Sunday, August 25, 2013

SPD candidate Steinbrück shows unexpected signs of life

Spiegel Online reports that SPD Chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück wants the EU to break off the negotiations with the US over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty in protest of NSA spying on Germans and the EU's TTIP trade negotiators. (Freihandelsabkommen mit USA: Steinbrück fordert Konsequenzen aus Spähaffäre 25.08.2013)

Wolfgang Münchau suggested several weeks ago that Steinbrück and the SPD should use Chancellor Angela Merkel's passive response to the NSA spying revelations as a key camapaign issue against her. (Aussitzen ist die teuerste Option Spiegel Online 24.07.2013)

Münchau argued that it would have been better for the SPD to attack Merkel on her muddling-along policy on the euro crisis, repeatedly doing barely enough to stave off an acute stage of the crisis but not enough to solve the problem.

But he also concluded that the SPD in its current situation, it is too identified with Merkel's Eurozone policies to be credible on that. Münchau didn't mention it in his column, but Steinbrück is a figure thoroughly identified with neoliberal measures like raising the retirement age from 65 to 67. So it would be better to attack her for indecisiveness in dealing with the NSA scandal.

As Münchau put it:

Im Jahre 2002 war es auch nicht die Flut, die die Wahl zugunsten von Gerhard Schröder und gegen Edmund Stoiber entschied. Es war die Art und Weise, wie sich die Kandidaten angesichts einer Krise verhielten. Auch heute ist nicht das Thema entscheidend, sondern die Person. Die Krise hat uns gezeigt, wie diese Bundeskanzlerin vermeidet, Position zu beziehen, und wie sie Probleme vor sich herschiebt.

[In the year 2002, it was also not the flood that decided the election for Gerhard Schroder {SPD} and against Edmund Stoiber {CDU/CSU}. It was the way and manner that the candidates positioned themselves in relation to a crisis. Also today, it is not the theme that is decisive, but the person. The {euro} crisis has shown us how this Federal Chancellor {Merkel} avoids taking a position, and how she shuffles around problems with which she is confronted.]
So at least Steinbrück is giving it a try!

Speaking of 2002, Angie became a favorite of the Cheney-Bush Administration by cheering on their policy toward Iraq, after both Schröder and Edmund Stoiber had distanced themselves from it, Schroder's government actively opposing it. Schroder benefitted in the election from his stand against the Iraq War, presumably the crisis to which Münchau refers there.

But Angie isn't ready to cheer on US intervention in Syria in the same way. It's not a parallel situation, because the Obama Administration is doing a full-blown push for war as the Cheney-Bush gang were in 2002-3. In the current phase of the discussion over expanded US/NATO intervention in Syria, all five parties in the German Bundestag are opposing it.

The deputy party leader for Merkel's CDU/CSU, Andreas Schockenhoff, says that the situation in Syria is „völlig unübersichtlich“ ("completely unclear") and, „Ein vorschnelles Eingreifen von außen garantiert keineswegs, dass die Bevölkerung insgesamt besser geschützt wird.“ ("A hasty intervention from outside in no way guarantees that the population will be better protected.") Diskussion um Syrien-Intervention: Drohungen und Warnungen (taz 25.08.2013)

Government spokesperson Steffen Seibert called for a political solution instead of a military one. Leaving Peer Steinbrück once again to chime in with his agreement with Merkel's policy. (Steffen Hebestreit, Syrien: USA erwägen Intervention Frankfurter Rundschau 25.08.2013)

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