US suffered loss of respect under Bush: former German minister

June 10th, 2008 - 4:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Berlin, June 10 (DPA) The United States has suffered a “large loss of influence and respect” under the presidency of George W. Bush, former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said Tuesday. Speaking as Bush was attending a summit of the European Union and the US in Slovenia and ahead of the US president’s farewell visit to Germany, Genscher said the low opinion Europeans had of Bush were “without precedent” in the post-World War II era.

“Something has happened that the Europeans, as good friends of the US, have deeply regretted: a large loss of influence and respect for the US,” Genscher told regional public radio SWR.

“We immensely regret this. And of course the president has done everything to widen the distance between the US and Europe,” the veteran foreign minister said.

He recalled how European countries had pledged their support to the US following the Sept 11 attacks in 2001, invoking the NATO mutual defence clause for the first time in the alliance’s history.

But Bush had opted for a “alliance of the willing” instead of NATO, which Genscher described as “the alliance of the reliable and capable.”

Genscher, foreign minister from 1974 to 1992, noted that Bush’s ratings were also at an historic low in the US itself.

The presidential candidacy of Barack Obama should be seen in this context, he said, describing his success as a “kind of cultural revolution.”

“This is an answer to the policies of Bush and it is evident that this incredibly vital American democracy is recovering its powers and making the attempt to return to its great ideals,” Genscher said.

US-German relations plummeted to a post-war low when Gerhard Schroeder, chancellor at the time of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, based his successful campaign for re-election on opposition to the Iraq War.

Genscher was foreign minister under chancellors Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl, holding office through major changes, such as Brandt’s Ostpolitik - opening up to the communist east - and German reunification under Kohl.

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