Hockenos, Paul, The Nation
I came across a sign the other day, inelegantly scrawled on cardboard and stuck to a telephone pole. It read Fuck Bush. This was the day the United States announced there would be no second United Nations Security Council resolution. The curt message expressed more than Germany's overwhelming rejection of the American President's bullying of his allies and Washington's rationale for war with Iraq. It conveyed Germany's painful frustration at being completely powerless to dissuade its transatlantic ally or, more modestly, even its new Central European neighbors, from choosing the path of war.
In Spain and Britain hundreds of thousands, even millions, take to the streets protesting their leaderships' prowar stances. In contrast, the newly reawakened German peace movement seems sunk in resignation, an uninspired shadow of the protests that gripped West Germany in the early 1980s. One glaring problem, not faced by British and Spanish activists, is that the peace lobby here has nobody concrete to protest against, except the disembodied figure of George W. Bush, who they know isn't listening.
In Germany not a single politician from one of the five major parties, major intellectual, entertainment figure or sports star openly backed military action against Iraq without a UN resolution. (The opposition Christian Democrats blame the left-center leadership for blocking a US-led resolution and groused afterward that Germany's rightful place is on the side of the war-makers, not on the sidelines.) The city of Berlin even turned a blind eye when Greenpeace activists scaled the Brandenburg Gate and hung a banner from its hallowed columns.
Last May, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder ruled out German participation in an Iraq war with or without a UN resolution, and, in a rare display of tenacity on a matter of principle, has refused since to back down. The insignificance of Germany's "Nein! …