely pleased and hopeful that this relationship will continue to grow in friendship and cooperation."

I am not comparing these guys' atrocities with those from the Saddam family, but would like to point out that your characterization of Mr. Fischer as Saddam's helper is unfair.
What has Mr. Fischer done to help him? Compare that with the help Mr. Rumsfeld has provided to Saddam in his career. Does this make Rumsfeld another not so secret Saddam helper? I have a picture of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam. Do you have one of Fischer shaking hands with Saddam?

Who provided more arms to Iraq or Iran in the last four decades: the US or Germany?

Secretary Rice met with that dictator in April 2006. Not in the Cold War. Equatorial Guinea has a lot of oil, but 85% of its people suffer from malnutrition. It is one of the least free countries in the world. Read the Wash Post.
Do we really have to take your claims of promoting democracy seriously? Or do you just hype your democratization efforts in Iraq, because all other reasons for war proved to be wrong? Why did not you start democratizsation in a less difficult environment than Iraq. That would have saved many US lives. In Egypt for example, whose autocratic rulers receive a 2 or 3 billions of US dollars every year.
Why don't you apply any significant pressure Saudi Arabia? The KSA oppresses women, gays and democracy activists, preaches Anti-Semitism and Anti-Americanism around the world and produced and educated most of the 9/11 hijackers. And yet President Bush *kissed* the former crown prince, who is now king. Does this make him the King's not so Secret Helper? Should he be held accountable? What do you mean by holding someone accountable anyway?

Again, as I said in the beginning: You make many good points in criticizing Fischer, but I disagree with your conclusions.

Without the Iraq war, Iran would not dare to be so confrontational and more concilliatory with its nuclear program

??? Huh ?

Jorg, Fischer's presumption is that Iran feels safer now because the US have a military presence in Iraq ? How exactly does that make the mullahs feel safer, I don't understand... Judging by the support that Iran offers to terrorists in Iraq, I would say that the mullahs feel quite uncomfortable with what's happening in their region. They have their death enemy, the strongest military in the world next door and this makes them feel more comfortable... how ??? My dear 12th Iman, this logic is quite a performance in mental acrobatics!

The aggressive guy I hate most and I'm afraid of most has moved in next door, and I feel safer because, let's say, he's busy fixing the plumbing with other neighbours ? Sorry, I don't feel safer at all, quite the contrary. Fischer's logic doesn't even deserve the name of logic. It's one of the most illogical things I've heard lately, for which, by the way, there is absolutely no proof. It's just another theory, sold by Fischer as a fact. The rule of the thumb seems to be that no matter how preposterous a theory might be, if it hurts the US it automatically becomes valid.

In my opinion, any responsible politician who doesn't openly and strongly oppose Tehran's plans is an (unwilling) enabler of their plans. Saddam felt comfortable because the only ones opposing him were the US and England. He had faith in the influence of Western politicians on America. He would have maybe gotten the message that the game is over if the EU politicians had condemned him as strongly as the USA. When this didn't happen, he felt safe and this enabled him to keep going. Same thing with Iran.

P.S. The mullahs might indeed feel safe, but this has nothing to do with the US being basically in their backyard; it has everything to do with their religious fanatism and their version of the Apocalypse.


A chart of arms provisions to Iraq from 1973-1990 up to the time of the sanctions:


the USA is way down the list on this. In fact the Russians, Chinese and the French amounted to 94% of the arms shipments to Iraq.

Even Denmark provided more arms to Iraq than the USA.

I echo your sentiments about the left claiming to be morally discerning, but unable to differentiate between quite different shades of gray. The black-white thinking seems to come primarily from the left these days.

The notable exception to this, of course, is anything to do with sex. As libertarian as I am, I just don't see how being nuanced in that area outweighs an ability to make distinctions in foreign policy, UN corruption, and freer markets.

@ Jorg,

Thanks for your comment. I totally agree that the US, Germany, and other western nations must stop coddling dictators anywhere. I believe President Bush made a statement to that effect, but as you point out, the administration has yet to get serious enough with a number of unsavory leaders. There remains a great deal of room for improvement on this front for Germany and the US. No question.

As far as the reasons for the war. I recall the main reason being Saddam's refusal to fully comply with UN resolution 1441. Do you believe that he was, in fact, in compliance? As far as democratization goes, you can see the elections and the slow (and admittedly painful) process of building a government taking place in Iraq. Whether you take that process seriously or not is your choice. I happen to think it is a serious process with a real chance for success. As far as WMD are concerned, most nations believed Saddam had them. Many of Saddam's generals believed he had them until shortly before the war. You have to keep in mind that the international community failed to get Iraq to cooperate for 12 years (from 1991 to 2003). Do you honestly believe that a few months more would have really changed much?

As far as the headline goes: Maybe Joschka didn't write it. The point of his article (as I saw it) was that Iran will benefit from the US presence in Iraq and that the US is inadvertently helping Iran in this way. While this may be true in some limited respects in the short run (Iran's ability to stir up trouble), I disagree with Mr. Fischer's assessment that all that could have gone wrong has gone wrong and that Iran is set to benefit long-term from the situation. In calling Mr. Fischer "Saddam's helper," I am saying that his stand on the Iraq war would have helped Saddam, even though that was not what Mr. Fischer intended.

As far as an alternative source, here is one. This is a commonly reported quote from Hanning. You'd think he would have objected had it been taken drastically out of context by so many media outlets.

@ Dick
Thanks for supporting my argument with a link, that shows the US provided more arms to Iraq than Germany did.

@ Ray
Thanks for the response and the alternative source.

"In calling Mr. Fischer "Saddam's helper," I am saying that his stand on the Iraq war would have helped Saddam"

I guess you would approve calling Sec Rice the helper of Equatorial Guinea's brutal dictator as well as calling Pres. Bush the helper of the Islamic fundamentalist King of Saudi Arabia, because he kissed that man rather than toppled him like Saddam.
According to you, any government is the helper of every dictator, they do not topple.

"the international community failed to get Iraq to cooperate for 12 years (from 1991 to 2003). Do you honestly believe that a few months more would have really changed much?"

The interest of the international community had its ups and downs over those 12 years. For a time the US was quite happy with containment and sanctions.

Besides, I did NOT say that a few months more would have led to full Iraqi cooperation with inspection. (Although the US has been successful with patience re Lybia's Ghadafi). What I said was: "Half a year more inspections might have convinced Germany and many other countries (like Turkey) to join the war effort." because the pressure to support the US was increasing. Most observers believed Schroeder would not be able to uphold his opposition much longer. Well, who knows. Anyway, I think the US could have waited another year since it did not have intel indicating that Iraq was an imminent threat. Sure, it would have been expensive to transport the troops back. However, you are now paying a big price for your small coalition of the willing.

Re the headline "Maybe Joschka didn't write it.": He definitely did not write it.
a) authors don't write headlines. b) he does not talk that way.

Re Iran benefiting from Iraq in the long run. Well, it's too early to tell. I think Fischer was talking about the present and the mid-term future rather than the long run as you say. In the long run we are all dead anyway.

Re democracy: Elections is just the beginnning. It still remains to be seen, whether democracy will take root in Iraq and whether Iraq's future leaders are that much better than Saddam. I hope they will be. And I hope the US stays in Iraq as long as it takes. However I am increasingly doubtful. Yes, so far only a minority of Americans calling for immediate withdrawal, but a majority wants to decrease troops, and Iraq is already more unpopular than Vietnam. Midterm elections are soon...

Where is everybody?
I thought I my first comment would be strongly criticized...

Where is everybody?
I thought I my first comment would be strongly criticized

Jorg, have you ever thought that no one answers because there is maybe nothing original about your opinions and they are simply not worth fisking ?

Using words like "criticism, but, wishful thinking, but, wrong, but, WMD, but, more inspections, but, mistakes, but, etc etc" doesn't add weight to your opinions. Even if they are sometimes warranted, we have gotten to the point where sane people only roll their eyes when they hear them. They have been completely devalued by the constant misuse in the media. They have lost their meaning.

The one and only "original" thing was Fischer's idea that the mullahs are happy that the US are in Iran. That idea is so ... should I be rude or not ... OK, I'll be rude, for a change... that thought is such an idiocy that one would have to get drunk before starting taking it seriously and commenting it. Other than that, nothing new. Iraq could succeed, but... America should remain there, but... etc.

My only comment is to say that I'm glad we didn't have people like Mr. Fischer in power during World War II (except for perhaps France, and the results there are quite well known). There are always enough setbacks in any war to find a reason to quit if you want to. What wins wars (in fact, the only thing really) is dogged persistence. You keep going despite the setbacks and try to maximize your advantages and minimize your disadvantages. Here are some moments from World War II when quitting was an option:

The fall of France
The decimation of the US fleet at Pearl Harbor
The fall of Bataan
The Uboat war that threatened to starve England
The Battle of the Bulge

And just about every moment in between. Fortunately, we had leaders made of stronger stuff back then and they didn't even consider defeat as an option. Then again they weren't green and progressive. They were democrats.

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