August 18, 2009

Reprint: ‘Germans see US as a bigger threat to peace than Iran’, The Financial Times, Mar 29, 2007

Posted online: Mar 29, 2007

Mar 28 - More Germans regard the US as a threat to world peace than they do Iran, a poll showed, underscoring European concerns at President George W Bush’s policy of waging military campaigns to combat global terrorism.

Around 48% of 1,003 people polled said the US was a bigger threat to world peace, against 31% who said that the Islamic Republic posed more of a threat, according to the survey by opinion researcher Forsa for Stern magazine and RTL television. About 15% said that both nations were equally dangerous to world peace.

The survey underlines German, and European, ambivalence towards US foreign policy in general and on the Middle East in particular four years after the US-led invasion of Iraq. That’s even after the US was joined by fellow United Nations Security Council permanent members the UK, Russia, France and China in voting March 24 to give Iran a 60-day deadline to halt uranium enrichment or face new sanctions.

While European policy since world war II is more focused on diplomacy and international development, “the US sees military action as an additional option to solve conflicts,’’ Jan-Friedrich Kallmorgen, director of the Atlantic Initiative in Berlin, said in an interview on Wednesday. “US foreign policy is often perceived in Europe as unilateral and aggressive.’’

On Iran, both the US and European nations agree that the Islamic Republic must adhere to UN resolutions and halt its nuclear program, which they say constitute an attempt to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for domestic electricity generation. Russia and China too urged Iran March 26 to take “necessary and constructive steps’’ to meet UN demands.

Still, while Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin stressed that the issue “should be solved exclusively though peaceful negotiation,’’ US Vice President Dick Cheney said last month that “all options are still on the table’’ to halt Iran. The poll is “clearly more an anti-Bush policy reaction than anti-American reaction,’’ Fred Irwin, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, said in an interview. “Germans as well as many Americans are negative to what the Bush administration has decided.’’


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