Leadership: December 31, 2002

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Since the 1950s, the German air force transports that carried the senior politicians around were marked, quite accurately, as belonging to the Luftwaffe ("air force" in German). But the current president of Germany, Johannes Rau, is demanding that the government transports be marked, not as Luftwaffe aircraft but as simply belonging to Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany). Rau noted that the American Air Force 1 (and other U.S. Air Force transports dedicated to moving senior officials around) were simply labeled "United States of America," even though they were all owned and operated by the U.S. Air Force. Rau is also trying to get the name Luftwaffe off these aircraft because of the World War II connotations. The German air force was called the Luftwaffe during World War II. Officially, the Luftwaffe is protesting that repainting the aircraft would be expensive and want to know where the money will come from. Unofficially, the Luftwaffe is wondering why no one has complained in the past fifty years and, well, maybe president Rau is just looking for some media attention. In Germany, the president is a largely ceremonial post with no equivalent in the United States. The German Chancellor is the elected official in Germany with powers equivalent to the president of the United States. 

 


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