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Jobs, NATO, Books and Radicals

General Motor's plans to cut 10,000 jobs at German carmaker Opel, a NATO presence in Afghanistan and anti-Semitism allegations at the book fair were some of the issues DW-WORLD readers commented on this week.

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Opel workers face an uncertain future

Job Cuts at Opel

I think the Opel workers made two correct decisions: The first one was stopping the plant and the second one was returning to the job, because they could not stay like that forever. Every time any plant in the world in any field has a problem of not selling, the workers pay the bill. But the decision to make such car models or any other product or the selling politics, or the marketing decisions are not taken by them. So why should they be responsible for that? -- Celestino Goncalves

If we only analyze the automaker sector we certainly have to conclude that companies are facing tough competition and oil prices really have damaged car markets. Additionally, European manufacturers have to bear the strong euro against the dollar and Asian currencies and also increasing labour cost most of them originated by structural problems in the labor market. But what will happen if we analyze General Motors' decision on politics? Why is Germany the European country which is most affected by the American corporation? Probably, we might conclude that the GM decision involves a certain air of political revenge by reducing money inflows to Germany. The US government is reducing the military presence by closing some of their bases. American companies are closing their factories, sacking thousands of employees. It seems that Germany will face important social problems in the medium term. In my opinion, in order to mitigate these problems, government assistance is necessary. -- Carlos Adrian Ferretti

No, the German government should not offer any assistance to terminated auto workers. Most German companies are investing in new vehicle production in Ukraine and other parts of eastern Europe anyway. Time for German unions to wake up and face reality. -- Volodymyr Maruschak, US

Both are to blame, but so is the general population, the governments and unions. Why? Because they all turned their backs on the best of their shared heritage. They collectively traded in their pride in the German work ethic that has raised the country from ashes in the past for the pipe dreams of pseudo-socialism, and short work weeks. Once again, the people will have to realize they blindly followed those who promised marvels - and get back to work rebuilding their great nation. I'm sure they will do it again. It is their greatest heritage. -- H.R., Switzerland

Unfortunately they do not stand any real chance in this matter. This is because of the unrelenting onslaught of change in the global economy has made jobs such as these in a developed country hard to keep. It just costs too much for an automaker to build cars in places like Germany on a competitive basis. I wish these unfortunate workers all the best as they face a tough transition in their lives. -- Brad

NATO, Schröder in Afghanistan


I think Germany and the rest of Europe should not acquiesce to any role in Afghanistan unless the US agrees to conform to all the terms of the Geneva convention. As a US citizen we need your influence on our government since democracy has been compromised here. -- Maurine A. Hobbs

I think the roles are clear enough in Afghanistan. NATO should keep its present role and not be drawn into American plans because unless they are specific the US will misuse them. Let the Americans go after their enemies on their own and leave NATO to try to help rebuild the Afghan country. -- Rod Conway, Canada

The US should have stayed fully committed in Afghanistan to completely eradicate/eliminate al Qaeda instead of taking on its unnecessary/illegal war in Iraq. NATO should not be expected to fight Bush's poorly conducted war against al Qaeda. -- Rene Serrao

Not at all, supporting the institution of law in Kabul is one thing, even though I find the American installed regime suspect. Combat operations in support of US objectives is something else entirely, if anything NATO should be scaling back operations as the Afghan government has had time to rebuild a force in order to police themselves.

ISAF Soldaten aus Deutschland in Afghanistan

German soldiers in the Afghan capital Kabul

NATO was established as a defensive alliance, and this role should be the only role. Assisting the Americans in installing a government designed to service the US can never be a part of this. Perhaps if the current mentality of the Americans continues NATO should eject the Americans and invite Russia to join, at least it is more likely Russia will respect the opinions of other alliance members. -- Michael Smith, Canada

As mush as I fear for our countrymen in Afghanistan, I do not believe NATO should become another extension of George Bush's war on terror. He chose to take unilateral military action while thumbing his nose at the rest of the world. Now he blames other nations for his own horrendous actions. While clearly the US military is overtaxed and in desperate need of help from other nations, until our government admits to the mistakes they have made, extends an apologetic fig leaf to the rest of the world agrees to relinquish military control over the mess they have made it would not be wise for other nations to jump into the fray. It is not the responsibility of the rest of the world to clean up our messes. In fact, I fear that if other European countries bow to this pressure it will only encourage further unliateral military action on behalf of the US. While I pray daily for an end to this recurring nightmare madness, I know deep down it will take a catastrophe for most Americans to admit the truth. But if we do not face up to our own monumental failures and change our attitude towards our allies, a peaceful future can never be assured. -- Theresa

While I, as an American, joined Germany and France in their opposition to our misguided war in Iraq, the real war against terrorism began in Afghanistan. After Sept. 11, all countries realized they had an interest in rooting out not only al Queda, but all such terrorist groups that seem to spare no one in their aim to destroy those who do not share their radical fundamentalism. I believe it is in the interests of everyone to pool their efforts in combatting the terrorists that are still hiding out in Afghanistan, in addition to stablizing the entire country, not just Kabul. I think NATO should expand its role -- this is a war we can all agree must be won. -- Nancy Davlantes

Definitely NATO ought not be used to combat terrorism in Afghanistan. Its mission must be kept to stabilization and reconstruction efforts. NATO did not engage the Taliban as such, the US did. Overextension of US troops is no warrant for subtle engagement of NATO in the larger role of pro-active or active combat, unless its role and security are intrinsically threatened. However, NATO might want to consider increasing its forces in the area to the degree that fact would accelerate the reconstruction process and insure the faster pullout of NATO forces and the establishment of a stable Afghanistan. -- Jose Luis Martinez, Puerto Rico

Yes. Europe owes its 60 years of peace and prosperity to the US. Now they need to repay their huge debt by bringing freedom to other people who are in need. In closing I'd like to add this. I strongly believe it's a mistake for Europe to be so eager to burn the bridge between America and themselves. We may lose you as friends but we will still stand strong as it is in our blood. I'm not so sure Europe will fair as well. -- Stan Forbes

NATO should take the lead role in stabilizing Afganistan. Clearly, the people of European countries have more to fear in the long run from militant Islam than the United States and need to deal with this reality with their forces and money. Wheher the US was correct in its approach to Afganistan is irrelevant at this point. -- Peter Bloom

In my personal opinion, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's visit to Acting Afghan President Hamid Karzai should not be considered favoritism. It is correct protocall for one head of state to visit with the head of state of a foreign country, "temporary" or not. Where is the emphasis, in print or photos, of Chancellor Schröder's visits to the German charity supported schools? Where are the visits with the soldiers of the Bundeswehr in the ISAF being told? These charities and soldiers have earned the respect and support of their chancellor, the German people and the international community for their service. -- William Burks, US

Anti-Semitism Allegations at Frankfurt Book Fair

Buchmesse in Frankfurt, Plakat Naher Osten Näher

A Frankfurt bus advertised the book fair's guest of honor, the Arab world.

If the purpose of honoring the Arab world at the books fair is there there really is inteneded to be a cultural dialogue, then the books displayed and activities should be even-handed and not overly biased or derogatory. Yes I think there should be an investigation into anti-Semitic content or activity at the book fair. -- Marcia K. Josephy

No, in fact much of the Israel critical literature is not anti-Semitic. Arabs and Jews are both Semitic people and such descriptions are absurd. The Simon Wiesenthal Center should rather concentrate on the state criminal activities of Israel under Premier Ariel Sharon. It is a tragedy that Israel continues to violate all UN resolutions and engage in actions which isolate this state in the international community. Israeli battle helicopters and fighter jets firing missiles into demostrating civilian Palestinians should also be condemned by Jewish organizations in Europe. -- Atilla A. Iftikhar

It is outrageous that the Germans would honor Arab writings without insuring that they were not anti-Semitic. The Germans had to have known, given the denial of so many Arab writings, what would happen. The question is: Why did the Germans initiate it and then not stop it when it was out of hand and inflammatory? -- Bruce Rogers, US

When welcoming publishers of books it is important to also be aware of the contents of all books. Books that have misinformation and hatred, while protected in the US under the freedom of the press, are still something to be considered. I am confident that the Arab world has available literature that does not promote hatred - perhaps they should be searched out and placed in a prominent place as quickly as possible. -- Esther Arlan

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