- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2003

Germany's other voice

Germany's political opposition regards President Bush as a friend, despite the dispute between the German government and Washington over Iraq, a leading member of the German parliament said this week.

Friedrich Merz, the deputy chairman of the center-right Christian Democratic Union, told the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, that his party understands why the United States is leading a coalition to disarm Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, our correspondent Ben Tyree reports. He said he wished the U.N. Security Council supported the action.

"Even more, we would have wished the Iraq regime had met the 17 U.N. resolutions of the past 12 years. And we should always be aware of what Saddam and his terrorist regime has done to its own people and to neighboring states since 1991," he said, referring to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and its aftermath.

"I also want to assure all Americans … that we Germans never have forgotten what America did for us 55 years ago and again 13 years ago," he said, recalling the postwar reconstruction of Germany and the strong support for the reunification of Germany.

"So President Bush simply deserves, despite all differences in details, the right to be addressed as a friend. I wish my government also shared that view."

The current German government is headed by Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who heads a coalition including the leftist-environmentalist Green Party.

Mr. Merz also had some stark news regarding Germany's economy, which he said "is in a deep crisis." He noted that German "prosperity is decreasing, unemployment is rising, the national debt is growing … the social security systems are on the brink of collapse."

Between 2000 and 2002, he said, "Germany's competitiveness compared with other countries continued to fall," and he noted the demographic trend of declining birthrates that "will impose major burdens on us and, indeed, all the other European countries as well over the next 15 to 20 years."

Mr. Merz said Germany's problems are structural and involve the current government's "refusal to tackle the long overdue task of structural reform in the labor market, social-protection systems, taxation and public budgets." He said public spending and taxes need to be cut to promote private enterprise, the deficit must be reduced as a share of gross domestic product, and social programs have to be modified to encourage Germans to work longer rather than retire before age 60 as they often do.

Germany has recorded well below average growth, compared with other European countries over a considerable time.

"The average real GDP growth amounted to 1.42 percent between 1999 and 2002, whereas growth in the European Union averaged 2.2 percent. The gap would be even wider if the EU average were adjusted to exclude Germany's poor growth rates," he said.

Renaissance man dies

The U.S. ambassador to India yesterday mourned the death of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who, among his many positions, also served as Washington's envoy to New Delhi.

Ambassador Robert Blackwill recalled Mr. Moynihan's words upon arriving in India in 1973 for a two-year diplomatic tour.

"India is not a distant land in America," Mr. Moynihan said. "To the contrary, it is the land from which many Americans have come. … Its manufactures, its religions, its culture, perhaps especially its music, are part of our way of life."

Mr. Blackwill, in a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in India, called Mr. Moynihan a "great American and a great friend of India." Mr. Moynihan died Wednesday.

"In today's highly trained specialists, we yearn for the quintessential Renaissance man," Mr. Blackwill said. "Daniel Patrick Moynihan was Cabinet officer, senator, ambassador, Harvard professor, author of 18 books, Navy veteran, loving husband and father.

"In 1955, he wed Elizabeth Brennan, who often said she married him because he was the funniest man she ever met," Mr. Blackwill said.

He remembered Mr. Moynihan's words after the assassination of President Kennedy.

"I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually. I guess we thought we had a little more time," Mr. Moynihan said.

Mr. Blackwill added, "We must all feel that way today about Pat Moynihan."

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