Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at gmx.net
Fri Sep 20 05:27:22 MDT 2002

Chris Brady wrote:

> The regional newspaper Schwäbisches Tagblatt said today that Chancellor
> Gerhard Schröder's justice minister, Herta Däubler-Gmelin, had said:
> "Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It's a
> classic tactic. It's one that Hitler also used."
> Quoted from:
> Bush-Hitler Remark Shows U.S. as Issue in German Election
> New York Times, September 20, 2002
> Think she's got a point?
> Or does she want to divert attention from domestic problems?

The remark has to been seen on the background of the election campaign. On
Sunday a new parliament will be elected. According to opinion polls the
results are to close to call, with SPD/Greens and Conservatives/Liberals
neck to neck.

Since the balance-sheet of the Schröder government is poor, especially when
it comes to unemployment the conservatives had been looking as the likeable
winner at the beginning of the year. But in recent weeks the momentum has
swung in favour of Schröder. Generally this is attributed to three facts:

- Schröder's personal popularity especially when compared to his
conservative challenger
- Schröder's handling of the floods in East Germany. Basically he used it as
an opportunity to evoke nationalistic feelings by saying 'In a time of a
national catastrophy we have all have to stand together as Germans.'
- Schröder's (verbal) refusal to support the US on attacking Iraq. A
position that is tremendously popular here.

The last point is the most interesting one. I do not think it should be
surprising that there are different opinions among the leading imperialist
states. But usually these differences are wrapped in a diplomatic language
and remain often hidden before a wider public. But this time around Schröder
expressed publicly his disagreement with Bush in words that were quite clear
('no German troops for an attack on Iraq, even if there is an UN endorsement
as long as I am Chancellor').

At present it is hard to say how much is campaign rhetorics and how much is
a real opposition to the US. But given the strong public support it could
well be that we are experiencing a major turning point in German-US
relations and a growing amount of inter-imperialist rivalries, with Germany
emerging as the main challenger to the US (and not Russia, as Mark argued

Certainly things will be more clearer from next Monday. Until today Schröder
has not taken any actions, but simply played rhetorics. If he really were
the friend of peace he claims to be he would have taken at least these
- withdrawal of the German troops from the area. German special forces are
still fighting side by side the Americans in Afghanistan. There is a total
news blockade about what they are doing there. Part of the German navy is
patrolling off the Somali coast, obviously freeing US resources for other
tasks. A small anti-ABC reconaisance unit is conduction permanent war games
in Kuwait.
- deny the US to use German air space for the attack on Iraq.
- deny the use of US air bases in Germany for an attack.

None of these steps has been taken so far. Actually Germany is supporting
the _ongoing_ war againts Iraq by supporting the murderous embargo againt
the Iraqi people.

So much for the background. On the remarks of Herta Däubler-Gmelin just a
few additions, she not only compared Bush to Hitler, she also said the US
juridical system is 'lousy' and Bush would be in jail if current
insider-trade legisaltion would have been in effect earlier. She might be
correct that types like Bush better belong to jail, but hearing such remarks
from the executetive personal of the German ruling class is rather bizarre.

It is a demagogic way of strengthening German nationalism and it only serves
to distract attention from the poor results of the Schröder government for
the working class.


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