(By Ray D.)
How Major German News Networks Advertise Themselves:
"N24: We Get to the Point."
N24, a major German cable news network, recently used a full-page ad to make a blunt point: In their view, the Iraq conflict was and is all about oil. The ad is a particularly telling indicator of the current climate in the German media landscape because a major German cable network (with a format similar to that of CNN) is selling itself and its approach to reporting news. And clearly, the people who run N24 recognize the obvious willingness of many German consumers of news to embrace the "blood for oil" paradigm as a clever and incisive interpretation of American actions in Iraq.
Germany's New Groupthink: Universal Disapproval of Bush and Iraq
Apparently, N24 has chosen to exploit a propaganda method skillfully wielded by the Nazis in the 1930s. Take complicated ideas and situations and simplify them for the masses in order to exploit populist stereotypes and resentments. In this case, N24 is attempting to win new viewers by taking advantage of German anti-Americanism with a cleverly cynical "blood for oil" collage. Tell people what they want to hear. Leave out what might be uncomfortable. Don't bring up things like Saddam's mass graves, Saddam's wars of aggression, Saddam's chronic refusal to honor international law or Saddam's bribing of UN and European officials. In other words: Let people believe what they want to believe.
The same exploitation of German anti-American tendencies worked for September 11 conspiracy theorists who claimed the US government had a hand in the attacks. According to one poll, nearly one-fifth of all Germans and nearly one-third of all young Germans actually believed that the US government was behind the 2001 attacks that killed 3,000 people. With this many cynics running around the country is it any wonder that Michael Moore's books were record-breaking best-sellers?
Germany's Green's: Some Genocide Victims are More Equal than Others
In an article published last month on the German Green party's website, the Green fraction leader in the European parliament, Daniel Cohn-Bendit stated that:
"A military intervention is legitimate to end genocide."
Mr. Bendit went on to call for a UN-led intervention in the Sudan. The interviewer, sensing a possible contradiction, asked Mr. Bendit:
"Couldn't Washington and London support themselves with such reasoning and say: The Iraq war was also legitimate?"
Mr. Bendit replied:
"No. An intervention would have perhaps been legitimate when the Kurds were gassed in Halabja. It was, however, an entirely different situation than almost 20 years later the American intervention with the goal of overthrowing a dictator. Legitimate is an intervention to stop genocide that is taking place at this very moment."
So according to Cohn-Bendit, it would have been more "legitimate" to wait for Saddam to resume killing his people by the hundreds of thousands before taking military action. Just as it would have been more "legitimate" to wait until Saddam had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and the capacity to murder millions in a war before intervening. The thousands murdered by Saddam's regime from 1991 to 2003 apparently did not count enough in Mr. Bendit's eyes to warrant overthrowing the dictator. Perhaps someone should ask Mr. Bendit how many hundreds of thousands of people have to die in a given time-period before Europe's elite feels action is necessary and "legitimate."
Ironically, giving aggressive dictators the benefit of the doubt in the interest of "peace" and waiting for potential threats to become imminent threats is a strategy that has already been tried in Germany with disastrous results. Does the world need another Holocaust to learn that dictators cannot be coddled?
Cohn-Bendit: The UN is the Solution
According to Mr. Bendit, the institution best-suited to lead efforts to stop genocide in Africa is the United Nations. This despite the 1994 debacle in Rwanda, the French-led colonialist misadventure in the Ivory Coast and the recent sexual abuse scandal surrounding the UN peacekeeping force in Congo. Mr. Bendit states that the UN must form an African peacekeeping force to avoid creating anti-European resentment. This begs the question: Why hasn't this already been tried in Rwanda, Congo and the Ivory Coast? Is the UN even capable of such an undertaking? Does the UN need reform?
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the European left is reluctant to question the UN's many flaws and failings. This is particularly true in the German media. The ongoing bribery scandal surrounding the UN's oil-for-food program has received very sparse coverage. This stands in stark contrast to coverage of American efforts in Iraq, where every American misstep, both real and perceived, is reported in great detail. Any form of progress in Iraq, such as the opening of schools and hospitals, has been almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media.
But what are the underlying causes of this widespread bias? It is important to understand that the European left has always feared American power and sought to contain and control it. The United Nations is one of the few bodies with which Europeans can hope to influence and restrain the United States. This also explains why the Angry Left is so angry about the US not joining Kyoto and the ICC. By rejecting these agreements, the US has denied Europe two further means of checking American power and economic growth.
That also explains why the left has been so eager to brand every conflict involving the United States over the past decade "the next Vietnam." The German media used the comparison during the Kosovo conflict, the Afghanistan conflict and continues to use it in Iraq. This despite the fact that each of the three above-mentioned conflicts have been fundamentally different from Vietnam in a number of obvious ways.
The fact is that the European left wants the US to fail because it fears American power and dominance. The repeated Vietnam comparisons and the exploitation of anti-American stereotypes by major German news organizations are robbing America's critics of any real credibility or influence.
Getting to the Real Point: European Impotence Breeds Resentment
US leaders would be well-advised not to allow the ranting and raving in the German media and government to influence their policy. These outbursts are motivated largely by a feeling of impotence, frustration and growing irrelevance, not by a genuine desire to voice legitimate criticism or improve the world. In the case of the media, anti-Americanism has also proven to be a hot seller of books, magazines and television time, so profit is also clearly a major motivator. Hopefully, the German government and media can eventually regain a semblance of credibility by finding some balance in their view of the United States and particularly their view of American conservatives.
Only when the new German "groupthink" ends can better German-American relations begin.
Note: If you'd like to contact N24 and let them know your opinion of their ad, just visit them at: http://www.n24.de/service/kontakt/ (Hat tips: Wuldorblogger and sehoy)