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Europe

German Press Review: Eating Humble Pie over Iraq

Germany’s dailies turn their attention to Washington’s humbling efforts to woo the United Nations to give it a bailout in Iraq. But, the papers warn, the UN shouldn’t buckle to too many U.S. demands.

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The U.S. president will have to show a new face while wooing UN support.

The Financial Times Deutschland commented on the fact that the United Nations and its members are facing difficult times. United States President George W. Bush is turning to the UN for help. To find out how far the Americans have been going down the wrong road, the Hamburg daily noted, you only have to look at the timing of this decision. It came on the exact day when it partially turned over power to a hodge-podge group of troops from 21 countries and the swore in of an Iraqi post-war government. The UN must not buckle under to U.S. demands of gaining additional resources without giving up any control, but it must at the same time try to draw Washington back into a multilateral system, the paper’s editors advised.

The Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger opined that it wasn’t just the recent criticism from generals in the Pentagon that showed how naive and how much the Bush administration overestimated its own capabilities in dealing with the Iraqis. The paper wrote that the American president hoped to head into next year’s elections a victor, but that is unlikely. The American people have followed every lead Bush has taken since Sept. 11, 2001, but they won’t tolerate that for much longer, the Cologne daily concluded.

The Berliner Zeitung took a different stand, suggesting that recent positive economic developments in the United States could save Bush. Editors of U.S. opinion pages may write that Bush’s star is sinking, the Berlin paper wrote, but the stock graphs on the business pages are pointing up. GDP grew 3.1 percent in the second quarter and experts are predicting growth of as much as 5 percent in the third. The Berlin paper wrote that if the U.S. can get things under control in Iraq before the next presidential election, then Bush has a good chance of getting reelected.

The editors of the Leipziger Volkszeitung expressed concern that the continuing violence in Iraq could make the domestic political situation very difficult for German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. "More and more the United States is making concessions about how large a role the UN will play in Iraq," the paper wrote. "And when a resolution is finally proposed, it would be hard to believe that Schröder would still refuse to send German troops to Iraq."

Meanwhile, the editorialists at the mass-circulation Bild found it amusing that Chancellor Schröder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer have crowned themselves the "dream team" of German politics. "Their announcement to run again as a team in the 2006 (federal) elections might be a little premature if their parties don’t agree," the paper said. "Gerd and Joschka against everybody else" does not promise much success, the paper concluded.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung made humorous reference to the government’s current preoccupations. "There are lots of issues that are of great concern to Germany at the moment, but not an announcement of who is running for which office in 2006," the paper’s editors said. Indeed, the paper wrote, Germans must have the impression that Schröder and Fischer only want to stay in power, which is "more of a threat than a promise."