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Obama to pressure Merkel on Libya

The Local · 6 Jun 2011, 08:57

Published: 06 Jun 2011 08:57 GMT+02:00

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“I look forward to discussing with the Chancellor how we can enhance our work together to more effectively address the changes underway in the region, including in Libya,” Obama told the Monday edition of Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel.

He praised Germany’s pledge to provide indirect military support for the struggle against the Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi, who has since February been brutally suppressing an uprising that has evolved into a civil war in which thousands have been killed.

But he also said that people in Libya, Egypt and other north African countries going through political upheaval deserved the help of Germany and the US.

“We know that there are many challenges ahead in the Middle East and North Africa. These are not easy transitions and they will take time. But, as I’ve said, this is also an historic moment of opportunity.

“The demands for political and economic reform that are coming from the people of the region are legitimate and must be addressed. Violence against peaceful protesters is unacceptable and must stop.”

Traditional German allies the US, Britain and France are using missile strikes and a no-fly zone to protect civilians and help the rebels fighting Qaddafi’s forces, in a military intervention coordinated by NATO. Germany, however, refused to participate.

Obama quoted something Merkel herself had said: “Freedom does not come about of itself. It must be struggled for, and then defended anew, every day of our lives.”

This refusal, as well as Germany's abstention in the UN Security Council vote on a resolution authorizing the use of force, annoyed allies including Washington. Relations between Germany and the US are widely thought to have cooled lately. Many German commentators noted the fact that Obama skipped Germany during his recent European tour on which he visited Ireland, Britain, France and Poland.

Obama is set to present Merkel with the Washington the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States. He praised the chancellor as a “good friend” of America and “one of my closest global partners.”

“My friendship with Chancellor Merkel is based on my deep respect and admiration for her as a leader and the fact that I trust her when she makes a commitment,” he said.

“I consult with the Chancellor on every important issue on my international agenda and I very much appreciate her pragmatism and her straight talk.

Story continues below…

“We don’t always agree on everything; no two allies do. But in our meetings and discussions, we always speak honestly and openly, as close friends should, and I believe that our approach to shared challenges is stronger because of it.”

Click here for a transcript of Obama's interview.

The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:29 June 6, 2011 by anurag_bagaria
This seems to be one of the cutest pics of Frau. Merkel, I have come across.
09:37 June 6, 2011 by HANNIBAL-BARCA
Yes, Obama tells Merkel that Germany must support in the continued rape, pillage and plunder of Africa! Yes it is the European's responsibility to interfere in the affairs of sovereign nations.
09:44 June 6, 2011 by freechoice
some 'sovereign nations' are shitty dictatorships!

they must go!
10:03 June 6, 2011 by marimay
Haha yeah Hanni, It was all the US's idea. We aren't talking about Iraq.

I like that picture. lol
10:16 June 6, 2011 by frankiep
So let me get this straight.

George W Bush appealed to the United Nations time after time concerning Iraq and its dictator. The UN issued resolution on top of resolution threatening Iraq with military force if the dictator didn't comply with the UNs demands. Bush then spent months building a coalition of nations to take action and enforce those UN resolutions. Germany decided that it would not take part - and for this Germany was praised for not taking part in an "illegal war".

Fast forward 8 years. Barak Obama saw on TV that a dictator was reacting violently towards protestors. Then he enlisted the help of France and the UK to bomb the hell out of everything that moved in the hopes that the dictator would - leave, abdicate, change his long distance telephone service, who the hell knows. All of this done without any UN resolutions, or even any consultation whatsoever with the UN. Germany decided that it would not take part - and for this Germany is criticized.

The media has seemingly convinced most people that the first situation was a terrible crime against humanity and that Germany was one of the voices of reason, yet the second situation is a perfectly legitimate reason for unsanctioned military force and that Germany is shirking its responsibilities by not lobbing a few of its own bombs towards a few thousand people.

What is the difference between the two? Could it be that the second situation, although clearly much more illegal than the first, is being led by a left wing American president, while the first situation was not?

Whatever the justification is, it all comes down to nothing more than a stunning display of media hypocrisy.
10:27 June 6, 2011 by ND1000
Yes, yes, we all know the liberal European mantra of "somehow its all America's fault." Europe is always completely innocent of all wrongdoing in the world but always get dragged in be Evil America. Europe also never colonized the planet 400 years ago. They also never did horrible things to Africans over the years. Somehow that was all America's fault as well even though they never had a country. Europeans are just peaceful loving people only out to do good.
10:36 June 6, 2011 by frankiep

Not sure what you're getting at. I don't know where you see anything about this being 'America's fault'. To me this whole thing just comes down to blatant hypocrisy.

That military action which was sanctioned by the UN is considered 'criminal' by the media because they didn't like the person leading it, while military action done completely without any consultation with the UN is considered almost heroic (and leading by example) by the media because it is being led by someone whose ass they have been kissing since 2007.
11:02 June 6, 2011 by Celeon
Obama's chances are good. At the moment Merkel seems to give in to any pressure she gets.

He should not let that opportunity go unused. :-D
11:04 June 6, 2011 by murx21
frankiep claims "All of this done without any UN resolutions, or even any consultation whatsoever with the UN. "

Perhaps he should read Resolutions 1970 and 1973.

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
11:09 June 6, 2011 by pepsionice
The real pressure here....is the economic issues that plague the US....could draw in the suggestion of shutting down all US installations in Germany. So billions could be at stake here. A radical moment of review but it'd likely draw the Germans into a situation they'd prefer to stay out of.
11:12 June 6, 2011 by adipk
Picture meets the title. funny.

Us want that other nations must also engaged in such shity work and lost their eco growth.
11:42 June 6, 2011 by ND1000
frankiep, keep checking back to this forum and the America blame game will surely start. Its more of a pre emptive strike against my often ill informed German countrymen. I just sort of have a bone to pick with all the America haters because I for one dont mind the U.S. so much. I do think Germany needs to step up and help out as well or risk slipping down the list of countries willing to do the right thing. We are often a bit too self centered.
12:20 June 6, 2011 by frankiep
Like I said, it is the blatant hypocrisy here that bothers me the most. Libya has not attacked any other nation, yet attacking Libya is somehow considered the right thing to do with the leader of it all, Barak Obama, praised as setting a good example which others should follow. Yet attacking Iraq, which had attacked another country (granted it 12 years prior in Kuwait) is to this day considered by many of the same people who are cheering on the military action in Libya as being a crime against humanity with the leader of it all, George W Bush, being denounced as an evil war criminal.

I have a very hard time taking seriously those who praise Obama for ordering military action on a country which poses a very minor threat to its neighbors in order to "liberate" people when in many cases these same people compare Bush to Hitler for doing the very same thing. It's hypocrisy and it would be nice, at least one time, to see the media call it out for what it is.
12:24 June 6, 2011 by jmclewis
Angie has a poopy face, she needs to change her diaper.
12:40 June 6, 2011 by harcourt
My goodness this has stirred up a hornets nest !! I'd like to direct readers of this article to my comments on the article about Mitrovica posted at 11.28 today
12:58 June 6, 2011 by ChrisRea
So Obama asks Merkel to take side in a civil war where both parties commit horrible crimes? Right after Human Rights Watch showed that the rebels detain civilians and also tortures them to death (as reported by CNN)? I think she is smart enough to recognise that the right thing is to keep out.
19:00 June 6, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
That's Merkel's "don't put your hand on my back" face. As far as Libya goes, I don't think Germany is shirking its responsibilities. It is a powerful nation who would prefer to protect its interests and not bomb people who aren't a significat threat. Why does Europe have to help these countries anyway? I would like to know, seriously.
21:30 June 6, 2011 by 9900lawre
Merkel looks like a Ventriloquist dummy!

no puns, no comparisons, just observations!
02:17 June 7, 2011 by finanzdoktor
Whether a country decides to go to war or not, is up to that country. Of course, they must make that decision, knowing full well the consequences of going to war or not. And, be willing to live with that decision.

One observation, other than the most needed humorous one by 9900lawre and others, is that no one mentioned France in all this. Correct me if I am wrong, weren't they the ones pushing for everyone to get involved?
03:53 June 7, 2011 by kreese
It is time for America to get out of all foreign entanglements. Europe can take care of the problems in their backyard. America has spent too much for too long protecting Europe. They haven't appreciated it anyway.

In my travels to Germany, I get the impression from some of the citizens that they enjoy America's weakened position in the world. Now, they have their wish.

I can think of two reasons to bring our military home; we need them on the southern border, and we are broke!
06:19 June 7, 2011 by Major B
@ ND1000

Right on all the way with your comments.

@ Frankeip

You have too many biases pal. There are some points in there but to say Iraq was legal and say the Libyan reaction is illegal is a huge stretch. The only reason the U.S. Congress approved the Iraq intervention is they were "scared shitle_ _" of being accused of being anti-American, anti-patriotic and whatever else the Cheney-Bush international magnate could "throw on the wall", lie about and make stick. And then they made Gen Powell go over to the UN and lie and forever tarnishing his image in addition to theat awful discredited regime. If anything the Congress, and Attorney General of that "left wing" President can be accused of one thing -- not having a full and open investigation and sending folks to jails for their lies and deceptions. Come on, don't EVEN try it. That action cost the U.S. so much more than the wasted billions in unnecessary aide and military action.
08:58 June 7, 2011 by fourwheeler77
@ Frankeip

So let me get this straight.....The coalition went into Libya without UN resolution?? You might want to check your facts on that one! I also find it funny that AMERICA supposedly pushed for the action against Libya. You do realize that France and the UK were the ones REALLY pushing for this. America took the lead in command and control, only because the French could not at the time and both countries needed American capabilities. France begged for our help. I do not blame Germany for not wanting to get involved. Heck, as an American, I am sick of my country being involved in everything. Its time we pull back and let some other big nations in the world take a stand and take care of business. Although NATO has not been successful, I am glad that America has pulled back from the Libya conflict and handed over control to NATO.
14:19 June 7, 2011 by Bound2Drift
I struggle to imagine what Obama might have to pressure Merkel with. I think these days Germany is the one to dictate terms to the US.

@frankiep, your facts are a bit off, but you are essentially right; there is tremendous hypocrisy regarding the morality/legality on the Libya war vs. the Iraq war.
14:47 June 7, 2011 by LecteurX
Interestingly, nobody in Europe or in the US is calling for a "no-fly zone" over any part of Syria, where at least 1,200 civilians (but possibly more) died because of the brutal repression there.

France and the UK hoped for an end of the civil war in Libya soon because they (and the voters they hypnotised into believing it) fear they might be swamped with North-African refugees and they need a stable Libyan country to stop all the Sub-Saharans crossing the country and sailing across the sea from there. Kaddafi even threatened Europeans to retaliate by allowing "millions of Blacks" to cross over to Europe, I'm not making this up.

The US is always happy to topple a hostile regime in an oil-rich country, no matter how it can justify this.

So please let us stop kidding ourselves, our politicians in the US, the UK and France did not act in Libya out of pure kindness and pity for the plight of the people. It's not about being "right" or "wrong": our politicians with bleeding hearts just saw their short-term interest in meddling in Libya. No matter how badly people will continue to suffer in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, they won't bat an eye.
19:18 June 7, 2011 by Major B
@ LecteurX

I share your frustrations and you make some valid points. Very valid. In your para 2, sure. The British taught the world about self-interest and have never been shy about that. We is the U.S., with our "puritanical virtues" always cleaned it up in the past. After 9/11/01, the last administration brazenly abolished any American pretense for anything it wanted to do.

Your para 3 is just plain inaccurate. Sure there are folks the U.S. doesn't like. Venezuela. Some of those past Nigerian regimes. Iran. Even the House of Saud. The age of toppling governments died with the Shah of Iran.

Your last paragraph. Yes, self-interest. But Syria right now is just "too hard". There was a point, earlier in the Iraq conflict when the U.S. was poking Syria in the eye hard as they let Al Quaeda flow cesslessly into Western Iraq. But then we surged, Al Quaeda overplayed its hand and we enlisted our former Sunni enemies and put them in uniforms and things were better controlled.

I so despise the Assad regime for what they did to Lebanon and I still feel the U.S. Marines they and Hezbollah killed in those barracks in Leganon in 1982. Everybody on the conservative side in the U.S. wants to invoke the name of Reagan but he got the hell out of Lebanon after that.

Syria, as pitiful and awful as it is, is just too hard. This is where Islamic coutries or Arab governments need to step up. But who? Turkey? Alas, an Ottoman past. Iran? Surely not.

How would you recommend the carnage in Syria be approached?
10:18 June 8, 2011 by LecteurX
Err, no Major B, the age of toppling governments lasted well into the 21st century, or else how would you consider the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 (and now, as we know, all for nothing) and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was, as we always new, absolutely for nothing or at least not for the fantasies the neo-conservatives tried to sell us (oho, Saddam's WMD)? Of course the Afghans are better off without the Taliban in power, but I don't think that our countries benefited from getting entangled in this mess for 10 years and counting, plus actually it seems that many Afghans do want the Talibans back. And I won't say much about the US invasion of the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada in 1983, although it definitely counts. Anyway...

So, toppling hostile governments, repeat, HOSTILE, is still very much on the agenda and is attempted whenever "appropriate". I'm sure many US leaders don't love much the house of Saud, but Saudi Arabia is not a hostile country to the US, it is rather an ally in the region. I don't know much about Nigeria but my impression is that Nigerian leaders are not known for blurting out anti-American rhetoric every other week like Chavez in Venezuela or Bashir in Sudan or whatever.

I agree with you, peace in Syria should be brokered by Muslim countries. Maybe it is and maybe we the public are not fully informed about what is going on. I hope so. The Syrian people is so wonderful, these are educated people, generous, outgoing and optimistic. I was lucky enough to visit this country last year and couldn't believe I was so happy there. And now they get killed in the streets. I don't advocate any for of Western military involvement in Syria, it would only bring Assad to act more desperately (ie more insanely, more cruelly). With Israel occupying one part of Syrian territory (Golan Heights), the West cannot do much now. It should be the Muslim countries helping, but I fear they're not doing much because their governments are too cowardly and two-faced to say anything too harsh against the one Arab leader (Assad) who was seen as the toughest against Israel and blah blah blah. So the Syrian people will suffer and die, as they did in their tens of thousands in 1982 when Assad's father all but razed the city of Hama, and the world looked the other way.

So, to the topic, France, the US and UK saw their interest in bombing off Libya. Plus of course I guess the aforementioned three never really forgave Gaddafi for the terrorism acts of the 80s, and quite rightly so (Lockerbie for UK & US, the "UTA Flight 772" bomb that traumatized France so badly). Germany didn't see its interest in joining in the campaign (voters being far too opposed to war so Merkel knew that joining the NATO coalition meant losing elections, so obviously the CDU-FDP are much less afraid of Gaddafi's "millions of Blacks" than Sarkozy or Cameron are), - so Germany won't get directly involved, no matter how much this annoys tis allies.
19:52 June 8, 2011 by Major B
@ Lecturer X

Sir, wait a minute. In your para 3 of post # 24 you said "the US is always ready to topple a hostile regime in an oil rich country, no matter how they can justify this".

That just isn't the case Afghanistan. We all well know the reason for NATO's entry into Afghanistan -- The Taliban regime's support of Al Quaeda and allowing that group to plan, train and carryout 9/11/01. Only that. There is no oil there. Even though a U.S. Army survey has found rich minteral deposits, who can mine them without interference from the resistance? No one will invest in that. So Afghanistan doesn't count in your analysis.

The first Bush wisely resisted the urgings by many to topple Hussein in 1991, when the U.S. and its brilliant coalalition was in a much better position to do it. Millions of sons have made stupid assed decisions, ignoring their Father's wise council and so Iraq doesn't really count in your analysis either. YOu are VERY correct in stating the "fantasies the neo-conservatives tried to sell us". The shame is they indeed sold us, including the U.S. Congress and we can't trade the car back.

Oil in Grenada? Nope Add even Panama, which you didn't include. Nope. Your statement is just too strong. In a sense, the criticism should be is we supported tyrrannical regimes that were antithetical to everything we stood for. The Shah in Iran. The House of Saud.

Now your paragraph 3 of Post # 26 above is just beautiful. Although I haven't visited Syria I have very much followed its various peoples on various media and am not at all surprised about the warmth and generosity you experienced. One more. Notice how the Islamic press loves to bemoan any Western support for Israel and yet will not lift much of a finger to criticize the Iranian and Syrian brutalization of good Islamic people. I fully support our Muslim brothers and the aspirations for liberty of its people from North Africa to Pakistan. But it high time for Western governments to stick together in the face of this double standard.

Libya? Let's first think of the unthinkable -- Srebrenica. Oh, the stench of that murder still smells in Europe. As an American, with what happenned in WWII, I could never understand how that Dutch Commander could take his battalion away and leave those men and boys to the Serbs. An American Commander would have never have deserted his post and the innocent like that. The Libyan Campaign should have been totally European and Arab. The U.S. only got involved after the super strong insistance of our Secretary of State. Only she had the power and influence to move the President on this tough tough call.

Just tell me what your personal reaction would have been at the slaughter of 20,000 people or more in Benghazi? The stench of that mass murder would still be permeating the streets of every European capital.
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