Germans Overwhelmingly Oppose War in Iraq-Poll

November 13, 2002

An overwhelming majority of Germans are firmly opposed to any German participation in a possible war against Iraq, according to an opinion poll by the Forsa institute published on Wednesday.

The survey for Stern magazine found 80 percent were against any German soldiers being involved in a war against Iraq while 18 percent believed Germany should support a U.S.-led campaign.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder won re-election in September after campaigning hard against a war in Iraq and ruling out German participation. His position helped his party rally from far behind in opinion polls but strained relations with the United States, long Germany's closest partner.

Schroeder had said Germany would "not click its heels" and follow President George W. Bush into a "military adventure," which drew applause in a country with a deep pacifist streak after the devastation caused by World War Two.

The Forsa survey of 1,002 Germans conducted between November 4 and November 8 showed that even 67 percent of those who vote for the conservative opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) backed Schroeder's firm anti-war position. The CDU criticised Schroeder for his position on Iraq and then narrowly lost the election after leading by more than eight percentage points for much of the year before the ballot.

A U.S. adviser to the Pentagon, Richard Perle, accused Schroeder of being morally feeble in dealing with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Britain's Guardian newspaper said. "I think Europe has lost its moral compass," Perle, who heads the U.S. Defense Department's Policy Review Board, was quoted as saying. "Germany has subsided into a moral numbing pacifism."

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