(By Ray D.)
Atlantic Review, Apocalypso and Achse des Guten point to a case of particularly vile anti-American commentary from a prominent German politician. This time the culprit is CSU (Bavarian Christian-Social-Union) politician and conservative parliamentarian Dr. Peter Gauweiler, a member of the Bundestag committee on foreign relations and Chairman of the subcommittee on foreign cultural and educational policy. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk (German radio), Gauweiler made these remarks on Afghanistan (translated from German by DMK):
"The military involvement in Afghanistan is on another, much better mandate in terms of international law than the American's war in Iraq, which violates international law, that is beyond dispute. Nevertheless, one would have to be blind and deaf not to recognize that in Afghanistan we are factually steering towards an Iraqification of the war. For that, the Bundestag has provided no mandate and for that our Grundgesetz (Constitution) correctly gives us no possibility to participate. Ms. Merkel must make clear in America on this concrete case, that it is without question, for example, that the Bundeswehr and we will not support the confusion and catastrophic conditions that the United States has helped to create and is in part responsible for in southern Afghanistan by making Tornado-aircraft available. We must make it clear to the Americans, or to be more precise the current American government, that they cannot exterminate other cultural aspirations on this planet - and it is not automatically terrorism - as they did with the Apaches and Sioux."
Here's the bottom line: Dr. Gauweiler is justifying Germany's unwillingness to share the burden in Afghanistan by stoking ugly, primitive anti-American stereotypes and hiding behind Germany's Constitution. In fact, it is not the United States - but the fanatical ideology that is Radical Islam - that is attempting to "exterminate the cultural aspirations on this planet."
Dr. Peter Gauweiler (CSU): Chair of the Bundestag subcommittee on foreign cultural and educational policy: "We must make it clear to the Americans, or to be more precise the current American government, that they cannot exterminate other cultural aspirations on this planet (...) as they did with the Apaches and Sioux."
If anyone is deaf and blind about the threats facing Germany and the West, than it is truly Dr. Gauweiler, who apparently feels more threatened by Guantanamo (which President Bush himself said he wanted to shut down while in Germany) and McDonalds than the prospect of mass terror, suicide bombings, Sharia law and total subordination to Islamic order. It is the Taliban, not the Western forces in Afghanistan and not the United States, that is clearly responsible for what Dr. Gauweiler describes as the violent "Iraqification" of the nation's south. (And that is not even a good analogy because Iraq primarily suffers sectarian violence at this point.)
The blame-America-first-neurosis from which Gauweiler and others like him openly suffer worldwide was best diagnosed by Tony Blair, who recently wrote:
"Moreover, the struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan are plainly not about those countries' liberation from U.S. occupation. The extremists' goal is to prevent those countries from becoming democracies -- not "Western-style" democracies but any sort of democracy. It is the extremists, not us, who are slaughtering the innocent and doing it deliberately. They are the only reason for the continuing presence of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. (...)
Yet despite all of this, which I consider fairly obvious, many in Western countries listen to the propaganda of the extremists and accept it. (And to give credit where it is due, the extremists play our own media with a shrewdness that would be the envy of many a political party.) They look at the bloodshed in Iraq and say it is a reason for leaving. Every act of carnage somehow serves to indicate our responsibility for the disorder rather than the wickedness of those who caused it. Many believe that what was done in Iraq in 2003 was so wrong that they are reluctant to accept what is plainly right now. (...)
This ideology has to be taken on -- and taken on everywhere. Islamist terrorism will not be defeated until we confront not just the methods of the extremists but also their ideas. I do not mean just telling them that terrorist activity is wrong. I mean telling them that their attitude toward the United States is absurd, that their concept of governance is prefeudal, that their positions on women and other faiths are reactionary. We must reject not just their barbaric acts but also their false sense of grievance against the West, their attempt to persuade us that it is others and not they themselves who are responsible for their violence.
In the era of globalization, the outcome of this clash between extremism and progress will determine our future. We can no more opt out of this struggle than we can opt out of the climate changing around us. Inaction -- pushing the responsibility onto the United States alone or deluding ourselves that this terrorism is a series of individual isolated incidents rather than a global movement -- would be profoundly and fundamentally wrong."
On another note, Dr. Gauweiler might want to stop and reflect that Bavaria and its people have benefited enormously from the historic accident of having been occupied by the United States after World War II. One of the reasons Mr. Gauweiler has the freedom to vilify the United States on public radio is because the United States fought and sacrificed hundreds-of-thousands of its sons and daughters to rid Germany of Nazism and fought for German unification after standing guard for decades along the Iron Curtain. We know that some Germans are getting tired of "feeling so thankful" about that, but too damn bad, we are going to remind you again.
Bavaria and the Taliban: Would they still be pouring beer at Oktoberfest?
Further, most people in Bavaria would probably agree that in the six-plus-decades of American military presence, that Bavarian culture is still going strong, as evidenced by the CSU's iron-death-grip on power in that state. After all, when was the last time you saw an American holding a gun to a Bavarian's head as he or she was walking into a McDonalds, KFC, Burger King or Pizza Hut? And let us ask this: How would Bavaria have fared had it been occupied for several decades by the Taliban or Al-Qaeda? Would Dr. Gauweiler and his family have slept peacefully at night and worshipped and voted peacefully by day? Would they still be pouring beer at Oktoberfest? The obvious answers to those questions reveal the true threat to "cultural aspirations" in the world today. It is radical Islam - not the United States - that fundamentally theatens our culture and all culture.
Those who truly value the transatlantic partnership must never allow the security versus civil liberties debate taking place in most Western societies to obscure the larger struggle against a fanatical Islamic worldview that would not hesitate to exterminate our societies and way of life if given the opportunity. And while the transatlantic societies may have substantial differences over how best to deal with the threat, they all have a common interest in confronting and defeating that worldview in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world. Hiding behind legalisms and resentments, as Dr. Gauweiler choses to do, simply divides and weakens us all.
Gauweiler's comments, along with those of Werner Hoyer (FDP), demonstrate that hostility towards the United States stretches across the political spectrum in Germany. The SPD, Greens and PDS have traditionally been the driving force behind anti-American sentiment in the political sphere, but they by no means have a monopoly on this unfortunate form of blame-America-first populism. One has to wonder when, if ever, the World-Scapegoat-USA mentality will ever be vigorously confronted and discredited.
Finally, Atlantic Review gives Gauweiler credit for making some positive statements about the "American dream." We won't. Those statements are little more than lip service and a thin veil to mask Dr. Gauweiler's arrogant disdain for the United States. Anyone who implies that the United States is out to exterminate other cultures, while the Taliban and other Islamic fanatics are running around the planet beheading, bombing and bestializing their enemies, obviously has a very serious screw loose and needs to be confronted with his own ignorance.
Contact Dr. Gauweiler: [email protected]
If you would like to write in English, we strongly suggest you contact Ulf Gartzke, the director of the CSU's representative "Hanns Seidel Foundation" in Washington: [email protected]
Conact the CSU in Germany: [email protected]
We insist you to keep your comments civil, polite and respectful.
(Emphasis ours throughout)
Endnote: When it comes to throwing stones over the historical extermination of other cultures, Dr. Gauweiler ought to consider for a moment that he himself is sitting in a highly brittle glass house.