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Bush Administration Upset About German's Comments on Iraq Policy - 2002-09-23

The Bush administration is reacting with some uncharacteristically strong language to Sunday's re-election in Germany of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's coalition government. The White House is upset about comments that a now former member of Schroeder government made about U.S. policy toward Iraq.

Rarely does the re-election of a close American ally from a fellow NATO country elicit such strong reaction. Chancellor Schroeder's outspoken opposition to a possible U.S. attack on Iraq was a key issue in his re-election. But Bush administration officials are still upset over comments made by his justice minister in which she compared President Bush's tactics toward Iraq to those used by Hitler.

At a NATO meeting in Poland Monday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters the comments made during the campaign have damaged U.S.-German relations.

"The way it was conducted was notably unhelpful and as the White House indicated, has had the effect of poisoning the relationship," he said.

Instead of congratulating a close ally in a close election, a senior White House official told reporters Chancellor Schroeder's government has a lot of work to do to repair U.S. relations. Germany's justice minister has now submitted her resignation.