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Europe

German Press Review: Hurting America's Image

German newspapers on Tuesday commented on the alleged mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. and British soldiers, as well as the apparent collapse of talks over Germany's proposed immigration law.

Munich's Süddeutsche Zeitung thinks the image of America has been tainted. U.S. President George Bush spoke of an isolated mistake that was not representative of the American armed forces in Iraq. "While this may be the case, it doesn't matter. What matters is the impact these images will have on the Iraqi population and the international community," the paper argued. The female soldier who posed with a cigarette in her mouth in front of the genitals of an Iraqi prisoner has done more to destroy the U.S. image than Donald Rumsfeld achieved with his brutish comments, the paper wrote.

The Recklinghäuser Zeitung asked: What is exactly going on in Iraq and the prisoner of war camp at Guantanamo Bay? The USA claims to have a patent on freedom, democracy and human rights, the paper added. "It's the Americans themselves who are making their case impossible within the Islamic world and above all in Iraq which they intended to liberate." it wrote.

Berlin's Die Welt wrote that for mercenaries, America's Iraq war is a lucrative business. There are some 16,000 private soldiers operating in Iraq as civilian contractors making up practically the second strongest contingent after the Americans and ahead of the British. And that leads to a massive loss in transparency, wrote the paper.

The decision by the German government's junior coalition partners the Greens from talks on reforming the country's immigration laws raised concern among German papers.

This is the moment where the German population can only shake their heads in despair – wrote the Kölner StadtAnzeiger. After three years of consultations, the dispute about the draft law could lead to a crisis within the government. One can understand the Green Party's disgruntlement writes the daily – following pressure from the opposition conservatives the new law will include provisions on detaining suspected foreign extremists. "Hardly something the Greens can agree to with a clear conscience," noted the paper.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung blames the exodus of the world's top scientists and skilled professionals from Germany on the country's overly bureaucratic immigration laws. "The ruling coalition is now facing a crisis and nothing has changed the status quo of the immigration laws with five different visa titles and complicated deportation process," the paper wrote.

The Frankfurter Rundschau commented that the Greens knew their supporters had had enough. The Social Democrats must have seen the Green pull out coming wrote the paper. The fact that Interior Minister Otto Schily acted so surprised only demonstrates how poorly the Social Democrats know their coalition partners and how the party failed to take seriously enough how the Greens felt about the immigration law.