Germany Rankles After Rumsfeld Comments

Guardian, Thursday February 6, 2003   

BERLIN (AP) - After Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld lumped Germany in with Libya and Cuba as die-hard opponents of war on Iraq, the German opposition accused Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Thursday of isolating the country with his anti-war stance.

Rumsfeld's remark in congressional testimony Wednesday was his latest slap at Schroeder's left-leaning government, which has refused to contribute German troops to an Iraq war and has made plain it won't back a war authorization in the United Nations.

While deploring Rumsfeld's tone, the conservative opposition gladly seized on the remark to criticize Schroeder.

``One doesn't always have to like the American rhetoric,'' Wolfgang Schaeuble, a lawmaker and former leader of the main opposition Christian Democrats, said on MDR radio. ``But the fact is that, unfortunately, that is how we are behaving.''

``Alarm bells should ring in Berlin when Germany is placed on the same level as countries like Cuba and Libya,'' said Michael Glos, parliamentary leader of the Bavaria-based Christian Social Union.

Taking up the refrain of the conservatives who were narrowly defeated by Schroeder on an anti-war platform in last year's election, he accused the chancellor of leading Germany into diplomatic isolation.

Rumsfeld was asked at the congressional hearing what kind of cooperation the Bush administration could expect from other nations in the event of a war. He listed several he considered supportive and others he thought might come around to backing the operation.

``And then there are three or four countries that have said they won't do anything. I believe Libya, Cuba and Germany are the ones that I have indicated won't help in any respect,'' Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee.

The Berlin government had no immediate response to Rumsfeld, who angered many in Germany and France last month by describing those countries as problem allies symbolizing ``old Europe.''

Winfried Nachtwei, a lawmaker from the Greens, Schroeder's junior coalition partner, called Rumsfeld's remark ``out of line'' and urged him to tone down his rhetoric.

  A revealing cartoon by the American cartoonist Danziger, February 4, 2003