Germans: Military Klutzes!

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

It happened under the radar, so to speak. The major German papers wouldn’t pick the story up, but a regional paper, the Rheinische Post, did. This concerned Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who in recent days has barnstormed through the US and Canada on a four-day trip. The thing is, he arrived at his first destination, New York City where he was due for a meeting of the UN Security Council, a couple hours late: the original airplane that was to carry him from Berlin’s Tegel airport turned out to be defective.

No big deal? It is if you have been paying attention! (To be clear: That’s not your obligation!) How about the G20 summit last year in Buenos Aires (30 NOV – 1 DEC 2018), when malfunctions in Angela Merkel’s official airplane (No, not Luftwaffe 1; it’s called “Konrad Adenauer” after post-war Germany’s first Chancellor) made her stop her flight from Berlin short in Cologne and then go on to Buenos Aires by herself on Iberia (that is, Spanish) airlines! And of course she was late for meetings there with her fellow heads of government/state, by around twenty-four hours.

But wait – there’s more, more in this sad tale of repeated failings when it comes to the basic task of getting top German politicians to where they need to go. Foreign Minister Maas himself had to cope with three separate airplane incidents within four months (FEB – MAY) earilier this year (although one merely delayed his flight back from Bamako, Mali, by twenty hours – nothing urgent awaiting back home, other than seeing his family, etc.). And at the end of May Bundespräsident Frank-Walter Steinmeier had to quickly switch to a private jet to go off on an official visit to South Africa, because there was a rip discovered in the cockpit of the official plane he was to have used. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has also suffered this sort of indignity, in the middle of a visit to Indonesia.

Bizarrely, @Team_Luftwaffe actually used Twitter to pat itself on the back concerning the latest Heiko Maas incident! Whereas for Merkel’s G20 trip it couldn’t come up with any official substitute plane, in Maas’ case “thanks to quick servicing by #Team_Luftwaffe he was also back in the air” in a replacement.

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