German papers on Friday continue to comment on the Iraq torture scandal and the consequences it could have for the Bush administration as increasing gas prices that are plaguing Europe.
"The political damage for the USA is so immense," writes Munich's Süddeutsche Zeitung, "that even the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld won't even things out." But a political victim would send a particularly believable sign that the American government takes seriously its own moral assertions and values that it tries to hold up in Iraq. The paper suggests Donald Rumsfeld's resignation would be a sign of humility that has been sorely lacking in him for too long.
For the Lübecker Nachrichten there's much to suggest that the Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld will be the first to fall over this scandal. But, adds the paper, even President Bush can't slip away from personal responsibility. "That the President in front of Arabic television could not even bring himself to say sorry is disgraceful." "This gesture was the absolute minimum requirement," writes the daily, "because now the US which was supposed to stand for freedom and democracy, symbolizes the worst things humans are capable of, brutality, humiliation and inhumanity."
"This hasn't just happened out of the blue," writes the Aachener Nachrichten. "Why, then, has the Bush administration been so willing to hand over al Qaeda suspects captured in Afghanistan to other countries? The answer is quite simply because their more vigorous interrogation methods will see results. Or if we put it another way," writes the daily, "Because they engage in torture." U.S. President George W Bush has reacted with shock at the images of torture in Iraqi prisons by American soldiers. But adds the paper, "the question remains whether it's the torture itself that disturbs the president or the images of the torture?"
The Financial Times Deutschland writes that the accusations of torture against U.S. soldiers has grown to a barely containable foreign policy issue for the White House and notes that half a year before the presidential elections the topic of Iraq is again the central issue. But the paper doubts that the presidential candidate John Kerry will be able to utilize this scandal to his advantage. The paper believes President Bush's interview on Arabic television was designed for an American audience to show he was taking responsibility. And according to this daily there's no sign yet that Bush will lose the election on the issue of Iraq.
The rise in crude oil prices pushing petrol in Germany to €1.20 per liter leaves many papers grumbling. The mass-circulation Bild Zeitung writes that at the petrol stations three drivers didn't bother to fill their tanks. "Everyone's scrimping and saving," writes the paper. "But the politicians that are chauffeured around for free should realize that Germany needs to remain mobile, to transport the millions of commuters and the goods they produce -- otherwise the country will be threatened by stoppages and everyone will be poorer," the paper argues.
The Mittelbayerisch Zeitung from Regensburg disagrees -- while the German auto club ADAC the opposition conservatives and others call for the eco-tax to be dropped – the southern German paper argues that this environmental levy has sensible and long-term goals. World oil prices will fall again, points out the daily, and dropping the eco levy for two weeks to alleviate higher petrol prices is a short-term solution that will have no impact. "Suggestions of this caliber need to be consigned to the scrap heap for stupid ideas."