Bush was furious with Schroeder: Memoir (Roundup)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

WASHINGTON - Former US president George W. Bush writes in his new memoir that he lost trust in Gerhard Schroeder for opposing the war in Iraq and was never again able to restore a positive relationship with the former German chancellor.

In the memoir “Decision Points”, released in US bookstores Tuesday, Bush discusses the difficult relationship he had with Schroeder, among a host of other issues that consumed his presidency.

Bush writes that Schroeder privately assured him he backed his policy on Iraq, then changed his position to boost his successful re-election in 2002.

Schroeder, along with then French and Russian presidents Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin, went on to lead international opposition to the US diplomatic effort to win support for invading Iraq.

“As someone who valued personal diplomacy, I put a high premium on trust,” Bush writes. “Once that trust was violated, it was hard to have a constructive relationship again.”

Schroeder disputed Bush’s version, saying in a statement that he had only promised support if it was shown that Saddam Hussein’s regime played a role in the Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which was not the case. He restated his longstanding position that Bush’s drive to war was based on false pretense.

“The Bush administration’s reasons for the Iraq war were based, as we know today, on lies,” Schroeder said.

The traditional strong friendship of the US and Germany greatly soured over the war in Iraq. The situation worsened when a German official reportedly compared Bush to Adolf Hitler, a story that emerged in the German media in September 2002.

“I was shocked and furious,” Bush writes of the alleged remarks by the German justice minister. “It was hard to think of anything more insulting than being compared to Hitler by a German official.”

Bush’s White House spokesman deemed the comments “outrageous and inexplicable” as the trans-Atlantic rift widened.

The justice minister, Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, later resigned, but she denied making the comments reported from a private meeting with trade unionists. Schroeder at that time described her resignation as appropriate.

In the 477-page book, Bush discusses a range of issues, including the war in Iraq, the Sep 11 terrorist attacks, his controversial decision to allow harsh interrogations of terrorist suspects, and personal topics, like his decision to stop drinking.

The highlights of those issues have been the focus of media reports during the last week as copies of the long awaited were leaked to the press. Bush gave his first major interview since leaving office Monday night to promote the book, and has planned a book tour.

Bush also criticizes Schroeder and Chirac for the close relationship with Putin. Putin was under criticism for reining in democracy in Russia with crackdowns on the media, and intimidating neighbouring democratic countries by using gas supplies as an “economic weapon”, Bush recalls.

Bush notes how Chirac staunchly defended Putin at a 2006 G8 summit in St Petersburg, when other leaders were expressing concerns about Putin’s policies.

“That was nothing compared to what Gerhard Schroeder did,” Bush writes. “Shortly after the German chancellor stepped down from office, he became chairman of a company owned by Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant.”

Schroeder faced broad criticism after he left office in 2005 and became the chairman of the consortium planning to build a direct natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Schroeder arranged the deal while he was still chancellor, and was criticized for a potential conflict of interest.

Filed under: Diplomacy

Tags: ,
will not be displayed