Tue Dec 6th, 2005 at 07:02:28 PM EST
Condoleeza Rice's visit to Berlin was much anticipated by us all here and by all people who want to know the facts behind the CIA "rendition" scandal. As far as I am concerned, I am glad to say: I am not disappointed. After her meeting with Rice, Merkel said that "the American administration has admitted this man has been erroneously taken." But after she left Berlin, Rice's staff members told a Reuters reporter that "we do not know what had crossed Merkel's mind" when she said that. Meaning: They accused Merkel of being either deaf or a liar. Nice start into the much-anticipated new US-German relationships, I would say.
This whole thing ain't over, as well as this diary. Click on read more and read more if you like!
One thing for sure: If Merkel wanted to ease the tensions in the US-German relations, she did not succeed. Which, in this case, is a good thing. I want to have a good relationship with a good US government, not with Bush's government. It seems that Merkel's and Rice's "misunderstanding" was the result of rising public pressure on the issue. WaPo:
In Berlin, questions about media reports concerning secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe, CIA rendition practices and the Masri case dominated Rice's news conference with Merkel. The news conference in Berlin attracted dozens of reporters and 27 television cameras.
Facing an ACLU charge in the case of the abduction of Khaled Masri, Rice seemingly did not have any other choice but to switch to undiplomatic mode. Which in turn will foster coverage about CIA crimes and European leaders' complicity. This is a really nice example of how important it is to raise public pressure in a concerted way both in the US and in Europe.
Meanwhile, new German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier admitted that he knew of Masri's abduction as early as June 2004. Now that two former ministers under the Schröder government seem to have had knowledge of the abduction in May and June 2004, it becomes more and more unlikely that Schröder himself or other members of the red/green government did not know. It seems inevitable that the first parliamentary investigation comittee (Untersuchungsausschuss) of the new legislative period will be about CIA "rendition" practices and what the former (and to a large part current) German government knew about it. FDP, Greens and Linke together have enough votes to request an Untersuchungsausschuss - and they will vote together on this issue. The Greens could be afraid of damaging Joschka Fischer, but in fact they do not have any other choice as an opposition party.
One more thought: The new diplomatic quarrel shows that the dissonances of the last years did not root in the personal Schröder-Bush-relationship. Neither was it founded on an alledged anti-Americanism by Schröder or the majority of Germans (opposing the war in Iraq, I had to defend my support of Schröder's anti-Bush/anti-Iraq war policy in several discussions against the allegation of supporting anti-Americanism). No one can accuse Angela Merkel of anti-Americanism. Today's events show: Cooperation with the Bush administration on an equal basis is not possible. Neither for Social Democrats nor for Conservatives.