Proudly presenting a new article by Jeffrey Gedmin in WELT, in which he quotes Davids Medienkritik. Many thanks!
Poor Saddam Hussein Column in Die Welt, 10.01.2006 / By Jeffrey Gedmin
I’m not sure what’s worse, those who supported the Iraq war but then abandoned the Iraqi people once things proved difficult or those, both from pro-war and anti-war camps, who now engage in an unseemly competition to prove who is the most appalled by Saddam Hussein’s execution. The decision to remove Saddam from power was correct. And I do not lose one wink of sleep over the Iraqis dictator’s hanging.
I can think of at least seven reasons which, in combination, made a compelling argument for war. First, 9/11, which Saddam Hussein publicly praised. Second, the widely held conviction that Saddam was developing an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Third, the belief that Al Qaeda was in contact with Saddam’s men, a view which has since been proven correct. Fourth, Moscow had urged us to launch pre-emptive strikes against terrorist training camps in Afghanistan at least a year before September 11th. Fifth, oil. Sixth, Saddam supported terrorism. The Iraqi dictator rewarded the families of Palestinian suicide bombers with $25,000 and a commemorative plaque. Seventh, Iraq’s repulsive human rights record, ghastly even by the low standards of the region. Last spring, an Iraqi delegation shocked participants at an Aspen conference when, after two days of berating the Bush administration for its arrogance and incompetence, they agreed that ending Saddam’s blood soaked rule had been the right thing to do. They live in Baghdad.
I have my confessions. I never imagined how bloody these first years would be. I did not foresee the insurgency. That we found no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction is an enormous embarrassment. Of course, Anti-war groups thought Saddam had these weapons, too. Some argued against intervention because Saddam would strike Israel again, this time, they argued, with chemical weapons. Jürgen Trittin of the Greens, who claims to have known everything, was certain back then we’d have tens of
Proudly presenting the original English version of an article by Jeffrey Gedmin, published Dec. 27, 2006, in WELT:
"Best of 2006" / By Jeffrey Gedmin
As we finish the year, here’s my best of 2006 and predictions for 07. Best Book:The Kite Runner. First novel of an Afghan doctor living in California. The story of two boys growing up in Afghanistan. Something devastating happens that changes the boys’ lives. Inspiring and beautifully written. Best Restaurant: “Dadarski’s cooking school” in Berlin. Rent it for a small celebration. Cook along. Best Film: “Heart of the Game”. Documentation about a girls’ high school basketball team in Seattle. Multiracial team and unorthodox white male coach train hard, suffer together, overcome adversity and have huge amounts of fun. Best gadget: E-Book now out from Sony. Light little screen, this new toy allows you to store up to 80 books in its memory. Download a book in a New York minute.
Best political decision: Bush's to fire Donald Rumsfeld. I liked Rummy. I never understood, though, why he resisted so mightily in putting more U.S. troops in Iraq. Best beach: Tel Aviv. Long and wide, soft white sand. Fresh fish, spectacular salads. Atmosphere feels like the best of Greece and southern California. Best Chinese Restaurant: China Tang in London’s Dorchester Hotel. 1930s Shanghai feeling. Disadvantage: crazy expensive. Advantage: bar is fantastic if you decide on just a drink and appetizer. Best political joke: Young Israeli guy arrives in London and forgets to fill
Ruprecht Polenz (CDU), the chairman of the Bundestag foreign affairs committee, has told the Tagesspiegel the U.S needs to talk to Syria and Iran. The Tagesspiegel got so excited it ran as a front page headline the quote, "Bush needs to swallow his pride." Polenz knows better. The United States talks to Syria. Washington has probed conversations with Iran. The issue is not whether we talk, but rather what we negotiate with these regimes.
It is no surprise that publication of the Iraq Study Group report, an effort led by former Secretary of State James Baker, would inspire the enthusiasts of interest-driven Realpolitik, apparently both on the Right and the Left.
We all agree that Syria and Iran help to promote the terrorism in Iraq. We should agree, amidst all the chatter about "constructive dialogue" with Syria and Iran, that in Europe economic interests play an especially important role in shaping foreign policy choices. Germany has a special stake in the case of Iran, for example. We can agree that talking with adversaries is not an unreasonable thing to do. We talked with the Soviet Union.
What I am still missing from the so-called realists here is the slightest bit of realism. What do we want? Stability in Iraq, moderate government in Baghdad, and a country that lives in peace with its neighbours, Israel included. What do Syria and Iran want? The Syrians want a) an end to the UN investigation of the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harriri b) Lebanon as a sphere of
Proudly presenting the English version of Jeffrey Gedmin's article in WELT "Why so many Europeans have hated George W. Bush" (Warum Europäer George W. Bush hassen). It's an excellent piece. I have only a suggestion to make regarding the title: "Why so many Europeans hate George W. Bush" would be a slightly more appropriate description.
Why so many Europeans have hated George W. Bush Die Welt, 15.11.2006 / By Jeffrey Gedmin
Now that the Democrats will control Congress, there is some relief. More than 200 members of the European parliament have issued a statement praising “the beginning of the end of a six-year nightmare for the world. A little relief." According to ARD the damage has been immense: “Die Amerikaner haben keine Ahnung, wie es im Kongress zugeht. ... Es gibt keine offenen Debatten ... Das ist keine Demokratie mehr. Es handelt sich praktisch um ein autoritäres System.“ („The Americans have no idea how things happen in Congress. … There are no open debates … This is no longer democracy. … This is practically speaking an authoritarian system”).
I keep wondering why so many have hated George W. Bush. The Democrats in the Senate, John Kerry included, had already rejected the treaty by the time Bush arrived. As for Iraq, maybe things would have been different if we had found weapons of mass destruction. But then again nearly everybody thought Saddam was hiding WMD and no one runs around screeching that Al Gore or Joschka Fischer lied.
I have a theory. I helped convene a conference in Prague in parallel to a NATO summit several years ago. On the last evening of the summit, Czech President Vaclav Havel invited our conference participants to attend a state dinner at Prague castle. Chirac, Blair, Schroeder, Bush, all the leaders from NATO countries were there. One of our participants was a Gore advisor, who introduced himself to the President. The President greeted him warmly, and said to Mr. Chirac standing nearby, “Hey, Jacques, I want to introduce you to a friend of mine.” The U.S. President then took a short walk with this Democratic adviser, asking along the way about advice for new exercise equipment for the White House. In the end, my Democrat colleague was charmed. If I tell a group of Americans this story, they tend to conclude, love him or hate him, that Bush is a pretty likeable, down-to-earth guy. If I tell this story to Europeans, they either invariably look disgusted (as in--“how unsophisticated, un-statesman like!”) or their faces go blank. My theory? Bush’s greatest sin is that he is too American.
When some Europeans say they like Americans, they tend to mean those Americans who seem most like European Social Democrats, and even then they airbrush out inconvenient details like the fact that Bill Clinton favoured the death penalty, that Hillary voted for the Iraq war, or that John F. Kennedy, that suave and promiscuous East coast liberal was also a staunch anti-communist, who frequently quoted from the bible. George W. Bush is the full package of everything that makes Europe squirm. He is anti-elitism. He’s religion. He’s morality and muscle. He’s patriotism and self-confidence. He is very un-European.
As for foreign policy, it’s the idealism thing that seems to cause confusion with our European friends time and again. Remember how contemptuously Helmut Schmidt treated Jimmy Carter and his human rights campaign? Ronald Reagan was not exactly a hero at the time when he came to Berlin and told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin wall. Mr. Bush may have badly mismanaged Iraq, but does anyone still believe this was all about oil? When European commentators say they are yearning for an end to American unilateralism, our moral crusades and the influence of those dreaded “fundamentalist evangelicals,” what they really mean is that they are longing for the United States to become more like Europe: secular, post-national, consensus-seeking and Social Democratic. So on to the next disappointment. Even with the Democrats, it ain’t gonna happen.
As an add-on, I suggest this article(Europe is Finished, Predicts Mark Steyn) by Daniel Pipes. Also, have a look at this article by Jeffrey Gedmin in Weekly Standard, which elaborates some of the points presented here.
Proudly presenting this article in WELT from Jeffrey Gedmin. Posting was delayed because of a business trip I took in early November.
Sex and Power and Prudery By Jeffrey Gedmin
In the film „Thank you for Smoking,” chief tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor laments at one point Hollywood’s dreadful political correctness. These days, complains Nick, the only people you see smoking in movies are either psychopaths or Europeans. Like Nick Naylor, many Europeans think we Americans have become fanatical in our anti-smoking crusade. I hear it time and again. We Americans are boring, we’re moralistic, puritanical. Think sex. The bewilderment over American prudishness never seems to end.
It is bewildering. Sex has become predictably a part of the Congressional elections. Most recently, Senator George Allen of Virginia has accused his Democrat opponent of
Every time I hear someone compare the German university system to the American, I have to laugh. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Culture matters and in this case, America culture truly ticks differently.
I grew up in a suburb of Washington, D.C. and decided to keep it simple. I wanted to stay local for studies. The possibilities within a one hour radius included: George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, George Washington University, Georgetown University, American University, University of Maryland, University of the District of Columbia, Howard University (a mostly black institution), Galludet College (for the deaf), Catholic University, Trinity College (a mostly female institution) and Johns Hopkins University. Americans do like choice. There are 3,500 colleges and universities in the U.S. We pay for choice, too.
A year’s tuition for undergraduate study at Harvard costs $26,000. Princeton, where Joschka Fischer now teaches, is a cool $27,000. Graduate studies at Georgetown University in Washington, where I did my Ph.D., cost today $31,000 a year. So only the rich can study in the U.S., right? Wrong. Price tags vary. For state universities, if you
(The following text is a final exam paper authored by Ray for a graduate level class on media and politics taken in Spring of 2006. It contains excerpts from actual interviews conducted with top members of the German media as well as outside experts on the German media scene. Particularly shocking are admissions by top German journalists that self-censorship took place to a significant degree in the run-up to the Iraq war at the very highest levels of both state-sponsored and private media. The paper offers a comprehensive look at many of the problems with media coverage of the United States today:)
The international media research institute Media Tenor has released several studies over the past few years with one common finding: Rising anti-Americanism in German media. A 2005 study concluded that German television broadcasters had been continually casting “US-American protagonists and institutions” in a negative light since 2002. Another 2004 study on German-American divisions over Iraq concluded: “Especially German TV broadcasters worked less as news reporters and instead came across as part of ‘their’ government.” The same study found that in the run-up to the Iraq war, German media “barely drew a distinction between democracy and dictatorship in their news coverage.” Another study concluded: “While there were more opposing voices, such as the FAZ, available to the German readers than in its neighbor France, the media generally jumped on the popular, anti-war band-wagon.” 
The German media’s coverage of the United States was also discussed at length at a 2004 conference hosted by the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS). The participants concluded that German media “overwhelmingly backed the Schroeder government’s position” in the months prior to the Iraq war. Panel members also debated whether influential segments of the German media tend towards anti-Americanism. Considering decades of robust German-American ties through the much of the Cold War and beyond, the implications were troubling. But recently, a slew of contentious issues and conflicting interests, including the Iraq war, have served to widen the transatlantic divide. Several AICGS panelists discussed the recent rift and concluded that, “while the media is part of the problem, they are not the source or instigator.” In private interviews, however, numerous German journalists and media observers expressed a far more candid view of the German media’s role in shaping perceptions of the United States. Some spoke openly of pandering to anti-American populism, pressure from above to exclude certain viewpoints, lack of expertise and access, and pervasive bias. What follows is a summary of those interviews and the major themes addressed.
Ideological Media: Tradition or Problem?
Professor and State Department Foreign Service Officer Richard Schmierer served two four-year tours at the United States Embassy in Germany from 1992 to 1996 as Press Attaché and from 2000 to 2004 as Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs. During his second tour, transatlantic relations cooled considerably and media coverage of the United States became noticeably more critical. When asked whether he thought anti-Americanism was a problem in German media, Schmierer diplomatically replied that the charge of anti-Americanism was “too broad.” He emphasized that German media, “are professional and world class,” and have a long tradition of reporting from a particular viewpoint. Generally speaking, Schmierer felt that some German media reflect, “a certain European point of view that sees elements of the U.S. and certain administrations as not having the worldview they share.” Cornel Faltin, the Washington, DC Bureau Chief for Springer Publishing, also pointed out that, “there are different papers for different readers. On the one hand youhave TAZ (Tageszeitung – left-wing daily) and on the other you have Die Welt (conservative daily). That’s freedom of press.”
Others, including ZDF Bureau Chief and Correspondent Eberhard Piltz, felt that ideology was a major impediment to quality coverage of the United States. Piltz spoke of “prejudice” and described it as “an intellectual arrogance that thinks that the American way of life, feeling, taste and thinking is inferior and not authentic.” He complained that many journalists see “the U.S. through an ideological lens,” and that “most of them grew up with the leftist, socialist dream and now they look for scapegoats.” Stern magazine correspondent Michael Streck agreed with Piltz’s statement and worried “that populism goes over the line quite often.” Deutsche Welle Bureau Chief for North and South America Ruediger Lentz also expressed deep concern that “populist” ideology and views often “resonate the public mood” when it came to coverage of the United States.
Iraq: Views Suppressed
Ideology is clearly a serious problem in some corners of the German media. All too often, particularly in reporting on foreign affairs, viewpoints that go against popular sentiment are not given a fair hearing. Additionally, most of the journalists interviewed worried that bias negatively influenced reporting. One of the most troubling aspects of the interviews was the assertion, made by at least three of the interviewees, that journalists were pressured, or knew of colleagues who were pressured, not to run certain stories in the run-up to the Iraq war. Eberhard Piltz related that he “had to fight with the desk people (the editors) to tell and get in why the war was coming” and added that he "had a hard time telling the stories." Martin Wagner of Bayerische Rundfunk radio broadcasting said that he had not personally been pressured, but that “more than a couple colleagues,” experienced a “tendency especially in the run-up to the Iraq war,” not to run stories explaining the Bush administration’s position for fear of upsetting readers. Wagner claimed that the pressure on colleagues came from “above” from “owners.” Professor Schmierer observed that: “In the run-up to Iraq, media were put under strictures to limit the opposing side because readers and viewers might become incensed and the media were afraid to alienate or lose audience.” He summarized the situation this way: “Things got emotional.”
Stories in their Suitcases and “Leitmedien”
Cornel Faltin put it best: “Some colleagues already have stories in their suitcases.” In Faltin’s view, some correspondents working in the United States are influenced by pre-existing views. One interviewee stated anonymously that many journalists come to the U.S. “with preconceived bias.” Eberhard Piltz concluded that, “they tend to look at America with their European, German eyes.” He added that, "stories that make Bush look bad were requested all the time." According to Piltz, one would only have to "wait by the phone for the editors." Piltz also stated that the editors were those who "went in the streets and cried for Ho Chi Minh" at an earlier time and many still viewed the United States as "the spoiler of their dreams." Piltz was of the opinion that Spiegel and Stern magazines were in the forefront of "Bush bashing" and cautioned that it was often difficult to separate "Bush-bashing from anti-Americanism." He described anti-Americanism as a "larger phenomenon" that reaches back to at least 1917.
Another factor that has contributed to “predetermined” reporting is the excessive reliance on so-called “Leitmedien” or leading media. Martin Wagner explained that many “editors at quality papers read The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Der Spiegel and have stories and ideas all ready before the day starts.” This game of follow-the-leader reduces the number of issues that actually reach the German news consumer. Wagner stressed that many examples of good journalism were ignored because they did not relate to “hot” topics. The problem is compounded by what Cornel Faltin identified as, “too much entertainment” reporting. Uwe Schmitt agreed that media was “too celebrity oriented.” The result is limited coverage of substantive issues.
Monolithic Views, Pet Issues, and Clichés
Medien Tenor studies conducted over the past few years clearly indicate an increase in critical, negative reporting on the United States. German media have “picked out only the negative (issues) and forgotten the others,” according to Ruediger Lentz. Lentz suggested that too many Germans see America in a “monolithic way” and have a stereotypical image of a “bad, ugly American.” He lamented that German media “don’t follow up on the open and heated debate in the U.S. and the divisions.” Eberhard Piltz agreed that, “the criticism in the U.S.A. doesn’t fit into some Germans’ picture of the bad or ugly America.” David Kaspar, the founder of the German-American blog Davids Medienkritik, pointed to an excessive interest in the negative and sensational as a source of bias: “They search for problems and even if there weren’t any they would invent them.” Kaspar opined that positive stories, such as low unemployment levels in the United States, are often ignored.
A frequent complaint expressed by interviewees was that German media inadequately convey the complexity and internal divisions that make up American society. Professor Schmierer emphasized that it is important for Germans to understand “America’s position, values and approach” as well as the country’s “unique circumstances.” He felt that German media “did not generally give that level of depth.” Uwe Schmitt argued that, “high quality papers do get nuance,” but added that, “there are pet issues” that some media dwell on. Cornel Faltin acknowledged the presence of pet issues, but felt that it was a “periodical thing” and that “certain issues” evoked more interest at times than others. One interviewee stated anonymously that the media “don’t make an honest effort to explain the American mind” and don’t “explain why people supported Iraq.” He worried that the media regularly “feed stereotypes.”
Two Media Tenor reports from 2004 spoke of a view of America clouded by clichés. One offered a fitting quote from author Friedrich Mielke: “Today the Americans and Germans are again allowing themselves to be seduced by clichés. For many Germans, America is the land of predatory capitalism, striving for hegemony, and the arrogance of power.”
Lack of Access, Experience, and Travel
The most universally expressed frustration among journalists interviewed was the lack of access to the United States government. Claus Tigges, the Economics Correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), referred to German journalists in the United States as “no vote reporters.” When asked how he dealt with the problem, Tigges concluded that German media are often forced to rely on U.S. media and think tanks. Michael Backfisch, Bureau Chief of the financial daily Handelsblatt, agreed that access was “tough” and “networking crucial.” The access problem clearly boils down to a lack of interest and time on the part of U.S. government officials. Because most American politicians are interested in reaching voters, even small domestic newspapers receive more attention than the largest German network. With the end of the Cold War, Germany has become less central to U.S. geopolitical objectives and, as a result, no longer attracts the same level of interest from high-ranking U.S. government officials.
Professor Schmierer also pointed out that some reporters had inadequate knowledge of the United States: “Those who are reporting should have had recent exposure to the U.S.” As an example, Schmierer pointed to ZDF, a major public television network. According to Schmierer, most of the “ZDF staff assigned to foreign affairs had never been to America and an exchange was arranged.” Martin Wagner countered that, “many Germans have been to the U.S.” and added that, “media are often prepared.”
While it is true that many Germans have been to the United States, it is not necessarily the case that German journalists assigned to cover the world’s only remaining superpower are fully prepared. As in most nations, German media focus primarily on domestic events. International coverage, though relatively extensive in Germany, still suffers from limited budgets and lack of interest. When coupled with the pressures of the twenty-four hour news cycle and the need for ever-shorter sound bites, the impact on the quality of coverage can be stifling. Limited budgets also make it difficult for some journalists to travel outside of Washington, DC or New York. Uwe Schmitt felt that it was “pulling the rug out if you can’t travel” and worried that, “it does influence journalism.” Ruediger Lentz agreed that, “it is a problem getting out” and getting “exposure.” Other journalists, including Michael Backfisch, felt that the focus on Washington was “overloaded” and remarked that journalists often felt compelled to stay in Washington for “scoops” and “new material.”
But not everyone agreed that travel was a problem. Several correspondents insisted that a reasonable balance was possible. Additionally, escaping the Washington “bubble” is hardly a problem unique to German media. The focus on Washington, DC is, however, clearly another factor that influences German coverage of the United States.
Anti-Americanism? Populism, Bush, the 800 Pound Gorilla, and Iraq
There is little doubt that the German media has grown more critical of the United States over the past five years. But there is disagreement as to the causes and implications of this trend.
Since September 11, 2001, German and American leaders have cooperated in Afghanistan but bitterly disagreed over Iraq. Gerhard Schroeder turned opposition to a military confrontation with Saddam Hussein into a winning campaign issue during the 2002 elections, much to the dismay of the Bush administration. Overall, approval of the United States and the Bush administration has fallen significantly in Germany since 2001. The overwhelming majority of Germans opposed the Iraq war and America’s refusal to seek a more multilateral solution. Many Germans dislike President Bush and what they perceive to be his overbearing approach to issues such as the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, and Guantanamo Bay. Some worry that America is striving towards world hegemony. Uwe Schmitt remarked that the United States is admired as a “cultural leader,” but is also perceived as an “800 pound gorilla that wants to dominate yet be loved at the same time.”
So is German media coverage of the United States a fundamental source of the transatlantic divide or simply a reflection of larger societal trends? The answer is both. History is an undeniable source of differences. Contemporary observers too often forget the heated disagreements between the United States and West Germany over Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s and over the deployment of nuclear missiles in the 1980s. These disagreements also revolved around the question of military force and American geopolitical dominance. For Germany, the use of military force was taboo for decades following the Second World War. Because of its past, Germany has a far more skeptical view of military action and tends to favor multilateral approaches, even if they are sometimes flawed or ineffective.
Unfortunately, many influential figures in German media, politics and society have undeniably exploited recent transatlantic tensions for political and financial gain. All too often, populism and anti-Americanism have replaced honest, constructive criticism. Take, for example, the following covers from Stern and Der Spiegel, two of Germany’s best-selling, most influential political weeklies:
How America Lied to the World (2004) / Method Wild West (2004)
USA: The Lords of the World (1997) / Blood for Oil (2003) / The Conceited World Power (2003) / Operation Rambo (2003)
“A writer for the German weekly Der Spiegel told me during the Iraq debate not to take offense at the crude anti-American covers of the magazine such as the ugly, bearded, drooling Rambo figure it used to show the typical GI in Iraq. "We're just trying to please our million readers," he explained.”
Some, including German diplomats, have attempted to downplay and deny the problem of anti-Americanism. Others, including some of the journalists interviewed, felt that most of the recent ugliness in German media was attributable to dislike of the Bush administration. Ruediger Lentz put it best when he said that, “it’s not as simple as anti-Bush.” Lentz worried about a vicious cycle or “Teufelskreis” of anti-American media feeding anti-American, populist sentiment. When asked how the cycle could be broken, Lentz offered only this: “To change patterns of behavior is a long process.” It now seems that that process is slowly beginning to move forward. Iraq is no longer as divisive an issue and Gerhard Schroeder has since left office, leaving a more America-friendly Angela Merkel to patch up the wounds. Most observers hope that this difficult period in German-American relations is just another bump in the road of an otherwise healthy relationship. Only time will tell.
Eberhard Piltz, Bureau Chief and Correspondent, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) – German state television.
Uwe Schmitt, Senior National Correspondent, Die Welt – Daily newspaper.
Ruediger Lentz, Bureau Chief and General Manager of Deutsche Welle North and South America – State sponsored international news broadcaster.
Michael Streck, Correspondent, Stern magazine – Weekly political illustrated.
Martin Wagner, Foreign Corresponent, Bayerischer Rundfunk – Bavarian Radio Broadcasting
Cornel Faltin, Bureau Chief, Springer Publishing – Media publishing house.
Michael Backfisch, Bureau Chief, Handelsblatt – Daily financial newspaper.
Richard Schmierer, State Department Foreign Service Officer and Georgetown University Professor, Press Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Bonn from 1992 to 1996 and Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs at the American Embassy in Berlin, Germany from 2000 to 2004.
David Kaspar, Founder and Editor in Chief, Davids Medienkritik – English-language weblog on German media and politics.
 Media Tenor, “Wenn Klischees die Wahrnehmung trüben (When Clichés Cloud Perceptions),” Sep. 2004. At www.medientenor.de (registration required.)
 Media Tenor, “Bush hat bei Europas Journalisten einen schweren Stand (Bush Has a Difficult Standing with Europe’s Journalists),” March 2006. At www.medientenor.de (registration required.)
 Lehmann, Ingrid A., “Transatlantic Divide over Iraq,” Sep. 2004. At www.medientenor.de (registration required.)
 Media Tenor, “Supermacht mit Imageproblem (Super Power with Image Problem),” June 2004. At www.medientenor.de (registration required.)
Addendum:Pet issues common in German media coverage of the United States include:
Perceived American religiosity.
Perceived American obsession with guns and violence.
The death penalty.
The perceived excess and superficiality of American capitalism and (non)culture (i.e. fat people, the super rich, SUVs, fast-food, M-TV/hip-hop culture, Hollywood, corporate scandals, buy-outs and "excessive" profits.)
Perceived social inequality in the United States (i.e. amerikanische Verhaeltnisse, poor Americans are starving and freezing to death or at least struggling with 2-3 jobs and no health insurance while the rich live it up. Perception that America has no social safety net or a woefully inadequate social safety net.)
Perceived American unilateralism/exceptionalism (i.e. Iraq, Kyoto, ICC, Guantanamo)
Perceived American "hurrah" patriotism or "hyper" patriotism (i.e. flag-waving).
Perceived American paranoia/overreaction about terror and obsession with security and the "war" on terror and the perceived willingness of Americans to sacrifice key civil liberties (the Patriot Act has become a favored target) and take extrajudicial actions involving torture, renditions, etc.
The perception that the Bush administration controls (or at least dominates) the media and can somehow intimidate media into following the party line. The perceived view that there is a lack of diversity of opinion in US media and that FoxNews, talk radio and blogs are the menacing conservative vanguard of what all US media are becoming or have already become. (i.e. US media are "gleichgeschaltet" or in lock-step.)
Anything that casts a negative light on the US military (i.e. Abu Ghraib, trials of US troops, bombings or killings of civilians real or imagined).
Anything that casts a negative light on the Bush administration.
Iraq is a disaster-quagmire-catastrophe-debacle perhaps unparalleled in human history. Iraq = Vietnam = defeat and humiliation for America, the US military and Bush.
The perception of the US as an imperial hegemon out to expand its global power and military-industrial complex while using democracy as a convenient (yet false) excuse to do so. Oil = blood = Halliburton = war.
Proudly presenting the English version of the latest column of Jeffrey Gedmin in WELT:
The Tipping PointDie Welt, 4.10.2006 By Jeffrey Gedmin
There’s much to reflect upon this 16thanniversary of German unification. The two Germanies continue to grow together. A normal sense ofpatriotism is coming back. World Cup soccer was apleasure. With Angela Merkel, the country is, by allaccounts, once again well represented abroad. And thenthere is this: Angela Merkel will not reform theGerman economy.
We can theorize all day why. We can blame it on theGrand Coalition or decry the CSU and socialist wing of Merkel’s own party. Lament the unions and the media, if you will, or pin it on the Chancellor’s own lack of vision and courage. Of course, on her worst day Angie is still not nearly as dreadful as the “We’re-poor-but-sexy” rock star mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, who wants to sell failure as being cool. But by now anyone who knows anything knows that Chancellor Merkel will not be the one who puts the German economy back on top.
I’m in despair and not waiting for Guido Westerwelle.Desperate about the state of affairs? Read the Tipping Point by Canadian author Malcolm Gladwell. It gives us a hint about how to start a
In this column in WELT, Berlin Aspen Institute's Jeffrey Gedmin criticizes the pope for his Regensburg speech. We proudly present the original English version of his column.
If I were Muslim, I’d be offended by the Pope’s speech Column in “Die Welt”, 20.09.2006 By Jeffrey Gedmin
“Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his commandment to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” That’s the Pope in his Regensburg speech quoting Emperor Manuel II. I’ve read commentaries explaining the context. I’ve read that the Pope’s speech was beautifully written. Who’d disagree? Still: What about common sense?
I am not worried that the Pope has offended the terrorists. They are offended by life and profess to love death, a wish we should oblige every chance we get. Nor am I concerned about the feelings of irresponsible Muslim leaders who use the Pope’s speech to fan hatred. One compared the Pope to Hitler. This creepy Turkish politician owes everyone an apology. But common
Proudly presenting the original English version of Jeffrey Gedmin's article in WELT "Islamismus - Was treibt Terroristen an?". Unfortunately, this posting was delayed because of a business trip that kept me from regular posting (as you have surely noticed...).
Islamism - What drives Terrorists?
Column in “Die Welt”, 30.08.2006 By Jeffrey Gedmin Mohammed Siddique Kahn was happily married, the son of a foundry worker, who had immigrated to the United Kingdom from Pakistan. Kahn was born in Leeds, went to university, and spent most of his professional life helping children. At 8:50 on July 7, 2005 Kahn exploded himself and other passengers on the Circle Line train in London. It makes you wonder about that well-dressed 21-year-old Lebanese student in Kiel arrested in connection with a plot to blow up two trains in Germany this summer.
What motivates these Islamic terrorists? Iraq? In Canada earlier this summer authorities uncovered a plot by home-grown terrorists to attack the parliament and behead the prime minister. Canada was against the Iraq war. Is it George W. Bush? Islamic terrorists planned Sept 11th while Bill Clinton was in office. Even if Abraham Lincoln were in the White House, we’d still have Islamic terrorism says Max Hastings in the left-wing British Guardian. Is it all about America? Islamic terrorists murdered Greek and German tourists in Egypt in the mid.1990s. They kill Muslims in Indonesia today. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country and was also against the Iraq war.
Some keep repeating the nonsense that this is driven by poverty. But then the terrorists are often well-to-do. Africa is far poorer and produces little terrorism in contrast. Others repeat the nonsense that this is about Israel denying the Palestinians their state. But
Proudly presenting the original English version of Berlin Aspen Institute's Jefffrey Gedmin's article in WELT(Ohne Härte geht es nicht):
If you´re not tough enough, it won't work! Column in "Die Welt", 06.09.2006 By Jeffrey Gedmin
What are the reasons why President Assad sends terrorists into Iraq? First, he wants to get rod of Syria's Islamic terrorists. Second, they might do some good and kill some Americans. Third, he uses them to show the U.S. that the Americans need Syria if they want to solve Iraq. So some Syrians say. A friend of mine traveling in Syria recently attended a public trial of a young terrorists. Such trials are apparently open to Western observers, as the regime wants to show that it is cracking down on terrorism. In the middle of the trial, the poor terrorist expressed his confusion and dismay, "How can you try me now", he blurted out, "after it was you who had trained me to do what I do." What a country.
I do not think you need to be a great Arabist or Syrian expert to figure out
We proudly present the original English version the latest article of Jeffrey Gedmin in WELT (August 9, 2006):
If you are weak, you will not survive By Jeffrey Gedmin
I overheard the bartender here at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem imparting wisdom to two guests: “In this part of the world, if you are weak, you will not survive.” Israelis have to put up with a difficult neighborhood. I’ve spent the better part of the last three weeks in Israel, after having spent the first part of the summer obsessed with World Cup soccer in Berlin. That first carefree part feels far away. I was at a sushi restaurant here this week and overheard a twenty-something guy telling two girls that “eventually we will have to fight Iran.” This is not idle talk in a country where both young men and women serve in the military and often have to go to war. It’s strange. In other ways, Israel can feel so European.
The contrasts can be stark, though. I was just in a Jerusalem shopping mall. Security guards check your car’s trunk at the entrance to the parking garage. You pass through a metal detector, just like airport security, before you enter the shopping area. Inside I saw three young men, about 20 years
In this article in "Welt" of August 2, 2006, Jeffrey Gedmin points to the obvious: the terrorist nature of Hezbollah and the lackluster support of the West for Israel. We are grateful for the permission to reprint the article in the original English version.
Human Shields for Holy Warriors By Jeffrey Gedmin
Nabih Berri, speaker of the Lebanon’s parliament, says that „the Zionist Dracula’s thirst has yet to be quenched.” He said this in reference to Israel’s air strike at Qana, where some 60 innocent civilians, many of them children, were killed. There is brutal irony in Berri’s comment. In the first Lebanon war Israelis found hospitals where Hezbollah fighters had actually drained the blood of patients to supply their holy warriors. Hezbollah’s barbarism is legendary. Gen. Effe Eytam, an Israeli veteran of that first Lebanon war, tells of how--after Israel had helped bring "Doctors without Borders" into a village in the 1980s to treat children--local villagers lined up 50 kids the next day to show Eytam the price they pay for cooperating with the West. Each of the children had had their pinky finger cut off.
I hope Israel wipes Hezbollah off the face of the earth. My fear is that the Israelis will fall short. By now everyone knows that Hezbollah is an Islamo-fascist military force, created and financed by Iran, aided by Syria and based in southern Lebanon.
The UN insisted a couple years ago that Hezbollah disarm. Hezbollah did nothing of the sort. Instead, it armed itself to the teeth, amassing, among other things, 13,000 Katyuscha rockets along Israel’s northern border. The poor Lebanese army was too weak to make Hezbollah bow to the will of
(Source: Cox & Forkum) (cartoon is not part of Jeffrey Gedmin's article)
Jeffrey Gedmin has published another one of his brilliant attacks against the hypocrisy of the left in Germany's daily WELT. We are glad to have obtained the right to publish the original English version of his commentary.
Responding on Two Fronts By Jeffrey Gedmin (Tel Aviv)
Sitting in a beach front restaurant at the port here and life seems so normal, innocent really. The warm summer breeze, music, fresh fish, scores of young people walk the board walk. And on this night, every few minutes, military planes fly by, flying north. Israel is at war again.
I'm learning a lot about rockets at the moment. The Katyuscha has a range of 30-40 km. The Fajr 3 and Fajr 5 can sail some 70 km. When I arrived, I was briefed that Hezbollah may also have a number of longer range Iranian missiles with a reach of about 135 km. That would make Tel Aviv a possible target, I thought. Two days ago Israel found and destroyed an Iranian Zelzal missile with a range of 160 kilometers.
As always, I'm a little bit one-sided. A frequent narrative in much international media goes like this: Hezbollah kidnaps two Israeli soldiers. Israel seeks revenge by bombing the hell out of Lebanon. A Süddeutsche Zeitung headline read, "Israel attack on two fronts." Henryk Broder, writing in Der Spiegel, asked why the paper wouldn't have written that Israel has been "responding" on two fronts. That would be honest.
I feel pretty confident about my narrative. Start with Gaza, which is where this started. Israel withdraws. Palestinians heave 600 rockets over the border over the next six months. They elect Hamas, whose raison etre is to annihilate the Jewish state. Hamas
Source: Cox & Forkum (Cartoon is not part of Jeffrey Gedmin's commentary in WELT)
ups the ante by kidnapping an Israeli soldier. A journalists friend says to me, a liberal-minded fellow here, "If you keep poking a lion, sooner or later you're going to get swatted by a big paw." Now Lebanon. Before nabbing those Israeli soldiers, Hezbollah had started to fire their own rockets into
Proudly presenting the original English version of Jeffrey Gedmin's latest article in WELT.
Hypocrisy in the West:
Iran and the Peace Movement
Column in "Die Welt", 21.06.2006
By Jeffrey Gedmin
Look at it this way, says Mohammad Ali Ramin: "So long as Israel exists
there will never be peace." The Iranian Presidential adviser also told
students in Rasht recently that the holocaust rumour and bird flu were
somehow inter-related, the latter being a conspiracy by the West to
from its failures in the Middle East. Ramin said killing chickens was
of a plot to control prices. He also seems to believe that Jews once
the plague and typhus because "Jews are very filthy people."
does sound just a tad dangerous, I keep wondering what happened to the
The peace movement has always been anti-nuclear. Iran wants the bomb.
peace movement loves the U.N. and international law. Teheran defies the
International Atomic Energy Agency. The peace movement condemns the
race." When Iran goes nuclear, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey will
want the bomb. The peace movement cherishes human rights. The mullahs
women. The peace movement is modern, multicultural, and secular.
Ahmadinejad believes in the Hidden Imam and relishes a clash of
civilizations. The peace movement likes peace. The Iranian leader has
for a U.N. member state to be wiped off the face of the earth.
The peace movement is once again exposed as a farce and a fraud. During
Cold War it thrived on anti-Americanism and a good dose of Soviet block
support. It was back recently when George W. Bush said he would compel
Saddam Hussein to comply with U.N. resolutions. In Berlin, half a
people took to the streets. Teachers, students, churches, trade unions.
is hard to remember too many of these folks lifting a finger for the
of Iraq before or ever since.
And those banners declaring "No Blood for Oil"? Do the peaceniks know
Europe depends on Middle Eastern oil even more than the United States?
Arabia is one of Germany's most important trading partners in the
Iran is the other. During Gerhard Schroeder's last year in office,
exports to Iran rose by 33.4 percent (3.6