There's no limit to the critique of America and the American government in the German media and in German politics - but please note, dear American friends: this is a one-way street only.
Germany pulls out of military expo over retired Army officer's column
HEIDELBERG, Germany — The German military has pulled out of the U.S. Army’s annual Land Combat Expo, protesting an opinion piece written by a controversial retired U.S. officer slated to be a guest speaker at next week’s event.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a noted author and frequent lecturer in military circles, wrote an opinion piece blasting the Germans in the New York Post on Aug. 19. The column came in the wake of criticism from Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign team of President Bush’s plan to reduce U.S. forces in Europe and Asia.
“Not one presents a reasoned strategic argument for maintaining wasteful garrisons abroad. And not one admits that the Germans only care about losing the jobs we provide,” wrote Peters.
“Regarding the Democrats’ claim that we’ll lose influence in Europe, the obvious question is, ‘What influence?’” Peters continued. “We’re not stabbing our French and German ‘allies’ in the back. They stabbed us. And they’ll do it again. Our troop posture in Europe doesn’t give us influence over the Europeans — it gives the Europeans power over us.”
In response, German army leaders informed U.S. officials on Tuesday that they’ve decided to pull out of the expo, said Col. Hans Kling, the chief German liaison officer at the Army European headquarters in Heidelberg. Kling said the decision to withdraw from the expo was made by the commander of Germany’s land forces, Lt. Gen. Axel Bürgener.
The Germans were to provide three tanks, two wheeled vehicles and about 30 soldiers as part of the German army’s display at the expo. (...)
Peters said any boycott amounts to “defacto censorship.”
Called for comment at home in northern Virginia, Peters said, “It’s perfectly all right for the Germans to call President Bush a Nazi, it’s perfectly all right for the Germans to criticize everything about America, to lionize [“Fahrenheit 911” director] Michael Moore and treat our soldiers as second-class human beings … but they want to try and censor the American media.”
Peters said the German decision was disappointing but not surprising.
“I think the fact that they’re pulling out is the best imaginable indicator of how weak our alliance is, how meaningless Germany’s contribution is,” said Peters. “If they pull out because they can’t stand one 800-word opinion piece in an American newspaper, how could we possibly expect them to stand by us in a violent crisis?” (emphasis added)
Peters, who is fluent in German and served in Germany for 10 years during his active-duty career, said he stands by everything he wrote.
I guess the German military will demand Michael Moore or Susan Sontag as guest speaker at the U.S. military expo in order to attend. Anything less will be considered an insult.
Did I mention Noam Chomsky?
(Hat tip Tanker and Hartmut)