October 20, 2004

Heidelberg Postcard

B.D. reader DL, currently based in Germany, sends in the below report on the state of U.S.-German relations (and with apologies to my always generously 'on call' German website designer Thomas Eberle!). They're bad, of course, and DL sketches out some of the whys. Not suprisingly, he's not a big fan of Gerard Schroeder. Er, I'm not either.

The Chancellor will largely be remembered as a rank panderer and opportunist. As someone unable to address structural defects in the German economy. And, most pitiably perhaps, as someone who tried to forge, unconvincingly and ineffectively, a Franco-German union in a bid for hegemony over Euro-land emitting from Berlin/Paris via proxies in Brussels. Despite theatrical summitry of late with Zapatero, this policy has proven a sad (if predictable) failure (Iraq quite apart--the Poles, Brits, Italians would never have gone for some form of Gallic-Teuton tutelage).

Put simply, Gerhard Schroeder will go down in history as a deeply mediocre Chancellor. Now, over to DL!

Understanding German Anger

At no time in the history of U.S.–German post-war relations has there been as much German anger directed at the United States as there is today. A certain amount of turbulence is normal in any bilateral relationship, especially in one that served as the foundation of the Cold War order. But even during the deployment of Pershing II missiles, when our differences were strong enough to give birth to a political party, there were voices of reason, usually within government, that cautioned against anti-Americanism. Today those voices have disappeared. The German government is now the leading critic of the United States and it has liberated German society from an unspoken taboo. The result has been an unprecedented outpouring of anti-American sentiment in the media and among the populace.

Germans would like us to believe our President is the reason. Their litany of his supposed affronts to world order is long. But underlying the criticism of American policy is a foundation of anti-Americanism that has just as little to do with our President as it does with the Kyoto Treaty, the International Criminal Court, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rather, it is the result of Germany’s inability to adjust to drastically changed circumstances and its loss of influence over domestic and international trends.

Anti-Americanism is not new. For anyone who has spent time in Germany listening to the talk on the streets it’s apparent that a long-term security alliance can never rid a society of its prejudices. It’s understandable that defeat and occupation culminating in an alliance of necessity does not breed admiration. But compounding post-war resentment were Cold War expectations. A constant theme of the German-American relationship during the Cold War was the German desire for a partnership of equals. That was an unrealistic goal. There can be no equality when one nation’s social and economic well-being depend on another nation’s security guarantee.

Germany’s troubles start with demographics. Germans are struggling to replenish their numbers and losing ground. If the childless trend continues, the population will reach a point where no number of children will be enough to sustain ethnic Germans as a group. Baring an upswing in the birth rate Germany is faced with two choices, neither of them acceptable. It must either encourage emigration and change the definition of German-ness, or face extinction.

Germany is also wrestling with waning economic influence, a declining military, and a collapsing welfare state. It is no mystery why Germany seeks a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. It must institutionalize influence that was formerly exercised by virtue of economic power before the rest of the world realizes what every German already knows. Germany is a shadow of the nation that created the entitlement state that became the envy of socialists and refugees worldwide. When the Berlin Wall fell and Chancellor Kohl promised East Germans a flowering landscape within ten years, the conventional wisdom was that western investors would flock to the east with jobs that would finance reunification. But after conducting history’s largest State-sponsored transfer of wealth from one geographic region to another, Germans have come to the conclusion that no amount of money will be able to fix what’s wrong with East Germany. International investors headed east but they didn’t stop until they reached Asia. The focus of economic competition in the 21st century will be between Asia and America. Germany’s BMWs and Mercedes come from North Carolina and Alabama and it’s only a matter of time before its Volkswagens come from China. German companies have voted with their factories.

Germany’s declining military should neither be a surprise nor cause for concern. As a member of the NATO alliance, the majority of German defense costs during the Cold War were borne by the United States, freeing up valuable GDP for social entitlements. And while Germany can continue to starve its military without consequence, it cannot influence strategic events any longer by virtue of its geography. For half a century Germany was at the center of American security policy. Germany had grown used to being consulted on every nuance of Cold War diplomacy. Then came 9-11 and a strategic shift took place that Germany has still not comprehended. It is neither the focus of American foreign policy nor America’s most important ally. Military events in Pakistan and economic developments in India are of far more importance to U.S. security and economic well-being. But Germany labors under the illusion that its interests should continue to be of vital importance to the United States as if it were the natural state of affairs and any deviation from the Cold War arrangement lacks legitimacy. Germany’s failure to influence U.S. actions subsequent to 9-11 is cited as evidence of American unilateralism rather than a changed strategic environment where it no longer enjoys a privileged position.

These are uncomfortable facts that demand change, something Germans do not willingly embrace. Unfortunately, its Chancellor won an election by pandering to latent anti-Americanism, increasing the probability it will be used to gain political advantage in the future. While that may be a safe response to the latest opinion polls, it is no substitute for national policy.

Indeed. (BTW, readers are more than welcome to send in such pieces for posting here. I hope to do it more frequently going forward. Particularly as it makes my life easier--mitigating somewhat the (largely self-inflicted) pressures to post daily).

Posted by Gregory at October 20, 2004 09:51 AM

Actually the BMWs come from South Carolina. Otherwise, excellent post.

Germany entered the up-to-now undiscovered country of population decline last year. (Only the immigration numbers brought the German population to break-even.)

Demographics will shatter the German economy. With the aging populace, the high benefits, early retirement age, high taxation, high unemployment, and resistance to immigration, the money is not there to pay the pensions. The system will collapse quite soon. And there is immense political resistance to any form of pension reform, even the watered-down Schroeder ones.

Further details on the demographic disaster facing Germany are in the report (link below) from the CSIS, which has a wealth of data on the topic, not just for Germany.

I wonder what the effects will be from Europe's demographic train wreck. Of course, the German government will have to borrow billions of euros to meet even reduced benefits. That will drive up interest rates, both in Europe and across the globe, further dampening economic growth, both in Europe and across the globe, and further damage German economic growth which will then push down tax and pension receipts... I see a downward spiral forming in short order.

Posted by: Former CNN Watcher at October 20, 2004 10:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You need a geography lesson. Bmw has a manufacturing plant in Greenville, SC. Not North Carolina. Brush up!!!

Posted by: tim smith at October 20, 2004 01:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What will the effect of Europe's demographic train wreck be?

It's pretty obvious:

Europe is destined to become a demographic colony of North Africa and the Middle East.

Prediction: This will happen whether or not they let Turkey (current pop. almost 70 million, and growing) into the EU.

Pope Paul VI saw all this coming, BTW. "No prophet is without honor except in his own homeland."

Posted by: Phil in VA at October 20, 2004 03:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

now I found this notable:

" it’s apparent that a long-term security alliance can never rid a society of its prejudices. It’s understandable that defeat and occupation culminating in an alliance of necessity does not breed admiration. "

We'll be greeted with roses in Iran, too, I'm sure.

Posted by: just me at October 20, 2004 03:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

An interesting side note to the current anti-american zietgiest is that both Schroeder and Joshka Fisher cut their political teeth on the (mostly non-violent) periphery of the German anti-American movement of the '60s--allthough Fisher has been outed as tending towards violence by photos of him attacking a policeman provided by the daughter of uber-terrorist Ulrike Meinhof. Schroeder as a young lawyer helped to restore Horst Mahler's law license. Fisher reported that he renounced radical politics after attending a PLO meeting in North Africa where he discovered that anti-Zionism does indeed mean killing Jews.

They have built a political career on anti-Americanism; now the devil will have his due.

Posted by: Patricia at October 20, 2004 05:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The German welfare state makes it very expensive and risky to hire new employees. An incidental result is that innovation tends to occur not at the entrepreneurial level, but within the large, existing business entities. In contrast, in the US, it is common for small, undercapitalized entities to develop swell ideas that, with venture capital support grow into substantial, and ultimately conventional entities. Employees jump from one startup to another hoping for the riches of success. This process replaces the larger entities that run into difficulties and disappear from the scene. The Germans, and for that matter, many Europeans have been consistently resentful of the American influences on their cultures and their children and ask why there couldn’t at least be an equal weight of influence across the Atlantic in the other direction. The key reason, in my opinion, is that European business lacks the nimbleness of the business formation process that characterizes America. While there are often excellent European ideas and products, they tend to be also runs as the American versions got there first. An excellent example is the computer and networking industries. American companies dominate these areas. I would imagine that every time a xenophobic German hears the “Intel Inside” set of musical tones, he (or she) feels nauseous.

Posted by: Michael at October 20, 2004 07:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nicely written, but the "angry with America because it highlights our failures" argument should be credited to Bernard Lewis, advanced in his article "The Roots of Muslim Rage." It makes a lot more sense for Islam than it does Germany. The hatred for Bush and America in Europe is not driven jealousy. It is the typical condescension of European Socialists in general (that includes those here in the US): we know we are right, hterefore you are stupid and contemptible. Bush's demeanor and speaking style make him all the easier to hate. We Americans let the Europeans get away with it because many of us in our hearts believe them to be superior (better food, cuter towns, older art).

Posted by: LAE at October 20, 2004 07:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hi -

As an American expat who has been living in Germany for 20 of the last 24 years and who did his graduate degree on security studies, your take on Germany is largely correct.

However, you *understate* the state of German demographics and as a result the development of the German economy.

Put bluntly, Germany has been living beyond its means since unification. The pensions system has been kept from official and open bankruptcy by misappropriating state funds from gasoline taxes; it is only due to creative accounting that the German government can even put a budget together that isn't in violation of its basic law (which requires that acquisition of debt be no higher than the level of government investment).

But the real problem that I see is the lack of critical thought and intellectual capacity within the German body politic, which is a goodly part of the reason why Germany is in decline. The political system in Germany tends to keep those who might be creative and dedicated politicians out of public life, with the political parties largely interested in nameless sycophants than in those who might show some leadership.

Being anti-american actually has a long and tawdry history in German politics that goes back beyond the original German unification: it is a relic of the romantic period - and never underestimate how important this is to Germans! - and is fundamentally elitist and condescending not merely to Americans, but more fundamentally the very concept of the US.

But getting back to the point: Germany needs critical, rational thinkers that can address the problems that it faces: unification, collapsing demographics and everything that that means (and no one knows, since no industrial nation has gone through population decline outside of war), as well as the positive role that Germany can and should play in the world economy and body politic.

But as long as it is vastly easier and more profitable to be radically pacifist in order to avoid having to make commitments and choices, and to use anti-Americanism to avoid dealing with this society's problems, then Germany will fail.

And it is failing. And it's going to get worse rather than better. That is, until someone has the cojones to tell the Germans that their country's future is based on lies and deceits and that before things are going to get better, things are going to be a lot worse and that everyone's gonna have to take a big bite out of the shit sandwich.

I'd say more, but it's too depressing...


Posted by: John F. Opie at October 20, 2004 09:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Interesting but its all psychobabble really. Germany opposed the war because the case made by Bush was weak and deceiptful. As it turns out, they were right - no amount of huffing and puffing by the Bush adminsitration can hide the fact that Iraq was not the threat it described.

Posted by: Jonathan at October 20, 2004 11:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Too true, Jonathan. Germany is a mess of an empty and lives well beyond its means. But as you stated, the idea that Bush was wrong to go to Iraq should not be invalidated just because a nation like Germany stated it. It is sad what is happening, though... but Germany isn't the only nation that's decaying, and that's what is even sadder.

Posted by: Steve at October 21, 2004 01:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We've been holding up Germany and Japan as examples of the benefits of conquering an enemy in an overwhelming fashion and then rebuilding them, like we are trying to do in the Middle East.

Are we now saying that beating the Nazi's was not the right thing to do, since Germany resents American superiority? Military and economic superiority, which are arguably both a result of their defeat in WW2?

I wonder if Japan also has a well-hidden but vicious streak of anti-Americanism beneath their polite bows, or if the fact that they are an economic power now (even if wobbly sometimes) and an ally who is consulted in the region as well as in the world makes up for their defeat and the world's only nuclear bombing.

It seems to me that even if the Germans resent us now and march in the streets with violent anti-Americanism, we still *HAD* to defeat them in WW2, just as we HAVE to defeat the Islamists now. So that their little hurt feelings are their own problem and something they'll just have to learn to deal with. I simply cannot see where negotiating with Nazi's or Kamikazi pilots or suicide bombers is a viable way of living or planning for the future.

Posted by: NahnCee at October 21, 2004 01:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nahncee, Saddamn Hussein was far from an "islamist", he was secularlist dictator. Taking the fight to Afghanistan wasn't that bad of idea, as Al Queda was obviously there, and the Taliban is as wackily fundamentalist as you can get, but I think the quesiness people feel about Iraq is more geared to the fact that Bush started planning to attack Iraq before 911 even occured, and to this day, it's hard to say for certain just how deepIraq's terrorist links were. It's swarming with terrorists now, but that's because its borders leaked like a sieve after the US led invasion. I think you'll find that the populist hatred of the US that is expressed by the Iraqis is different than that expressed by either Germany or the fundamentalists. It's simply not that black and white as it was back in the 1930s and 1940s.

Posted by: Steve at October 21, 2004 02:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good post. To what degree does the German public recognize the nature of their country's problem? I get the sense that the elites do, but that most political leaders avoid plain talk and unpleasant proposals for fear of adverse public reaction. If this is so, and the German public is currently uninformed or unheeding about their problems, then Germany will likely continue for at least several more years without major reforms being proposed by its political leaders. Once the causes and effects of Germany's decline are so apparent that they can no longer be ignored, I expect that German anti-Americanism will diminish.

Posted by: Ken at October 21, 2004 04:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The answer to the European Problem is to flood the zone (Europe) with copies of "The Road to Serefdom" by Hayek.

He saw it coming in 1944.

Posted by: M. Simon at October 21, 2004 07:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Spot on about Germany. Having recently spent 2 1/2 years in Frankfurt (and living on the same street as the US Consulate so as to get a good view of the almost weekly protests...), I was quite surprised by the amount of resentment on display.

There is a lot of irrational anger at the US in Germany, in particular. The Iraq war has been a good focal point for that anger.

In the great scheme of things, though, this sort of resentment is usually thrown at the top dog no matter who they are.

Funnily enough, Germany is the only country I've lived in where I found it impossible to even attempt to "go native". There are a lot of people there who have real problems with Auslaender. Although that could be down to the almost impossible nature of the German language ;-)!

And that being said, I do have to say that some of the nicest genuine people I have ever met have been German. But a real pain to work with, at times.

Posted by: James at October 21, 2004 11:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The contribution the US could make to Germany would be to open the faucet of immigration and give German youth the chance to vote with their feet. If that doesn't give those in charge of Germany a message and incentive to change, nothing will. And if it doesn't we will have picked up a lot of great immigrants.

Posted by: Richard Heddleson at October 21, 2004 03:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

John Opie: Excellent points concerning the long history of German anti-Americanism, especially the underappreciated point that the Germans glory (culturally at least) in the Romantic era rather than the Enlightenment, and that they see us (however boorish) as more children of the Enlightenment than anything else. (Hence, I suppose the fascinaction with the Indians and Karl May novels).

Their own chief philosopher of the Romantic period, G.W.F. Hegel took the view that by his time the Welthistoriche Geist [World-Historical Spirit] had moved to America. I don't think that went down nearly as well with the German self-image as Schiller's Im Staub mit alle Feinden Brandenburgs at the end of Der Prinz von Homburg.

But the German-American relationship was always complicated, especially after the 1848 generation emigrated to America. Germany was more sympathetic to the Union than either France or England in the early years of the Civil War.

James: Funny you shoud say Germany is the only place you couldn't 'go native' -- when I lived there in 1972 (and I was there for the Munich Olympic terror attack), I was constantly mistaken for a German (I did have German clothes, including shoes). By playing along, I often heard much more unvarnished views, especially from older people who were generally less de-Nazified than people ordinarily believe.

I have long been an admirer of German culture, music and literature, and had hoped that our generation of Germans would emerge with an Enlightenment worldview as children of the Wirtschaftswunder, but alas, that does not seem to have happened. Too much Hegel, Heiddiger and Husserl, not enough Kant, Hume or Locke.

Posted by: Rob at October 21, 2004 08:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"had hoped that our generation of Germans would emerge with an Enlightenment worldview as children of the Wirtschaftswunder, but alas, that does not seem to have happened."

Ain't that the truth...The world's oldest graduates and the world's youngest pensioners still can't figure out which side their bread is buttered on...

And then there is the slavish obedience to rules and regulations and the need to make up more...Oh! don't get me started! "All that is not strictly permitted is forbidden", isn't that the maxim?


Posted by: James at October 21, 2004 08:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

That letter is as complete an explanation of German recalcitrance as I have seen. Phenomenal analysis and introspection. Froggy

Posted by: Froggy at October 21, 2004 08:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Steve speculated:

"It's simply not that black and white as it was
back in the 1930s and 1940s."

Please provide some analysis for that statement.

It seems just as clear. They hate us. They
wish to do bad things to us. Their governments
are ruhtless dictatorships. They wish to have
us give up our way of life and submit to their

And unlike the Germans or Japanese they have
the ability to murder our civilians in far greater
numbers on our own terroritory.

Is that why is it different? Because YOU are
a potential target instead of being safe across
thousands of miles of ocean? Or becuase WE
have to do the fighting instead of our fathers
and grand fathers?

For American Civilians clearly the situation
is much worse than in the 1930s or 1940s.

One thing hasn't changed however. Those
who wish to appease evil instead of destroy
it feel they are morally superior to those
who would work to preserve our way of life.

Posted by: pragmatist at October 21, 2004 08:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Not just forbidden, but "streng verboten" -- I'm reminded of a description of the crowd fleeing from machine gun fire in Berlin during the post-WWI revolutionary battles between the communists and Freikorps: so ingrained was the habit of discipline that they ran only on the paths because there were signs on the grass "Tretten Verboten"!

The Germans actually have a word for the slavish adherence to rules -- Regelmassig -- and each group accuses the other of it: the Northerners accuse the Bavarians, the Bavarians the Preussen, the Wessis the Ossi, etc.

My best Regelmassig story comes from leaving my coat on a train from Frankfurt a M to Passau. Realizing I'd left the coat on the train, I went to the lost and found. After describing the coat, the fellow consulted his book and assured me that it had been found. It had been sent to the Central Lost and Found in Muenchen, but if I requested it, they would have it at the station at 6:30 am on the first train. The next morning, I arrived around 7:00 am to claim my coat. Nooooooo. Oh, Herr Graf, I beg your pardon, but the coat is not here. It was here at 6:30 on the train from Muenchen, but since you weren't here, we sent it back . Now you'll have to go to Muenchen to get it. "

It took me almost half-an-hour to convince the fellow to send it out again, and HOLD IT for my arrival -- since that wasn't in his manual. Argh.

I enjoyed the Bavarians, but they were to me the most Regelmassig of the Germans. My tobacconist, not realizing I was an American, thought I was being condescending to him because I spoke only high German with him -- later corrected to mutual amusement.

Posted by: Rob at October 21, 2004 09:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


What made the 1930s and 1940s more black and white was that there was very clear German anger over the conditions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. This, coupled with the worldwide depression after 1929, caused mass anger and desperation. The Germans had a clear focal point for their anger, which is one of the reasons that they threw their support behind a leader who promised to rail against Versailles and all it stood for. (among Hitler's other radical promises) This was a clear, black and white situation of one country directing their anger against other countries over a very specific issue, which was German hardship directly tied to Versailles, and aggravated by other economic pressures. Incidentally, Germans were not as much angry with the USA as they were with the other WWI allies, at least not until after Pearl Harbour, when the USA rightfully stepped into the world conflict.

When WWII started, German aggression had already been made apparent to the world, and their was little doubt as to what had to be done. Hitler had moved beyond the reasonable restoration of German economic prosperity and questionable reclaiming of territory ceded to France, to openly invading other countries.

Now, here is where we get to the grey area. Most discussions that touch on present-day German anger with the USA and "irrational" hatred of islamists for the USA rarely bother to touch on the actual reasons for this anger. Is it jealousy? Possibly, but our planet has been gong to war with itself over haves and have-nots for a millenia, so it isn't exactly new. Is it a simple manner of Euro-socialist condecension? They could certainly stand to convey their ideas with less snootiness, but the meat of their argument is not entirely off-base.

Germans and Islamists have similar reasons for hating the USA. They just express it differently, thankfully, modern Germany has so far limited itself to relatively peaceful protests. We know what the radical Islamists do.

Now, back to the grey area. I say that it is grey simply because to refer to the anger of other nations towards the US as "irrational" and "jealous" is a bit misleading. To say that it is that simple makes the erroneous assumption that the USA is innocent in this entire affair.

Historically the USA has often influenced the political direction of various regions, especially when oil has been involved. These examples are not, however, limited to oil. In regards to the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, it is an accepted fact that the USA has used its veto on the security council in Israel's favour far often than in the favour of the Palestinians. Often, this has occurred when the rest of the world has tried to pass a resolution decrying Israeli activity, only to find the USA consistently vetoing those resolutions. This has made countries like Germany understandably upset over what can at least be perceived as America's abuse of its veto power. Note that I said perceived. I'm not trying to pass judgement, I'm just trying to help you understand German anger. It's hard enough to accept waning power at home, but to consistently knocked over by the USA through vetos can be irksome after awhile. The Islamists, with their hatred of Israel, have historically viewed these vetos with much more vehemence.

Most Americans conveniently forget that the USA is partly responsible for putting Saddamn Hussein in power, and then supporting him in his war again Iran. Understand now why Iranians hate the USA?

There is a score of South American countries that have seen their democratically elected governments pushed out by American-backed juntas. This is not talked about too often in US circles, since the hyprocrisy of one democratic government tossing out another foreign powers democratically elected government on a whim. Incidentally, a number of these coups were initiated by the US because of perceived security threats. Again, perceived. Since history is written so often by the victor, we will never be certain if the military might of tiny South American countries could have ever made it to US shores.

The US and Europe have had numerous trade wars, and regardless of who was right or wrong for each one, it certainly explains animosity on both sides.

In general, there is a high incidence of the USA pushing its own agenda in other parts of the world. If any country ever tried to set foot on US soil and do what America has done to other countries, it is hard to measure the sheer rage that would be channeled at that country (and rightly so) by Americans.

Sanctions imposed by the UN and the USA, and pushed for by both Republican and Democratic administrations have been estimated to have caused over 500,000 deaths of civilians in Iraq. This is just from the 1990s. There have been a substantial number of civilian deaths in Iraq since the US led invasion. When the US helped liberate the countries of Europe from Nazi occupation and oppression, they were liberating one country from another. When they went into Iraq, they were liberating a country that was being oppressed from a dictator who was at least one of their own. We should not minimalize the nationalistic intensity that one country feels when another country enters their borders, even if it is to help them. Just try and put yourself in the place of an Iraqi. If the USA was taken over from within by an oppressive political party that restricted freedoms and killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, would you be terribly thrilled about a unified force of Islamic countries coming to liberate us? You laugh, but think about what that what seem like. We would tell them to mind their own bloody business, and promptly try to kick them out after they tossed out our corrupt President, especially if it was perceived that they were looking to take over our vast technological resources. It doesn't matter if the intentions of the Western world are good, it's the results that the Iraqi people will use to judge them.

Now on to the Islamists. Their methods are deplorable, but not without motivation. No nation on earth can confront the USA head-on, so the only method that these people have of slowing down what appears to be the conquest of the Islamic world is to attack the USA and other nations through what has been coined "terrorism". Another incidental point: A good chunk of the American War of Independance (which was called the American "revolution" by the British) was fought through guerellia warfare, and the assault of soft targets, because at the time, the British were too strong to be confronted directly. Nearing the end of the 18th century conflict, the British were defeated in head to head battles due in part to the fact that the French Monarchy sent military aid to the Americans. My point? What was called "guerillia warfare" by the Americans back then is now referred to as "terrorism" by the USA. Are we truly allowed to condemn this group of people for doing the very same thing that freed the USA from the British? Again, not a terribly black and white situation that we're dealing with.

The Islamists have every right to feel concern. Take a look at America's involvement in their region, and how they have played a pivotal role in backing dictators and various wars designed to maintain the supply of oil. I wouldn't dream for a second that their assault on the civilian target of the World Trade Centers was justified, but 3,000 American deaths pales in comparison to the civilian casualities experienced pre 911 by Islamic countries at the hands of American foreign policy. Is it really that simple to say that 3,000 dead Westerners are worth more than the hundreds of thousands of dead foreign persons because we happen to be "the good guys" and "a peace-loving democracy'? Again, it's not that black and white.

The USA does not target civilians on purpose, but Al Queda did. That's why it is much easier to take on the "us versus them" approach, and ignore the high amounts of collatoral damage that the USA has incurred in certain parts of the world.

Finally, it's also not as simple to say that the Islamists want to destroy the life of all Americans. I would assert that the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks were designed with economic and symbolic effects in mind. By slowing the US economy down, Bin Laden was hoping that it encourage the US to stay out of his part of the world. I'm not saying that Bin Laden was terribly brilliant in doing that, but I strongly suspect that those where his motivations. The Islamic world does not have any illusions about conquering Americans or destroying their way of life. They are quite content, however, to destroy the way of life of Americans who currently live, work, and fight in the Middle East. Do the Islamists hate freedom? Very likely. But only in their own neck of the woods, were freedom makes it hard to exercise their feudal control.

Do all Islamic peoples hate the US? No. Do all Germans hate the US? No. I would assert that the Germans moreso dislike the US for trying to assert its dominance on the world stage, which is the same reason that a large number of other countries don't like the US. Do Iraqis hate the US? Of course not. (again, its a minority who think they are worse off without Saddamn) But they will if the US doesn't try a different approach.

You are correct. Americans have much more to fear now in this modern age. It is no longer a simple question of good versus evil, black versus white. It is a question of wealthy and hypocritical versus impoverished and crazy. It's easy to root for America when one only benefits from American foreign policy of the last two, maybe three decades.

Germany of the 1940s was too wrapped up in Europe, Russia and Africa to launch any traditional attack on the United States. That would have compromised the borders of their conquered territories, and the borders of Germany itself. Islamists have no real borders to defend, so they can spend their time on the offensive. This is why they are having such a ball in Iraq.

I still stand by my assertion, and now, my analysis (as per your request) as to why I feel that it is no longer a matter of black and white. You said: "Those who wish to appease evil instead of destroy it feel they are morally superior to those
who would work to preserve our way of life." I'm not sure I understand. If the USA mops up the problem in Iraq and leaves a few YEARS after fulfilling its mission of democracy, and then examines its hypocritical foreign policy, then how is that appeasing? We should definitely continue to take the fight to the terrorists, but we also need to ask ourselves why it truly wish to destroy us, and start backing away not from the fight, but from our encroachment in certain regions of the world. I think that is dangerous to approach this conflict as if we are 100% "in the right"... it is why Islamists are so eager to destroy us, and countries like Germany (which are quite flawed themselves) consistently oppose the efforts of the USA.

Posted by: Steve at October 22, 2004 12:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Terrorism is the use of violence directed against civilians to achieve political objectives by promoting popular fear ("terror"). Terrorism is wrong even when its aims are just. Usama bin Laden's aims are not just. It is no accident that his terror network received shelter from a regime which administered physical punishments to women who ventured out of their homes without male supervision. Usama bin Laden is evil because his means are evil and because his ends are evil.

The suggestion (for example, above) of moral equivalence between Paul Revere and Usama bin Laden is dead wrong, both in terms of means and and in terms of ends.

I voted for John Kerry, and I'll bet you he agrees with me about this.

Posted by: Arjun at October 22, 2004 12:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am in favor of making the world safe for the inevitable decline of American supremacy. To achieve that end, first, American supremacy must be prolonged, by increasing efforts to strengthen the U.S. economy and the U.S. military. Second, America cannot succeed without the assistance of allies in the global struggle to promote long-term stability through economic prosperity and liberal democracy.

I believe Europe and the U.S. are natural allies because they share cultural heritage and political vaules. For example, the German Social Democratic Party's statement of principles lays claim to the legacies of the ancient Greek philosophers and of the Christian religion. The American Founding Fathers also drew from these important aspects of a shared Western Civilization. (It may legitimately be asked whether I am qualified to comment on Western Civilization, when my own cultural heritage is non-Western. But I'm not advocating the spread of Western Civilization. I'm simply arguing that America and Europe, united by Western Civilization, can work together to spread economic prosperity and liberal democracy among all the world's civilizations.)

I am willing to fault the Bush Administration for some of its arrogant unilateralist rhetoric. However, I certainly don't agree with the Democratic Party rhetoric that implies that the recent rift between America and some of its European allies is entirely America's fault. There seems to be a desire among some Europeans to counterbalance or even weaken the U.S. for the sake of European independence. This anti-American desire is dangerously destructive to the common objectives which Europe and the U.S. ought to share.

Posted by: Arjun at October 22, 2004 01:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry, when I wrote "political vaules" I meant to type "political values", but "values" was poor word choice anyway. I meant "political ideals".

Posted by: Arjun at October 22, 2004 01:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arjun, John Kerry agrees with you, and so do I.

I'm not comparing Revere to Bin Laden for a second. The motivations of 18th century were secular, Bin Laden and co. are primarly religious.

I'm not going to back down in pointing out that there were many similar methods used back in the 18th century to modern terrorism. You forget that passive British loyalists were bullied and scared out of the country through acts of violence against their homes and persons (tar and feathering, burning down barns, etc.). These loyalists fled to what is now known as Ontario in Canada. If that doesn't match up with your definition of "Terrorism is the use of violence directed against civilians to achieve political objectives by promoting popular fear ("terror")", please explain how.

It's easy to forget the history that makes us look bad. Once again, it allows us to assume that we're in the right, again, its not always that black and white.

Posted by: Steve at October 22, 2004 01:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Steve is an anti-American apologist-for-terrorists, one of those types masking his self-hatred with tons of words, loads of theories, and a smattering of history and psychology. I think the excessively long history lesson is lacking in the nice details one can pick up here from Wretchard, and the psychology is irrelevant. I'm voting for Bush because he will kill terrorists. I don't *care* why they are terrorists and I'm not interested in Germany's plight. People have to take responsibility for their own actions, and that includes parents who breed hijackers, Arabs who hack off heads, and Germans who live on welfare. What I will be responsible for is protecting myself, my family and my country. And I think that can best be done by killing terrorists ... and by firmly ignoring the plaintive drone of those such as Steve.

Posted by: NahnCee at October 22, 2004 01:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes, NahnCee, killing the killers and racking up massive counts of collateral civilian damage without trying to understand the nature of the world we live in is a great strategy. I'm far from anti-American, and I'm not even close to being an apologist, I'm just trying to point out that no one is perfect. The fact that you ignore American errors as partly the cause of these cycles of violence ensures a never-ending world slug-fest. Why bother trying to figure our enemy? Let's just kill what we can't understand, and allow the opportunity for the hatred of these people to reach the level of Nazi Germany proportions. I find it ironic that BD posts such an excellent article that reminds us to look back on history's errors, and you find it cause to feel all the more resolute in repeating them. Vote for Bush because he'll kill lots of terrorists. I'm sure that there are plenty more waiting to take their place.

Posted by: Steve at October 22, 2004 03:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I understand and agree with your analysis to a point. But I think when we tend to analyse world events and reactions to them, we only tend to only look at emotions as an effect of misdeeds, imagined and real. We always say that the emotional response of the world's community is a rational response (i.e. A causes B).

I think that Germans and Islamists (and others)don't necessarily hate us for what we do, but who we are. The subsequent misdeeds committed in our names only go to reinforce those beliefs rather than are the cause of those beliefs. It comes with the territory of being top dog in the world. Heck, the Islamists want to re-establish the Caliphate, hark back to the Golden Age, when Muslims ran most of the world. (I'm not saying they are anywhere near being successful, though.)

I would also put it to you, that since about 1995, that, although misguided at times, US intervention in other countries has had a much more noble purpose than previous foreign misadventures, and the US has been more likely to wade in and get things done when the rest of the world would rather talk about it (so far, the US have been the only people to call genocide in the Sudan, everyone else is too afraid of upsetting Arabs, it seems). (I also used to be a firm believer in Chomsky, too, so I am well familiar with where the US screwed up or deliberately screwed things up for others.)

Have a look on Europundit...Nelson Ascher makes an interesting analogy about the attack on the WTC and its significance. He says that foreign terror attacks are akin to finding a cockroach in the middle of the night, which means there is but one cockroach, but the WTC thing, in the US, where this sort of thing has never happened before, it is more akin to finding cockroaches in the living room in the middle of the day: chances are you have an infestation. That was an act of war, not a terror attack.

As for Iranians: I know plenty of Iranians who are praying that the US will turn its attention on their country. Did you know that the Mullahs managed to kill in one day more people than the Shah in his entire career? Multiply that several times, and you realise the misery the Iranian people are going through.

Personally, I would love to see the US get involved with Sudan and Iran, to put paid to the idea that US intervention is mainly money driven. The ISG report pointed out how deep France and Russia were involved with Iraq's corruption (and my Iranian friends point to the same two culprits in their own country)...Do you think a UN resolution allowing invasion would have ever been possible with France and Russia around? Even if WMD had been found? (And let's not forget the German commercial connections to Iraq and Iran.)

I fear that if the 800-pound American gorilla doesn't roar every once in a while, though, the world could descend into an anarchic free-for-all. All with the help of our democratic internationalist socialist friends.


Posted by: James at October 22, 2004 10:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, but why then asking, asking and asking the poor Germans for help by sending troops to Iraq ? Because, as military leaders know well, it would be, in contrast to any other help, a good help!


Posted by: A.S. at October 22, 2004 11:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

everything that is stated in this post may be true, yet it is as 'unrelated' to german anti-americanism as kyoto, Int'l criminal court , or our misadventure in iraq. It is basically stating that germany is simply blaming us for their own problems....he cannot prove this in a blog posting ....

Posted by: matt at October 22, 2004 04:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Steve wrote back:

"It is no longer a simple question of good versus
evil, black versus white. It is a question of
wealthy and hypocritical versus impoverished
and crazy."

I think you are saying that the Muslim overlords
- e. g. Saudi Princes etc. - are wealthy and
hypocritical. I can definitely agree with you there.

But do you really think the USA is impoverished
and crazy?

Nice theorizing but it's still "US vs. Them".

Just like:

Greece and Persia.
Rome and Carthage.
France vs. 'The Allies'.
Central Powers vs. 'The Allies'.
Axis vs. 'The Allies'.
Soviet Union vs. the US

You can excuse the immorality and evil of
the other side as much as your heart desires.
They are still 'the axis of Evil' and a bunch
of immoral thugs.

Knowing the crap they teach these days
at the University level I'm not at all surprised
you are unable to tell the difference between
the Fire and the Firemen.

If we had gotten WWII wrong our kids would
be speaking German or Japanese. If we got
the 'cold war' wrong our grand-children would
be speaking Russian. If we get this one
wrong our great-grand-children will be speaking
Arabic and leading short, brutal, dis-tasteful lives.

You aren't so clueless as to think the new
overlords you seem to support are going to
let YOU into their little club - or are you
that clueless?

Posted by: pragmatist at October 22, 2004 08:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Funny, pragmatist, I don't recall ever excusing the terrorist nutjobs. In fact, I specifically stated there was no excuse for what they did.

There is a reason, however, for figuring out why they want to do what they do. If there is an infestation of cockroaches in your house, it might be caused in part by food left out. If you never clean up your own mess, and correct your behaviour, then the cockroaches (the vile terrorists) will keep coming no matter HOW MANY you kill.

Hey, wait, could it be that I'm not apologizing for the terrorists? My criticizing the USA does not = sympathizing the terrorists. I say we blow them out of the sky. And while we're at, start behaving ourselves on the world scene. It's called a balanced approach.

You must have missed the clear cause and effect points made in my historical analysis while you were busy making faulty historical analogies. Rome and Carthage? Give me a break. They were competing city states that went to war over economics. It hardly alludes to the situation of today. Greek versus Persia? The Persians were an overbearing empire that was beaten back by a loose affilliation of city states that were either ruled by monarchies or democracies that were not terribly democratic (lack of vote for women, for example).

Nice try, pragmatist, but trying to falsely paint me as a muslim sympathizer is not going to cover up the role of the US in this matter. Read James' previous post. He at least bothered to figure out what I was saying, and I respect that, even if I don't agree with everything he wrote.

Posted by: Steve at October 23, 2004 12:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Funny, pragmatist, I don't recall ever excusing the terrorist nutjobs. In fact, I specifically stated there was no excuse for what they did.

There is a reason, however, for figuring out why they want to do what they do. If there is an infestation of cockroaches in your house, it might be caused in part by food left out. If you never clean up your own mess, and correct your behaviour, then the cockroaches (the vile terrorists) will keep coming no matter HOW MANY you kill.

Hey, wait, could it be that I'm not apologizing for the terrorists? My criticizing the USA does not = sympathizing the terrorists. I say we blow them out of the sky. And while we're at, start behaving ourselves on the world scene. It's called a balanced approach.

You must have missed the clear cause and effect points made in my historical analysis while you were busy making faulty historical analogies. Rome and Carthage? Give me a break. They were competing city states that went to war over economics. It hardly alludes to the situation of today. Greek versus Persia? The Persians were an overbearing empire that was beaten back by a loose affilliation of city states that were either ruled by monarchies or democracies that were not terribly democratic (lack of vote for women, for example).

Nice try, pragmatist, but trying to falsely paint me as a muslim sympathizer is not going to cover up the role of the US in this matter. Read James' previous post. He at least bothered to figure out what I was saying, and I respect that, even if I don't agree with everything he wrote.

Posted by: Steve at October 23, 2004 02:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I've wondered for sometime now whether German anti-Americanism contributed to radicalization of the Atta al Qaeda cell. Anyone have an opinion on this?

Posted by: ATM at October 23, 2004 07:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Check out Medienkritik to see the cover of Der Stern this week.

Opel (subsidiary of GM) has to lay off several thousand employees.


"Isn't this sadly typical? Instead of blaming the bad German economy, outrageous taxes, overblown bureaucracy, the failing Socialist-Green government of Schroeder and Fischer and their failing Socialist economic policies for the Opel job losses, it is once again the fault of the evil American cowboy, the source of all the world's problems according to Stern."

Posted by: Former CNN Watcher at October 23, 2004 11:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One of the posters above denies that he is a "Muslim sympathizer", and I believe him.

I will gladly admit to being a "Muslim sympathizer", however, and I also think that the United States is "in the right" in the war on radical Islamist terrorism.

I don't think the radical Islamist terrorists hate us (the U.S.) because we are free. I think they hate us because we are an obstacle to their ascendancy.

We ought to be such an obstacle, because the radical Islamist terrorists are evil, not only in their tactics, but also in their goals.

Posted by: Arjun at October 23, 2004 05:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is an absolutely fascinating thread. What great insights, all around.
My relatives from Germany just visited the states. I had noticed in the last year that we emailed each other quite a bit less than before and I suspected that it had something to do with their feelings toward the US. Unfortunately, we didn't get around to that topic when I got to see them, and probably for the better, since we don't get together very often. Anyway, I'd been wondering about this topic recently. In my own experience, living in Hamburg in 1987, I experienced very little outward anti-americanism. Nevertheless, I wasn't so naive that I didn't understand that there was a disdain toward the US in general, which was often manifested in tirades against Reagan and the culture of Hollywood. Most of the people I met were not highly educated, so I always felt theirs' was a pretty genuine, gut level response to America. Their disdain for the US ran the gamut, from insistance that one couldn't find a good contractor who would guarantee their work in the US to a condescending (maybe rightful) opinion of our beer. It was never vitriolic, but definitely arrogant.

Where is Germany now? I agree that Germany is not as important to the US at this time, but I believe that to be a mistake on our part. The wars we face now are being fought against people who live as guests in many western countries, and the non-violent prong of our efforts should focus on strengthening EVERY country that holds similar democratic, liberal values. This war is a struggle against fundamentalists who want to do away as much with the permissiveness of northern European culture as well as Americanism, if you ask me.

Posted by: Another Steve at October 23, 2004 06:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

omfg !!! uhm, i'll try to make this short ...
1st i am from germany yet it puts me in no position of nationalism blah because i hate this country its morlae and whatnot.
i am a 24 year old student fluent in several languages, most of which are not western, just to give you a short intro.

whoever wrote this must have been a republican and a blind-sightet deaf and dumb retard. but who cares.

plus, this was just as bad as reading a movie comment on imdb.

and we're not getting into conflict with islam and so forth ...

dude, who the fuck do you think you are ? after the cold war the complete global power shifted to the us of a (in which i used to live) and apart from a complete history of overpowering cultures, races and political systems the united states, along with a president and a cabinet that has more than only their political interests in common, the united states is now the world power and unforgivingly just keeps heads rolling thinking they can just go in and clean up without considering the mess they'll leave behind, the recent wars were just losely assembeld spec-ops to infiltrate and destroy, the humanitarian subject only really became clear after the regimes tumbled and (american) freedom was proclaimed, not considering though, that twice in the last three years the united states invaded territory, and we're not talking 9/11, taliban, saddam hussein, baht party, no, and not even islam, ... we're talking about countries and people so strange and diverse, with languages so old and diverse, cultures and histories so ancient and diverse, of which, apart from weapon sales to the taliban and so on, the united states (not in general, only speaking of military/politics) had NO actual information, none whatsoever because everything was just put in one pot, muslim, islam, who gives a shit ....

the innercultural differences and diversities and conflicts never were part of the deal, UNTIL afterwards, now everybody is bitching about shellings and killings and murders and bombings and buhuhuhu
well uncle sam, should have thought about that before you left your shores. vietnam seemingly didn't teach you jack. you just know how to destroy, not build.
only once did you help. whom ? the germans of course.

and that's the thing. you helped germany become stable again, plus, again, the most influental, say powerful country in europe. weird. same thing happened before strangely enough.

and you say that germany has become anti-american ? lol, open your eyes to see the whole world stands against you. NOT the people, NOT capitalism, NOT materialism, but your political aims and injustices, one of which being camp x-ray. inhuman, intolerable and then the us pleads freedom and brotherhood ? NOT

everybody here is just so pissed about the american political and military leaders making all the fuss about everything thinking they can do better and the real fun really only begins when they think they've had it.

no country should have the right or the power to just do what it thinks it pleases wihtout considering the consequences ... but it has only just begun.

welcome to the 21st century

p.s.: stop fucking with the facts !!!

Posted by: Turbojugend at October 23, 2004 06:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I just re-read my post. I didn't say one important thing- I think the US is screwing up right now, in a HUGE way. Turbojugend points out that the US is just tromping all over anyone and anything and I think that is the major problem (historically? Maybe, but especially right now). I probably should have just kept to the point of German anger...

Posted by: Another Steve at October 23, 2004 06:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I hesitate to respond to a worthless comment filled with incoherent rage and laced with obscenities, but it's really amazing to read a sentence like "well uncle sam, should have thought about that before you left your shores", coming from a resident of a nation which "uncle sam" "left [its] shores" to rescue from a criminal regime which was forcing millions of innocent men, women, and children to suffer and die in concentration camps.

Posted by: Arjun at October 23, 2004 07:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I just wanted to mention something else to the tiny minority of Europeans who hate America, and to the Americans who think that this is America's fault.

The Marshall Plan.

Posted by: Arjun at October 23, 2004 07:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We should remember that many of the problems between the US and Germany are tied to the fact that the US heavily subsidized West European security for almost half a century. The result wasn't simply resentment. It allowed countries such as Germany to go on a social welfare spending "orgy" that it cannot sustain. It also meant that the foreign policies of Germany and France could be driven by crass self-interest. They could exchange weapons and nuclear technology for Iraqi oil because when Saddam began his drive to take over the oil fields of Kuwait and (ultimately) Saudi Arabia, it would be Americans who would bear the main burden of stopping him. Particularly in the Middle East, European foreign policy is still driven by this "we don't have to bear the real cost" mindset. So in a sense what is happening in Europe today is the behavior of rebellious children who know that "Daddy" (the US), will clean up any mess they make.

Interestingly, the US is NOT making that same mistake in Iraq. Those who sneer at the disorder following the military victory are missing a carefully unstated portion of our policy there. We have enough troops in Iraq to ensure democratic elections early next year and to prevent attacks by Syria and Iran. We do not have anything like enough troops to maintain order and rebuild the infrastructure. That is deliberate because that something we must let the Iraqis must do for themselves if they are to have a healthy and stable democracy.

Hopefully when the Iraqis began to write the histories they will teach their school children, the role THEY played in rebuilding their nation after Saddam will get prominent play and the US role will be as minimized as the role France played in our Revolution.

This issue is also why the election of Kerry would be a disaster for Iraqi. Depending on his audience, Kerry talks of either pulling out of Iraq according to some "timetable" or increasing by several divisions the number of troops we have their. Either approach would be foolish. A timetable would let Bathist groups set a plan for retaking power. More troops would transfer the responsibility for public order from the Iraqis themselves to the US and repeat the real mistake of the Vietnam war. Like LBJ, Kerry has a typical liberal contempt for the abilities of ordinary people to solve their problems.

That's why so much hinges on this upcoming election. Bush may not be an ideal president, but he's head and shoulders above Kerry. In a quarter of a century of public life, Kerry has only one significant accomplishment. Before a national audience, he viciously slandered his "band of brothers" in Vietnam. In political office he has absolutely no measurable accomplishments in domestic or foreign policy. He will be no better as President. And a US run by a loser like Kerry will harm Europe as badly as when the country was run by the equally incompetent Carter.

Posted by: Mike Perry at October 23, 2004 07:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Maybe it's a mistake saying i'm also german (and stumbled upon this site by chance), because it's sure to influence peoples view on what i think should be said.
I have relatives in the US and have been there several times. I do not hate the country nor the people, as i have always been treated friendly.

Now, the biggest difference between Europe and the US is that the US had their 9/11 and now they believe they have to take up the fight. Europe and especially Germany does not feel that need. Germany in special became so strongly pacifistic because of its own history (so much for we germans didn't learn our history). I personally am not a pacifist because i believe you should always be able to defend yourself if necessary.
But the problem is *how* the US are acting now. It seems like they have gone berserk in trying to eradicate all those evil towelheads. Don't you see what's going on? The US invaded Iraq using fabricated evidence. There haven't been MWD nor is there any clear proof for Saddam supporting Osama. Rumsfeld himself told this to the press lately. The US is accepting so-called collateral damage surpassing the number of victims from 9/11. They imprison people without any legal rights in Guantanamo. Other prisoners are tortured to gain intelligence information. And then all those Halliburton connections.

Can you say hypocrisy?? The US claims to defend freedom etc., but in reality, because of their actions, the US lose their moral superiority. That's what all the world, not just germans or french people are seeing, and that's why the public view of the US around the world has changed so much.
Bush has no solutions to the problems pending. He will continue killing terrorists, but for every dead ten others will stand in line to replace him. If Bush is re-elected, he will be a mighty ally for every islamist.

Posted by: OrwellWasRight at October 23, 2004 07:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't agree with the posting which essentially argues that the orderly and benign U.S. occupation of postwar Germany, the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, the formation of NATO, and U.S. support for German re-unification were all mistakes. (I voted for John Kerry, but I think the poster's shocking claim that the chaos in Iraq was a deliberate choice by the Bush Administration is unfair to the Bush Administration.)

Europe and America share important political ideals which underpin liberal democracy. These ideals are derived from the common cultural heritage of Western civilization, which includes Judaism, Christianity, and ancient Greek philosophy. Europe and America also share institutions and practices essential for economic prosperity, including mostly clean governance and mostly market-driven economics. For these reasons, and also for important historical reasons, Europe and the U.S. are natural allies.

As Tony Blair said in an address to the U.S. Congress in July 2003 (as quoted in William Shawcross's book Allies: The U.S., Britain, Europe, and the War in Iraq), "If Europe and America are together, the rest will work with us. If we split . . . nothing but mischief will be the result."

Posted by: Arjun at October 23, 2004 09:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As a German I can assure you that "Turbojugend" is a fairly typical case. Of course to Americans countless sins we must add that they do not understand all the wonderful old and unspeakably complex cultures they so recklessly invade. They need to be lectured by Germans who have clearly the most experience in making an occupation work...

The German holiday from history has been going on for so long, we are mixing it up with reality. Like spoiled twentysomethings who are still living with their millionaire parents, we do not take responsibility for anything, not even our own future. Have we solved any problems recently? Turbojugend is not going to convince me that we really care about the Iraqis, Afghans, Tibetans or any other people. Already we are turning our attention elsewhere because the terrorists in Iraq are mostly killing other Iraqis, which is awkward when you are trying to sell them as a popular resistance movement. If there was any joy about the Afghan election, I must have missed it. We are only lecturing Americans, not Khamenei, Mugabe, Assad, Castro, the Sudanese, etc. WE happily do business with them (well, not Mugabe, perhaps, but he is Chiracęs buddy). All this talk about their wonderful cultures only leads to the acceptance of dictatorship and denial of human rights. This was in fact one of my wake-up experiences: A young socialist (activist in the social democratic youth org) in the early 80s. First thing she told me, she is a feminist. A militant feminist. Five minutes later, I mention the worsening situation of women in Iran. Her answer: "Why? That is just their culture." Itęs not, by the way. Khomeinięs revolution was something new and radical in shiite islam. There followed twenty years of "constructive dialogue" with Iran, read: good business, no questions asked. Arenęt we sophisticated?

The reason for anti-Americanism is not so much envy. Itęs the old reason why someone needs a scapegoat: to regain a clean conscience. That is why we need to condemn the US for small transgressions while ignoring all the troubles of the world.

So much for humanity, but what about security? For all their mistakes - and I do not deny them - the US have shouldered most of the burden of keeping the world free. Who else? Meddling in South America and elsewhere was nasty, but less nasty than the communist regimes that sprung up where the US could not stop them. Anyway, that is what containment means. And Germans profited handsomely from containment of the soviet union, so much that they could run their little detente policy on the side. We have not believed in the existence of an "enemy" for a long time. Germany would sell out Taiwan or Israel or South Korea for being able to dream on a little.

Containment of Saddam (as opposed to invasion) would not have been prettier, by the way. For one, the sanctions would have to be kept up indefinitely. But they were breaking down already, mostly thanks to the oil interests of France and Russia. The number of 500.000 deaths mentioned above is Saddamite propaganda, but there certainly was much suffering - blamed increasingly on the US. And donęt forget that all of us would still believe that Saddam was close to getting nukes, so we would not have as many policy options as some opponents of the war believe. This was the unpleasant alternative to invasion in the real world. But did Germany offer any sincere advice, any other options in which they would have taken responsibility for the outcome? No. In the unreal world where many Germans reside now, they forgot how to make any tough decisions, even if they are only about pensions and subsidies. But we can lecture others like "Weltmeister".

Posted by: werner at October 23, 2004 10:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"OrwellWasRight": you must not believe anything the German media tells you. If you swallow all that propaganda, it makes Orwell turn in his grave.

I do not agree that German pacifism has much to do with the war experience. First of all, we are "pacifist" (or something close to it) because we believe we can afford it. Second, our current political and media establishment has probably less experience of conflict than any other in history. They are children of the 60s and 70s and have more in common with other leftists all over the world than with a German who remembers the war. I find that a more plausible explanation. We think we have no enemies. But we canęt just shut up.

Finally, the correct lesson of the world war is not pacifism. At least not if you see it from the side of the democracies. Germany and Japan committed unspeakable atrocities and then something happened before they became docile and pacifist. It was a conversion by sword, you know. For a country to finally become pacifist as a democracy is an abdication of responsibility: "Ięm locking myself up before I do anything stupid".

Posted by: werner at October 23, 2004 10:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So in what way is the media lying? About the fabricated evidence? Then why had CIA-Boss Tenet to resign as a scapegoat? About all those orange and yellow alerts? Tanks suddenly 'protecting' airport buildings? When do you think will the level be back to green again? About Guantanamo? Read the reports from human rights activists. Is it a lie that literally half the government had jobs connecting them to the oil industry, and that these corporations are funding Bushs campaign? What about the 'Patriot Act' which makes arresting people so much easier?
I already said i don't believe in pacifism so i won't defend it.

Posted by: OrwellWasRight at October 24, 2004 12:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Would someone please remind me why American soldiers died to keep the Soviets out of West Germany for decades? Where once there was a purpose there now is merely regret.
Incidentally, Germans are the largest ethnic group in the United States, so once again it's a case of their Germans against our Germans.
Was fuer ein leben!

Posted by: PacRim Jim at October 24, 2004 02:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I believe we had good intentions both in the occupation of Germany and in what we are trying to do in Iraq. That said good intentions don't count for much.

The occupation of Germany certaintly did not result in a nation committed to the spread of democracy and perhaps should be deemed as a failure. (Impeach: Truman!) So rather than considering WWII or the Cold War, or the WOT I would like to ask ithose of you here if the American entry into WWI was a mistake? No Versailles, no reperations, ... you get the picture.

more here

Posted by: Y.H.N. at October 24, 2004 02:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oops here is the link

Posted by: Y.H.N. at October 24, 2004 02:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Readers may tire of my preseverations, but the benevolent postwar U.S. occupation of western Germany, which became the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, was not a mistake and it was not a failure. It was the right thing to do, and it was a stunning success.

I don't agree with Chancellor Schroeder about Iraq. But Germany and the U.S. are allies, not enemies. (The enraged German anarchist who posted a venomous anti-American comment may not like this alliance, but this alliance is a fact.) German fighter jets patrolled the skies over New York and Washington D.C. soon after September 11, 2001. Germany has more troops on the ground in Afghanistan than any other non-Afghan nation except for the U.S.

Posted by: Arjun at October 24, 2004 04:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Actually Arjun I don't think I've ever agreed with you (ever, least of all about Kerry) until some of your comments in this thread.

Funny thing about a lot of these Germans upset about the "hypocrisy" of American foreign policy is that it doesn't explain the extent of the outrage. It really doesn't - it just reaks of an excuse. If the intensity of the rage is as strong as I perceive it to be from these posts, then it's either far more irrational than is given credit, or there is a problem deeper than George Dubya going into war in Iraq. If Germany went to war with Iran, I don't think a single American would march in the street saying "Depose Shroeder." Not a single one.

2+2 doesn't = 10.

Posted by: Honus at October 24, 2004 08:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

OrwellWasRight: Yes, the media are lying about fabricated evidence. It was not fabricated. It may have been wrongly interpreted or blown out of proportion, but there is no evidence whatsoever that any of it was fabricated. This was, however, not reported in Germany, where analysis and unsubstantiated claims are often the same. It is then merely a matter of opinion. You may remember that the current German government made wildly exaggerated claims about Serb atrocities (concentration camps) during the Kosovo intervention, a war that did not have the blessing of the UN either and was just as legal or illegal as the Iraq war. Were Schröder, Fischer and Scharping lying? It was only five years ago, yet we hear very, very, very little about this glaring inconsistency in our mainstream media. But you believe them to report accurately about a country and a war they obviously despise.

Tenet had to resign because CIA intelligence was bad - as intelligence usually is, everywhere. What does this prove in your mind? I remember Mr Hanning, the German intelligence chief, said that Iraq was three years away from the atomic bomb.

Are you saying that all the terror alarms, the orange alerts and tanks surrounding Heathrow are cooked up? A big conspiracy? Do you have any evidence, as opposed to rumours? Are you saying that there is no possibility of a terrorist threat in these countries? The Observer - an antiwar, anti-Blair newspaper - recently reported that 2 of the terrorist who shot children in Beslan had connections to Finsbury Park Mosque in London. To give just one single example out of hundreds of the sort that does not get picked up by the German press.

What about Guantanamo? You will be shocked hearing this, but I do not see fighters fighting from behind civilians, blending in with the population, having any rights whatsoever. Certainly not according to the Geneva convention which expressly denies protection to just such persons. For all I know, the US would have been justified to shoot them right there and then.

There have been reports of Guantanamo inmates talking very positively about their treatment, but they were not reported in Germany. There have been reports of inmates complaining bitterly, and they were reported. You can feel sorry for some of them, who may have been picked up accidentally. But they will live, after all. When you talk about legality you need an argument. What do you propose to do, set them all free to fight again? There were reports that some which have been let go were caught fighting again. I suppose you will claim they were "fabricated". When these kill a German soldier in Afghanistan, will Human Rights groups have anything to say about it?

Besides, why is that Europeans are agitated about Guantanamo when the fate of Afghans in Afghanistan is of no interest? The UNHCR reported a few months ago that 3,6 million Afghan refugees have now returned home from Pakistan and Iran. This is a direct consequence of the US removal of the Taliban and the creation of a central government, however imperfect. This is thanks to George W. Bush. Has any NGO or Human Rights organisation ever achieved as much? Yet in Germany - silence. Please, donęt tell me we care.

And about the oil connections - think just for a minute. The US oil industry did not want the Iraq war and it did not benefit from it. They wanted the removal of sanctions, which would have benefited them much more. The leadership of France, Russia and China is much more entangled in the oil industry (and a host of others), they had concrete business dealing with the Saddam regime - is that not an explanation for their opposition to the removal of Saddam? Have you even heard of the oil-for-food scandal and the corruption that occurred? Yet this connection is always ignored. Someone else may have the time to look at who exactly is funding the Bush and Kerry campaigns. But this info is openly available and there are funding laws in the US, so this should not be a matter of blind assertions.

And the Patriot Act? There you have your fabrication. It is not tougher than our own laws. Perhaps some American reader can explain this better? By European standards, American laws very incredibly lax before the Patriot Act. There are more wiretaps in Germany as in the US. French antiterror laws get you arrested without charge and kept incommunicado for weeks, but again, we do not get worried about that. Itęs always about the US.

There is a counterargument to all those condemnations of the US in general and Bush in particular, many of whom are indeed fabricated scandals. But you would not know this if you read a German newspaper or Der Spiegel or watch the TV news. How can German observers not notice that our media are absolutely partisan and one-sided? It is not as if they try to hide it.

Posted by: werner at October 24, 2004 01:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Thank you.

Posted by: Richard Heddleson at October 24, 2004 05:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I suspect werner would be dismayed by my voting decision. (I voted for Mr. Kerry.)

Nevertheless, like the poster above, I am grateful to werner, for his informed opposition to the European news media's noxious assumption that whatever makes the U.S. look bad must therefore be true.

Posted by: Arjun at October 24, 2004 05:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Werner...What fantastic insights. Mind you, in defense of a small minority in Germany, i.e. those who lived between 1945-50; US occupation wasn't always a benevolent force for good. I've read that up to 5 or 6 million Germans may have died of starvation in the American sector (at a time when world agricultural production had jumped back up to almost pre-war levels.) Eisenhower wanted to "make them pay". Also many German POWs in US camps were made to pay, post-war. But this particular bit of history is well-hidden (documents surrounding it are just beginning to become declassified). So hardly really a bone of modern contention.

As for real or imagined terrorist threats, in Germany, even; I have seen with my own eyes security surveillance video of people casing out the building in which I worked in Frankfurt, that same week similar sightings occurred in London. That particular incident is what really changed my mind about the War on Terror.

Werner, I saw your reference to wire taps...I personally have watched dodgy goings on at the telephone breakout box for my street in Frankfurt, by plainclothes policemen. And other people have seen lots of other instances of the surveillance state. For some reason, mostly in Westend. I was genuinely surprised when I watched it. I was living on the same street as the US consulate, so in order to get to my house I had to show my ID constantly. Talk about heightened paranoia anyway.

Well, anyway, fascinating commentary.


Posted by: James at October 24, 2004 08:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oxford University Professor Timothy Garton Ash, writing in today's Washington Post, makes the argument I have been trying to make (for example, above) about the benefits of strong cooperation between Europe and the U.S., but of course, he does a much better job of it.

The Professor's closing sentence: "And only if America and Europe work together can we unfold, for the rest of the world, the transforming power of liberty."

Posted by: Arjun at October 24, 2004 08:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Do you have a (non-Marxist) reference for that 5-6 million figure? Because whenever I hear something like that I always think of the thousands of tenured radicals permanently embittered when the Forces of Evil won the cold war....

Posted by: skeptical at October 25, 2004 12:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I first ran into it in an essay by James Bacque which held the Soviets and the Poles just as complicit in the starvation.

Also Bacque's work is being used (misused?) in the context of Neo-Nazi Holocaust revisionism, from some of the sites I've seen mentioning his name.

Not sure of his own political convictions, but he did enjoy an endorsement of his work from Stephen Ambrose, up until 1989, which was retracted. Not sure why.

As for POWs, I have heard of a couple of anecdotal stories, myself, whilst living in Germany, and in his work, apparently, Bacque is just as critical of Soviet POW camps and occupation.


Posted by: James at October 25, 2004 02:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If any evidence of Saddam's WMDs were fabricated, it was Saddam who fabricated them. And "no operational ties with AlQ" is a lot less than "no ties to terrorists".

see http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/ and http://husseinandterror.com/

Posted by: Larry at October 27, 2004 07:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Probably there is some guilt in play also; Most of the Iraq chemical complex was of German origin .
And i have read in some defence journal that the submarines for Israel was paid in part by Germany Gov. because the Scuds that fell in Israel in 1991 had a bunch of components made in Germany.

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