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Schroeder Commits German Military To War on Terrorism and World Role


Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder declared Thursday that the country’s postwar role in world affairs, economically powerful but militarily timid, has “irrevocably passed” and that Germany is ready and willing to send troops abroad “in defense of freedom and human rights.”

Speaking as U.S. allies are offering troops to the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism, Schroeder told the lower house of Parliament that his country must bury the long-sacred principle of risk-avoidance in foreign policy.

“The willingness to provide security through the military is an important declaration for Germany’s allies,” said Schroeder. It “means a new self-conception of German foreign policy . ... Avoiding every direct risk cannot and must not be the guideline of German foreign and security policy.”

Schroeder spoke after a flying visit to the United States this week. In New York, he viewed the devastation at the site of the World Trade Center and appears to have returned home with a renewed sense of outrage.

“After the end of the Cold War, the restoration of German unity and the recovery of our full sovereignty, Germany needs to show a new international responsibility,” said Schroeder. “Ten years ago, no one would have expected anything more than secondary help-providing infrastructure or funding. This era of German postwar history ... has irrevocably passed.”

The German government said again Thursday that the United States hadn’t yet requested Germany’s participation in the strikes on Afghanistan. But Schroeder’s government has approved the sending of five AWAC reconnaissance planes with German crews to the United States to free up similar U.S. planes for use in Asia.

Political analysts here said immediately that Thursday’s speech, building on the 1999 decision to send Germans into combat for the first time since World War II, represented an important broadening of Germany’s international role.

“This is a defining moment for Germany, and its role is being fixed,” said Karl Kaiser, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations. “It didn’t go unnoticed that when (President) Bush spoke of the coalition around the U.S. he said it was Britain, France, Australia and Germany. And that has enormous meaning.”

Nobel Prize Goes to V.S. Naipaul


V.S. Naipaul, a master of prose and controversial interpreter of the developing world, won the centenary Nobel Prize for literature Thursday for “works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories.”

The academy called the sometimes prickly writer the heir to Joseph Conrad “as the annalist of the destinies of empires in the moral sense: what they do to human beings.” His style, however, is his own. The academy singled out his highly autobiographical novel “The Enigma of Arrival,” about a young Indian from Trinidad in England, as a masterpiece. He is “a literary navigator, only ever really at home in himself, in his inimitable voice,” said the Swedish Academy, which awards the prize.

The academy avoided mention of some of Naipaul’s more contentious works, such as his critique of Islamic fundamentalism, “Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey,” published in the wake of the Iranian revolution. One reviewer said the book ravaged the religion with naked antipathy.

Naipaul has always portrayed himself as “a stateless observer,” Jaggi said. He sees himself as an objective truth-teller who is devoid of any political or ideological agenda, a transcendent condition many writers consider to be impossible.