29th Feb 2024

Rumsfeld compares Germany to Cuba

US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld arrives in Europe today for Iraq talks amid a flurry of controversy over his comparison of Germany with Cuba and Libya. Mr Rumsfeld is due to meet with Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and to attend a defence conference on Saturday in Munich to explain how seriously the Bush administration views the security risk in Iraq.

However, valuable time may now be taken up with smoothing ruffled German feathers over his controversial comments to the US House of Representatives’ armed services committee. When asked about the kind of cooperation the Bush administration could expect from other countries, he replied that "there are three or four countries that have said they won’t do anything. I believe that Libya, Cuba and Germany are the ones that have indicated they won’t help in any respect."

Outrage among German political elite

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While Germany has strongly insisted on its opposition to war with Iraq over recent months, the comparison with two countries known to belong to the US President’s ‘axis of evil’ has provoked outrage among the German political elite.

Although there has been no official statement from the German government, leading politicians have been queuing up to give their views on the subject.

Diplomatic blunder

CSU chief, Edmund Stoiber told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that he "strongly regretted" the comments. "This is not a measured or acceptable classification of Germany," he said, but he blamed it on the deterioration of relations with America that had been provoked by the ruling Red/Green coalition in Germany.

Stronger criticism came from German Bundestag member, Peter Gauweiler, who said that, "we must be worried about the inner condition of the US Defence Minister." Bernd Posselt, CSU foreign affairs spokesman of the European Parliament, commented that Mr Rumsfeld should be prepared to resign.

However, Green MP, Angelika Beer, urged colleagues to show a sense of humour about it all. "I don’t take it so seriously," she said, although adding that she was "somewhat amazed by the diplomatic style of the US Defence Minister."

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