Thursday, September 26, 2002

Go Schroeder!

For the past several days the American media have been all over German Chancellor Schroeder for his victory over Stoiber. Not once have I heard it mentioned that it is a victory of the socialists over the Christian Democrats in coalition with other more conservative forces. Not an ounce of critical analysis, in other words. Instead, all of the talk, and I mean all of it, has centered on the claim that Schroeder "pandered" (sic) to the German voters instead of doing the right thing and showing his support for the American "effort to fight terrorism." (Foreign Minister) Fischer flies to Washington to "put things right" with Colin Powell. Schroeder himself flies to London to get Tony Blair to "put things right" with Bush. All of the focus is on how Schroeder made a mistake, how he knows he made a mistake, and how he needs to behave now to control the damage.

The absurdity of current events goes on, in other words. Yesterday came the news (the U.S.A Today poll) that something like four out of five Americans will support Bush’s plan to bomb the Iraqis provided he does it in concert with Allies and with U.N. support. And four out of five Americans are clear that they will not support him otherwise. Here in Republican U.S.A., however, the discussion goes on about how Bush can pull it off even without American support!

Fouad Ajami maintains that if Bush manages to get Hussein out quickly and with a minimum loss of life there will be dancing in the streets of Baghdad and not a rumble of Arab opposition. (Ain’t nobody don’t hate this loser, quite evidently.) But if he fails, and if Arab lives are lost by the thousands over weeks and months, the acts of anti-US, anti-Israel terrorism will rise to ferocious proportions. I’ll bet he’s right on about that.

But if you're wondering why Americans are viewed as cowboys, here it is, folks. Gamble it all away for one chance at glory! You got to feel sorry for Bush. The guys planning all this can get another head on their puppet, but if it doesn't work, all the oil money in the world won't put George W back into this Punch and Judy show. Wonder if he has a clue what they're up to?

If the Bush-head does act alone, and if he pulls it off, then George Light will be a hero and Schroeder will be portrayed by history as a coward. If Bush acts in concert and wins, then Schroeder will be a craven coward. But if Bush causes the destruction of an ancient civilization along with modern schools and hospitals, and if Iraq is split in three (disgruntled Kurds, disgruntled Shiites, disgruntled next-in-line Hussein look-alikes) and if thousands more people already living in fear and misery end up dead to no lasting good end, it will be the American voters whom history will call craven.

I am a republican (small r) and understand that when you elect leaders you want them to use their judgment, their understanding and experience, even when the majority of folk are against them. But what kind of screw-loose jingoist virus has gotten into the body politic that it goes on wondering all over the airwaves whether we can still go it alone? Is it the sheer unadulterated arrogance of American leadership that started this talk? Or is it the media folk who think all it takes to become a news commentator is the ability to tie at least one shoe?

75% of the German population, apparently, is opposed to war under any circumstances. And their reelected chancellor is taking flak in the American media and from the American government because he didn’t kiss American ass. Well go get’em Schroeder. I’ve never been much of a fan of yours (wish you wouldn’t dye your hair) but I think you deserve better than to be considered "obscene" (as Senator McCain, I believe it was, called you on the Charlie Rose show) for "catering to the will of the people." When a politician chooses to dash another politician for following polls in order to get elected, he adds another brick to the wall of conviction that politicians are hypocritical to the core.

Sometimes people just don’t want to go to war. Sometimes they even have reasons for their views. And sometimes their leaders listen to them.

Let’s hear it for Chancellor Schroeder.

September 26, 2002