Jeffrey Gedmin, director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin, has - again - published a powerful analysis of the current anti-American and anti-capitalist agenda in German politics:
Germany loses in populist politics
(...) For the second time in three years, Mr Schröder's party has cultivated for short-term electoral gains a crude and dangerous debate about the country's fundamental orientation. The first time Mr Schröder did this was in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq, when he reached for the anti-American card. It helped him win national elections. But it was startling to see how quickly political tactics turned to passion and spiralled out of control. One of Mr Schröder's cabinet ministers compared the US president to Adolf Hitler. A leading Social Democratic parliamentarian said the US ambassador in Berlin was no different from a Soviet ambassador. Still another official insisted that the US was trying to impose its own "Brezhnev doctrine" on Europe. Worst of all, such demagoguery found resonance with the German public. A writer for Der Spiegel told me to ignore the anti-American covers the magazine was running at the time - editors were just trying to connect with their 1m readers, he explained. In truth, after that election, the German public would have needed a concerted education campaign about why the transatlantic relationship should matter at all. Alas, such a campaign never took place and the twin viruses of anti-Americanism and national-pacifism that Mr Schröder helped stir still fester in the German body politic.
Similarly, Germany today needs an honest national discussion after its recent capitalism debate. But, sadly, Mr Schröder's SPD has again tapped into populist sentiment. ... The particular bogeyman this time is foreign, especially US investors. ... Like the rantings of US film-maker Michael Moore, this sort of thing sells well in mainstream German society, and 70 per cent of the country responded positively to the SPD's message. ...
Once again the country's political leadership has validated dangerous popular prejudices, this time about the modern global economy and the inherent challenges for Germany. Who will remind the Germans that their postwar system was always capitalist; that markets created their prosperity; that Ludwig Erhard, father of their "social market economy", once said: "The freer the economy, the more social it can be". With our clear and principled leadership, the economy is in danger of becoming increasingly less of both. ...
Some are starting to rewrite history - as evident in German media, politics and in schools. America's positive role as a partner of the Federal Republic is being airbrushed out. In the current environment, conspiracy theories flourish. A recent national opinion poll found that one out of five Germans believes the CIA was behind the September 11 2001 attacks on America. As for the debate about capitalism, while all industrialised societies need to consider the ethics of capitalism and social responsibility, primitive caricatures, polarising class warfare and romanticised debates about German moral superiority in foreign and economic policy take us somewhere no reasonable person wants to be.
Amen. Read the entire article.