On matters of the environment and taxes, the automobile industry swings a powerful club in the halls of government. On matters of war, the industry stands by helplessly.
It's not for industry to make great political and moral judgments. In a democracy, that's the job of citizens, not corporations.
At the recent Geneva auto show, where many of the world's top automotive executives met in the civil atmosphere of a neutral city of peace, America's impending war on Iraq was never far from conversation.
Take BMW AG's press party at the old waterworks on the Rhone River. BMW Chairman Helmut Panke took the microphone and then ignored his notecards. He talked about the importance of not letting governments' disagreement over the Iraq war tear the fabric of the friendship between Germany and the United States.
Compare that to the feeling of the 2001 Frankfurt auto show on Sept. 11 and 12, 2001. Amid the horror of the terrorism, we were warmed by the palpable solidarity of all civilized people with the people of the United States.