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Europe

German Press Review: Rummy’s ‘Outrageous’ Remarks

On Friday, German newspapers offer commentary on the Americans’ justification for war, apparent progress in the Middle East peace process and the first-ever mass assembly of Catholics and Protestants in Berlin.

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Commenting on remarks by United States Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq because Saddam Hussein may have destroyed them before the war, the western German Fuldaer Zeitung newspaper wrote that the statement was "outrageous." The editorial went on to say that the war undoubtedly went off more smoothly than expected and that the ousting of Saddam was a blessing for the long-suffering Iraqi people. But the end still didn’t justify the means. The daily concluded that a war policy based on lies was no trivial offence. (And one would like to tear one’s hair out over the fact that the world community simply has no means to put a stop to such goings-on).

Though the Israelis and Palestinians are now back on speaking terms, positive developments have almost always been promptly followed by a setback, the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper reminded its readers on Friday. So now, too, a healthy measure of skepticism is appropriate. Nevertheless, the paper continued, the first steps have been taken – under massive American pressure. The paper also noted that the development marked the end of U.S. President George W. Bush’s long-standing hesitation, drawn from the negative experiences of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, is over.

German papers on Friday also devoted considerable ink to the devout, commenting extensively on the country’s first-ever Catholic-Protestant Church Congress in Berlin. The Potsdam-based Märkische Allgemeine opined that based on the suggestive strength of the pictures from the day alone, the congress implied the growth of a powerful movement. But in everyday life, the paper’s editors wrote, the opposite is true – at least as far as the number of people who go to church regularly and do community work is concerned. One of the major themes playing out at the congress is the dire need for social and structural reforms in Germany, where a stagnant economy and high labor costs are fueling an unemployment crisis. While the social state may guarantee many forms of public assistance and may have made needy people independent of the sympathy of benefactors, the paper wrote, "it is still obvious today that the state’s capacity is exhausted." The editors concluded that the church congress provided a good opportunity to draw attention to this "uncomfortable truth."

Meanwhile, the editors of the Berliner Zeitung in the nation’s capital wrote of the pleasures of living in Berlin Friday – site of a gathering of 200,000 Catholics and Protestants. "We Berliners can enjoy the peaceful, exuberant atmosphere and the many open air concerts," the paper wrote. "But as if that weren’t enough, on Saturday, 75,000 soccer fans are coming to the Olympic Stadium for Germany’s FA Cup match and will be celebrating until the early hours of Sunday morning. Then on Sunday, SPD delegates will be arriving for the special party conference on reform. That’s why the rest of the country envies us."