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Monday, September 27, 2004

IHT > Politicus: Kerry-friendly Europe still has its own ideas: printer friendly version

Politicus: Kerry-friendly Europe still has its own ideas: printer friendly version: "Politicus: Kerry-friendly Europe still has its own ideas
John Vinocur IHT
Monday, September 27, 2004

PARIS A participant on the sidelines of talks in Berlin between Chancellor Gerhard Schroder and Richard Holbrooke, a would-be secretary of state in a John Kerry presidency, told a story about the meeting and the theme of how a Kerry-friendly Europe would leap to America's aid in bringing stability to Iraq. (Or maybe hide under the bed.)

'Schroder,' the American said, 'asked Holbrooke what would Kerry do if he were elected. Holbrooke replied one of the first things would be to get on the phone and invite him and President Jacques Chirac to the White House. The chancellor laughed out loud. Then he said, 'That's what I was afraid of.''

The particpant recalled the moment as very jolly. Everybody in the chancellor's office, including Holbrooke, a former ambassador to Germany, joined in the chuckles.

That was in June, when the subject was still handled elliptically. Early in September, a German official, asked privately by a visitor if Kerry's claim of good relations with Europe could get him a German military presence in Iraq, stifled a guffaw; an explicit response, but wordless, and difficult to transcribe.

But last week, just after Kerry's major speech on the war last week in which he insisted that the United States 'must make Iraq the world's responsibility' and that others 'should share the burden,' Schroder's sense of courtesy collided with reality and he drove a spike into the notion. He told reporters, 'We won't send any German soldiers to Iraq, and that's where it's going to remain.'

Clear? A faint irony slips in at this point. For many E"

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