« Consumer Confidence: US Up, Germany Down / Konsumklima: USA aufwärts, Deutschland abwärts | Main | This Puts Things in Perspective / Dies bringt die Dinge wieder in die richtige Perspektive »

Comments

GT, yup the Dorf with skyscrapers. BTW, most Germans we know put their kids in Kindergarten for two to three years before school, usually half-days. It is, however, not obligatory. Kindergarten does not really emphasize learning as much as social integration (including overnights sometimes!) but it was a pretty enriching experience for my kids. The Gymnasien are moving quickly to Abitur after the 12th year, and the kids are in school now for five to six hours straight each day with only one 15 minute break and a few small breaks between classes (assuming no sick teachers -- the German term, Krankfeiern means, literally, "celebrating sickness").

Maybe the universities will be reformed in time for my kids.

Der Ernst des Lebens hat schon angefangen.

GT on Michael Moore:
>and sends his kids to private school

Michael Moore reproduced? YUCK!

More on my "jamokes" comment:

I seriously don't want to come across as disparaging whatsoever to the German military. The irony being that German "high society" has apparently deemed those who do their mandatory service in the Bundeswehr as "losers" ... as opposed to the chain-smoking-excrable-techno-"musik"-blasting-whilst-piloting-Malteser-vans-full-of-oldsters-to-their-Mittwoch-kaffe-u.-Kuchen-sessions-at-the-local-church "social volunteers." Ironically, my best people on the job are those who (for family pride reasons or whatever) are the ones who did their Bundeswehr serivce on God-forsaken German diesel subs, museum-grade helicopters and tanks. Throw in the exploits of the superbly-trained Schutzjaeger, the "Fuchs" NBC detection groups and other elite units, and one sees that there are real "green shoots" within the German military establishment.

My "jamoke" comment was personally based on my direct experience with the local hairdresser in my wife's hometown whose son was in Kosovo with the Bundeswehr. He did his U.S. Boy Scout-grade German military raining, and then was sent on the IFOR mission to Kosovo where he was haplessly shot at for a year until he rotated home. Compare this to the guys from the States who are properly trained and equipped to deal with the bad guys. In fairness, it's like comparing a Vietnam-era U.S. draftee to a well-trained Iraq War-era U.S. volunteer combatant.

An aside: The Bundeswehr seems to have gone through the same level of intensive debate on military uniform standards as the U.S. Army recently (letting all soldiers wear formerly elite unit camoflauge fatigues, followed by the whole controvery over service-wide berets). Sorry, but the German grey officers dress uniform looks like something from a dinner theatre version of The Pirates of Penzance while, meanwhile, every German kid citizen soldier on the S-Bahn on a Friday night wears Waffen SS-style Flecktarm. My humble suggestion: Field grey for the profis ... olive drab for the wannabees :-)

Doubtless wearing out my welcome after one afternoon ... GT

Karl,

We did the same with our kids twixt 3-6 in the local church kindergarten (indirectly run by the Rev. Dr. Feelgood as described above, but with a break-your-heart dedicated staff who incidentally think he's insane :-). The only bummer here was that when our kids showed any sort of interest in progressing to learining letters and numbers, the staff answered with an AFL-CIO-style "our contract says that teaching letters and numbers isn't in our job description" pushback. The experience was, as you describe, extremely valuable, but we have placed my son in a local private school (not Sindligen) with an eye toward switching back to the Abitur-track (very good) local public school once they pick up bilingual education c. grade 4.

Wonderful post, GT.

--Germany finds itself subsidizing its n’er-do-well relatives in East Germany, as well as feeling the effects of indirectly subsidizing Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain via the Euro (with Eastern Europe right behind them) while hamstrung to change interest rates on its own. Germany pays 1.5% --

In short, they now have to do what we've been doing for them for decades.

Would "schaudenfreude" be the appropriate term?

And now that we find out it's really EUROPE behine Iran's nuke program.....

--The proper response to anti-americanism in Europe is not anti-europeanism; it is engagement--

Karl, we've been "engaging" them for 60 years.

I'm getting tired of it.

And what are they going to do if W wins?

Hi!
You left out the opening to the Tom Leher "Von braun" song.
"Once all the Germans were warlike and mean.
But that won´t ever happen again.
we taught them a lesson in 1918.
And they´ve hardly bothered us since then."
At least that how I remember it going. :-)

Doug

Sandy, I know you're tired of it. Lots of people are. I just don't see a way out. We tried the isolationist thing back before WWII and got attacked anyway. I think we're stuck with our role, so we should concentrate on playing it well. My main point is that Europe will pay the highest price for indulging its antiamericanism and antisemitism: an intellectually dead, rabidly prejudiced society that will only keep the dregs while anyone with sense will flee. And they know that. They know that if they want to compete with us -- and they do -- they will have to offer something more positive. I think we should stay in their faces (in the slightly condescending but tender parental tone one would take towards a hormone-driven teenager, to borrow from GT's analogy) and embrace a more positive kind of competition with them. Superminister Clement was on TV today urging Europe to overtake the USA on all kinds of fields. He meant it in a positive way (at least I'm pretty sure he did; one of his daughters is married to an American and lives in the US). I say good luck to you Herr Clement.

GT, I just couldn't resist reading some more of that "ihatedelphi" site. I kept wanting to move on (like the bad TV shows you mentioned) but just couldn't get over some of the loud and lecturing posters. How 'bout "Belinda the Vikinglass" with her warrior logo, writing in bold type (i.e. screaming), attacking the Americans for their warlike ways in one post, in the other saying that she hates Americans, and even wishing Bush dead at one point? Let me get this straight: The war in Iraq was illegal, war is bad, let's kill the Americans? Talk about the death of the intellect. As I posted elsewhere, just below the surface of much of the antisemitism and antiamericanism one sees today is a bloodlust trying to get out. It sends a shiver down my spine every time because it smells like genocide. Are those types even aware of their own warlike postures and inherent contradictions?

Look what I found! American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (John Hopkins)

http://www.aicgs.org/index.shtml

I may be moving the discussion back. If so, my apologies. I read the article mentioned yesterday, "Die dritte totalitäre Bewegung". I thought it was appalling. Brumlik's claim that anti-Semitism is no worse in Europe than the US is disgraceful. I'll agree that in one area the US is becoming more like Europe in regard to anti-Semitism. America's universities are becoming havens for anti-Semitism that is similar to the anti-Semitism displayed by the European elites. See for example Lawrence Summer's address to the Harvard faculty last year on the growing anti-Semitism at Harvard. Still there is no place more tolerant of Jews than the US, which is why the biggest "threat" Jews face here is that, through intermarriage, there will be very few practicing Jews here a few generations from now.

What I found most striking about Brumlik's article is that it apparently has never occurred to him that Islamic extremism could ever be a direct threat to Germany and the lives of individual Germans. He does not understand or accept that the Islamic extremists are at war with the whole West, Europe just as much as the US, and he seems to believe, or at least hope, that Germany can sit this war out. In that regard, he is just like every relative and friend my wife and I have in Germany and I believe he reflects the opinion of the great majority of Germans. Of course, the majority of Americans do accept that we must fight this war. The discussion you're having here shows the effects of this split in opinion between Americans and Germans.

Dave, sorry for the repeated posting, but the magic of the internet is still alive here at this site. Once in a blue moon a group of interesting and interested people comes together, and the exchange of ideas is wonderful. Thanks for providing the forum for that exchange.

TM, re criticism of Berman as to the tenuous connection between totalitarianism and Islam, check out the following article in "Die Zeit"

Allah strafe England!
Wie die Deutschen im Ersten Weltkrieg den Dschihad entdeckten und Afrikas Muslime zum Heiligen Krieg gegen die feindlichen Alliierten aufstachelten -- Von Michael Pesek

http://www.zeit.de/2004/09/A-Dt_Jihad

The author is a professor of history at the Humbolt University in Berlin. Apparently the concept of jihad was almost forgotten in the Muslim world until the Germans, with help form the Turks, instrumentalized it to drum up a holy war against Britain and her allies in WWI. According to Pesek, the campaign had long-lasting effects in East Africa after the war, causing a dramatic increase in the number of Muslims in the region (conversions, etc.) and leaving the German-installed Muslim civil servants playing a central role in the state apparatus. So, it's all the Germans' fault! (just kidding)

It would be naive to underestimate the kinds of cross-pollination that go on all the time. Many of the leading proponents of jihadi islamism such as Qutb lived in the West. Even if their societies are not technically fully industrialized, the awareness of the West as well as much of the West's technology is omnipresent. I just don't have a problem with Berman's thesis. The alternative is to slip into some sort of reverie about how the Muslim world is living in the middle ages, or trying to. I don't buy that. Qutb fully embraced science while rejecting Christianity and secularism.

This discussion got me to thinking about a pattern I’ve seen emerging over the decades that for lack of a more descriptive phrase I’d have to clumsily dub “overcompensative double-standardism.”

In most of the western world, societal views on crime and poverty have shifted from a religiously-based view that criminals and poor people are responsible for their own predicaments to a view that they’re helpless victims of socioeconomic unfairness. Lots of tire-spinning has occurred attempting to redress a perceived failure on the part of society (counseling instead of jail time, generous transfer payments to the poor), and colossal governement-funded and staffed infrastructure was created along the way … with mixed results at best. In my opinion, the reason for so much leftist vitriol over “get-tough” measures (more police on the streets, mandatory sentencing, means testing for benefits, etc.) is that in the U.S. they have generally produced tangible results of lower crime and lower welfare rolls (albeit with a shockingly high number of people in jail). Nothing creates seething anger more effectively in human beings than being proven wrong and/or irrelevant … just ask any teenager who’s just lost an argument with his father.

I believe that this dichotomy has extended to define the lens of “overcompensative double-standardism” through which the behavior of non-western societies and religions are viewed. Most “overcompensative double-standardism” appears to be driven by collective guilt that results from a rearview mirror view of history promulgated by universities and media outlets today all over the world. The problem is whilst the west hand-wrings and navel-gazes over what a terrible mess we’ve made of everything, non-western societies and religions are (ironically) infantilized back to “noble savage” status instead of being expected to sit at “the big table” with the rest of the world … with the expectation that one owns up to the rights and responsibilities that go with it.

Karl May aside, the whole notion of “Cowboys and Indians” has been flipped from plucky pioneers carving out their way into the untamed wilderness to live as they chose despite attempts on the part of the Indians to deny them this, to the growing mythology that the American Indians were spiritual mystics who could turn into birds and wolves who were run roughshod over by European imperialists. The fact that the Indians sitting around on god forsaken reservations making trinkets for tourists are stuck in the mud while those who open casinos and make enough money to send every one of their children to private school infuriates those who think the only solution is to give them back their land so that they can live in teepees, hunt buffalo and do all the things we assume they would do left to their own devices. This patronizing attitude appears to be applied to Australian aboriginies as well.

The fact that post-colonial African governments have been genocidal disasters that even the French get dragged into with frightening regularity is explained away by the fact that “we messed things up in the first place.” The counterargument that these places have had 40 years of sovereignty to set things straight but have failed to do so falls on deaf ears.

Now turn the binoculars to the Mideast for a minute. This is a region blessed with a commodity that the western world is totally and utterly dependent upon. The governmental entities there have sovereign for some time. The societies are also overwhelmingly Islamic.

There was a brief period when admiration for the Israelis ran pretty high (plucky kibbutzin survived ethnic cleansing in Europe only to found their own country and make the desert bloom despite being surrounded by those who wish to see them pushed into the sea). But once Israel established its credentials as essentially a fiercely independent de facto outpost of western society in the Mideast, the pendulum swung and opinion swung to the side of concentrating on the plight of the Palestinians.

Some of it’s fashion. Che Guavara looks a lot better on a T-shirt than Konrad Adenaur, and people in flip-flops chucking Molotov cocktails or strapping dynamite to themselves are a heck of a lot “sexier” than someone sensibly ensconced inside an armored personnel carrier.

But here’s where the attitude goes arwy: Europe goes nuts over the fact that the U.S. has the death penalty; “barbaric” is a term I hear a lot. But Middle Eastern societies with Hammarubiesque “eye for an eye” legal systems? Well, that’s just the way they are. Modern western Christianity agonizes over its past misdeeds (silence during the Holocaust, The Crusades, child molester priests scandals, etc.), but modern Isalm can blatantly oppress 51% of the people in their societies because that’s just the way they are. George Bush calls for the capture of Osama Bin laden “dead or alive” and opens the usual “he thinks he’s a cowboy” floodgates of European criticim, but Islamists can issue fatwahs for authors, kill reporters and call for jihad whever it feels slighted, and, well, that’s just the way they are. “Yes, but since the U.S. is a western hyperpower with European roots, it is expected to behave in a manner consistent with our belief systems!” Imagine people instead shrugging and saying “Well, maybe that’s just the way they are?” and going about their business hoping a stray U.S. warhead doesn’t veer off course some day and wipe them out.

How about this rule of thumb: If you want to return to the “cut off the hands of thiefs” black-and-white moral unambiguity of nomadic bedouin life, then go for it, but the longest range of your weapons had better remain the length of a scimitar. If you want the trappings that come along with being 21st century people like electricity, cars, 747s, fighter jets and the ability to travel the globe at will, then you’re expected to behave like 21st century people regardless of your religious traditions. Last time I checked the Italians don’t do crucifixions, Protestants don’t burn witches and I haven’t seen any animal sacrifice in any Synagouge I’ve ever been in.

Here’s the rub: The leftist argument has been that Western governments would put up with whatever crap the Middle East pulls to appease them so their puppet regiemes don’t shut off the oil like they did in ’74 and ‘79. Left to their own devices, the sheiks would be overthrown and the people of the Middle East would revert to the culture that gave us the Great Library of Alexandria and algebra. Now that the U.S. is going after Middle Eastern despots and (oil money-financed) terrorists, the argument has swung 180 degrees to “why are you meddling in Middle Eastern affairs by taking these people out and destabilizing the region?” Sigh … can we all agree to at least pick one argument and stick with it!


and the dangerous thing about this situation here in Europe is that all these people against the Bush adminstration pretend to be for peace. They call themselves peace movement, peace forum and so on. But they support violence against "occupation" world wide. They support terror in the Palestinian area and call it legal resistance. The same in Iraq. And they betray the world with the word "peace". Children demonstrated with them on February 15, 2003. The media praised our children of peace. And we could see signs like Bush and Sharon are terrorists. Almost every peace forum in Germany is pro Palestinian and for the terror in Iraq. They are not pacifists as I often read in the USA media. Of course the simple people don't want wars, they want really peace. But what they support is not peace. These people call it peace to get support by the mob. That is one aspect of the situation what really frightens me. And the media is part of this campaign.

Having just made it through this 3 page discussion over the last two days, I concur with the many posters who have praised this as one of the most civil, intelligent and worthwile blog discussions we've had the good fortune to encounter.

Like so many of the posters here, I am an American with German ancestry and a U.S. military background (Army brat).

On my own I'd instincively reasoned that the anti-Americanism we hear about in Germany (and throughout Eruope) is casued by jealousy of our success mixed with fear/resentment of the prospect of having to beome more American like (competitive/capitalistic) in order to survive economically due to 3rd world competition.

This discussion has enlightened me regarding the other factors at play, and having a greater understanding has renewed my hope that reconciliation is possible. (Though I agree with other postersd that on the U.S. side, there's not alot of animosity towards Germany, just bewilderment.)

Here's an interesting fact: when America's first continental congress was founding the nation, one of their first major votes was whether to make the official language English or German. English won by 1 vote.

I would like to encourage some of the posters to this discussion to visit some of the Iraqi websites. Especially people who were around for or have good knowledge of post-WWII Germany in the early years.

They provide news on the ground that doesn't get reported int he media, and if you want to see some stirring defenses of liberal democracy, look through some of the sites' archives to see some of their first postings. To witness a person who lived under Saddam's experience freedom of expression for the first time in their lives in the blogosphere is truly inspiring.

Healingiraq.com is a great starting point, with links to all the other Iraqi blogs. Salam Pax was the first one, which started during the war, followed by Baddhad Burning and then Healing Iraq in October of 2003. Now there are about 15-20 Iraqi blogs.


By the way, hello to Jeffery from New York, who cited the Iraqi blogs on the first page of this thread, and Tom Penn, both of whom I "met" on the Iraqi blog boards.

a few posts back
capital punishment was mentioned.
I am an American who lives in Germany.
I am against capital punishment..
but I find the European obsession with the American practice somewhat hypocritical.
It could be viewed as follows:

1. The Germans view themselves as 'the land of poets and thinkers'.
2. MANY Germans view Americans as uncultured, primitive hicks.
3. This 'Land of poets and thinkers' had to execute millions of people (most or almost all of whom were totally innocent) before they finally came to the conclusion that 'hey maybe we shouldN't have capital punishment'.
4. The USA has executed perhaps 800 people since the 70s, most of whom (hopefully all) were guilty of heinous crimes.
5. Is there really a comparison between the two?
6. Maybe the Germans could cut us a LITTLE slack and allow us some time before we evolve to the same 'moral plane' as them. After all they had to execute MILLIONS of people before they came to the conclusion it was wrong. Maybe they could cut us just a LITTLE SLACK?

Steve: The next time you are with someone obsessing about the death penalty in the U.S., there is a one-word riposte. "China". The two-word riposte would be "North Korea".

The obsession isn't about the death penalty. It's about the U.S.

Q. How many Germans have died defending America's freedom?
A. Subtract 3.14159 from pi.
I was planning to take my son to Germany, where I once lived among good German people during my student years. No more. I'll take him to Japan. Auf niemalssehen, Deutschland.

Hey you funny people over there in America, do you really think we expect politicians to be honest? Do you really think we need a moral reason to make war? The reason why we are so pissed off by your president is not that he lied to the public about the reasons for the war. That's normal, our politicians lie to us every day. But that clown even expected his closest allies to believe his pathetic lies. He treated our leaders like complete fools in that he demanded THEM to believe his "weapons of mass destruction" bullshit and not just the public. That's against the rules. How could Schröder know if Bush was going to have an adventure just out of stupidity or if there was a real reason. It's the impression that counts and, sorry, Mr. Bush gave the impression of complete incompetence.
This whole thing is not about the US, not even about the current administration. Look at Rumsfeld for instance, as he was mentioned above. Rumsfeld is one of the best politicians I know. He comes to the point, he's got humor - fine person. But your president, sorry boys, there's no hope left, he's even worse than the person who currently acts as our Bundeskanzler, and that means a lot.

Jens Schmidt, have you ever heard of Bill Clinton? Clinton said the exact same things as Bush about wmd and Iraq. The UN as well as many intelligence agencies also believed Iraq had wmd. David Kay has publically stated that wmd was moved to Syria before the start of the war.

Here's a thought: blow it out your ass.

Niko, as much as I detest Schröder, his low approval ratings are an ominous sign in my view. After all, it was not his anti-Americanism that got him there; it was his, however timid and incomplete, attempts at free-market reform. If (and that's a big if) the situation will be somewhat similar around election time in 2006, the CDU will win by a landslide - but will they dare push toward more far-reaching reforms? I doubt it. The "christian socialist" wing (the likes of Blüm, Töpfer, Geißler) might get a major boost out of that...

If anything, a majority here would want Schröder to be more of a Socialist and at least as anti-American as he's been in 2003.

This thread has been extremely interesting...

I now feel the need to add my 2 cents.

I used to work right across from the WTC and left for Europe (Spain, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands) shortly before 9/11. (I don't think there is really a need for me to go into much detail about all of the "It was bad, but..." comments.)

As much as Americans get accused by Europeans as not learning from history, their ignorance of history completely amazed me while I was over there and still does to this day.

Picture yourself in Austria being lectured about how radical Islam isn't a threat and the U.S. is over reacting. Thank goodness their ancestors didn't think like that.

Were would Western civilization be today?

In a bar in Salzburg I remember saying, "The last time the Moslems came knocking on the door of Western Civilization it was your ancestors... the Hapsburgs that saved the day."

(On a side note, one could ask why I was getting lectured in a bar at 2:00 am by some Austrian that had never been to the U.S. This type of incedent was quite common for me on that trip throughout.)

The reality that so many Europeans fail to grasp is that THEY are the ones who are truly threatened by radical Islam and the U.S. is again going to save their butts.

I think on some level they know this and that is one of the many things that sticks in their craw.

If Europe doesn't think that there are many Moslems in the Middle East that don't hold a 500 year old grudge and wouldn't still like to stick it to the Crusaders they are just naive.

Many Moslems still long for the glory days of their Civilization and blame their decline today on the West.

Just look at the reaction that took place in the Middle East (and Europe) after Bush made is crusade comment shortly after 9/11.

Also, just for the record, I grew up in a town with a large Arabic community from Syria and have nothing but respect for them... I am only referring to the radical Islamists which seems to be in control.

Also, Spain was the European exception for me atleast. Most of their comments seemed to want us to clean up Northern Spain once we finished with the Middle East.

When we look at the Middle East conflict you will discover that our media does not report the real threat. they report about suicide bombing as a reaction to Israeli occupation. So many people think when Sharon would stop the occupation, then there will be peace. So Sharon is the terrorist in their logic. That is mainstream. They don't see the hatred in the Palestinian areas, they don't see the masked children who grow up only with hatred, they ignore the PLO Charta. This is all not true. Perhaps they are releaved when the USA gets all this hatred. It is no longer a hatred to the "Western world". It is often now only agaianst the USA and Israel and they consider this as a success. This changed the last years. But they don't think about how and why did this change, that they help now the extremists hatred when they explain it and "understand" it. Why are so many "peace" people pro Palestine? That is the message of the German(Europeen) media, many commentaries about the hardliner Sharon. many professors, authors believe this also: Sharon is the evil. They don't see this culture of hatred which is deep in these people. they don't help them out of this hatred, they give them reason to go on when they don't condenm it, when they say they can understand. Many "peace" people are left minded and support every resistance against imperialistism (= Israel and USA). It is so simple, so silly.

I'm the kind of guy who needs to be hit over the head a couple of times before he gives up on someone. @ Jens Schmidt:

Hey you funny people over there in America ...

Many of us "funny people" are over here in Germany or elsewhere in Europe, so we're not that easy to dismiss Jens. Often, we know your society better than you know ours. Starting a post off with a personal cut is not a good way to encourage reasoned debate.

He treated our leaders like complete fools in that he demanded THEM to believe his "weapons of mass destruction" bullshit and not just the public.

Are you privy to classified information as to the contents of the closed-door conversations? Do you honestly believe that the Americans limited their discussions with your leaders to the WMD arguments? I have a hard time imagining my government not making every reasonable argument to support its conclusions (and one or two "stretched" ones for good measure ;-). And the conclusion that Saddam needed to have a gun put to his head was, after all the years of silly noncompliance with the UN and after 9-11, one that had a certain logic to it. Can't you at least think yourself into our position, even if you don't agree?

Speaking of WMD, the issue just won't go away, will it? I think WMD was much more than just a pretext for war. Have you been reading about how extensive Khan's proliferation of nuclear technology was in Pakistan? North Korea, Libya, Iran all were helped by Pakistan. Doesn't this make you want to rethink just how much of our concerns about WMD in Iraq were "bullshit" as you say, and how much were based on a reasonable expectation that Hussein would also try to tap those kinds of resources that Pakistan was actively marketing (they even had advertizing brochures)? Based on the fact that highly-detailed intelligence information was presented to Musharrif, one has to assume that a hefty file was already available when the decision to take out Hussein was made. I also recall that the atmosphere here in Germany when war broke out was partially one of nervousness about what sorts of weapons were going to be found and to what extent Germany might be implicated in the process. Just about everyone assumed he had something to hide.

Another problem with your kind of argument is that it implies that the Germans might have been willing to support America under another leader given the same facts. I doubt seriously that a SPD-led Germany or France would ever have been willing to go to war in Iraq. I won't argue with you that Bush & co. struck an arrogant tone, one that reminds me of the lecturing tone of many world leaders when addressing my country, and that is too bad. But you need to realize that even people like me who don't like Bush's politics took Iraq deadly seriously. Let's face it, France and Germany were not willing to listen to any of our arguments. Europeans' blind hatred of Bush was a convenient excuse to keep you from looking at the serious underlying issues. Now that the smoke has cleared, I hope you will now take a look. I'm sure the Americans are looking closely at the things they got wrong and trying to make adjustments. (try , e.g., http://www.iraqrevenuewatch.org/reading/After_Saddam.pdf.)

You may disagree with the direction that Bush took -- many do -- but don't compound the problem by assuming that the direction he chose was the result of his own uninformed beliefs and the uninformed beliefs of a handful of ideologues. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of opinions were sought over a period that goes back to Bush I and Clinton. Even Hillary Clinton, so beloved in Europe, has come out with a pretty strong statement about the long-term risks that Hussein posed to the West. I have no doubt that most of the decision-makers were extremely concerned about the choices that they made. That history may prove these choices to have been false is the risk that all leaders must live with. But to dismiss them as without substance simply because you don't like the administration is, well, etwas blauäugig. Those elite universities that you read so much about don't just produce scientists. I think the aftermath of 9-11 called for some risk-taking.

Jens, I'm glad that someone, a German presumably, who doesn't agree with the mainstream at this forum bothered to post. There is a risk in the blogosphere of simply creating an echo chamber to reinforce one's own beliefs. I assume you've read the other threads here. There are a lot of interesting links for further reading. The real issue for me here is trying to find a common ground from which we can go forward. That's why I keep peddling ideas from the likes of Paul Berman, because I think they might help Europeans to better understand just how dangerous jihadi islamism is and just how similar it is to the kinds of totalitarianism under which Europe suffered for so long and which, in some cases, we fought together. Even if we cannot find a common ground on every issue, it would at least be important that we understand each other's position and not simply dismiss them. I believe that most thinking Americans have a pretty good grasp of the risks involved with the path that America chose and of the substantive arguments against choosing that path. But we are having a great deal of trouble with the perception that France and Germany's path was dictated less on principle and more on a desire to oppose and weaken the United States. In France it appeared to be the country's official foreign policy to undermine America. In Germany it appeared to be more a reflexive reaction to Bush and, to a lesser extent, to America in general, compounded by a general rejection of war for which most Americans have some understanding. Believe me, if Germany had simply begged off politely, we'd have shrugged our shoulders and moved on.

I'm off to celebrate Mardi Gras. Three cheers for David's Medienkritik "Hellau, hellau, hellau" (alternative: "Medienkritik Alaaf!")

1st sorry if you got "funny people" as insulting, it wasn't meant like that, I really meant the ones with a sense of humor.

now here's some more you won't like, but trust me I read your answers carefully and I'm well prepared and willing to correct my point where I'm wrong (even if I won't necessarily tell you):

I never claimed that going into Iraq was wrong because I don't think so. But the way it was done was wrong and I'm not claiming the way the German government behaved was brilliant, but at least they tried to cooporate until it was obvious tthey were taken for idiots (which could well be right). And yes there was concern about weapons of mass destruction, but just as Sadam began to cooporate, not because he's a good guy but because the US put up pressure with support of the UN, just at the time when the UN weapons inspectors were sure there were no nuclear weapons and no active nuclear weapons program (and that was an official statement of Mr. Baradai), just at the moment were it turned out the "evidence" for wmd was less than weak, just as the weapons inspectors said "we have serious questions about if and how the wmd Iraq was known to have had and stated to have 'destroyed' was really destroyed or not" and just at the moment when they said the'd need not more than 2-3 months to find out, Mr. Bush did not want to hear any more, because the facts didn't fit in his view.

And I'm not someone who comes along from outside and wants to tell you how you have to run you country. That's completely your business I just want to tell you why we didn't support you in this and the reason is the way your president handled it (and may be some Eropean arrogance towards the person of your president). Now you might claim we would never have supported you because we underestimate the threat. You may be partly right in that many in Europe DO underestimate it, because they did not have to learn your bitter lessons. But you should also look at the fact that Germany DID and DOES support you in Afghanistan. This is done by a government that consists of social democrats and the green party (with a quite pacifist-favoured base), so I guess there WAS a chance for support. I don't suggest it would have changed the current situation in Iraq, but it would have given a strong signal to our enemies. But that was fucked up and a lot of the blame for that goes to Mr. Bush.

One more thing: I'm well aware of the things your president does right and some fools in Europe are wrong about, like the prisoners in Guantanamo bay (I mean they really want you to not lock up your enemies, silly), but again, the way he handled the whole pre-Iraq-war situation was not a masterpiece, in fact it just gave the impression of complete ignorance and incompetence (now you will be telling me that's your impression of the old-Europe-countries, but remember there are wars were they DO support the US, if they get told the real reasons)

Jens, OK I get you; sorry I jumped to conclusions about what you were saying at the start. You'll stumble across my posts on different threads at this forum and see that I'm also critical of Bush's handling of things. I think that he geared many of his statements to the domestic audience without reflecting on the echoes abroad. For example, the "axis of evil" reference in an otherwise high-quality speech just sounds much worse in translation than it did in the local context. Too bad, because we've learned enough about Iran and North Korea these past months for me at least to accept that Bush had a valid point.

As to "sending a strong signal to our enemies", that was something that should have been done long before September 2002 when the breach in the alliance appears to have happened. Instead, it appears that the French were giving Saddam assurances as late as the beginning of 2003 that they were not going to permit an invasion to take place. Schröder was running on an anti-american "emancipation" platform. I firmly believe that somewhere between January and December 2002 France and Germany missed a golden opportunity to present Iraq with a united front and to scare the s*** out of Saddam. I don't know whether it would have done the trick, but it sure would have made me feel better if they had tried. I've already stated my perceptions as to why I think such an attempt was not made.

By contrast, I think that the way France & Germany, together with England, presented Iran with some "frank and open discussion" that led to the acceptance of the additional nuclear protocol is probably a sign that France and Germany adjusted their approach after the Iraq debacle. (One thing you'll learn about Americans is that they do not need to hog the headlines if something goes well. If Europe can go out and help in lining up some of these countries, then I say go for it and feel free to reap the applause that follows. We'll be clapping, too. But I'm curious to see if America and Europe will be able to stay on message with Iran now that the hardliners have crushed the reformist opposition. I see a risk that our opinions will diverge again as to how much confrontation to risk, especially if it appears that Iran is backsliding.)

Hope we'll cross paths again at this forum

Jens, OK I get you; sorry I jumped to conclusions about what you were saying at the start. You'll stumble across my posts on different threads at this forum and see that I'm also critical of Bush's handling of things. I think that he geared many of his statements to the domestic audience without reflecting on the echoes abroad. For example, the "axis of evil" reference in an otherwise high-quality speech just sounds much worse in translation than it did in the local context. Too bad, because we've learned enough about Iran and North Korea these past months for me at least to accept that Bush had a valid point.

As to "sending a strong signal to our enemies", that was something that should have been done long before September 2002 when the breach in the alliance appears to have happened. Instead, it appears that the French were giving Saddam assurances as late as the beginning of 2003 that they were not going to permit an invasion to take place. Schröder was running on an anti-american "emancipation" platform. I firmly believe that somewhere between January and December 2002 France and Germany missed a golden opportunity to present Iraq with a united front and to scare the s*** out of Saddam. I don't know whether it would have done the trick, but it sure would have made me feel better if they had tried. I've already stated my perceptions as to why I think such an attempt was not made.

By contrast, I think that the way France & Germany, together with England, presented Iran with some "frank and open discussion" that led to the acceptance of the additional nuclear protocol is probably a sign that France and Germany adjusted their approach after the Iraq debacle. (One thing you'll learn about Americans is that they do not need to hog the headlines if something goes well. If Europe can go out and help in lining up some of these countries, then I say go for it and feel free to reap the applause that follows. We'll be clapping, too. But I'm curious to see if America and Europe will be able to stay on message with Iran now that the hardliners have crushed the reformist opposition. I see a risk that our opinions will diverge again as to how much confrontation to risk, especially if it appears that Iran is backsliding.)

Hope we'll cross paths again at this forum.

Jens, here is a link to the CIA's intelligence estimate issued in October 2002. I suggest you read it.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/jksonc/docs/nie-iraq-wmd.html

You wrote:
>The reason why we are so pissed off by your president is not that he lied to the public about the reasons for the war. That's normal, our politicians lie to us every day. But that clown even expected his closest allies to believe his pathetic lies. He treated our leaders like complete fools in that he demanded THEM to believe his "weapons of mass destruction" bullshit and not just the public. That's against the rules.

First of all, this reads like an attempt at sophisticated cynicism. Bush told no lies, pathetic or otherwise to anyone. At worst, the intelligence was mistaken. A mistake and a lie are not the same. Repetition of the "lie" canard with sneering disdain may make you feel better about something or other but it is also factually inaccurate and dishonest on your part.

Has Germany no intelligence services of its own? If there was any German intelligence to refute the U.S. intelligence, no one ever heard it. All anyone ever heard from Germany and the ever insufferable France was that the inspections should be given more time.

You wrote:
> How could Schröder know if Bush was going to have an adventure just out of stupidity or if there was a real reason. It's the impression that counts and, sorry, Mr. Bush gave the impression of complete incompetence.


Excuse me? Are you maintaining that Schoder had no way of knowing what Bush's real motivations were? Then who, pray tell, is the true incompetent here? And my absolute favorite part is "it's the impression that counts". No, sir, it is facts that count. Style triumphs over substance only in Paris, and in the morose enclaves where contempt and scorn subsitute for intellectual integrity.

> Are you maintaining that Schoder had no way of knowing what Bush's real motivations were?

Yes, in fact I'm not even sure if he knows himself. My impression is at some time he was just determined to go to war and started ignoring facts that wouldn't support his view and outruling any other solutions, except Sadam leaving Iraq.

> All anyone ever heard from Germany and the ever insufferable France was that the inspections should be given more time.

Wrong, you if you had listened you would have heard suggestions to "triple the Number of Arms Inspectors in Iraq backed up with Surveillance Flights" and on 2003/02/24 Russia, France and Germany put forward a Counter-proposal to America and Britain's Draft Resolution, called "A step-by-step Program for Iraqi Disarmament".

Something you might like to read:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030306-8.html
a quote from the president:
"Saddam Hussein is not disarming. This is a fact. It cannot be denied" Now, this sounds confident. Don't tell me this is just an estimatiom and this is not at all covered by either the document in your link, nor by this:
http://www.un.org/depts/unmovic/documents/UNMOVIC%20UDI%20Working%20Document%206%20March%2003.pdf

and here some more:
"The price of doing nothing exceeds the price of taking action, if we have to." Now this true but still it is a clear case of not telling the truth because the alternatives were simply not "doing nothing" or go toing war.
And here's another nice piece of misleading the public:
"He has no intention of disarming -- otherwise, we would have known. There's a lot of talk about inspectors. It really would have taken a handful of inspectors to determine whether he was disarming -- they could have showed up at a parking lot and he could have brought his weapons and destroyed them. That's not what he chose to do." Why is it misleading? Because at that time Sadam claimed he already HAD destroyed the weapons. Don't get me wrong, not that I trust that bastard Sadam at all, but how can you possibly demand he comes up and shows and destroys weapons he claims not to have anymore? Just imagine he really didn't, not because he didn't want to, but because he couldn't get them anymore.

Again, president Bush is in this document telling a lot of perfectly right things and many things I strongly support, but if I kept on searching in it I could easily get some more untrue, misleading and half-true statements.

> No, sir, it is facts that count.
OK, I think that's a matter of opinion and I certainly put it in a misunderstandable way. What I mean is, as usually one cannot get hold of all relevant facts in the event the impression drives the decision. That impression comes from facts, feelings and sometimes pre-occupations. Important is to keep the order and to try to outrule the last one. My impression is that in case of Mr. Bush the order is reversed.

>But then, we had Slobodan Milosevic in Beograd who was fully aware of the US military's capabilities, and while Clinton bombed the shit out of Serbia Milosevic still did not give in.

Well this is a completely different and very complicated topic, but there's one thing to think about. The so called KLA was a terrorist and drug smuggling gang. Milosevics approach to that (killing and expelling the Albanian population) was inacceptable and had to be stopped. But strangely enough when it comes to Kosovo only Serbs are taken to court and no Albanian (ex-killers are even in their parliament). And there have been killings of innocent civilians on both sides. There are serious allegations that the KLA put a lot of pressure on their fellow Albanians as well and even killed some. This should be taken to court to find out the truth. Not a good approach in a fight against terrorism to have acceptable terrorist and bad ones. This I think is to blame on Europe, which still seems to have to learn some lessons about terrorism.

Saddam had been playing those games for 12 years. Let the inspectors in, then restrict their work, then kick them out. Provoke th US by shhoting at planes in the no-fly zone. Then: New talks, concessions, "Saddam FINALLY cooperates" - and an offer to let the inspectors in, but not quite do everything they're supposed to do under UN resolutions. Then some more talks. etc etc ad infinitum. No sane person can claim that what the UN was doing was working in any way, or would have worked. Regardless of WMD (which, by the way, is not limited to the nukes he tried to build with France's help in the 80s, but mostly is about the chemical weapons that are STILL unaccounted for - that DID exist and were recorded by the UN, but just "disappeared" at some point), Saddam made a mockery of the entire free world the entire time. IF he did not have a functioning arsenal in 2002/03, he sure had lots of fun pretending to have one, and then issuing tongue-in-cheek denials.

I'll go further than N. Klaric.

Tariq Aziz has publicly stated that Saddam would NOT back down because right up until we entered Iraq, France and Russia were assuring him that they would stop the US from taking direct action.

Their public bullshit about principled disagreement was just that - a lie.

Saddam did not worry about Germany supporting the US for two reasons: First, Schroeder got elected on an anti-American campaign platform and second, Germany had looked the other way for years while German companies exported dual-use technology to Saddam in direct conflict with the UN sanctions against such exports.

So, Jens -- it wasn't Bush who lied. It was Chiraq, Putin and Schroeder and their other government ministers who lied, to the US and to the world.

Shroeder said in August 2002, that under NO circumstances would Germany support military action against Iraq. How could it have been more clear that NOTHING Bush, or Saddam Hussein, could have said or done would change the good Mr. Shroeder's mind? How was that taking a "moral" stand? How was that even a pragmatic position? How did that respect the concerns and interests of Germany's allies? Frankly, it made it clear to me something I had suspected for a long time due to proliferation history and other facts: Germany is not an ally. The pretense is just a fig leaf.

Interesting that Jens mentions Milosovic being on trial in the Hague, and yet defends the German position on Hussein, whose hands were probably 500 times more bloody. For all of Europe's outrage toward Bush that no WMD have been found, the 55 confirmed and hundred suspected mass grave sites don't merit a moment's consideration. One would think Mr. Bush had lined up those hundreds of thousands of people and popped bullets into their heads, dropped them into acid vats, shredding machines, etc. Moral position indeed.

Jens,

If only the arms inspectors had more time. After having 12 years, 2 to 3 more months was all they needed to make sure that Saddam Hussein was going to completely stop his cat and mouse game with WMD.

Are you listening to yourself?

N. Klaric,

Can we now move along, please?

Being here again, I will try to do so. But before, please let me say: This thread not only was but still is (and surely will be) one of the best debates I have ever joined in my ten years being online.

My 2 cents here:

I still can remember a remark of Schroeder: if the SPD wouldn't have won the 98 elections, this party would have probably never come into power again. It was the last occasion after 16 years in opposition.

Very illuminating.

My thesis is: The Red-greens are fighting not just for their own political survival, but for the survival of a whole political ideology with a long history here: the ideology of collective thinking, of the funny idea that we - the people - are the state whom to give this enormous influence resulting in the bureaucracy, regulations etc.).

If you see their policy in this view, it all fits perfect: the "Iraq-case" as the necessity to defend their political "world" of giving up national souvereignity in favour of EU (vs. US-souvereignity which didn't bother about UN), of socialistic bureaucracy vs. "capitalism" (bad connotation given). Mr. Bush symbolizes this "capitalism" (oil, rich, etc.), so from the logical point of view he is politcal target No. 1. Discussing his policy? Wouldn't hit the point.

(Following is a bit drifting, sorry, nevertheless IMHO important: leftist SPD-members criticze Schroeder for his positive approach towards corporations. This positive approach of him (he really has) also fits, because: where else can you politically organize people (workers unions) as easily as in the corporations? And where would collective thinking be without workers working in corporations? The internet-upcoming in the 90ties showed: small unions' influence, if any. Subsiding the coal mining industry in NorthRhine Westfalia also fits perfect in this picture, so does Schroeder's ignorance of small companies.)

What they are doing is to the benefit of their movements and their parties: Their struggle for ideological survival. (They very well know what happened in the UK during Mrs. Thatcher's and in the US during Mrs. Reagan's time - that is what they want to avoid).

It shouldn't be forgotten that the Workers Unions are loosing members since years - 25 % membership of all workers in unions is a historical "low". Also the SPD is slowly loosing members continously since decades - and since a few months dramatically.

To stop that, demonizing the US in general and Mr. Bush especially was the tool or receipt. And as you can see also here, a lot of people bought that by really believing that this game is genuine policy.

I am writing this, because I think debating Iraq is a bit off the line: it doesn't hit the point. Same applies to questions of whether we are envy or have an Anti-american-gene in us or things like that.

Actually you can reduce the whole Anti-american campaign to one word - FREEDOM:
- Personal, individual freedom vs. collective and bureaucratic structures,
- national souvereignity vs. democratic surrender (my view) in favour of EU.
- It even fits to the Palestine/Israel-problem: who thinks and is organized in collective structures and who not? Okay, the Djihad-terror is disturbing this view also in their own view. Result is this compromizing, "value-free" pacifistic approach. IMHO there is no need to make people understand about the threat of Islamic fundamentalism. I am very sure it is well intended (no doubt), but I also think people are aware of it.

It's the left political class, which still refuses to understand, because if they would, they would have to give up a solid part of their intellectual agenda. And this is what they still don't want to accept. The German-specific problem in my view now is, that this approach is accompanied partly also by the "conservatives", because also they love the symbols of power here: bureaucracy (Mrs. Merkel once also was a willing socialistic party functionaire in East Germany).

The thrilling issue now is that IMO the media here in the meanwhile HAVE to change their agenda and reports, because the overwhelming majority here at least feels that this whole agenda is wrong and the way the media report about. My prediction would be that we will witness a slow, steadily change in the media reports - not in all, but in a growing number -, the fights of Schroeder & Co. to either stop this or set themselves at the front of this movement, i.e. maybe some ministers could be fired the next weeks (it was already discussed as you know) and try to sell their old stuff in a refreshed packing.

But I am also afraid that this change might go in a wrong direction, because what is still missing is the fact or the view that

1. the state are not WE, but legislative, executive and judicial branch
(in my view this is not just theoretical stuff, but an important issue, because with that evasion this monster bureaucracy and this intransparent structures has been built up with high tax and the regulations as result - in other words: if people get it that the state is an entity on its own and does not symbolize the community of all Germans, then an important, false leading identification patriotic symbol is gone and the whole card house is whiped off.)

2. this state is not the solution of the problem, but the problem itself.

Now, having said all this, there is also one critical point ref. US-policy, which Mr. Pagan already wrote about:

The Bush-admin has to make up a decision: if the US wants to be the world's leader then she may not act ONLY in the US-self-interest. Otherwise, her approach of worldwide leadership would lack in moral legitimacy. Now, fighting against terrorism should be in all our interest. But then again, it was sold wrong at the UN, because there it was discussed as a US-matter (9-11, wmd-threat to US, etc.)

@ all: Could all this be common ground?


Best wishes from Germany
klaus

Jens: Whoohoo! (that cannot be translated, please understand it as a cry of joy).

Good for you. Good for you for standing up to me with facts. Good for you for citing evidence instead of attidtude.

It is late where I am and I have other conerns that are pressing, but I will re-engage you as soon as I can with respect and ammunition.

It is truly a pleasure to meet you.

Best,

Pamela

WITH ALMOST 150 COMMENTS THIS THREAD HAS BECOME TOO LONG. I THEREFORE HAVE TRANSFERRED IT TO "READ-ONLY" STATUS. IF YOU WANT TO POST ADDITIONAL COMMENTS - AND YOU ARE HIGHLY WELCOMED TO DO SO - PLEASE GO TO THIS POSTING.

THESE ARE PARTS ONE, AND TWO OF THIS DISCUSSION THREAD.

MIT FAST 150 KOMMENTAREN WURDE DIESER DISKUSSIONSVERLAUF ZU LANG. ER WURDE DESHALB IN EINEN "NUR ZUM LESEN"-STATUS ÜBERFÜHRT. FÜR WEITERE DISKUSSIONSBEITRÄGE - DIE ICH SEHR BEGRÜSSE - BITTE ICH DIESEN BEITRAG ZU VERWENDEN.

DIES SIND TEIL EINS UND ZWEI DIESER DISKUSSION.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Our Mission

The Debate

Blog powered by Typepad

May 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31