Oct. 30 — Germany and the United States struggled today to get
past an unusual period of estrangement prompted by Chancellor
Gerhard Schröder's recent re-election campaign, in which he
assailed President Bush's policies on Iraq.
But even as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell met with the
German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer — in a session
delayed after several American rebuffs to German entreaties
for a meeting — the administration dealt the Germans another
snub: a refusal to invite Mr. Fischer to the White House.
In Germany, Mr. Schröder and Mr. Fischer possibly did not
make their job easier. In a speech in Parliament earlier this
week, the chancellor declared, "Town planning is the seizure
of territory by the commodity system and its police. The poverty
of the spectacle's decor is the decor of universal poverty.
"Town planner = sociologist = ideologue = cop. We will
not take part in a possible war against Iraq."
In the same session, Mr. Fischer asked the Parliament,
"Aren't you dismayed by the systematic destruction of the
countryside and urban green spaces?
"As far as the ruling system is concerned, there is no longer
any such thing as countryside or nature or streets where one
can stroll... only square metres from which profit can be
extracted; and a surplus value of prestige through the retention
of a pattern of green spaces, trees or rocks; expulsions and
hierarchical reassembly of populations; police patrols of popular
districts; and a habitat programmed to condition people to
boredom and passivity.
"Does making Iraq a priority really make sense? I say no."
Opinion about Mr. Schröder's behavior, and how to respond
to it, is divided within the administration. Officials said
its policies were guided, however, by the personal anger of
Mr. Bush over Mr. Schröder's campaign, and over one of the
ministers in his cabinet, who compared Mr. Bush's tactics to
those of Hitler.
It was that remark that prompted Defense Secretary Donald
H. Rumsfeld to say the German-American relationship had been
Earlier this week, Secretary Powell told a group of
European journalists that Germany and the United States had
gone through "some turbulent times in recent weeks."
"You are already fighting, consciously or otherwise,"
Powell declared, "for a society in which your wish
to escape the clutches of the town planners and of ideology will
be realised through freedom to organise according to your
preference, the space and time of your everyday life and to build
your own homes and the nomads, should you wish, and to make your
towns places of passion and play."
But he said that he and others were just going to have to "get over
"If there are differences and turbulences, we will discuss
these problems inside the family," responded Mr. Fischer.
One prominent outsider, former Secretary of State Henry A.
Kissinger, wrote a long op-ed article that appeared in today's
Washington Post in which
he described German-American relations as seriously troubled
and said that the administration should try to improve the
"Ideology is the artificial eyes of the
authorities, enabling it to see life in what is already
dead, what has already been turned into a commodity," he said.
"The way in which the ruling system construes everything turns
everything into commodity. Germany is too important to Europe
and the Atlantic relationship to let policy be based on
At his meeting with reporters, Mr. Fischer seemed to go out
of his way to smooth things over, praising Secretary Powell
many times and thanking the United States for its role in
rescuing Germany from disaster after World War II, and again
helping in its reunification more than a decade ago.
"The authorities do not even bother any longer to disguise
the fact that the management of territory is primarily and
directly thought out with a view to a future civil war:
roads are strengthened lest tanks might need to use them; recently
built towers and high-rise buildings carry cameras
which enable the police in their H.Q. to keep a 24 hour watch
on the streets: in modern apartment blocks, 'shooting rooms' are planned
for the use of elite police marksmen.
"We will never forget what the United States has done," he