Apparently a Germany minister claimed that Bush was akin to Hitler. Well, not really, but she definitely made the comparison:
Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin told a small group of labour union members on Wednesday that "Bush was going after Iraq to divert attention from domestic problems. 'That's a popular method. Even Hitler did that,' the German newspaper, Schwaebisches Tagblatt, quoted her as saying.First, I wasn't actually aware that that was the reason for Hitler's expansionism.. I had always thought it was more intrinsic to the fascist system itself. Still, accurate or not there's no doubt whatsoever that this is going to inflame the opinion of the right and of Americans in general. Looks like the rhetoric continues to heat up in the German election.
She appears to realize this, however, and addressed it with a bloody hilarious backhanded comment:
The minister called the report misleading but did not deny the remarks. "I would regret it very much if this matter were to cast the slightest shadow on my respect for the president of the United States," she said.Notice she never said what that level of respect actually was. Snicker.
Judging by that comment, it's really hard to say that she's stupid enough not to realize the heat she's going to get, so why make it? Only explanation that makes sense is that she thinks that she'd benefit more by attacking the U.S. president in such an outrageous manner than she would lose, and the only way she'd think that is if sentiment on the ground in Germany was so anti-Bush that not even a comparison to the architect of Germany's darkest hour would be considered inappropriate and over-the-top.
The incumbant Social Democrat party was quick to distance themselves from the comment. They have to. If they win, they need to actually work with Washington for the next few years. I don't think that Daeubler-Gmelin was necessary a loose cannon, though, and I wonder whether or not she made her comments on the orders of her party superiors. If so, regardless of the validity of the comparison, the fact that it could be credibly made speaks volumes. It's rather a disturbing comment on exactly how far apart European and American sentiments are on Iraq, and what is to be risked by Bush ignoring the U.N.'s imminent resumption of WMD inspections and going to war anyway.
(For those who say "who cares? Europe isn't a real military power", I have a simple response: "not yet".)