One of our commenters points out the following:
"Check out the classic SPON bait and switch in this interview with economist Jagdish Bhagwati. In the blurb after the headline, which SPON usually reserves for the heavy propaganda, we read, "Im SPIEGEL-ONLINE-Interview wünscht er sich von der Administration mehr Mut zur Autonomie... und ein Ende der schleichenden Amerikanisierung." ("In an interview with SPIEGEL-ONLINE he expresses the wish that the (European) Administration would show it is serious about... putting a stop to creeping Americanization.") "Creeping Americanization" is usually a code phrase for the introduction of "U.S. social conditions" as they are represented in the alternate reality of SPON propaganda. But wait! Bhagwati doesn't quite mention "creeping Americanization" in the usual SPON sense. Let's have a look at the actual interview:
Bhagwati: ... Die einzige echte Kritik, die ich an der EU habe, ist dass sie in gewisser Weise zu amerikanisch geworden ist.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Wie das?
Bhagwati: Sie will anderen Ländern zu oft ihre Sichtweisen aufzwingen. Beim Europäischen Parlament gibt es die Neigung, anderen Staaten zu sagen: Klar wollen wir Handel mit Euch, aber Ihr müsst das und das und jenes dafür erfüllen. Ihr braucht Öko-Etiketten oder wir belegen Euch mit Zöllen. Wenn Ihr im Indischen Ozean fischt, bitte nur mit bestimmten Netzen, damit keine Schildkröten darin verenden - denn dann gibt es Sanktionen. Das ist eine Art von Neokolonialismus. Beruhigt Euch! Es geht hier um arme Länder, die ihren Weg zu demokratischen Werten und einer funktionierenden Wirtschaft suchen. Sie werden schon selbst darauf kommen, was richtig ist. Sie wollen jedenfalls nicht von der EU herumgeschubst werden, auch wenn sie noch so gute Absichten hat.
Bhagwati: The one real criticism I can level at the EU is that, in some ways, it has become too American.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: (Perking up their ears) In what way?
Bhagwati: It wants to force its point of view on other countries. One often sees a tendency in the European parliament to say to other countries, sure, we want to trade with you, but only if you fulfil this, that, and the other condition. You need European certification, or we'll impose fines on you. When you fish in the Indian Ocean, please, only with certain kinds of nets, so you don't kill any turtles by mistake - otherwise we'll have to impose sanctions. That's a form of neo-colonialism. Calm yourselves! We're talking about countries that are trying to feel their way towards democratic values and a functioning economy here. They will eventually do what's right on their own. In any case, they don't want to be pushed around by the EU, no matter how good their intentions are.
Voila! "Creeping Americanization" has suddenly been redefined to mean an "American" insistence that other countries not rape the environment in the process of acquiring goods they sell to us. Since this is the form of "creeping Americanization" SPON must have been referring to in its propaganda banner, does this mean the editors want the EU to stop trying to force Kyoto down our throats? Just asking."
Indeed. The assertion that Bhagwati comes out against "creeping Americanization" in the interview is nothing more than bogus interpretation intended to please and attract the Hate-America audience. In fact, Bhagwati is talking about trade practices - not about the social phenomena associated in Europe with "Americanization."
UPDATE: A commenter writes:
"I always laugh when I hear Europeans talk about Americanization. How about the centuries of Europeanization of the planet that have left an indelible mark on the entire globe? European intellectuals seem very comortable exporting European culture and ideas but then balk when someone else exports their culture and ideas to their shores."
The "Americanization" fear-mongering in Germany and elsewhere certainly is ridiculous. In many cases it is the result of cultural arrogance and condescension on the part of many Europeans for what they view as inferior or superficial American "(non)-culture" and "way-of-life."
By the way: Who is holding a gun to anyone's head in Germany forcing them to eat at McDonalds, buy blue jeans, or listen to hip-hop? These are all free and voluntary choices made by European consumers - who then turn around and cynically blame Americans for "forcing" their culture onto others - as they busily export European culture to every corner of the globe. The McDonalds that have sprouted up around Germany like so many mushrooms are not there because anyone in America forced fast food on Germans - they are there because Germans can't stuff Big-Macs and french fries into their faces fast enough. That is the plain truth - enough with the reflexive blame-America crap.
Another reader recently emailed us the following:
Did either of you see the HR1 Stadgespräch "Raus aus Afghanistan?" on TV yesterday? It was about whether Germany should pull out the Tornado fighter planes. The guest opposing the planes was a (former?) officer pilot (Jürgen Rose, Oberstleutnant ) who .. and this was shocking ... spewed cliché'd anti-Americanism in a manner that was unbelievable! He was like a paranoid, delusional, and, frankly, crazed man. But the biggest shock for me was that the VAST majority of the audience was enthusiastically applauding him when he REPEATEDLY said things like: hypocritical imperialist völkerrechtwidrige USA. Of course, no word from him about how the Taliban attacked the US first, and that the US doesn't kidnap civilians and cut their heads off, like recently happened to the poor driver of an Italian reporter.
How stupid do the Germans have to be to not be able to differentiate: Iraq invasion = questionably wrong, Afghanistan invasion = couldn't be more obviously right!
I can't tell you how depressing this was for me. To see how many Germans are thankless, ignorant, and thinking only of their own (temporary) peace. I am disgusted!"
Unfortunately, we can't find an online link to the actual discussion he is referring to - but this does not surprise us at all. After all, a majority of Germans want their troops out of Afghanistan. In other words - the oft repeated mantra that Germans are only against Iraq is nonsense. So much for the German commitment to the war on terror. Perhaps we can find our German troops a more safe development project with the Girl Scouts a little closer to home.. (Posted by Ray D.)