September 14, 2003

Schadenfreude Watch Andrew Gimson reports

Schadenfreude Watch

Andrew Gimson reports from Berlin. Sure, much of the anti-americanism ("Too Much of a Good Thing?" query imbecilic commentators over at Alexander's Cockburn's Counterpunch) in Germany stems from Mearsheimeresque themes of the end of the Cold War reducing America's strategic import for Europe etc etc. In addition, throw into the mix traditional resentments of any hegemon that so dominates the international system.

But leaders bear responsibility for the quality of a state's national discourse regarding how best to pursue its geopolitical interests as well. To be sure, Chancellor Schroder's desperate use of anti-american rhetoric to wriggle into another term played into latent anti-U.S. feelings that were already present in the German polity.

But he fanned those emotions with such alacrity that they became much more widespread than before. Also, Schroder's reckless anti-americanism allowed such a worldview to occupy a more respected and generally accepted position in the firmament of the national discourse (to such an extent that even his Green Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, had to warn against the perils of "primitive" anti-Americanism).

There will doubtless be some patching up between Berlin and Washington in the coming days. But the damage is real and can likely only be surmounted by real statesmanship going forward. Don't hold your breath while Gerard is still around.

UPDATE: Check out the obnoxious conspiracy theories respected German press outlets will air in the current climate.

Posted by Gregory at September 14, 2003 01:13 PM
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