German Papers Say ‘Many Have Lost Faith in America’ Because of Bush

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By: E&P Staff

With George W. Bush visiting Germany and other parts of Europe this week, German newspapers have been slamming the U.S. president in language stronger than most American dailies use.

The Der Spiegel publication compiled some of the comments, which are quoted below.

— Berliner Zeitung: “Rarely has an American president been less popular in this country. And rarely has one embodied the arrogance of power more convincingly than Bush.

“It is unforgotten how he humiliated the United Nations, how he went to war against Iraq with a ‘Coalition of the Willing,’ how his closest aides portrayed France and Germany as wimps. Bush discredited values which had brought United States worldwide respect. Many have lost faith in America because of the false reasons given for the war, the unlawful imprisonment of terror suspects in Guantanamo, or the photos of Abu Ghraib.”

— Handelsblatt: “Bush junior wasn’t up to the challenge following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, because he let himself be pushed into an unwarranted war by listening to the wrong advisers, and thereby prevented a broad front against terrorism. Constructive Middle East policy was made more difficult, and the regime in Iran was strengthened. Bush didn’t just boycott the Kyoto Protocol, he persistently undermined it — and thereby helped polluters such as China. With this unilateralism Bush damaged America’s reputation and curtailed his room for maneuver.”

— Suddeutsche Zeitung: “In Germany, America is no longer seen as a country of individual liberty, as a reliable ally, and definitely not as a model. There are a large number of justified accusations leveled at Bush’s policies. They include dangerous naivete, lies, and the sustained infringement of human rights.

“Bush won’t care, but in the thoughts and feeling of many Germans he is leaving behind a mixture of antipathy, ridicule, anger, and skepticism towards U.S. policies and towards America in general. Differentiating between the two has become more difficult with every year of his presidency. The memory of Bush will darken America’s image in the world for years to come.”

— The conservative Die Welt went easier on Bush, though it did criticize him a little. Its comments: “George W. Bush and his government made mistakes. The biggest was to think that democracy could be exported with a guarantee of success. But those who see George W. Bush as having stepped outside the boundaries of Western constitutional values ignore two things: Firstly, the United States really was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, not Germany or France. The U.S. has good reasons to respond decisively to that. And secondly, it’s not as though much-praised multilateralism would have made the world a much safer place. Often it was merely an excuse for staying out of trouble and quietly relying on the U.S. to be there when things got serious.

“It’s not just George W. Bush who’s unwelcome. Ever since Reagan’s Berlin visit in 1987, American presidents haven’t been especially welcome whenever they embodied the uncomfortable aspect of the Atlantic alliance, which many regard as a burden that should be discarded soon. But the Bush critics are overlooking one thing: Whether Obama or McCain, the coming president of the U.S. will be a difficult partner.”

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