Western European News Digest
Schroeder Continues Foreign Policy Initiatives
Outgoing German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris Oct. 15, and the French host told the press afterwards that he considers his guest from Germany a "great promoter of Franco-German cooperation," that Schroeder would "always be welcome here, on visits, also after the end of his term." The two leaders also discussed the upcoming Oct. 27 EU summit. Schroeder briefed Chirac on his discussions with Russian President Putin in St. Petersburg Oct. 7.
Since Schroeder is likely to stay in power until the second half of November, he will also be the official host in Berlin, for a visiting number of foreign statesmen: The most prominent among them, announced so far, are Chinese President Hu Jintao (Nov. 10-12) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Nov. 8). Schroeder is also expected to present a manifesto for the defense of the social security model, at the EU summit.
Thatcher Disses Blair's Use of False WMD 'Intelligence'
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who just celebrated her 80th birthday, was critical that "there was no proof" of the allegations about Saddam Hussein's WMD. However, she supports having used military means to oust Saddam Hussein.
Thatcher was quoted in an article by Tina Brown, a British journalist/editor, who worked for years in New York, which was published in the Washington Post Oct. 13. When asked if she would have invaded Iraq, Thatcher was quoted as saying, "I was a scientist before I was a politician. And as a scientist I know you need facts, evidence, and proofand then you check, recheck, and check again. The fact was that there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. As a politician the most serious decision you can take is to commit your armed services to war from which they may not return."
Internal Fight in the Tory Party Over 'Blairism'
A key group among the older generation of Tories who are contending for the party leadership, including Kenneth Clark, Michael Heseltine, and Chris Patten, openly opposed the Iraq War and the unilateral war doctrine; a number of others, including Dr. Liam Fox, also a leadership candidate, oppose any attempt to attack Iran. However, David Cameron, the youngest leadership contender, who is 38, and leader of the so-called "Notting Hill" set, declared, "I am the heir to Blair" at a dinner with British newspaper editors in Blackpool on Oct. 4, the Times reported. Cameron also said that any Tory government he led would not reverse all the Blairite public services reforms. (Under Blair, public service is, along with finance, the biggest employer in the "economy.") Cameron was supported in this view by George Osborne, the Shadow (opposition) Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister). Osborne has been advocating the totally discredited flat-tax policy.
Defense Official Scorns Emergence of Cameron
The rapid emergence of David Cameron as a contender for the Tory leadership shows that the "quality of political life [in Britain] is at a low level indeed which is not different from the rest of the world," a senior member of the British defense establishment told EIR Oct. 18. "Cameron made one accomplished speech, but what else? The real question is, is there any substance to him? As some friends, who are senior members of the Tories, told me, their question is, has Cameron any substance? And this was the subject of the main commentary in The Times the next day."
Top Bank of England Official Resigns
While there is much speculation that Sir Andrew Large's resignation as deputy governor for financial stability at the Bank of England will undercut BoE governor Mervyn King's "hawkish" policy against interest rate cuts, it is also possible that Large is being deployed to play "a fire-fighting role in a crisis that is about to erupt." This is sometimes done with the BoE official responsible for financial stability, a City of London insider told EIR Oct. 18. Large consistently voted with King to raise rates, and against re-starting rate cuts.
There is talk in the City that Sir Andrew might be moving on to Lloyds of London, which could be in trouble after the natural disasters that have occurred this year.
Large is being replaced by John Gieve, a career civil servant from the Home Office, who is, if anything, something of a Blair loyalist. Gieve might be "softer" on interest rates, but that is not confirmed.
German Labor Unions Quote FDR in Campaign for Minimum Wage
Placing advertisements in numerous news dailies of Germany last week, the first one of which appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Oct. 17, the two labor unions ver.di (services) and NGG (food industry workers) quote U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in support of their call for legislation on a minimum wage.
"Enterprises whose existence depends exclusively on paying their workers less than a life-sustaining wage, should have no right in this country to continue doing business. A wage that suffices to make a living, is more than a mere existential minimum; I mean wages that make a decent life possible."
The quote is from Roosevelt's address announcing the introduction of a minimum wage protected by law, in 1938. The fact that German labor unions refer to FDR in this particular political situation, reflects the fact that FDR is an issue of a broader debate, so far, mostly behind the scenes. It also reflects the fact that FDR has been made an issue in the U.S. labor movement by the LaRouche movement.
Details of Legislation to Protect French Industry Become Public
The "loi Breton," passed by the French government several weeks ago, has been presented in first details, in the French media during the week of Oct. 17.
Of special interest here, is article 34 of the law, which defines which industries are "strategic" and, therefore, have to be protected against hostile foreign takeovers. The law is to be tested in the case of leading French automaker Renault, in which the French state has a 15.6% share. Renault, which itself keeps a 44% share in Japanese automaker Nissan, a firm with a capital value of 60 billion euros at the stock exchange, is rated at only 20 billion euros. This would allow a hostile takeover, through the purchase of a controlling majority at Renault, the price of which could be refinanced through the sale of the Renault share at Nissan.
The new French law, also called "loi Renault" because of this particularly prestigious case, regulates the price of a purchase of Renault being the combined value of both Renault and Nissan, 80 billion euros. Furthermore, the shareholders of French companies like Renault would be given the privilege to decide whether they can taken over, over the voting rights of share-holders at foreign daughter firms of French firms.
German Newspaper: Cheney Is 'Criminal of the Day'
"Criminal of the day: Vice President Dick Cheney," read the headline of an article in the Oct. 21 Junge Welt daily which, like another article in the Berliner Zeitung daily with a headline "Gangland Warfare in Washington," goes at some length through the Fitzgerald investigation, the Rove and Libby cases, DeLay's case, and the like. The telepolis web news site had an article with the nasty comment that Scooter Libby, who likes writing novels, may write his next one from behind bars.
The Berliner Zeitung article said that what is going on in Washington, D.C. these days is not the usual warfare among street gangs, but the various power gangs in the Administration. The power of the Republicans is eroding, and the remoralized Democrats hope for revenge for the lost election of 2004: Even Kerry and Edwards are positioning themselves already, for the coming Presidential race.