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   Foreign Correspondent
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis

Copyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2002

Sept. 30, 2002

New York - President George Bush blasted Democrats last week for `not being interested in the security of the American people.' Democrats, it seems, were not jumping fast enough on Bush's invade-Iraq bandwagon.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat and veteran, furiously demanded Bush apologize. Bush spokesman claimed the president was quoted out of context, but the Democrats remained enraged.

Many senior Democrats are decorated war veterans. It's interesting to see what some of the leading Republican hawks who are clamoring for war against Iraq did during America's last real conflict, Vietnam. The muckraking `New Hampshire Gazette' did a study.

  • President George Bush - a cushy slot near home engineered by Dad in the Texas Air National Guard; apparently was missing for an entire year; service records never revealed.

  • Vice President Dick Cheney - no military service.

  • Defense Secretary. Don Rumsfeld - no military service.

  • Chief Pentagon hawks Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz - no military service.

  • Grand Inquisitor Attorney General John Ashcroft - no military service.

  • Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott, no military service.

  • Media neo-conservatives baying for war against Iraq: Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, Michael Ledeen, Bill Reilly, George Will, Ken Adelman, and Rush Limbaugh - no known military service during Vietnam.

These men are all around my age. I enlisted in the US Army during the Vietnam War and served my country. Where were they? Now, these warlike avoiders of military service want to send more young Americans into another trumped-up, unnecessary war.

Interestingly, the only senior member of the Bush Administration with an honorable military record appears to be General Colin Powell, and he is least of all in favor of the coming war.

This ugly business came right after Bush had turned his fire on Germany's just re-elected Chancellor Gerhard Schroder for refusing to join the anti-Iraq lynch mob. Bush was steaming angry - and rightly so - after one of Schroder's running mates stupidly compared Bush's tactics over Iraq to Hitler's. But this came after the White House and US ambassador clumsily interfered in Germany's election by openly backing the conservative candidate, Edmund Stoiber, something close allies do not do.

Schroder won an uphill election campaign, largely by refusing to join Bush's jihad against Iraq, a position supported by two thirds of German voters. Bush furiously accused Schroder of `playing politics' over Iraq.

Lucky for Americans Bush wasn't playing politics over Iraq. With mid-term US elections only five weeks away, no decent person would dare accuse Bush of trying to whip up war fever to distract American voters from the looming US $157 billion deficit he created, collapsing stocks, serial Wall Street scandals, a possible second recession, and daily revelations that the Bush Administration should have known the 9/11 attacks were coming.

Bush refused to even congratulate Schroder on his victory and had Defense Secretary Rumsfeld publicly accuse the Chancellor of `poisoning' US-German relations. What ever happened to Secretary of State Colin Powell who is supposed to deal with diplomatic affairs? More proof the Pentagon is running foreign policy and, as the mounting world-wide clamor against Bush Administration policies shows, making a hash of things.

The Germans, in the White House view, are not being sufficiently warlike. So what if the Germans lost 4.2 million soldiers dead and millions more civilian casualties in two world wars (America lost 418,000), that's no reason for them to be such Euro-wimps, say America's xenophobic far rightists.

Germans and Americans seem to have switched stereotypes: it's now Germans who are peace-loving, while Bush's recently declared New World Order Part II strategy reeks of old aggressive Teutonic geopolitics.

Washington has long urged Europe to act like a true partner. But whenever Europeans dare disagree with US policy, they get blasted by the US government and media for insubordination and accused of delusions of grandeur.

In reality, Europe, in the words of master strategist Zibigniew Brzezinski, `remains largely an American protectorate, with its allied states reminiscent of ancient vassal and tributaries.' Now, for the first time since WWII, Germany has openly defied Washington, to the delight of most Europeans. Schroder did this to save his political hide, but the effect is still highly significant: a cannon shot that could announce Europe's coming of age and the beginning of a true partnership of equals with the US.

Germany has been forced to accept the role of a paroled criminal ever since 1945. It's now time for Germany, tightly bound to France, and within the framework of the EU, to begin asserting its rights as a sovereign nation that has fully paid its debt for World War II.

Bush calls for democracy around the globe, but his unwarranted criticism of Germany is just another example of the occasional anti-democratic tendencies that course through his administration. German voters have spoken. Bush's clumsy efforts to punish Germans for opposing a war seen around the globe as unjust and unnecessary have further enflamed European opinion against his government and damaged America's strategic interests and reputation in Europe.

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