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"Anti-Amerikanismus hilft auch in Deutschland nicht mehr, Wahlen zu gewinnen..."

Nicht in konservativen Ländern wie Bayern, die seit Ende des 2. Weltkrieges niemals antiamerikanisch waren. Wie ist es im Rest Deutschlands?

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"Anti-americanism doesn't help winning elections in Germany anymore..."

Not in conservative states like Bavaria, which haven't been anti-American since the end of World War II. What about the rest of Germany?

Die SPD liegt bei bundesweiten Umfragen im Moment bei nur ca. 30 %. Sie verliert an Kompetenz in praktisch allen Politikfeldern. Vgl. Politbarometer des ZDF: http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/3/0,1872,1020771,00.html

The SPD's (Schroeder's party) share in national public opinion polls is only around 30 %. Their image worsens in practically all political fields.
See ZDF's (public tv channel) monthly poll results:
http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/3/0,1872,1020771,00.html
David

Schroeder's defeat owes much more to economics than to foreign policy. Germany's cushy welfare-state socialism and employment policies are strangling growth, and demographics are making the problems worse. Major reform is required to fix it, and it isn't happening, and until it does Germans can expect more bad economic news. Before, they could adjust the Deutschemark to compensate somewhat - but with the Euro, that option is now denied them.

Sucks to be Deutsch.

Antagonizing the Americans doesn't exactly help this situation - which explains why Germany is singing a different tune these days. Unlike the French, if the Germans want to play nice now I say we should forgive and move on once they ante up.

Joe writes: "Unlike the French, if the Germans want to play nice now I say we should forgive and move on once they ante up."

I totally disagree. As long as Schroeder, Fischer, and the SDP/Green alliance are in power, the US government should not forgive, and NEVER forget. Rather the US should leverage the current situation in relations to their own advantage and that of the CDP. To forgive at this point simply amounts to rewarding and encouraging the same behavior in the future. The Americans should demonstrate that realpolitik can be practiced as ruthlessly from Washington as it is in Berlin or Paris.

MB: just to correct some mistakes...

wrong: SDP
correct: SPD

wrong: CDP
correct: CDU (actually, it's CSU in Bavaria)

From what I read of public-opinion polls, Germany is more anti-American than ever. It is, in fact, so thoroughly anti-American that anti-Americanism has become the German equivalent of Mom and apple pie. Which means that there's no particular advantage in anti-Americanism any more: if everyone's anti-American, then you have to find something different to distinguish yourself from the pack. Schroeder, in his anti-American campaign has succeeded in persuading his fellow Germans to his position, and so poisoning German-American relations; but having succeeded, attention now returns to his dismal economic performance, and now he's getting clobbered at the polls. Good riddance, I say, but the damage is done.

MB:

I'm on board with Joe. I believe a lot of the German opposition to our Iraqi excursion stemmed from our successful post-war brainwashing of them to be believe that violence is never the answer . . . a belief I would love for them to continue cherishing, given the history.

France, on the other hand, is just pure but lazy evil, and we need to dedicate serious time, effort and coalition-building to ensure that they assume their proper place in the bottom of the dustbin of history. It will take the unanimous consensus of the other members to get France kicked off the Security Council. Dream that dream, and then plan out the steps necessary to achieve it. One of these steps is rapprochement with Germany.

I distinctly remember the reactions to last year's mid-term congressional elections in the U.S., when Republicans more seats from the Democrats than was thought possible. The Democrats were shocked, shocked, shocked. Their hatread for Bush made them blind to the fact that so many people like him and his policies. The problem with reading (and writing) your own press is that you come to believe that everyone agrees with the editorial opinions of the NY Times or Der Spiegel. Take your pick. For instance, if you believe that Tony Blair is sinking in popularity, because of his friendship with Bush, you are just not reading the right news sources. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal clearly laid out reasons why Blair's star is rising.

If the German media is as one-sided as David depicts it on a daily basis, it will take Bush-bashing liberals some time to get back in touch with reality or to hear what people are saying, feel in their hearts. The German media is trying to win over German hearts with their crusade. I've lived in Germany. I don't think the average German has the stomach to side with France and against die Staaten for the long haul.

P.S. I also hope that, in 2006, the US squad plays on friendly soil, like Bayern, where, as David points out, 61% of the populace is pro-American.

David writes:
wrong: SDP
correct: SPD

wrong: CDP
correct: CDU (actually, it's CSU in Bavaria)

Corrections noted. I'm not sure where I came up with those abbreviations. Too many political parties in Europe to sort through I guess! ;-)


Jonathon writes: "I believe a lot of the German opposition to our Iraqi excursion stemmed from our successful post-war brainwashing of them to be believe that violence is never the answer . . . a belief I would love for them to continue cherishing, given the history."

I fully agree with this statement. I have no grievance with sincere and committed pacifists wherever they might reside. However, I simply do not believe that the current SPD/Green government should be awarded or appeased given their behavior. I also seriouly doubt the sincerity of many (but not all) of those who claimed to be opposed on moral grounds.

I have to ask myself which country benefits more from a reconciliation at this point and if, in both the long and short term, it is worth the price for the US? If a demonstrable benefit does exist what is it? For myself, I am now of the opinion that the US needs to take a much more self-interested stance than perhaps we have in the past. We need to do a thorough re-evaluation of our alliances and decide if any of those are more of a liability than they are beneficial. This applies not only to Germany but to all countries and it should be an on-going process.

I'm a bit confused by this posting.

What role did anti-Americanism play in the Bavarian campaign? Any at all? (I'm well north of the 'Weißwurstgrenze', so all I know about Bavaria is from the national media, but I haven't heard of the SPD playing any anti-American cards since Schröder's campaign speech in Goslar last winter.)

What national repurcusions does the result have, other than establishing the pecking order in Merkel's henhouse? Will the Union now be more able to work with the government to set policy in the Bundesrat, or will they resort to a Lafontaine-style blockade?

Ich habe nicht viel Deutsch in viele Jahre geschrieben - eure Entschuldigen, bitte!

MB fragt: "What role did anti-Americanism play in the Bavarian campaign".

Vielleicht keine rolle. Aber der CDU hat früher im Jahre (oder in 2002) ein paar andere Länderwahle (?) gewonnen, nicht? (Ich erinnere die Länder nicht, und mein Blog keine Suche funktion), und durch ganz Europe schwingt politik (vielleicht) zum Recht; es gibt rechte-Koalizionen in Dänemark, Ungarn, Italien (und, vielleicht ohne den mörder des Pim Fortuyns, die Niederlände (verdammte Genetiv! Auf Englisch gibts kein Genitiv!).

...und, vielleicht bald, Deutschland? Mit viel mehr diesel Länderwahlen (sp)?

Gack. Deutsch war in College meine Nebenfach, aber das war vor 18 Jahre. Hoffentlich is diese Post verständlich...

Mitch

Scott: the Bavarian result is widely viewed as a blow to Schroeder and the SPD on the national level. Stoiber's CSU had asked the voters to punish Schroeder and the national SPD in this election. That's what people feel is what happened. CNN's headline tells the story:
"Schroeder suffers big poll defeat"
http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/09/21/bavaria.election.reut/index.html

Schroeder's didn't play the anti-american card actively lately other than stressing his commitment to side with Chiraq in the security council. Still, given his anti-american credentials of the past you could have expected another sign of German distrust of the US - it didn't happen.

Anyway: the top candidate of the Bavarian SPD tried his luck by playing the anti-american card early in the campaign. See "Addendum" above vor details.

David

To think that people voted for Stoiber in order to punish Schroeder for his anti-Americanism is more than a bit far-fetched. Stoiber comes right after Bush in the hate-rankings of your average anti-American Leftist. This election was all about internal affairs.

Mitch, your effort is welcomed - and your post is easily understandable, even with a typo or two ;-)

Essentially, this election was Stoibers rematch against Schröder from the last Bundestagswahl. As a rule, the SPD >never< wins elections in Bavaria. Sometimes they have candidates who manage to keep their face while loosing, sometimes not. Franz Maget obviously did not. Never heard of him prior to two weeks before the election, by the way.

As a result of the above mentioned rule, the balance of the federal chamber doesn't change through elections in Bavaria.

The result is non the less historic. Never before in the history of Germany after the war has a single party won two thirds of the seats in a parliamentary election on state (or federal) level.

Stoiber is said to be still keen on the top job - time will tell if has the will and the support of his party base to challenge Schröder for a second time in 2006.

A note on Fortuyn - while I mourn his death like that of any human being, I'm glad he doesn't rule the Netherlands today. Not much substance but fear of minorities, especially foreign nationalities. As for Berlusconi, well, he silences any judicial inquiry about himself or his friends. That says it all, doesn't it?

TN: Fact is, the Bavarian SPD would have loved to make the Iraq war and Schroeder's rejection of US policies an issue in this election. Have a look at the links in "Addendum".

Too bad - for the Bavarian SPD - it didn't work out the way they hoped it would...

MB: I think there are few things more wrong-headed, petty, or counter-productive that the U.S. could do than to inject itself into internal German politics. Even the simple non-act of not congratulating Schröder on his re-election probably did more to isolate potentially U.S. friendly Germans than it did to "show" the anti-American ones. Judging by recent election results, the CDU doesn't need our help, and any overt efforts to offer it would probably backfire. Better to let the SPD slowly collapse under its own weight. [Think of the Peanuts strip in which Linus built a snow-woman that looked like Lucy, to which she responded, roughly, "that's supposed to be me, right? You're probably going to kick it over, right?" Linus responded, again roughly, "on the contrary, that would be crude. I'm just going to stand here and watch, while it slowly melts away."]

Mitch: Actually, English does have a genitive, we just know it as the possessive 's or, alternatively, a prepositional phrase prefaced by "of." Of course, we don't use our genitive in all the same contexts that German does, but you'd be surprised how often the two overlap. Take, for example, "wegen" which is supposed to take take the genitive (though in common speech, it is often assigned the dative). In English, it translates as "on account of X," "because of X," etc. Take this with a grain of salt, though - während takes the genitive, too (and also takes the dative in sloppy speech - do I sense a pattern here?) but its English counterpart, "during" does not.

Hi,

With regard to Xrlg's statement "Even the simple non-act of not congratulating Schröder on his re-election probably did more to isolate potentially U.S. friendly Germans than it did to "show" the anti-American ones." Aren't you forgetting the fact that one of Schroeder's top ministers compared Bush and his policies to those of Hitler just a few days before the election and never really apologized for it? And Bush was supposed to "congratulate" Schroeder on his victory...? Isn't that asking a bit much? (This is, by the way, the same German government that screamed and complained in agony like a wronged child after Berlusconi jokingly made a similar remark about a member of the SPD.)

I must say, however, that I agree with you on your assertion that the SPD will collapse more quickly under the weight of its own incompetence if the US tactfully avoids getting too involved in internal German party politics.

Xrlg writes: "I think there are few things more wrong-headed, petty, or counter-productive that the U.S. could do than to inject itself into internal German politics."

I never intended in my previous comments to imply that the US should directly intervene in the internal politics of Germany, although after re-reading my words, it may have seemed that way. I quite agree that doing so could induce the worst possible outcome.

In fact, after commenting and then reflecting on the subject for awhile, I have reached an logical impasse on this very subject. As I stated before I believe that the US should adopt a much more ruthless and calculating foreign policy than it has practiced in the past. But a part of this equation presents a paradox. How best to lend support to friendly elements in various countries and governments without discrediting or subverting them? I need to meditate further on this subject.

Raymond,

Hell no, I haven't forgotten the crap that Herta Däubler-Gmelin spewed a couple of weeks before the election. Nor, I might add, have I forgotten that Schröder rightly fired that insufferable bitch within hours after being re-elected. To be sure, the timing could have been better; he ought to have fired her before the election, not after. Still, once she was gone, she became water under the bridge, and the better approach would probably have been to let bygones be bygones and to adhere to the usual diplomatic protocol.

David,

yes they tried... politicians tend to try everything to their disposal in order to gain or maintain power (Bush included). My point however was: you claim the election result in bavaria was a sign that anti-americanism doesn't work anymore as a campaign argument in germany. i think that's not true, since bavaria is (like texas in the US for example) a particular situation, a non-representative state. i agree with you that it WOULD be a great thing. however, i am not that optimistic of my german "landsmänner".

Hi,

Actually, Däubler-Gmelin made the Bush comparison just 3 or 4 DAYS (not weeks) before the September 22, 2002 national election in Germany. Interestingly enough, Däubler-Gmelin and the German government both initially reacted to the scandal by denying that she had ever made the comments, see the following link:

http://www.bundesregierung.de/index-,413.440562/Daeubler-Gmelin-weist-Bericht-.htm

This was clearly done to save the SPD from a major scandal going into a tight election. Immediately after the election, Schroeder, (who before the election had insisted Däubler-Gmelin was innocent), fired her. My question is: Why did he find it necessary to fire her if he and his government were convinced she never made the Hitler comments???
The ironic thing about the whole story is that the Hitler comments may have actually helped the SPD win the elections as many Germans secretly agreed with and rejoiced at the comparison of Bush (a figure mercilessly demonized by the European media) to Hitler. As for the diplomatic protocol, I think the US and the Bush administration showed a great deal of restraint in not reacting more strongly to this scandal. Don't forget that Schroeder won the election by cynically taking advantage of anti-American and knee-jerk pacifist sentiment in Germany and making the Iraq conflict into a campaign issue. Would it really have been appropriate after all that for the US government and for Bush to "congratulate" Schroeder on his election win??? Again, I think that is asking a bit much.

I agree with Xlrg, any gains by the Right, and any losses by the Shroeder/Fisher alliance, in no way means that anti-americanism in Germany is diminishing. It merely means that Schroeder's days are limited. But lets face the sad irony here. The Iraq war saved Germany's left from annihilation, it gave them something with which to distract the populace - a sort of pacifistic Wag-the-Dog scenario saved their lame asses. The fact that losses in Bavaria bode ill-well for Schroeder and gang could not make this American happier, the man is a pathetic opportunist. As well, his ally Fisher is a die-hard anti-american, whose very leftie-terrorist history makes me want to squeal. Though, after reading the posts, it is nice to know that not all Germans hate Americans and Americana.

I don't think it's clear that Schroeder's setback is worse than Blair's in terms of the polls: Brent East should have been a walk-over for Labour, and noone expected the SPD to come close to winning in Bavaria. Sure, Bavaria is big and important, and Schroeder is struggling, but in terms of what it says about the vote, I think the news is less bad for Schroeder than Saturday's news was for Blair.

As for German anti-americanism, I think it exists, but be careful to distinguish resentment of America from anger at the Bush administration: the current US administration hasn't exactly gone out of its way to smooth relations with its allies. FWIW, my impression is that Germans generally liked Clinton.

To Charles Stewart: I must disagree with you here. To pass this off as just run-of-the-mill Anti-Bush and not Anti-Americansim isnt true in my opinion. I think that Germany, along with the rest of Continental Western Europe, dislikes America and Americana for more reasons than just Dubya. Bush simply gave them an easy means with which to express something which was already brewing....I think what is more at odds here is the conflict between Anglo-Saxon style economics and European socialism. The general hatred for America and all it stands for stems from the predominance and success of American culture and economics. Let me say that I give any person two cheers for defending his/her culture and language. But I despise any government who tries to do so by helping preserve a dictatorship in the interests of "peace." I know many in Europe cared for Hussein no more than the average American but that changes nothing. What the anti-war Europeans have done these last 8 months will never be forgotten by any American, especially this one.

Sir Richard: (btw, why does a patriotic American have such a monarchist screenname?) I was in Berlin on September 11th 2001, and I can say the spontaneous outpouring of support for America was tremendous, and the "America has it coming" contingent was almost nonexistent. I think that says something. As I said before, I am sure there *is* a measure of anti-americanism here in Germany, but I find it very hard to say how much.

I was undecided about the war on Iraq in the weeks before the invasion: while I liked the idea of Saddam being kicked out, I was afraid that the situation for the Kurds in the northern no-fly area would get worse, I was particularly afraid the north would be invaded by Turkey to avoid the creation of a Kurdistan: I'm glad that in the event America sent strong signals against this. I was also very bothered by what I saw then as a pattern of deception by the Bush administration in their case for war, and while I thought their impatience with the UN had justification, I thought their approach was, like France's, gratuitously antagonistic. Of course, anti-Americans were opponents of the war, but the reverse implication does not generally hold.

I think that American power has done much more good than evil in world affairs, and I hope most of my fellow Europeans agree with me, but concern over the future of American power I think is always wise, especially when it looks as if American leaders don't feel the need to be honest about their motives.

To Charles Stewart: Let me first say that the reasons behind my screenname are worth noting. Yes I am a patriotic American, perhaps to a degree that might disgust the average European. Yet personally I have always liked, though not the idea of total monarchy, the idea of knighthood. Perhaps its just a childish game I play in my head, or perhaps something else. But do remember that when the patriots seperated from the Mother country in 1776, we were not asserting our rights as Americans, but rather as Englishman! But to be perfectly honest, I am new to posting on blogs and to the blogosphere as a whole and did not realize that such importance was attached to the choosing of one's screenname. Better yet I appreciate the irony here that my name comes from an English King who traveled to the Middle East for conquest (especially with regard to the Iraq question) and yours for a king beheaded by his own people. I think I will stick with Sir Richard.

As for your commentary I must first ask what it is precisely you believe was or is dishonest about the Bush Administration. Now do realize I am not trying to sound naive here. I'd like to think I am well-versed in the major arguments against the Bush Doctrine and his foreign policy as a whole. So really, what is it personally that you think is dishonest? I'm not asking for a book here either, just a concise summary of grievances, so to speak.

As for sympathy for America in the days and months directly after 9/11, I in no way doubt what you say about Germans or other Europeans for that matter. But in my opinion this is no different than any outpouring of sympathy when one sees something horrific through the medium of television: the effect is temporarily sobering but generally does not change one's world perspective in the long run. I fear that because of differences over economics and social policy, the trans-Atlantic alliance is in peril, along with it the whole of the Western world. For once the so-called Islamic threat is neutralized (as if that were possible), there are still other great challenges to Western culture and ideas. In fact the muslim terrorists are just a bump in the road. The coming Chinese Empire is going to be asserting itself more and more in the world in about 50 years and I think it would benefit America greatly to still have Europe on her side. Sadly, politics takes no prisoners and is also one of the worst patients of memory loss I know of.

To Charles Stewart and Sir Richard, I would like to comment on the level of Anti-Americanism I have encountered in the Ruhrgebiet. Two weeks ago, I was at a party given by friends. At this party, there were many people who expressed their opinions as follows: "The American Soldiers in Iraq and Afganistan are murderers", "Bush is a murderer of women, children and old men in Iraq", "American soldiers are all war criminals", "America is a terrorist nation", "America has broken international law by invading Iraq". There were also many references to lies made be The Bush and Blair team, so on and so forth. These are people who are well educated and hold professional degrees in law, education, medicine. Their opinions were directed at me as the lone American at this party. It was very difficult to maintain my composure and to absorb this verbal abuse. I was not able to discuss this with them as the hate for America and Americans was so great. I am hindered by my limited capacity to speak German. My wife tried her best to discuss these clearly hateful statements but with every attempt to obtain the facts from these people she was verbally attacked by them all. It was impossible to discuss with them in an intelligent and unbiased manner. They had no facts to back up their opinions, they could only quote from the newspapers and the magazines that they read. These included Der Spiegel, Stern, Suddeutsche Zeitung, WAZ, and many others. When we tried to bring forth the facts of our research into all the usual statements, some people who had no way of justifying their stance, got up and left the table. My wife and I have done extensive research into the opinions reflected by the media in Germany and have found that the media frequently make mistakes in translations of speeches made by US officials or they take one statement completely out of context. I can't speak for any other area than where I live. Here in the Ruhrgebiet, the Anti-American climate is growing stronger everyday. My stepson is being indoctrinated by his teachers, the school he attends encourages Anti-Americanism. Children's radio programs have Anti-American overtones in them, WDR 5 has been extremely disgusting in this matter. I have students in Düsseldorf who openly say that they hope that America is destroyed. These students are between 18 and 45 years of age and come from all ethnic backgrounds in Germany. I know only a few people who have said that they support America and her allies in the war on terror. It is my belief that the media in Germany have done their very best to stir up Anti-American sentiment.

I concur with N. Hale 2003.

Since I have never been to Germany, I cannot claim the personal anecdotes which N. Hale has written. My opinion on Germany is one derived only from reading and research. But I did live in Spain during the spring of 2002, only some months after 9/11. And let me say this. If the Spanish university scene is in any way a microcosm of the future generation of Europe, God help us all. The very mention of the name Bush brought stern looks and negative slurs and commentary. My experience was very much like N. Hale's. I was told that my president was a Hitlerian fascist, a terrorist, a supporter of Zionism (with the definition of Zionism being one of Jewish terrorism and tyranny, in other words bullshit), a militarist, and most all a capitalist pig. I too felt helpless to reply. For to voice any argument would be to declare my own Hitlerian qualities, which by the way would also mean possible harm to my person. And any decent argumentation based on logic with many people I met, was simply hissed away as "lies."

It seems to me that European universities are sespools of radical socialism/leftism, rabid anti-americanism, and historical revisionism. Much like their counterparts in the US, these leftists believe it is within their free-speech rights to assert the most vile, vitriolic, and most of all untrue statements about the American government and her people while claiming that any response or challenge from the other side of the political table is "political oppression." My opinion on the matter was only reinforced during the first 5 days of May 2002. I was in Paris. At the time the French were enduring the infamous runoff presidential election between the current president, Jacques Chirac (le super-menteur himself) and the Nazi-sympathizing, far-to-the-right candidate, Jean-Marie Le Pen. On May 2 (or maybe the 3rd, I cant remember exactly) in the Place de la Republique, in view of the Seine River, were gathered some 40,000 screaming French students (I know the number after reading the papers the following day). The carried banners which read (translations) "Down with Le Pen" and "Down with Fascism"; with these I of course had no problem. But also shown were signs and banners which read "Sharon, Bush = terrorism" and "the US and Israel are terrorist countries." In my opinion these people represent the lowest form of political expression. They wish to manipulate facts and rewrite history in interests of promoting international socialism and hatred for any free-thinking and expression which is not supportive of them. A man handed me a pamphlet describing the "Hebraic plans for Middle East domination" and another gave me one which was entitled "10 reasons to attack America, Israel, and any of its supporters." One might say that these were merely extremists and in no way represent European public opinion as a whole. First let me say that they were convincing enough to make this American a very proud Canadian, if you now what I mean. And secondly, that in the context of all the things I have experienced in European universities and countries and of the conversations I have had with many European students throughout the last few years, I think they do epitomize the future of Europe. In fact, the continent and culture which Americans (believe it or not) are taught in highschool history books to revere as our philosphical cousins and forebearers may very well be lost. In 20-30 years, the generation which remembers the 1930's, which also remembers that my grandfather's generation died on the beaches of France not just for European civilization but also for Western ideals as a whole, will all be dead, if they arent already. Replacing them will be these people and their adherents. They will all have children, get elected to national assemblies, and teach at universities, thus perpetuating their sick view of the world. It all makes shivers run up and down my spine.

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