German Press Review: Schröder′s Plane Offer | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 16.01.2004
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German Press Review: Schröder's Plane Offer

German papers on Friday commented on Germany's potential military contribution to Iraq now that Chancellor Schröder has said he is willing to send a hospital plane there.

The Kieler Nachrichten said the chancellor’s offer can still just about be reconciled with his government’s motto: no German soldiers in Iraq. For such a humanitarian mission would not require any German soldier to set foot on Iraqi

soil as long he stayed in the plane and American GI’s brought the wounded to the aircraft. The government may continue splitting hairs in this way for a while, the paper wrote, but there’s much to be said for the argument that German soldiers will before long also be deployed in Iraq to safeguard peace.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich thought the timing of Schröder’s offer is no Coincidence. It recalled that the U.S. announced only a few days ago that former Iraq war opponents who now showed greater willingness to ooperate would after all be allowed to bid for a second round of major reconstruction contracts in the war-torn country. How can one demonstrate one’s willingness more

effectively than with such a nice gesture, the paper asked?

Other German papers take issue with President George W. Bush’s call on the United States to move “forward into the universe,” outlining a costly new effort to return Americans to the moon as early as 2015 and use it as a staging post for Mars and beyond. According to the Fränkischer Tag in Bavaria, along with the political dimension of such an objective, the economic and technological challenges of a moon station and a flight to Mars have to be considered. The military aspect is also unmistakable, the daily added. Here it is the up-and-coming China that is being shown who plays first fiddle.

Die Welt was full of praise for the U.S. president , saying that with his space plans he is demonstrating a quality that has become rare: courage. The Berlin-based daily thought people who set themselves such goals must be courageous, and not just because of the huge risks and the astronomical expense that are involved, but also because of the admission that they want to achieve them in the first place.

Eastern Germany’s Märkische Oderzeitung pointed out that according to experts a manned Mars expedition would cost many times as much as the amount made available to NASA every year. Should Bush really intend to implement his plan, it said, he would need the support of Russia and the European space agency ESA, which itself is working on a Mars project. But should he accept their offers of help, he would also have to grant them a leading role.