Return of Cold War Rhetoric Worries German Politicians | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 19.10.2007
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Return of Cold War Rhetoric Worries German Politicians

German politicians from all major political parties voiced dismay at the increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the United States and Russia. Politicians want the rhetoric toned down and a greater focus on diplomacy.

Titan II nuclear missle at Green Valley Museum near Tucson , Summer 2004

A bellicose future?

German politicians were alarmed when US President George W. Bush earlier this week brought up the possibility of another world war. If Iran's nuclear ambitions aren't kept in check, it could result in World War III, Bush said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin caused further concern when, while in Iran on a historic visit this week, he made it clear that Russia plans to modernize its military, including its nuclear capacities.

German politicians were universal in condemning Bush and Putin's Cold War rhetoric and encouraging dialogue and diplomacy.

Escalation counterproductive

President Bush gestures during a press conference

Bush talks of World War III

Bush's mention of an impending World War III was counterproductive in finding a solution to the nuclear standoff with Iran, Ruprecht Polenz, a specialist in foreign affairs for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) told the DPA news agency. Polenz also criticized Putin for saying he wants to build up Russia's military capacity.

Rolf Mützenich, who specializes in foreign policy for the Social Democrats, said Bush's statement puts a "mutual and peaceful approach to the Iranian nuclear crisis" in danger. The disagreement over Iran's nuclear program cannot be solved using force, Mützenich told DPA. He encouraged Merkel to make this clear when she meets with Bush next month.

It was also "completely inappropriate" for Bush to bring up the possibility of World War III, Mützenich said.

The Left Party's foreign affairs expert, Norman Paech, said Bush's statement were an "additional signal" that the US is a war risk.

A dangerous political climate

The Brandenburger Tor in Berlin circa 1961, with barbed wire

German politicians don't want to see a return to Cold War politics

The head of the Green party, Claudia Roth, called the harsh tones from Washington and Moscow a "backslide into the rhetoric of the Cold War," according to an interview in the Internet news portal "Bush and Putin are losing all forms of measurement and control," she said.

For Jürgen Trittin of the Green party, Bush's and Putin's recent statements show how dangerous the current political climate is.

Bush not making war plans

A plane releses bombs in this undated handout photo

German politicians want more diplomacy and less talk of war

Bush wanted to make "a rhetorical point" when he suggested that if Iran could make nuclear weapons, it could lead to World War III.

"The president was not making any war plans, and he wasn't making any declarations," said White House press secretary Dana Perino. "He was making a point, and the point is that we do not believe -- and neither does the international community believe -- that Iran should be allowed to pursue nuclear weapons."

If Iran acquired nuclear weapons, it would lead to a very dangerous situation, Perino said.

The US has accused Iran of secretly trying to build nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies.

Putin will modernize the military

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left, and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin review an honor guard

Putin during his historic visit to Iran

Putin alarmed world leaders when he mentioned on Thursday, Oct. 18, that Russia is working on new types of nuclear weapons as part of a "grandiose" plan to strengthen the country's defenses.

Moscow is deeply opposed to US plans to extend its missile shield into Europe, by installing 10 missile interceptors in Poland and tracking radar in the Czech Republic.

Disarmament expert Elke Hoff of the Free Democratic Party, a free-market liberal party, reproached Putin for using US plans for a missile defense shield to undermine non-proliferation politics.

Putin embarked on a landmark visit to Iran earlier this week to discuss the country's nuclear program with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. On Tuesday, Putin said he backed the Iranian government in its nuclear dispute with the West, while also urging Tehran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

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