A day after a U.S. helicopter was shot down in Iraq, German editorialists commented on the security situation in the supposedly postwar country. In local news, protests in Berlin over government reforms got top billing.
"American’s are paying with blood in Iraq," stated Die Welt in its leading editorial on Monday. The ambush on a helicopter full of soldiers represents new and terrible dimensions, the Berlin-based daily said. It called for more solidarity with the United States and said Germany should feel obliged to lend a hand in this hour of need. The United States helped free Germany and Europe from the grip of Hitler, the paper reminded its readers, and concluded that the Germans "should be sensitive and intelligent enough to stand along side America in Iraq."
"Another attack, more dead," was the sober headline in the Neue Osnabrüker Zeitung. The paper bitterly noted how the Saddam loyalists have managed once again to evoke terror and panic, not to mention the psychological trauma plaguing all who are working to rebuild Iraq. Investors, the United Nations and other aid organizations are spooked, the paper said describing the sense of fear that overshadows all postwar reconstruction efforts. The paper commented that while attacks continue to proliferate, support for U.S. President George W. Bush at home is waning in the critical run-up for re-election. The paper wondered how long it will take before Bush cracks under pressure to bring the troops home. But that would be the biggest mistake Washington could make, the paper surmised. Bush has to stay the course alone, otherwise Iraqis face a very dark future.
Other German papers commented on demonstrations in Berlin against the government’s plans to cut back on benefits the German welfare system.
"The demonstration on Sunday highlighted the discontent and uncertainty many people in Germany feel over the reform debate," wrote the Kölnische Rundschau. The organizers of the protest were surprised by the turn-out of around 100,000 people, the paper said, but it warned that the protest isn’t going to cause a nation-wide avalanche. The entire government and the opposition know that drastic reforms are needed. Even the protesters weren’t able to offer any serious alternatives, the paper noted.
The Leipziger Volkszeitung said most of the indignant middle class who protested know that things cannot continue as is. "There is no one else to point to pick up the pieces, every one has to bear the burden," the paper wrote.
The government has acted like an accountant, it does the math and makes the cuts were it counts, writes the Berliner Zeitung. And these cuts are always at the expense of the middle and low income earners, like pensioners and people on social security.