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Chancellor Merkel calls for closure of Guantanamo

by Atlantic Review Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 11:23:46 AM EST

From the diaries - whataboutbob

"An institution like Guantanamo can and should not exist in the longer term," Merkel told the weekly magazine Der Spiegel, days before her first visit to the United States.

Dialog International and the Atlantic Review write about a new German-Turkish initiative for the release of a Guantanamo detainee with Turkish citizenship, who was born and raised in Germany.

Many conservative Americans expected Merkel to be less critical of US policies than Schroeder, but apparently she is even more critical. Recently she told the press that Secretary Rice admitted that a mistake was made, when El Masri was snatched.

Are you surprised by Merkel, too? What is the future of US-German relations?


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I do think it is intriguing...and significant...that Merkel is calling for the closure of Guantanemo. I am curious as to what might behind this for her...but, nonetheless, good for her!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 07:35:26 AM EST
Indeed I am surprised.

As in my impression, Merkel is a cold-calculating power politician who tailors what she says as a function of the power groups and sectors of public opinion she tries to rely on at the moment, what I wonder is whom she wants to please. SPD voters she wants to draw over to the CDU? A CDU base that was less-than-enthusiastic about Pflüger's foreign policy line? Or did she pre-empt a media or public opinion outcry had she wetnt just all friendly to Washington? Or did Schäuble gave her some less obvious advice?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 08:39:38 AM EST
Her decision to criticise Guantanamo indeed is calculated, since the majority of Germans shares this view - regardless of party preference. Moreover, Bush's lame duck status becomes more and more of an issue here. As a power politician, Merkel also has to keep an eye on a post-Bush government...
by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 11:35:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another thing just occured to me: maybe her prior against-even-the-party-base pro-Bush-ism was calculated to prevent the US neocons and their German friends laying obstacles on her road to power - and once she was in, she felt free to take a more 'populist' line? Strangely enough, this case of cold calculation would make me feel much better about the future...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 11:47:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are right, the thought of Merkel coldly calculating her support of Bush while really meaning what she says when opposing Guantanamo feels much better. But the war in Iraq and the US handling of Guantanamo are two different things. One can support the former and oppose the latter without being self-contradictive.

But, still, there is a point to your thought: Merkel's socialisation as an active politician took place during the peaceful revolution in 1989 in Eastern Germany when she became spokeswoman of the more or less pacifist civil rights group Demokratischer Aufbruch. In her whole political life until today, she did never give the impression of being more hawkish than the SPD - with the sole exception of the war in Iraq.

by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 12:21:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I note Guantanamo was established in late 2001, thus Merkel condemned it  four years too late - her hopefully calculating Atlanticism wasn't just Iraq.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 01:12:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, better late than never, I guess. Let's she if she follows through and brings up the topic when she is in Washington. She has already set expectations now with the German press, so she risks a great deal of criticism at home if she doesn't address with with Bush.

Dialog International
by DowneastDem (david.vickrey (at) post.harvard.edu) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 02:27:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but in late 2001, she was not in office. IMO, what counts is what she says as Chancellor.
by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 04:32:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, you meant that, then I'm most probably behind the news: did she say something significant about Iraq as chancellor? I read something before or after Christmas about vehemently denied claims of a German deployment to Iraq, but nothing more.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 04:49:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no, I only meant her position on Guantanamo. Not on Iraq. Concerning Iraq, I can not remember her saying anything that implied a policy shift from Schröder's position. Which means: German troops stay out of Iraq, but they train Iraqi police in Kuwait; and vessels of the marine fleet patrol the western Indian Ocean along the Somalian coast.
by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 07:39:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As important as this statement is, the original German contains one tiny word that is not reflected in the English translation.

"Eine Institution wie Guantanamo kann und darf auf Dauer so nicht existieren."

Thus, I make the translation to be:

"An institution like Guantanamo can and should not exist in the longer term in this [or: its present] form."

Some people might use "so" as a filler in spoken German. But in Germany, it is customary for print media to submit interview transcripts to the interviewees prior to publication. If this meaning wasn't intended the Chancellory would presumably have requested that this be amended.

Merkel is trying to be critical without being categorical, methinks.


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 02:24:45 PM EST
I agree, one has to be careful with words and I am curious what exactly Merkel is going to say in DC.

However, I don't think the ommission of that one word is sooo important. I think Gitmo is more an icon than a specific place.
Therefore: Gitmo "in a different form" would not be Gitmo as we know it.

Do you know what I mean?


Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni

by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 03:35:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can have that both ways: continue with Gitmo after cosmetic changes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 03:51:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that's certainly how it reads to me.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 03:06:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, totally off-topic, that ät - I like your Germanised Anglicism :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 06:50:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 11:07:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Wed Jan 11th, 2006 at 05:48:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
She could just be saying that she does not expect the US to give Guantanamo back to Castro, but that concentration camps are a no-no.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 11:14:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel is heading a socialdemocratic / christian democratic coalition and she understands only too well that she has to pursue the Schröder line if she wants to succeed. And even better: The lesson of her defeat at the last elections has made her radically change her former political line. It is very ironic to see that her policy proposals are far more left wing than Schröder's. And she can now implement what Schröder was not even in his wildest dreams hoping to accomplish, namely to make the public sector spend billions of euros to create new jobs. Also, the general climate has changed, too. The economic growth is up to 1.8 percent, consumer confidence is returning and people start to spend, companies invest. The new 25 bn worth occupation creation program will create 500.000 new direct jobs and another 250.000 secondary jobs. Add to that the seasonal drop of the winter unemployment (500.000) which will kick in in March and the sustained upswing of the economy resulting in 10.000 new jobs every month since last March we will see a 'turn of the tide'. Merkel is harvesting the fruits of the Schröder era. It is now possible to drastically reduce German unemployment by half and initiate an up spiralling process. And don't underestimate the Football World Cup this summer! The mass psychology factor (the Anglo Saxon spin masters call it: the feel good factor) is on Merkel's side. This allows her to broaden her electoral base. Well, that's fine for me. Merkel has become a social-democrat and the social democrats can become more socialist. Could it be better than that? I don't think so. The CDU/CSU wants to regain popular support as a centre mainstream party to reach again their 40 per cent national share. This leaves the SPD to re-occupy the lost ground to our left. Which is the Lafontaine and Gysi folks. As a matter of fact the PDS has become paralysed and mute in face of the new developments and will find it ever more difficult to put up a meaningful opposition against the socialdemocratic government policy. It is this in front of background that Merkel goes to visit the Whitehouse. The girl has swum herself free, she is in a better position than Schröder ever was and it is only normal that she will talk with Bush at eye to eye level.  

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 08:27:35 PM EST
I like your analysis and hope that it turns out to be true.

Dialog International
by DowneastDem (david.vickrey (at) post.harvard.edu) on Mon Jan 9th, 2006 at 09:47:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand you correctly the message here is: Let's move to the right first, so that we can implement leftist policies.

"I love my wife not my country."
It seems, Bundespräsident Heinemann is alive... ;-)


Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni

by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Wed Jan 11th, 2006 at 05:57:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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