Thanks to JUSIPER, a pretty great politically motivated blog I stumbled into today, I found a great story about Germany's non-involvement in Iraq. From the Financial Times:

Germany might deploy troops in Iraq if conditions there change, Peter Struck, the German defence minister, indicated on Tuesday in a gesture that appears to provide backing for John Kerry, the US Democratic presidential challenger.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Struck departed from his government’s resolve not to send troops to Iraq under any circumstances, saying: “At present I rule out the deployment of German troops in Iraq. In general, however, there is no one who can predict developments in Iraq in such a way that he could make a such a binding statement [about the future].”

Mr Struck also welcomed Mr Kerry’s proposal that he would convene an international conference on Iraq including countries that opposed the war if he were to win next month's election.

Germany would certainly attend, Mr Struck said. “This is a very sensible proposal. The situation in Iraq can only be cleared up when all those involved sit together at one table. Germany has taken on responsibilities in Iraq, including financial ones; this would naturally justify our involvement in such a conference.”

Berlin has refused to comment on the outcome of the US election, but Mr Struck's comments are significant as Mr Kerry has argued that he would be able to draw in countries to work in Iraq that opposed the war. Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, was a leading opponent of the US-led Iraq war and his re-election in 2002 was secured in part on support for this stance.

Mr Struck and other German officials said developments in Iraq meant the position over troops was under constant review, noting that Berlin was already providing financial assistance to Iraq and training Iraqi troops and police officers in the United Arab Emirates.

A senior official said: “When the situation in Iraq changes, when elections have been held, or there are other developments, then we will make decisions on this basis.” If a democratically-elected Iraqi government were to ask the UN for support, the international community, including Germany, must be in a position to respond, the official added.

Mr Struck said Germany's attendance at the conference proposed by Mr Kerry did not mean Berlin would immediately deploy troops. Analysts in Berlin argue that a Kerry victory would increase pressure on Germany to step up its involvement in Iraq, even though public opinion is still firmly against the US role in Iraq and against any heightened German engagement.

Mr Struck said he could envisage Germany making a larger “political contribution to stability in the [Middle East] region”, building on mediation efforts in recent years by Joschka Fischer, foreign minister, regarding Israel and the Palestinians.

As Jusiper pointed out, the Kerry group can't exactly campaign on this sort of thing, but it certainly should be reported and listened to. The fact that Bush insists he'll stay the course, doing nothing different proves that there's little to no chance that any of these Europeans will ever join the conflict. Also of note, they said Kerry's idea for a forum was "sensible," something Mr. Bush has never been.
Kerry is going to do the same exact thing but now France and Germany together will join in. France and Germany joining in means sending less than a thousand troops total. The Euros just hate George Bush because they think he is a cowboy.
Sadly, higher ups in the German government reiterated their original view that their troops would not be going to Iraq under any circumstances.

By the way, I just forwarded your question about the sidebars to Pat, who did the entire design of the site. I think what he does is find a blog he likes and find the section of the source code that relates to the feature he likes and then copies it. But since I haven't done it myself, I don't know how exactly to go about it; I can get as far as viewing the source.

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