• On Murtha and Merkel
On Murtha and Merkel
The Daily News, Longview, Wash., Nov. 19, 2005,
No one in the House has higher standing on military affairs or commands more respect at the Pentagon than John Murtha. The Pennsylvania Democrat is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, who continued his service in the Marine Corps reserve for almost two decades after being elected to his House seat in 1974.
Murtha is known as the most hawkish Democrat on (Capitol Hill). He was among the staunchest supporters of President Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq. His call to bring the troops home within six months, regardless of the consequences for Iraq, carries considerable political weight.
… The chaos and violence in Iraq is of our making, which obligates us both morally and under international law to end it or equip Iraqis to end it.
It may well be that Murtha is right in his contention that the presence of U.S. troops has become a catalyst for violence. If so, the plan must be to speed the creation of a capable Iraqi police force and military so we can more rapidly reduce that presence. We do not buy the Pennsylvania congressman’s notion that signaling a withdrawal of U.S. troops before the Dec. 15 elections would help assure the success of those elections. It would likely have just the opposite effect.
Daily Telegraph, London, Nov. 23, 2005
Germany yesterday swore in its first female chancellor, after two months of horse-trading following an inconclusive election. Angela Merkel is also the first head of the federal government from the former Communist east of the country. Yet these historic achievements are clouded by the economic legacy inherited from Gerhard Schröder and the nature of the new governing coalition. Unemployment, at over 11 per cent, is near the post-war high. Growth this year is expected to be under one per cent, and the budget deficit continues to breach European Union rules. In seeking to revive the domestic economy, Mrs Merkel is hampered by a grand coalition with the Social Democrats, who, after seven years in power, had made only modest moves towards loosening a sclerotic labour market and had twice broken electoral pledges to reduce joblessness. … Yet through these upheavals, and the earlier disgraceful attempt by Mr Schröder to claim an election victory, Mrs Merkel has kept her head. She may lack the media presence of her predecessor, but she is undoubtedly tough and has a clear idea of what is needed to restore German economic health. …
The new Bundeskanzlerin, to give her official title, campaigned on a programme of labour and fiscal reform. She deserves a shot at implementing it without the baggage of her predecessor’s legacy.