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German Media Roundup: A timid Merkel and inept Westerwelle?

The Local · 29 Nov 2010, 12:28

Published: 29 Nov 2010 12:28 GMT+01:00

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In an unprecedented breach of diplomatic confidentiality, the internet website Wikileaks over the weekend released thousands of US documents offering frank and unvarnished assessments of America’s allies.

German politicians were not spared the harsh appraisal of State Department officials, with Chancellor Angela Merkel labelled a timid and uncreative leader and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle dismissed as being largely incompetent.

While US Ambassador Philip Murphy has said Washington has no reason to apologize to Berlin, there’s little doubt the leaked communiqués will do little to improve transatlantic ties.

Newspapers in The Local’s media roundup on Monday attempted to sift through the diplomatic wreckage.

The left-wing Berliner Zeitung said much damage had been done to US foreign policy by the leak.

“Since last night, Guido Westerwelle can read exactly what Obama’s diplomats in Berlin think of him,” wrote the daily. “Westerwelle has already seen all this a hundred times in German papers, but now he knows his reputation in Washington isn’t any better than back at home.”

The paper said the incident will “sow mistrust” and “destroy human and political ties,” which will in turn weaken US diplomacy around the world.

The Düsseldorf-based Rheinische Post called the episode a disaster for America that would “cool Angela Merkel’s already troubled relationship with Barack Obama.”

“The highest level of diplomacy will experience a sensitive setback,” opined the paper. “Above all Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was exposed: US diplomats consider him incompetent, vain, and critical of America. It will take a long time to get over this break of trust.”

The centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung said it was important to push governments to remain transparent, but criticized the latest release of information by Wikileaks as a threat to foreign affairs.

“This has little to do with a whistleblower uncovering convoluted circumstances. When a US diplomat in Berlin relates what a German politician told him about coalition negotiations it is not espionage. Keeping an ear open is part of the job,” wrote the Munich-based paper. “A foreign ministry that has to be constantly diplomatic internally simply does not work.”

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The right-wing paper Die Welt blasted Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for endangering world stability.

“There will be a wave of schadenfreude among politicians – in Germany and elsewhere – after disparaging comments about this or that leader are taken out of context,” wrote the daily. “But publishing confidential diplomatic communiqués serves nobody. Only an unimportant poseur, a fool or a terrorist would claim as much.”

The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:16 November 29, 2010 by Heine Steinfeldt
I would have loved to read diplomatic communiqués on what the Germans thought of President George Bush. I'm sure our assessment of Merkel & Westerwelle pale in comparsion compared to the comic gold that we provided them for 8 years.
16:52 November 29, 2010 by AusHessen
Why is the american government spying and collecting private bank accounts finger prints and other biometric information of all world leaders?

It shows how much power a private group (banker) has toward any global government. The world leaders are getting profiled if they will submit to the new tyrannic world police state, aka A) to bankrupt and B) bail outs banks and other governments to gain control and dependency.

America does the dirty work for its handlers and this might be the reason why the US is called the world police and big brother. I guess the EU was also created by the same group.
17:03 November 29, 2010 by rgmx4u
Who needs enemies when you have a "friend" like this? Refusing to suck US c@%# on demand comes with a prize to pay. Get over it. The cables about arms supply for terrorists are far more revealing - no write-up about this or not yet?
17:17 November 29, 2010 by Beachrider
Well, the haters are out...

An awful amount of fact-challenged generalizations that are only faintly connected to the Wikileaks output.

It shows a lot of attempts by America to get information and influence decisions. There are things in Wikileaks that show spy-world realities that are ugly in normal discourse.

There isn't any Treason though. I guess that Wiki felt that the disruption was more important. They shouldn't have been able to get the information anyway.
18:15 November 29, 2010 by Bravo2
This is just what governments and their leaders think of each other privately. It just got leaked and it is an embarrassment but let's get past this. The world has much bigger problems than who said what about who.
13:04 December 5, 2010 by raandy
I liked the manly picture of Westerwelle visiting Iraq that was posted earlier(:. better than this one......Oh bitte, bitte Local bring it back.
03:20 December 6, 2010 by Major B
Many comments by Germans in these forum have remarked about the harsh statements about the U.S., its policies and its politicians in German commercial print media over the last several years. The same was done by the German government and its officials during the last Chancellor's time in office and there is no reason to believe the same isn't taking place now within the German foreign mininstry. No reason to add hypocrisy to this awful disaster in the "world's" foreign relations.
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