German Newspapers: President Obama's Middle East Policies in Ruins
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German Newspapers: President Obama's Middle East Policies in Ruins

Berlin : Germany | Sep 14, 2012 at 7:38 AM PDT
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Protests continued on Friday in many Middle East countries. New protests erupted on Friday in Yemen and Sudan. In Sudan protesters attacked the German embassy, stormed past the gates, burned cars and trash cans.

The question was asked "Why the German embassy?" The answer because it was there and close to the US embassy. In this case Sudanese security forces repelled protesters by firing tear gas.

Der Spiegel on line carries a press review of selected German newspapers, which gives and inside of what Europeans, especially Germans think of the present situation.

As a result of the protests Germany has closed several of its embassies in Muslim countries, in fear of attacks. In addition German troops in Afghanistan have tightened up their security measures. This is probably the case of most ISAF contingents.

Below is the sampling of some German newspapers on the protests. Source: Der Spiegel

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Centre Right)

"The murder of an ambassador in Libya and the attacks on US diplomatic missions in other Arab countries is sure to strengthen the skepticism that more than a few Americans feel toward Muslims and the political changes brought by the Arab revolutions. The deeply held American belief that all you have to do is liberate people from serfdom and dictatorship, and then democracy and a market economy will develop more or less on their own, burned to ash in the trial by fire of Iraq. A fact that academics and historically informed diplomats have always known can now be observed throughout the Arab world: Deeply ingrained cultural attitudes do not change simply because one political regime replaces another. In the long process of building a democratic society, it is not possible to simply skip stages."

Berliner Zeitung (Left Leaning)

"The attacks on US embassies and consulates in the Arab world can not be justified in any way. If it turns out that al-Qaida is behind the attacks, as some US officials suspect, then they are acts of terrorism committed under the guise of religion. If they turn out to be uncoordinated actions by angry believers, then they are an expression of a frightening ignorance. A crazy individual US citizen has uploaded a movie onto the Internet which denigrates the Prophet Muhammad. The US government can not be held responsible for that. But that clearly does not help US President Barack Obama very much. He has to bear the political consequences of the recent events by himself."

"Four years ago, Obama pledged to seek reconciliation with the Muslim world. Now, it is doubtful whether he has succeeded. The US and its European allies now have to ask themselves how much support they still enjoy in the countries of the Arab Spring."

Sueddeutsche Zeitung (Centre Left)

"Since the Arab Spring broke out, there have been many difficult moments in the relationships between America and the Arab nations. But few have been as delicate as this one. America hardly has influence in the region any longer, and now sees itself confronted with anti-American sentiment in places where it no longer controls the dictators. Meanwhile, forces that simultaneously exploit and spurn America are gaining influence."

"Middle Eastern policy is a thankless task for America. But for precisely this reason -- and despite the election campaign -- it would be unwise to pour oil into the fire. The fact that President Obama has deployed destroyers and marines to Libya, and may soon send out drones, isn't a good sign, though. … Should Washington fall into defense mode, as it has in Yemen against al-Qaida, where the anti-terrorism fight is the top priority and there have been civilian victims, then the tables could turn quickly. People in the Arab world want to be more than just a security risk."

Die Welt (Conservative)

"US President Barack Obama's Middle East policy is in ruins. Like no president before him, he tried to win over the Arab world. After some initial hesitation, he came out clearly on the side of the democratic revolutions. … In this context, he must accept the fact that he has snubbed old close allies such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Egyptian military. And now parts of the freed societies are turning against the country which helped bring them into being. Anti-Americanism in the Arab world has even increased to levels greater than in the Bush era. It's a bitter outcome for Obama."

"Obama was naive to believe that one only needed to adopt a new tone and show more respect in order to dispel deep-seated reservations about the free world. In practice, the policies of the Obama administration in the region were not as naive as they may have seemed at times, and the Americans have always been much more involved in the Middle East than the passive Europeans. But Washington has provided the image of a distracted superpower in the process of decline to the societies there. This image of weakness is being exploited by Salafists and al-Qaida, who are active in North Africa from Somalia to Mali."

"One thing is clear: If jihadists believe they can attack American installations and kill an ambassador on the anniversary of Sept. 11, then America's deterrent power has declined considerably. For a superpower, it is not enough just to want to be loved. You have to scare the bad guys to keep them in check."

Die Tageszeitung (Left)

"The conservative US media have already -- excessively -- labeled the anti-US protests in Egypt, Libya and Yemen as a 'wildfire' and interpreted them as a result of Obama's 'weakness.'"

"It's lucky for Obama that his opponent Romney is acting in such a hapless manner. Instead of condemning the attacks in a statesman-like fashion and assuring the president of his support, Romney criticized the government's alleged 'apology' to the demonstrators. That was not just nonsense, but partisan maneuvering at a moment when patriotism would have been appropriate. With his attack, Romney has scored an own goal."

Bild (Tabloid Mass Circulation)

"Naked hatred is raging against a country that many people in the world regard as a symbol of freedom. When US flags burn, embassies are vandalized, and diplomats are murdered, it is an attack on the West, and not just America!"

"We rooted for the demonstrators at Tahrir Square, and many of us have longed to see democracy in the Arab nations. But democracy includes honoring the lives of fellow humans.

"The turmoil in Libya, Cairo, and Bangladesh is a return to the Middle Ages, when people were beheaded and stoned to death. No pathetic anti-Islam film can justify hate-filled murder."

"The West must be tough on terrorism. And it must show that it can differentiate between rabble-rousers and peaceful Muslims."

The overwhelming majority of the German newspapers question America's policies in the Middle East, regardless of their political persuasion. Only one newpaper, die Tageszeitung made a comment about Mitt Romney. It should also be noted here that the President is very popular in Europe. During his 2008 election campaign he made a speech near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, which was well attended. Germans were routing for the President back then and perhaps they still are. His Middle East policy starting with the speech in Cairo is being questioned though.

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German Newspaper
Front Page of Sueddeutsche Zeitung
Karl Gotthardt is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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