Friday, September 02, 2005

. . . while Germany blames and berates us

When all is said and done, remember this: Before offering to lift a finger to help the rescue and recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina, the German government wagged it at President George W. Bush and blamed him personally for the catastrophe.

As New Orleans was flooding, a senior German official, Environment Minister Juergen Trittin, wrote an op-ed in a Frankfurt newspaper blaming President Bush for the destruction from Hurricane Katrina. The reason, he said, was because Bush opposed the Kyoto Treaty - a pact to which the US is not a party but which environmentalists and socialists say would stop global warming.

With Trittin unrepentant and defending himself on TV, all Chancellor Bernard Schroeder did was add empty words of condolences.

Other Germans ripped them both for their callousness. Claus Christian Malzahn wrote in Der Spiegel, "instead of aid donations and sympathy, the Americans have heard little more than a haughty 'I told you so' from Germany. It's another low point for trans-Atlantic relations -- and set off by a German minister. How pathetic."

In an ugly diatribe that personified the worst caricatures of German callousness, Trittin wasted not a word on sympathy for the victims, even as they were still drowning in their attics.

Schroeder wrote a letter to Americans containing "nice words," Malzahn said, "but that was it. No pledges of aid money, no announcements of immediate help -- although finally, two days later, the German interior minister did manage to come out with a hesitant offer of assistance."

While German help might not be needed, the gesture certainly would be welcomed and accepted. It would have been smart public diplomacy, too, from the self-absorbed ecosocialists in Berlin who have done as much as anyone to damage transatlantic relations. And the fact is, some of the German help certainly is needed.

Notes Malzahn, "The same people who normally spend their time pointing their holier-than-thou fingers at the ghettos and slums in the US, the same ones who describe America as an out-of-control capitalist monster, are now, when the Americans could really use a bit of help, oddly quiet."

Finally, five days after the hurricane hit, Schroeder spoke at what the German press called "a hastily arranged news conference" where he offered medical evacuation jets, field hospitals, water purification systems, vaccines and portable shelters.

Schroeder told the press that it was "our historic duty."


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