Monday, April 10, 2006

Frau Merkel

Jim Geraght writes for the Washington Times about the new Chancellor of Germany (Deutschland, as we say in Greentown) Angela Merkel:

After about five months in office Chancellor Merkel's style has gone from frumpy to feisty, and her rhetoric in office, from an American perspective, has been downright dreamy.

Regarding Iran's nuclear program, Mrs. Merkel has taken a much tougher line than her predecessor. She compared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Adolf Hitler. After he threatened to wipe Israel off the map, Mrs. Merkel declared, "Iran has blatantly crossed the red line. I say it as a German chancellor. A president who questions Israel's right to exist, a president who denies the Holocaust, cannot expect to receive any tolerance from Germany."

Perhaps most strikingly, Mrs. Merkel ripped into a widespread and disingenuous perspective among German political elites, who loudly call for thorny international crises to be referred to the United Nations, knowing that in all likelihood the United Nations will do nothing. This is strong stuff for European politics, where a joke about President George W. Bush always gets a laugh and vapid pledges for "multilateralism" or "multipolarity" garner rote applause.

Mrs. Merkel isn't a one-note cheerleader for U.S. policies; she's criticized the Bush administration for the detention of al Qaeda at Guantanamo Bay and periodically made other criticisms of U.S. policies in Iraq. But even here she has a substantive distinction with (former Chancellor) Mr. Schroeder; Mrs. Merkel actually makes these arguments to Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in face-to-face meetings; she doesn't use them as cheap applause lines before German audiences.

Now I don't expect that she is the second coming of Margaret Thatcher, but it won't take much for her to be a vast improvement over her predecessor, Judas Schroeder.

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