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it seems to me that there are many and various reasons why Germans are so anti-American but these are three that, imho, are underlying in most people here.

1. Germans seem to be remarkably chauvinistic (Prejudiced belief in the superiority of one's own gender, group, or kind; www.yourdictionary.com) but for historical reasons they cannot say "we are the best," they can only say "you are worse than us."

2. The generation of Germans I talk to are angry at the "finger of guilt" that is always pointed towards them with regard to WW2. To allay this anger and to prove that they are not really that bad, they highlight the faults of others (especially America and Israel).

3. They are essentially socialists so they are continually looking for the faults and failings of the most successful capitalists (note Berlusconi is also a prime target).

The comments in the first section are right on.
I would also add:
1. Anti Americanism has always been strong here,
but since the generation directly responsible for WW II is dying out, the check on anti americanism is slowly being removed.

2. Mark Twain once said 'If you give a hungry man something to eat and a hungry dog something to eat, the difference is the dog will not bite you'
The Germans regard themselves as 'the land of thinkers and poets'. MANY Germans regard America as a backward country of uncultured hicks.
How could such a backward country:
1. Beat them in war and then much worse
2. HELP them back on their feet.
For that America will NEVER be forgiven.

das fehlen liberaler werte in der deutschen gesellschaft, und die damit verbundene angst und abneigung gegen jede andere gesellschaft, die mehr von freiheit hält, war in deutschland der nährboden für faschismus und jetzt für antiamerikanismus und antisemitismus.

Why is there so much Anti-Yankeeism? The first fellow mentioned the arroganz of the Germans. Secondly, the U.S. represents Zuper modernity, or lieberalist economics at a minimum. And, having enjoyed this site for a long time now, I must mention what the American forces at NATO HQ in Heidelberg, Mannheim, and Mainz have taught me for almost six years. The Germans, politely, are totally whacked!! In the dictionary this term doesn't exist. To be a bit more formal and paraphrase a CDU politicion: German is a totally neurotic society. In addition, social science has concluded that perfectionism, a large part of German culture, is mental illness.
This reality (anyone want talk history, now?) combined with continental jealousy (the English words doesn't do it's Deutsche translation justice) produces intense Anti-Americans. 'Thing is, many well-travelled Deutschers know this...but would never admit it.
Lastly, and I fear the editors feather, we are, to be fair, quite anti-kraut ourselves. But our similar military culture would forbid such a weak assessment.
Great topic. More of ya'll write in !!

I would hesitate to describe the Anti-Americanism you are witnessing as an exclusively German phenomenon. I just returned to a trip to Australia. I visited 4 of its major cities and bookstores in each had extensive displays of Michael Moore and Paul Krugman books (seems that to get really good anti-Americanism down under you need to get it from America.) Certainly any of the populations of Europe seems to have a significant amount of anti-Americanism, regardless of the policy of their government on any specific American activity.

I believe the reason for the anti-Americanism is tied up in the revolutionary nature of American culture. America is a high risk, high return culture. It places tremendous responsibility and pressure on the individual and rewards most accordingly. Some are not well rewarded, at least by American standards. It is a tough league. Communism represented a kinder gentler route to the fruits of American culture. Unfortunately, for all who hoped they wouldn't have to undergo the rigors of Americanism, it didn't work out.

Now, it is undeniable that other cultures are going to have to accomodate to and actually accept a lot of distasteful aspects of Americanism under the guise of globalization in order to avoid falling too far behind the new Leviathan. Understandably many are not enthusiastic about the threat this presents to the more comfortable and familiar way of life in which they were reared and live. All people, Americans included, fear and hate change.

One other reason I suspect Germany and France are particularly vociferous in their anti-Americanism is that in the last century Germay was twice defeated, the second time thoroughly, by alliances that were ultimately very American and France was twice rescued from Germany. Both had their colonial empires and their place in the sun stripped from them by America. Both were then protected by America for two generations. There's got to be a fair amount of humiliation brewing under the surface. That's why even our intellectual forebearers in Britain are resentful of us.

Finally, I would note that the blood of Germans courses therough the veins of more Americans than that of any other ethnic group, so whatever neurosis we ascribe to the Germans is no doubt present in America as well.

Scott, here are some links for you:




Richard, what a fascinating comment. Who knew neuroses could be passed via zygotes?

David, Scott,

I lived in Germany twice in the past. The first time was in a little village called Oberensingen along the Neckar River in the south and the second time in Berlin. Germans are strange, indeed. One of the things I enjoyed doing at Kaffee und Kuchen time was to blurt out that I really liked Germans and Germany. Most of the time the eyes of my German friends just goggled. These intense coffee hours are usually spent running down everything, Germany and the US included. These young Germans couldn't believe my comments. How could I say that? Funny, right?

The discomfort or love-hate relationship with the US has a long history in Germany. I would look at Wim Wenders' early films for historical examples of Germans' ambiguous views of the Amerika. Check out "Im Lauf der Zeit" and "Der Amerikanische Freund" and any interviews with Wenders from around that time. Writers and filmmakers talked a lot then about the "Americanization" of Germany--they were talking about West Germany then, of course.

Scott, this fear of the Americanization of Germany is, I think, key for your argumentative essay. You should be able to find lots of supporting evidence for this theme in US-Germany views of each other.

I recall one bar in Kreuzberg worth noting along these lines. Back in 1987-8, when I was living in Berlin, there was a bar I hung out in called Cafe Madonna. It's interior was Fifties Stateside and the people who freqeunted it wore American letter-jackets and their hair was pompadoured and they played doo-wop on the stereo. It was like stepping into a time capsule and visiting Happy Days America, except that everyone was speaking German. Gotta love the Germans attention for detail! Gruendlichkeit indeed!

Any Berliners out there? My old favorites: Cafe Swing, Cafe Jenseits, Cafe Anfall--any of these still around?

Interesting topic. Let's be careful about painting all Germans with one brush. I have many German friends. Some disagree with our politics, but some agree. Many of them are pro-America.

All people, Americans included, fear and hate change

More accurately, most people dislike imposed change; many people (especially Americans) enjoy change when they instigate it. Americans hope to change the Middle East. Those who did not instigate this process, dislike it...

All the comments above are quite pertinent and revealing, but perhaps the last 150 years are the key. Whoever mentioned the CDU politican "Germany is neurotic nation" is dead-on. What is Germany but the result of Prussia's shotgun marriage in 1871? Doesn't a New Yorker have more in common with someone from Hamburg than he enjoys with someone say from Koblenz? The divide between between Catholic and Protestant, East and West, members of Freistaat Sachsen and Baden-Wuertemberg is constantly discounted, or dismissed as regional pecuilarities. After the debacle of WWII, what could hold Germany's national identity together? Or more appropriately put, what could reconcile the disaster of German nationalism with the glories of German civilisation and culture prior to the second WW?
There is talk of the "humiliation" of the Arab street and humiliation is the cornerstone of German self-identity. The expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, loss of Silesia, East Prussia, exile of the Volga Germans grates upon the national physche. The loss of territory is not the main point. The refusal by the Czech government to repeal the Benes decrees even symbolically rankles the german expelled association because the message is simple--no German is a good German. How can one not be neurotic or at least hypersensitive in such a atmosphere? America with its perpetual rights to bases in Rammstein, Heidelberg and all those bases near K'town is a visible, daily reminder of not just defeat but subjugation. Don't forget that prior to the reunification, Germany did not even have sovereignty over Berlin. The victorious allies did. Germany as a nation has only been completely sovereign for 13 years. In 3 years, the BRD will beat the Weimar Republik. Here's to hoping...

Wow, this thread took off. Great! There was an important point made by Daniel Goldhagen in the revised intro to his (controversial) book about Germans and the Holocaust: societies change. The America that I left 15 years ago is not the same country today. The Germany that you visited 20 years ago is not the same.

There IS a neurotic vein here that I associate primarily with urban living. (The average population density of Germany was double that of China the last time I looked at statistics.) That meand that there are a lot more Woody Allens over here -- one of his films, I forget which one, has the title "Der Stadtneurotiker". On top of that there was the division of the country until 1990 and the whole exhaustive examination of their past, something that Germany has done a good job of, to the detriment of having studied other history. Personally, I sensed a palpable relaxation of tension in daily life here during the years immediately after the reunification.

It is my perception that the younger generation of Germans (from Kindergarten to University) is far less neurotic than say, people in their forties and fifties. It is my perception that the '68 generation and older has a high percentage of very neurotic people. I regularly run into men and women in that generation who never married. They lead otherwise normal lives, but something is missing in their psyches. Who knows exactly what caused it: loss of a love one in the war, guilt, envy, ideology?

Henry Miller once wrote: America is an idea, it does not exist. The America that I carry around in my head has nothing to do with the everyday reality there. It is an amalgam of all my experiences, fantasies and fears. America is a canvas and everyone who thinks about America has a different set of brushes and colors. When someone carries around a dark vision of America in his head -- one that is perhaps fed by media, parents, teachers and peers, he is one step closer to psychopathology. It may only take a major upheaval, a controversial war perhaps, to push him over the line. America has become an obsession.

For anyone who has not visited Germany in a few years, you might be interested to know that Germans in the city where I live now often stand patiently in line at the bakeries and grocery stores. Every once in awhile someone now lets me in front of them if I have only one product and they have many. And I can wash my car on Sunday. That's what I call progress!

Karl B.

>For anyone who has not visited Germany in a few years, you might be interested to know that Germans in the city where I live now often stand patiently in line at the bakeries and grocery stores.

It's my understanding that Germans have always waited patiently in line. Too patiently for some, I guess. I recall my first morning in that village in Swabia. I walked into the village and saw a group of people standing on a corner. It was early in the morning and there was no traffic. I walked down to where this tight little group of Germans was and I decided to stand with them, thinking that perhaps there was a parade coming or something. After what seemed a minute or two, I shrugged my shoulders and crossed the empty street to the post office. I glanced back at the group in time to see the Walk sign light up and then this little German group trouped across the deserted street. I have to tell you how surprised and impressed I was!

Have you ever driven from, say, Hanover, to the middle of the Paris? Man, talk about contrast!

I like Germans, but at the same time I know how dangerous they can be. In World War I, they killed many of the inhabitants of Louvain, Belgium, and then torched the beautiful library because they wanted the "respect they deserved." Take a look at Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August" about the outbreak of WWI. Germans, I'm sorry, we're already Nazis then. No question about it.

Much better to have Germans as pacifists. Much better to have Chirac and Shroeder arm in arm. Whenever they try to kill each other, Americans end up getting killed in the process. In WWII, 200,000 French soldiers died; Americans, 300,000.

Peacenik Germans are fine with me.

As they say, the French are afraid of the Germans and the Germans are afraid of themselves. With good reason.

Oh, I forgot to mention my first evening in Germany. This was in Stuttgart and I was staying at a German friend's family home. After dinner, we stepped into the living room where my friend gave a slide-show of photos taken in the United States--you know, very cultured, comparing Italian and German and French and American architectural styles and so on. Then the father started drinking and before too long the rest of the family absented themselves and left me alone with Dear Old Dad.

As the beers poured down, stories of WWII came out. We sat across from one another, nose to nose. He was a young officer on the Eastern front. It turns out he was a real Nazi all right. Man, I was sweating bullets and grinning like a fool as he explained patiently to me that he even had to shoot some of his own soldiers to instill discipline in his unit! Toward the end of the war, he fled like the others back toward Germany, afraid of getting caught by the Russians.

The next morning my friend apologized for leaving me alone with her Nazi father. She had a long history of fights with him and just wasn't able to step in and help me out.

That was one heck of an introduction to Germany.

I don't think it's productive to do this sort of pseudo-psychoanalysis of all of Germany. You become guilty of lumping, generalizing on such a grand scale that it becomes useless. You can fall into the same trap that so many Germans and others are falling into with their views about America. It can be fun if it's not taken too seriously. But it doesn't really help with the question "what should we do?" The answer is to keep pointing out specific problems and errors in reporting (as this blog usually does pretty well), i.e., fact check their asses, expose the silliness to severe fiskings. Spread the word.

For Scott's research, a good source would be James Ceasar's book Reconstructing America. Ceasar is a poli sci. prof. from the University of Virginia and he produced a good scholarly review of European anti-Americanism back in the mid 90's (before the hated cowboy unilateralist, dumb, unsophisticated President was even a Governor). There was a recent article by Ceasar updating his work and discussing the increasing relevance. But I don't have the link and I forget the magazine's name. I'm sure you could find it in a minute using Google.

Re: Jeffrey--in--Tokyo

The discussion (if you could call it that) is not a cheap attempt at psychoanalysis at all, but a cry in the desert for anyone who can explain exactly what makes the Germans presently act they way they do, i.e. unpredictably. For a neurotic nation, please replace with a nation of extremes (to paraphrase the great German historian). Who has not seen the stickers around every German university proclaiming a day against Nazis or the anti-Facist orgnaisation of German students? But where are the Nazis? You cant talk about the great achievements of the 3rd Reich in public, even if you believed in such crap. I am sure many of you have seen the stickers in playgrounds and in bar bathrooms which explain how Rudolph Hess was murdered in prison by the nefarious Tommies or the more purient stuff around Hitler's birthday. The question remains since the past is not allowed a public forum and is considered generally by the population to be shameful, why does it continue to find purchase with each successive generation? Why are the generalisations used to compare Bush to Hitler by Gmelin-something palatable? She was not a junior member of the SPD. She was actively courting a part of the elecotrate and such a crass statement found resonance. Schroeder is back to for another term. Add the refusal of the German government under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty to provide assistance to a fellow member in need upon request (first time ever) and the question remains: what would pacify the current government who seems to refuse all consultation with the Foreign Office? Is this a tidal change which has destroyed the trans-Atlantic bridge or a Green/Social democrat nightmare which will soon end? What can the American government do other than press for Turkey's accession into the EU to facilitate better relations? How far must we go to curry favor? I hope it does not come to it, but the city of Koenigsberg is currently under foreign occupation...

I like Germans, but at the same time I know how dangerous they can be. In World War I, they killed many of the inhabitants of Louvain, Belgium, and then torched the beautiful library because they wanted the "respect they deserved."

I live on the outskirts of Leuven (the Dutch spelling of Louvain: it's a Flemish city), and usually walk by the rebuilt university library several times a week.

And from this vantage point, I don't see much difference between German anti-Americanism and Belgian anti-Americanism. Perhaps it would be more helpful to look at this phenomenon more as a Western European thing and not so much as a German thing.

It's a bit surprising to me that nobody has mentioned 9/11. From what I saw here in Belgium, there was a certain segment of the European polity which reacted to 9/11 by instantaneously becoming angry (or angrier) at the US. Paul Berman explicates this strange tendency at the end of his lecture at the "Old Demons, New Debates" conference (section 4):


There was another segment of opinion which, although reacting with compassion rather than anger, nevertheless concluded that the US was to blame for being attacked. If that's what you believe, it will naturally condition quite seriously your assessment of the US riposte. Pascal Bruckner's essay "Europe: Exhaustion and Remorse" is helpful here:


For me, the trans-Atlantic rift was a full-blown reality within the first couple of weeks after 9/11, and experienced at very close quarters. Yes, these attitudes have more specific causes and contexts, and a long history. But it seems to me that something happened, that 9/11 was a catalyst for something perhaps qualitatively different, and at least quite different in scale.

John in Tokyo,

The link for the recent article by James Caeser is the second of Pamela's three links, above.


I followed a friend's advice to visit this blog and with great interest I've read the statements about my country.

By reading this thread I have learned that we are

- chauvinistically criticised for being chauvinistic,
- arrogantly criticised for being arrogant,
- buying American goods and embracing American "lifestyle", because we are Anti-American,
- "way to become the next Arab street" - with 80.000 Arabs from Marocco, 47.800 from Lebanon, 25.000 Tunesian and 84.000 Iraqis, a total of less than 250.000 Arabs as part of a 82 Million population (source: governmental migration report 2003),
- a country with an identity-problem, which we still don't manage in our 13 long years after unification, while the US only needed tiny 2 centuries.

And above all we are criticized of being "American-obsessive" and "neurotic" and "strange".....

May I make a humble suggestion?

Looking into a mirror can be a thrilling experience. ;-)

Best wishes from Germany

The Germans should also look in the mirror
They accuse the Americans of arrogance.
What is a synonym for Arroganz? Besserwisserei?
Where did the term Besserwessi come from?

The Germans accuse the Americans of having no culture.
Well the Germans have 'Leitkultur'!! Whenever some German says that the Americans have no culture, I always say 'did you read that in Bild Zeitung or did Dieter Bohlen sing a song about it?'
The Germans always say the AMis are so patriotic.
Explain Leitkultur to me please. Incidentally, are you proud to be a German? Do you remember the debate about what is politically correct to say? I am proud of Germany, no I am happy to be German, no I....
If patriotism did not exist in Germany,
this debate would never have occurred.

I hear all the time about how the USA is so ...... (filled in by any number of negative adjectives)
But yet I also hear .... often from the same people.. the Germans always imitate the Americans.
Well if the Americans are so ......., why do the Germans imitate them? It is one thing to say someone is stupid, it is another to consciously follow and imitate their ways and behaviors.

Wow. Excellent posts. Klaus, may I respectfully suggest you are missing the point of this thread; to analyze the roots of anti-Americanism in Germany. If Germany comes under criticism in the process, it is as a result of the analysis, not the intent.

I have never lived abroad, so am at a disadvantage in comparing life in the States to anywhere else. But let me point something out; Americans are generally happy to be Americans. Yet there is nothing in our culture that posits that happiness on the denigration of any other culture, country, people, what have you. Yet from what I can see, Europe NEEDS to dislike America. If I am correct about that, then there is a pathology that needs to be addressed for everyone's sake.

Re: the recommendation for Reconstructing America. I second it wholeheartedly. I initially found the book when I wrote to Ceaser after I read his article. I am now reading it for the third time. Superb. Available on amazon.com

With this discussion Davids Medienkritik has entered a new league for thoughtful commentary. Kudos to all the contributors!

Karl B. wrote, "It is my perception that the '68 generation and older has a high percentage of very neurotic people. I regularly run into men and women in that generation who never married. They lead otherwise normal lives, but something is missing in their psyches."

A Brazilian friend of mine noticed the same thing. She was taking a German course in a language school and could not help noticing that her instructors, who probably would have described themselves as "linksalternative Frauen", were bitter and barren harridans, who had let all chances for marriage go by while young.

Germans talk of "demographic catastrophe": too few working age people supporting a growing retiree population. Because so much of their income is taxed away to pay for benefits, they can barely afford to have one (1) child themselves. And the spiral continues.

Unlike Switzerland's capital-funded system, Germany's social security is a "pay as you go" scheme, with the currently employed paying for the older generation, in hopes that the next generation will continue the scheme when the time comes. But that hope is now gone.

Just about no German is left anymore who still believes in the viability of the system. Norbert Blüm, the welfare minister under Chancellor Kohl, tirelessly proclaimed "Unsere Rente ist sicher" (Our pensions are secure") in his day.

Short, bubbly, he became a running joke with his frequent appearances on television. Today the German government has begun a painfully slow process of reconstructing social security.

Has Blüm ever expressed contrition for pulling the wool over people's eyes and delaying the day of reckoning for too long?

Are you kidding? Of course not.

He has discovered a new occupation for himself. No, not anti-Americanism. Blüm's new enemy is Israel's prime minister Sharon.

Warum ich Scharon bekämpfe

In his article, which is soggy from Blüm's crocodile tears over the poor oppressed Palestinians -- complete with nauseous references to Baby Jesus halted by Israeli checkpoints -- he finds the perfect outlet to distract himself and others from admitting culpability for his incompetence while in office.

Needless to mention, his attacks on Israel find especially fertile ground in a country that is looking for a nail -- any nail -- on which to hang their resentment against that living reminder of the Holocaust: Israel and the Jews.

Anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism are two close cousins: they provide a convenient vehicle to forget about your frustration with hard -- really hard -- problems at home, and allow you to transfer your anger onto a scapegoat.

Some of the regular German contributors to this blog give me hope.

But on the other hand, I am also aware of a general feeling of malaise in Germany. Many people's opinion could be summed up, perhaps not unfairly, as

Our day as Germans (and Europeans) has come and is now nearly gone. We have no more religion. The utopian ideologies have been tried and found utterly bankrupt. We are no longer having children. Our road is at a dead end. The Arabs, on the other hand, are vibrant and reproducing at an incredible rate. And they are so sure of themselves! Nor can we deny their historical grievances against us, from the days of colonialism to the brutal imposition on them of the state of Israel. We have no choice but to reach an accommodation with them. I hope Islam will treat us kindly.

How annoying, then, to know that there are two holdouts to this widespread mood of decline: the Anglosphere and Israel!

tictoc, I read your post and that very dim bulb residing above my head got a little brigher - maybe.

"And they are so sure of themselves!"

Is at least part of this coming from fear? A loss of confidence in the ability to direct one's life?

I don't know if this is relevant but I'll put it out there. I spent two weeks in Spain in the early '80s. It didn't take long before I could stand on a street corner and pick out Americans. Not because of the clothes - Aussies & Brits were the same. It was because of our physical posture, both walking and sitting. I've never been able to articulate the details with any grace or lucidity, but when I've tried I've always used the terms "confident" and "optimistic". Americans don't walk, Americans "stride". Is this one of the things Euros see that makes them think we are arrogant?

First of all, I would like to thank all the posters here for the great beginnings of an interesting debate. I've picked up some good references and will tackle a few of them this weekend.

How deep does culture go? All the way. But the fact that cultures are organized differently must be accepted--this is not easy. As an English-as-a-second-language teacher here in NYC, I have students from all around the world. The affective struggles are usually the most difficult. People generally go through three stages:

1. Everything is new and interesting.
2. The new culture is TOO different; the student suffers from "culture shock" and is often depressed.
3. The students learns that this new culture is simply different.

Later, one realizes those differences have historical and societal reasons. The differences make sense in that culture, not yours. I recall this happening when living in Germany for the first time. I went through the same pattern. I distinctly recall one day, after six months of feverish comparison of American and German culture, realizing that German culture was just different than American culture. I know this sounds simple, but for those of you who have lived in other cultures I assume you understand my point. Anyone out there remember going through this?

So anyway, back to my idea of acceptance. The United States has European roots, no question about that. If you want, take a look at Luigi Barzini's fine book called The Europeans; the last chapter is about Americans. But America is different than the other European countries. It is just different--not worse, not better, just different. Accepting this fact is not easy. As others above have pointed out, Anti-Americanism is often a cheap-shot and an easy way out of looking at your own problems. Ridiculing all Americans as "stupid cowboys" reveals a very, very narrow mind indeed.

Cultural misunderstandings are inevitable. Let me give you an example. Most Germans who live or travel in the States remark how "oberflechlich"--superficial--Americans are. Americans will be your great friend one day and then not remember you two weeks later. This is true. Americans can make and lose friends quickly. Americans are the most mobile people on the face of the earth. We relocate all the time. I myself have lived in around forty different apartments all around the US and in other countries since leaving home. I have made and lost many friends. Americans do this easily. Germans are not used to this type of behavior. For a German to act like that, they will be termed "oberflechlich." So Germans use a German template of behavior on Americans. But in a highly mobile culture like ours, we value being able to make quick friends wherever we are. Any thoughts along these lines?

>Americans don't walk, Americans "stride".

Pamela. I had to laugh at the line. It's true. Yes, even how people walk is culturally constrained. If you want a great read, take a look at Edward T. Hall's The Silent Language. He does lots of cross-cultural comparisons. For example, he observed German and American businessmen working together. The Germans always closed their office doors and the Americans always kept theirs open. They often didn't understand each other and got on each other's nerves. Americans thought the Germans were trying to keep them away and the Germans thought the Americans were invading the general area with their sounds.


>I've never been able to articulate the details with any grace or lucidity

I just read your post again and I really think Edward T. Hall's The Silent Language will give you the vocabulary and categories to flesh out your ideas. Hall is an anthropologist with a gift for helping people like you and me train our eyes to see beyond the surface and examine the hidden sources of cultural difference.

Jeffrey - New York

Very kind reading recommendations, thank you. According to amazon, Barzini's work is out of print, but Hall's is available Duly ordered.

I have a friend that moved to Germany for two years. She started out at stage two and stayed there.

Regarding the observations on friendships; Americans are friend-LY. It is a mistake to think we make friends easily. We are friend-LY to most because it is a social lubricant, given the transient nature of our country. But we give our friendSHIP just as sparingly as Europeans. Another telling insight on cultural miscues. Many thanks.


I like your friend-friendship distinction. That's a nice way to put it.

In Berlin I found many "friendly" Germans; in a small village it was more difficult. Using your terms, most Germans there already had their friendships and didn't need to be friendly with anyone.

About your friend, that's too bad. It happens. Some people never make it to stage three. Given our personality, some cultures are hard for us to accept. Strange, it also happens that some people born in one culture feel more comfortable in a different culture. For example, one of my sisters was always late for appointments here in the States; it drove people crazy. Then she moved to Mexico and found that everyone scheduled their days like her. She felt relieved not to have people always annoyed with her lack of punctuality.

I really think you'll enjoy the Hall book. It's a good one to have on your bookshelf. (Believe me, next time you're at a party, you'll be able to impress your friends with keen observations borrowed--temporarily, of course--from Mr. Hall).

Barzini was an Italian journalist and was unique is being able to get to the essences of cultures. It's too bad that book is out of print. The local library might have it, I believe.

Now don't go out and buy this, but I have Beppe Severgnini's Ciao, America on a list of books to check out from the library. It's a recent book about an Italian living in the US for a year. I heard him interviewed and the book sounds very interesting.


*friendly-friendship distinction*

Sorry, fingers muffed that up a bit.


Plesase let me say a big Thank You! for your posts ref. to my message. And please don't bother that I answer in one message to all of you, also to keep things structured.

Whether I feel that criticism about Euope and Germany here is too shrill or unfair? No, don't worry about that, I am not a "softie" ;-) My intention for my message was a different one: to confront you with a different logic, a different perception.

First of all it doesn't make much sense in general, if a person complains arrogantly about the arrogance of others. Americans are the wrong ones to critice us here. Which leads me to the question whether Germans and Americans have more in common then they might be aware of ;-) (Think also of "bashing": it would only result in re-bashing, which, at the bottomline, leads to nothing - presenting FACTS is the better approach and one reason why I very much appreciate Davids media blog for example).

There are contradictions, mistakes and wrong-leading tendencies in politicis here? Sure. And from what I've read here at least most of it appears also valid in my mind. But there are also some different things:

the first is the thing with the "socialistic society": a simple look in statistics will tell you that our average density of population is much more higher than in the US. Already this simple fact implies a lot of consequences: if you live together in such a narrow envirnment you HAVE to make compromises and limit your freedom. And because of the general density it applies to the whole country. In other words: if free competition of areas would happen, it would result in extreme poor areas and extreme wealthy areas. This scenario can work in the US, where you can move then from one to the other area. But here it simply would mean revolts and riots, if it would be driven so far.

Which means: you will always have a certain level of funds and grants and therefore a "socialistic" approach. That governments here have driven this approach far beyond acceptable limits is a different story, true and a mistake to be corrected.

Identity / non-predictable policy: We are not in one row with Italy, Spain or the UK - we are 20 million more and too strong for that for already this reason. But this also means: we are too weak to really "lead" Europe. Historically, we always have been something in between, which also explains the extreme outlashs in the one or other direction and the approach of neighbours in the one or other direction.

Now, being "united" again, we finally have to define this "something in between" precisely to 1. find our role in Europe and 2. to avoid the mistakes of history. The present manipulating anti-american approach of the media has something to do with it (trying to find / generate identity by an anti-definition, a very poor approach, of course), so has the trial of leftists to find scapegoats for their mistakes. All this, because all these aspects rank around the question of our identity, which we literally will have to "reconstruct" as a unification-result.

The leftist red-green movement is exhausted, their only ability is either big spending by bureaucracy or robbing the poor ("Praxisgebühr") and - knowing this - the only possibility which is left to them to stay in power is to lull people in. This exactly happens in the moment.

But the political right, in my view, is the real problem. Because it is not existing. Merkel's CDU is a bad joke - only a bit less socialistic -, and the extreme right winged ones, which still exist cannot be considered as responsive (and have, besides, a very poor agenda). My point here is: the left 68er and the Hitler-fans are the counterparts of the same false world, which has to be dropped into the dust bin. What to put at this place instead is what I mean by saying to reconstruct the identity.

Problem: with a missing conservative agenda there is no "tension" in the debate, which only turns around typical left views and terms. This also explains the half-blinded media or at least a big part of it.

Americanism / imitating America. I know, a lot of air-wave-blowers and politicians are playing this tune. Personally, I don't buy it. I for example like a lot of US-films, not because I want to imitate someone, but because I discover or find a part of myself there mirrored - be it the action/Fighting, be it family values (but not the boring sex-scenes;-) . Think of who build up the US in the past centuries and influenced it and you know what I mean.

The "jealousy/frustration"-issue. Well, I would see some truth in it, but in a different way than you might think: I am thinking of the left politicians who accused the US of "hegemony", but at the same time didn't say one single word of criticism, when the Deutschmark - being the de facto-currency in the 90ties in half East Europe - colonized this part. Maybe they enjoy to play a little Fuehrer and are frustrated to find themselves as little corporals. (Besides: The same hypocrasy applies to antisemitism and I wonder when the ADL will get the message of a solid left antisemitism here.)

More important from my point of view is the population's approach: If there is jealousy, then in the sense that the US has a system, which we or a lot of us would like to have, too - with clear responsibility, clear and transparent state structures. Our present system, as you know, is all but that. And there is another point: in history we hadn't much luck with our leaders: there was Bismarck, maybe Ebert and Adenauer, and the Brandt/Schmidt Duo. The rest? Either war-craving monsters or weeping Biedermeiers.

And what does it all mean and lead to?

In practical politics we'll concentrate further eastward tu Russia: there's business and a lot of natural reserves. And historical ties reaching back to Tsar/Prussia-times. Not to forget the EU-enhancement.

The thrilling question here is: is this movement to the East done INSTEAD of further developing American-German relationship or IN ADDITION to it? That also depends on US-policy. Example:

Let's say, you spend 100 $ in military research and what you get has the value X. If you spend the same money in Europe you would get not even half of X. How's that possible? Because the national military industries are too small and therefore costly, Europeanwide co-operation necessary. Which would also mean to give up or to share sensible parts of military technology with others, which national rivalry sometimes blocks.

A more tightened EU could fix this problem, which from the perception here would also be in the US-interest, who has requested the European NATO-states to invest more in their military. The logical conclusion of that would be to help building up the EU or at least not to hinder it.

But what happens is the opposite: Ex-CIA and EX-FBI Bruce Jackson pulled the strings to create the Vilnius-declaration in the Iraq-case, which split the EU, the Polish-US sweetheart-story let alert-bells ring in Moscow and speeded up the Paris-Berlin-Moscow-axis. And last but not least: instead of welcoming EU-efforts for own military engagement with the above mentioned agenda behind, Washington really became jealous and feared of NATO's role! In our perception Washington simply doesn't know about Europe, has no concept.

This also applies in the Turkey-case, where Mr. Bush requested an EU-agreement for an earlier Turkish membership than originally planned. Does Mr. Bush not know that a membership gives the right and access to also agricultural grants and subsidises, which in case of Turkey would ruin the EU in months, since the Turkish agricultural sector still has to be improved to be "ready" (and the Turkish put a lot of effort in it!) This is, why a time schedule exists, this is why Mr. Bushs request was seen as a hostile attempt to ruin the EU - and Jeffrey in Tokio here still asks: "What can the American government do other than press for Turkey's accession into the EU to facilitate better relations?"

The simple answer in this case is: mind your own business. There are historical, traditional good Turkish-German relations, Turkey is a German-friendly nation, where kids learn German as obligatory foreign language (which, besides, also shows the childishness of "conservative", in fact opportunistic CDU to oppose to Turkish EU-membership in elections hoping for votes).

It is not that there would be no suggestions how to fix problems here. Two of them for example would be to direct elect the minister presidents of the states (bundesländer), because this would break up the party monopole and make him more bound to the people's will and not to the will of party functionairs. And the 2nd would be to enable the bundesländer to generate own taxes, which they can't now. With that - preposed that general taxes have to be decreased before and been made more transparent - there would be limited competition among the bundesländer penalizing the big spenders and rewarding the responsive ones on the middle- and longterm.

I have no clue about the intentions of this webblog. If it is German-friendly, the best thing you can do is to spread the word with these two suggestions, since already they would break the blocking system.

Refer China and India. Well, I have no clue about India except some statistics. But China I visited myself and know a bit. With that in mind it is dreamy to me to think that the US alone or the EU alone would be able to cope to 1.3 billion people working day and night. New York needed 200 years to develop to its present status, Shanghai reached N.Y. level in 20 years. Shenzhen was a tiny waterhole in the 70ties and now counts its residents in millions and will soon be able to play the shoreside counterpart of Hongkong. These are facts / obvious tendencies and if we want to avoid China being the hegemonial superpower in 50 years (although: the Chinese I know from there don't 'tick' this hegemonial way, but you never know....), then it could only be achieved together.

That's how I see it.

Best wishes from Germany

Great thread!

Pamela (and Karl B, I'll get back to blogging, I promise):

Is at least part of this coming from fear? A loss of confidence in the ability to direct one's life?

I'd think so. Nihilism has destroyed firm convictions in many here; Europe's religion is leisure. Many Germans consider President Bush a theocrat when he says "God bless America"; they think: religion in, reason out. Germans have a broken history and cannot rely on their historical identity as Americans can; at the same time, the US sets the trends to which German youth adheres, music, fashion, food, games. I'd say what we experience is not necessary a widening rift - it could also be a kind of collision of the continents, with Germans trying to keep some own identity by denigrating the US. If you do not have a positive historical identity, your only choice is to separate yourself from one - or to create one (which would be my dream: a EU that is democratic, a staunch defender of Western values, at the side of the US, a true friend and supporter of Israel - I wonder how long it would take for the Arab bubble to collapse... but this is only a dream). Add to it the often mentioned European post-colonial guilt, which causes moral relativism and renders people unable to distinguish between dictators and democracies - it is clear which side you have to choose when you practice such thinking.

I don't think Europe will play a big role in this century. The new powers of the future will indeed be India and China (and Russia), and the US knows this. Europe will become a place of old people and old memories, old buildings and rather second-worldish. The time our elites wake up (if ever) might well be too late to catch on. But I still don't give up hope. There are still many good people in Europe, we just have to destroy the matrix, and hand out the red pills instead of the blue ones...

Americans don't walk, Americans "stride".

Too funny, I just met two Americans in a bus today in Aachen. You MUST know that it is forbidden by death penalty to talk loudly in German busses, set your face on gloomy stare mode and appear to not perceive anyone. But they were talking LOUDLY, and to my great amusement caught the evil look of an old woman who wanted to silence them by the dignity of her frown. They didn't care, and then they "strode" out at the next stop. That old woman must've thought "zose Americans! Inwaded innocent Irak and caught president Saddam, but hav not learned manners! No kultur and educashnn!" It is a pity that in this country, bad mood and gloominess are often mistaken for intellectual depth, and that optimism is seen as starry-eyed.

An Italian friend once asked me whether most Germans have problems with their hips or pelvises. I didn't really take his meaning, until he told me "they all walk so goddamn STIFF!" - so: Americans stride, Italians dance and Germans... march? :)

Klaus: It's going to take me awhile to sift through your English so that I can respond. I mean no disrespect. My German, after all these years, is functionally non-existant.

hans: You. blow. me. away. The casual "in-a-minute" response will not do your post justice.
Give me a day or two.

To anyone reading this I make an offer: My husband and I live in Northern Virginia, which is considered to be a suburb of Washington, D.C.
If you want to come and see a part of the States we can show you, we have a guest room and our house is open. Really, we do want to understand.

Oh great. Have I just invited all of Germany?

Oh, what the heck, sure, c'mon over.


You're right about China. My wife is Chinese and, of course, I've traveled a lot around China. As you know, the PRC is no longer communist. Communism--from the Chinese view of 5,000 years of civilization--was just a temporary madness. The Chinese are capitalist to the bone. And very productive now. My wife's STATE, Shandong, has more people than the reunified Germany. Like Hans has pointed out, the real future economic engines will not be in Europe. Not that Europe will fall apart, but it's day in the sun is over. Who knows, maybe even the US's day in the sun is over too--but I believe not just yet.

Right now Europe is trying to hold on to any vestiges of power they have. Robert Kagan points out in his Of Paradise and Power: "For Europeans, the UN Security Council is a substitute for the power they lack." Can anyone tell me how ONE of the republics--Russia--took the old seat of the USSR.

Can anyone tell me why countries like Japan and India have not replaced countries like France on the Security Council who are barely in the top ten GDP and by 2050 will be lucky to be in the top 30? I'm sorry, but the UN is a joke. Coalition forces told Kofi Annan that he needed better security and they offered to provide it--and he refused the offer. And then he has the gall to complain about lack of security. The blood of De Mello, make no mistake about it, is on Kofi Annan's hands.

Why the hell is Germany on the Security Council?! The country that threw Europe into 2 World Wars! Fifty MILLION casualties in WWII alone. Am I missing something here? I have to listen to that jackass Oskar Fischer blather along! Are you kidding?! (I hope this isn't too ad hominem.)

I love how this thread has progressed. Maybe David can find a place for it at this site where it will remain accessible. Klaus, I hope you will take criticisms of Germany here with a grain of salt and come back for more. Some folks just drop by and leave a first impression that may not be based on much experience. Others only have a few experiences to share. But some of us are highly focused on this issue, informed and are eager to hear what a German has to say.

I agree with you the "right" or classic liberal opinions are not widely represented here in the media. As you point out, the CDU is as statist as the SPD, even if it has a different agenda. Given the public opinion here, I don't think the CDU has much choice. The FDP is such a strange party, and the fact that it is barely surviving is an indication that liberalism here is on the defensive. People who represent such views on TV generally get shouted down or dismissed. The debate is pretty one-sided. Strangely, the liberal FDP also suffers from a streak of anti-americanism, e.g. Möllemann et al. But a strengthening of the liberals in Germany, either within the CDU or FDP or in a new party might be helpful to the general climate.

At the risk of repeating myself, I think that a discussion of anti-americanism in Germany is timely and necessary. Now that it has become fashionable to slaughter large numbers of Americans, we need to look at anything that may contribute to an atmosphere of hatred. The fact that many of the 9-11 assassins had lived in Germany also give pause to think whether they may have felt reinforced in their hatreds by the general intellectual atmosphere here.

David has done a great service by documenting the anti-americnanism in the German media. I posed the question how widespread the anti-americanism is among the general population. I think that it would be great if this topic became a discussion topic in Germany. From my own experience it has not been up to now (aside from a few lonely voices such as Henryk Broder and Hans ze Beeman). Prior to 9-11 I don't think it really mattered that much to me as an American. I always said we were number one and had to learn to live with occasional bitter resentment. Since 9-11 I am not so complacent.

Personally, I think that what happened between Germany and the U.S. over Iraq was sad and preventable but that such a break was probably inevitable after the fall of the USSR. As Americans, we would be naive to expect gratitude to play a role in international relations. America will be pulling away from Europe in the coming decades; there is no strategic reason for a large military presence here assuming that other bases are availble closer to the hotspots. We will look to our own national interests first. Europe will have to look after itself. If Europe tries to use the UN as an instrument for restraining the U.S. as it did last year, the UN will fall apart.

Like Hans, I hope that after Germany has gotten used to its "total independence" (as if it were not already independent) from America it will realize that we share many of the same values and will seek to ally itself with us to promote democracy and progress (a loaded word, I know) in the developing world. Do I think that will happen? I don't know. I have always been astounded that, given all the similarities between Germans and Americans, we always seem to land on the opposite side of any given debate. And that is what prompts me to want to crawl into the minds of Germans and try to understand what makes them tick and to discuss with them the perception of rampant anti-americanism in Germany and the effects it has on the intellectual climate here.

I think perhaps people should withdraw from discussing anti-Americanism in a particular context and attempt to discover the orginal causation for the outbreak of antiamericanism. How has it come to pass that in the US where 40% of the inhabitants regard themselves of Germanic stock has such a shaky relationship with their mothercountry? Where are the Goethe Institutes in seconday cities? Outside of New York and LA, I cant think of any other branches. Does anyone remember the sympatico between Bush the Elder and Kohl? For five years the "special relationship" between America and Britain did not exist. Bush I would call Kohl over any European problem and regarded Major as a jumped-up bureaucrat. We seemed at least during that time to want the same things in broad strokes: a unified Europe (including central Europe), peaceful relations with Russia, and free trade. However since Schroeder has assumed power, we can not even agree to disagree. We disagree about the disagrement. It is exasperating. Germany's previous solidity in the foreign policy was a solid as the D-mark. Today we are confronted by what Germans would call the triumph of inner political considerations. Usually a term of scorn applied by political scientists and lawyers to American political processes (and with good reason). The organisation for German expellees destablizes european expansion eastward and all parties with the exception of Westerwelle's FDP give at least tacit approbation. Schoreder dismisses the common currency's deficit threashold sardonically and publically. Can anyone give me a succinct policy review for the more fracticous elements of German foreign "policy"? There must be a bright line rule for the following: (a) German Central Bank violating ECB currency regulations; (b) internal legal structure of the EC (from Joschka's Humboldt speach of a totally federalized and integrated Europe, he is blathering on about some progressive vanguard for closer union made up of a "coalition of the willing"; (c) possibility for foreign deployments of the Germany Army (do you need a UN sanction, what about the Balkans? must it be humanitarian? Schroeder in August 2002 said he would never participate in Iraq regardless of a UN SC Resolution...)

I lived in Germany 20 years ago and anti-Americanism was already alive and well back then. My fellow posters here have offered many good points about the sources of this pathology.

Americans, I would say, have an similar pathology against the French. I have to count myself as someone who harbors this malignant species of irrationalism. It's strange. I lived in France for a short time, traveled there several times, have read its wonderful authors starting with figures like the Montaigne, and still have trouble shaking my dislike for the French, especially when confronted by the incessant crowing of someone like De Villepin. This irrationalism is my personal affliction,one that I have to live with every day. French hauteur is like a knife in my kidney. But I am trying to overcome this ailment by forcing myself to temper my views and by only occasionally stopping by weblogs like merde in france.

I certainly hope Germans don't harbor an antipathy toward Americans to the same degree that I have--to my discredit--against the French. Pray for me as I struggle with my dark secret.

Americans, in general, have always respected Germans and their culture, except when they're trying to kill us. Americans have periodically been anti-French, but never to my mind--not counting wartime--anti-German. I could be wrong, but this is my understanding.

I should point out for complete disclosure that most of my relatives came to the US in the 19th century from Luxembourg. A lot of those ancestors, in fact, are presently lying in a small graveyard outside a town called Luxemburg in Iowa, a few miles from the Mississippi River. A lot of geborens and gestorbens on the tombstones.

I agree with Karl B. that the US and Europe share far more than recent history suggests. Maybe we should make list of points in common.

Ok, Klaus, I think your argument of population density requiring abrogation of freedom has been addressed in pragmatic terms in earlier posts. However, your premise as expressed, I think, betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of freedeom. Keep in mind that the transient America is part and parcel of America the frontier. When Europeans could not move within Europe they moved to America, and when Americans needed to move they moved to the frontier. The absence of any European frontier is not due to population density. I suspect, again, there is a nascent class dynamic at work.

I find your discussion of lack tension in the public dialogue and the processs of reconstructing a national identity very illuminating. The fact of those conditions, however, does nothing to explain the value of anti-Americanism in the process of resolving these issues.

Regarding your analysis of U.S. policy as viewed in the EU: You completely lost me. When I googled "Vilnius Declaration" I found nothing that explained to me how you find it pertinent to this discussion. On this I am clueless. However, I found your characterization of Bruce Jackson as "ex-CIA and ex-FBI" less than subtle. Do you mean to imply a nefarious plot? Shall I evaluate everything Joschka Fischer says and does based on his activites to support Baeder-Meinhof? I would remind you that Baeder-Meinhof was a terrorist organization. If you wish to equate the CIA and FBI with legal terrorist organizations such as Stasi, say so.

If Bush's support of admitting Turkey to the EU according to Turkey's requested schedule (which you failed to note in your post)was seen as hostile to the EU because of financial considerations, was the EU's comment that Turkey "is not European" seen as sensible? Hostile? Chauvanistic? Is it just possible that Bush saw a democratic Islamic country belonging to the EU as a counter-balance to the fundamentalist Islamic forces threatening all of us?

And one more thing: The U.S. does not view military development within the EU as a threat per se. The issue is that with limited resources, member countries would have to withdraw resources currently used to support NATO in order to commit to EU military development. With the current financial conditions in the EU, both cannot be supported. So, if no NATO, what do you want? To be left on your own? Believe me, if it were up to me, that's exactly what you would get - in a heartbeat. If I recall, Germany had to enlist the help of foreign countries to transport troops to Afghanistan.


"..a lack of a positive historical identity". Good place to start. To some extent, we have had a similar struggle on a smaller scale: Vietnam. But we have a history, bred in the American psyche, of overcoming to start over. No one here is NOT a descendent of someone who did not start over. (And before anyone wants to mention Native Americans, keep your powder dry. Go google "casinos" and get back to me.) Hence, our short-term historical memory. I challenge you to find one person who does not whack their forehead in disbelief when they find out the Serbs and Croats have been slaughtering each other for eons.

When DeGaulle kicked NATO out of France, it was to some extent, an understandable attempt to force France to reclaim its historical identity outside the context of America. And I think that
also provides some of the impetus for the EU. But "outside the context" is very different from "in negation of".

And here is one thing I find absolutely appalling. The powers being given to Brussels in effect rob each and every citizen of a member state of accountability of their government. You are throwing away your very sovreignity. You are morphing from citizens to subjects.

Ok. I think we have established that anti-Americanism has a very specific value in European culture. The question now is to identify the loci of that value and reform it.

The insistent calumny heaped on Bush because of his explicit acknowledgement of his faith sends me into paroxsyms of hilarity. Western civilization came into being based on the legal and social formulations of religious scholars. "Rationalism" is not an apposite of religious thought, but its very offspring. I submit for your consideration Acquinas. Among others, of course. Are there currently Christian fundamentalists that are nothing but whack jobs? Indeed. Pat Robertson should be forcibly medicated. But hey, the entertainment value is worth it. This is not to deny the role a/the Church has played in the havoc wreaked in European politics. But the protections afforded by a secular state are not - or should not be - asserted to deny the individual the wealth of wisdom handed down through centuries.

Mark: Kohl may have been a crook but he had his head on straight. Schroeder's bread and butter is anti-Americanism, as evidenced by his last campaign. If you think any U.S. President is going to kiss his ass, you can think again. Major was a trumped-up bureaucrat. He had the little credibility he had because Thatcher gave him her imprimatur. As far as "the triumph of inner political considerations" being treated with "rightful" scorn, I suggest you familiarize yourself with representative government. Here's a hint: You can't get there via the EU.


I have a little problem ;-)

This thread is about German contradictions. But nearly every message here (included my own) refers to Anti-Americanism. This would imply that contradictions here are responsible for Anti-Americanism or at least have something to do with it.

Having thought about it I doubt in the meanwhile, whether this view is valid.

There are contradictions in this country since ages and reforms needed since ages, but this kind of Anti-Americanism is new.

Same applies to views ref. to WWII, frustration, jealousy, identity, etc. Although these aspects might be valid for a part of Anti-Americanism, they don't explain THIS kind of Anti-Americanism NOW (if these views would be valid, then Anti-Americanism of THIS kind would have been present earlier, because these "problems" exist longer. But again: this kind of anti-americanism here is new.

So it must have something to do with Iraq and it must have something to do with the present government. It's just a thought, but I really would like to ask you to think seriously about it.

But before I write it down some remarks:

Jeffrey: Thanks for posting. You have been the first one giving me the idea with your remarks "Robert Kagan points out in his Of Paradise and Power: "For Europeans, the UN Security Council is a substitute for the power they lack." and "I'm sorry, but the UN is a joke." One question: what did you mean by writing: "Are you kidding?" (Besides, have you also visited Hainan? When I was there, they wanted to erect a kind of holiday paradise for the rich and I would be interested to know what happened to these plans).

Karl B.: Thanks for posting. You had been the second one giving me the idea with this remark: "Given the public opinion here, I don't think the CDU has much choice. The FDP is such a strange party, and the fact that it is barely surviving is an indication that liberalism here is on the defensive."

Mark: Thanks for your message. You're the third ;-) With this remmark:

"There must be a bright line rule for the following: (a) German Central Bank violating ECB currency regulations; (b) internal legal structure of the EC (from Joschka's Humboldt speach of a totally federalized and integrated Europe, he is blathering on about some progressive vanguard for closer union made up of a "coalition of the willing"; (c) possibility for foreign deployments of the Germany Army (do you need a UN sanction, what about the Balkans? must it be humanitarian? Schroeder in August 2002 said he would never participate in Iraq regardless of a UN SC Resolution...)

And the thought is that the political left (SPD, Green, PDS) tries to build up and create a complete world on its own including "values", including an own agenda. In other words: one big brainwash. Something similar to the Ex-DDR. And the point is: the Iraq-Operation was not welcomed not because of "hegemony" or "oil" - that was only the anti-american spin for the public - but actually, because it confronted them with an opposite world and so deeply disturbed their plans.

What I mean is this:

The US is capitalistic and we have a historical grown strong anti-capitalistic movement (Marx, Engels, SPD, Rosa Luxemburg, etc.). Two opposite approaches.

The US is a traditional "National State", a "country" or "nation" - exactly this the left wants to give up in favour of "Europe". Another contrast.

The US stands for liberty and freedom, also with reasonible tax, while here bureaucracy and high taxes limit freedom and liberty. Third contrast.

The Iraq-operation now showed:

- that a "country" or "nation" is still the solid base for political souvereignity and neither the UN nor the split-up EU

- the EU-internal split-up showed the real character of the EU as a romantic dream.

And the US tax-cuts a few months ago are now showing positive results, which bother Schroeder, Fischer & Co. in addition.

Having all these aspects in mind and also the fact that the Left is in power for the first time since unification (also with ex-DDR-communists working as journalists) the simple answer would be:

The Iraq-operation and its circumstances disturbed them in their efforts to lull us in a different world with different standards - where average could be sold as superb, static politics als dynamic reform, a national state as bad and the central comitte-like structured EU as good, present bureaucracy-levels as necessary, etc.

And to prevent people from thinking about the "quality" of their politics, Schroeder & Co. mobilized THE very political branch, which can be mobilized here all the time - the dumb pacifists I am talking about - to turn the good into the bad and the other way round by building up a Potemkin-village at first (the US never asked for German military manpower, but Schroder in his speach in Goslar made it appearing like that). And enough people swallowed it.

If this approach is valid, then the present Anti-Americanism is not a genuine phenomen, but a generated tool itself for supporting the left movement on their way into the dark world of Orwell's shifted values and manipulation (just think about the presented image if Israel). The fact that the "official" Anti-Americanism was stopped, fits also: it runs itself now, and - while no longer needed also does not disturb - is still a good compagnon for more "dosenpfand", more "Öko-tax", more debts, etc., because this media/public anti-american approach discourages people to think for alternatives, which they otherwise could and would find in the american world and which then would be the end of the 68er left movement here.

And if this view is valid it woud also mean that the German policy ref the US only seems to be contradictionary, but in fact is part of a structured agenda.

What do you think?

Best wishes from Germany

N. Klaric,

thank you for your long statement. To be honest I have a problem with your approach in some statements:

Me: Does Mr. Bush not know that a membership gives the right and access to also agricultural grants and subsidises, which in case of Turkey would ruin the EU in months, since the Turkish agricultural sector still has to be improved to be "ready" (and the Turkish put a lot of effort in it!)

Your answer: There is no automagical mechanism that grants any new memeber huge subsidies upon entering the EU, so I guess your scenario is way off the map.

Do you notice that you objected on something I didn't say? Neither did I say something ref. to "automagical" nor did I say "any new member huge subsidies". Your sentence includes a certain implication, which I didn't made. On the flipside I don't know what your point here is. That Turkey wouldn't get any grants?

Same here:

Me: "But this also means: we are too weak to really "lead" Europe. Historically, we always have been something in between, which also explains the extreme outlashs in the one or other direction and the approach of neighbours in the one or other direction"

You: "Historically, there was never a German nation united in peace and liberty. Today the term "nation" has such a problematic meaning no one is using it here the same way as the British or American people do."

Where did I wrote what you objected to? And, besides, what makes you think that noone here uses the word "nation" in the same anglosaxon way? Are you living in Germany?

Something similar here:

Me: "There are historical, traditional good Turkish-German relations, Turkey is a German-friendly nation...., "

You: Have you ever been to Berlin-Kreuzberg? There are clear signs of increasing "Ghettoisierung" among the Turkish community, especially in Berlin, and our SPD-Green parties are doing virtually nothing to stop or alter that development....In fact, Turkish-German relations which existed since the 1920s have been established mainly with institutions in Istanbul and Ankara with "white" Turks,..."

And your point ref. to my statement is? That Turkey is not German-friendly? (Besides, German-Turkish relations began 30 years approx. earlier (military support ~1890, speach of William II. in Damaskus 1898, begin of "Bagdadbahn"-project 1903,etc., Turkey also was WWI-ally).

Same appears here:

Me: "A more tightened EU could fix this problem, which from the perception here would also be in the US-interest, who has requested the European NATO-states to invest more in their military. The logical conclusion of that would be to help building up the EU or at least not to hinder it."

You: "The EU with its various chambers and institutions is just as misconstrued as the German system. I believe the EU should be cut back instead of strengthened."

And your point ref. my statement is? To keep up the inefficient military complex?


Ref. reforms we seem to have mainly the same view as I see from your list. But ref. to relevance we have a different perception again:

From what I have read here my conclusion is: there is common sense that the whole "political class" here is doing a bad job for the country. While your list shows the correct agenda it doesn't touch this problem.

For example you say "but it needs less power, less influence, hence more free enterprise". Fine with me. But any suggestion of how to achieve that? I mean it is very obvious that the "political class" doesn't want to give up any power. So how will you achieve that in real life?

Electing the other guys? Same static approach, as we both said. Demonstrating? Hmh, not realistic in my view. And even given it would work: there is no guaranty that the next ones might do the same mistakes.

The only way I see is not just to correct the mistakes of the "political class", but to correct the "political class" itself in the meaning of forcing this "class" into structures, where they have to work for the benefit of the country, whether they like it or not.

And this is why I don't agree with your statement:

"Germany does not need any readjustments on power, be it in Berlin or the federal states, because such attempts do not create any new jobs or orders, "

because these "readjustments" are the very one preposition for to change certain things here. It seems that we agree on the direct election of the "ministerpräsidenten" of the länder. This would be the step to also break the power of the party-monopole, you also criticized.

But also this election would not necessarily prevent them from a "big spender"-approach. To avoid this, we need a system, where bankruptcy-policy like Lafontaine did in the Saarland cannot be compensated by state grants. And the best to avoid this is the very simple idea of competition like the Kantons in Switzerland or the States in Australia or the US. And competition you create or generate by giving the länder the right and competence to create own taxes.

I don't mean more tax here, please don't get me wrong. Let's give an example: if inheritance tax would not be paid under Berlin rules (as now), but under länder-rules, some länder soon will take higher, other lower and again other no such tax. Do that with other already existing taxes, too - i.e. shift them from Berlin to länder-competence and then you have the competition I am talking about.

With that competition politicians are forced to think twice whether to create bureaucrat-jobs for their looser-buddies or not. Because the sooner or later they would have to raise more tax to finance their garbage, and the voter would either kick them out of office or - move away into another bundesland. And there would be very transparent and clear defined responsibility.

This system works perfect in the small kantons in Switzerland for example and also has another result: newspapers report that town X or City Y has no debts anymore, which would result in headlines we don't read at all at the moment (there are towns and citis here with no debts, but since the state works also WITH debts, a responsive policy here is not rewarded and people don't care. In the proposed system they would, be sure about that;-)

And there is also another issue to discuss: why should taxes not bound to defined political issues? The whole political class tells us that taxes are not bound to anything by definition and can therefore be used for anything and that any other definition would be wrong.

That's pure nonsense. Ireland for example has a "road-tax" (German equivalent: Kfz-Steuer), which may ONLY be used for the building and maintenance of roads. Why can't we do that here, too? It would limit the temptation for politicians to realize their political hobbies ("Frauenbeauftragte", Umweltbeauftragte", Medienbeauftragte", etc.etc. - any "Dosenpfandbeauftragter" visible?)

Increasing accountability is in general a good approach, but also elections are not an ideal medicine - I mean, all the policians who have caused the mess here are elected, arent' they. Hence it wouldn't bring much progress to elect attornies, etc. This also, because the system here works not just in regions, but certain attornies here have themselves specialized on certain crime issues, where they work all over the republic - for example there is one attorney in Frankiufrt specialized in what we call "organized crime", including money laundery and he is active all over the country (and he is good in it!) You would leave it to the Frankfurt citizens, who have no clue what he did in Berlin, Munich, etc. to vote for him or remove him? No. In my view: not a good solution.

A good, solid solution is proposed since years by the "Steuerzahlerbund" (tax payers association):

1st: penalizing the waste of public money (at present you - judicially - MAY waste it)

2nd: establish an attorney, specialized on exactly that (at the moment not existing).

This would work and (my view) exactly because of that the former minister if justice - this political ticking time bomb Mrs. Däubler-Gmelin (Bush/Hitler) - refused to realize exactly this reform, which would have been a REAL reform.

Turn it like you want: no readjustments = no reforms. It's as simple as that.

Best wishes from Germany


I imagine you feel as I do that China is like a country waking up from a long sleep. When you travel around China, you can feel the vitality. Each country, as we've been discussing here on this thread, has its issues and inner contradictions. Right now I would say China's biggest issue will be corruption. Already the city-dweller/peasant gap is large. And yes the richest will fly to Hainan for vacation. But in general the entire economy is starting to rise. Chinese are an immensely proud people, as you know. Like the Germans--or like the Germans used to be--Chinese are hard-working. There are many problems to be solved, but I believe the majority of them will be overcome and that slowly China will prosper.

To everyone:

I have been participating in many lively discussions with the Iraqi Bloggers and taking out Saddam has been worth it just to hear the hopes and ideas of Iraqis for the first time in 30 years.


They have each THANKED the Coalition forces for freeing them from one of the worst tyrannies in the 20th century. Those Iraqis are now my friends. We exchange emails and happily argue over difficult topics. Removing Saddam, for me, was justified just to hear ONE Iraqi speak freely without the fear of ending up in a mass grave.

The anti-war Germans, I'm sorry, are disgraceful in my eyes. I think your minds are still twisted by Nazism. Mind you, I don't think Germans are Nazis today, but your thinking is still twisted by your history and do want to hear that there are still evil people in the world. You want to forget about Hitler--who wouldn't?! But then not to recognize another Hitler in Saddam is beyond my comprehension. Any thoughts?

Sorry, the last post is by: Jeffrey -- New York


thanks for your remarks on China, which I share.

>They have each THANKED the Coalition forces for freeing them from one of the worst tyrannies in the 20th century.<

Understandable. I know the media picture here is complete different, but pleasse keep in mind the relevance in media here and the existence of the web.

>The anti-war Germans, I'm sorry, are disgraceful in my eyes. <

My view, too.

> I think your minds are still twisted by Nazism.<

Of course, they are - what do you expect? There are the oldies still thinking in terms of "the good old times", but in the meanwhile I would consider the penance-addicted left 68er - the 1st post-war-generation - with hate in their minds against the own country, as the major problem: xtrem their starring on collective guilt drives the younger ones directly into the arms of Nazis,ether and this is the reason why the are still there. Besides, together with anti-semitism, which meets with left-antisemitsm, what sounds contradictionary, but isn't, since the left here makes a difference between the dead Holocaust victims and the living Jews and is not aware of THIS contradicition.

This is why I here once wrote that the 68er and the old nazis are the counterparts of the same fictitious world and have BOTH to disappear to bring this country back to the lines of reality.

Forget Hitler? That is not the point - please read above.

>But then not to recognize another Hitler in Saddam is beyond my comprehension. Any thoughts?<

Well, I could give that back to you, since Saddam was the White House' darling in the 80ties. Any thoughts of that?

What I mean is: your thinking is based on a kind of 'yesterday was yesterday and today is today'-approach, but that's in my view not the way of thinking here, where we expect longer standing agendas in foreign policy. That is ONE reason, why the US-policy lacked on credibility here. The other one was that people here of course have been aware of Saddam, but would have preferred to leave it to the UN to judge and act. Okay, an organization all but perfect, but the only one like that we have.

Best wishes


thanks for your posting.

First, I have a question of understanding ref. to this paragraph at the beginning of yojur message:

"However, your premise as expressed,....I suspect, again, there is a nascent class dynamic at work."

I don't know what you mean and where your point is. And could you please explain "class dynamic"? Thx!

>When I googled "Vilnius Declaration" I found nothing that explained to me how you find it pertinent to this discussion. On this I am clueless. <

At Febrauary 2003 ten Eastern European states signed a declaration in favour of Mr. Bushs Iraq-policy and directed against France and Germany. That happened in Vilnius, hence the name, although it is not an official name. Anyhow: this declaration was much welcomed in Wahington, split up the EU and was the reason for Don Rumsfeld's approach to speak of "Old" and "New" Europe.

It later came out that this declaration was not generated on the own initatives of these states, but in close, discretely handled, cooperation with Washington, namely with Mr. Bruce Jackson involved. And my characterization of him should only show his professional experience and has nothing to do with your "intention-suspicious"-arguing, which doesn't hit me, but only devalues your own statement. Mr. Jackson's office is in Pennsylv. Av., he was also working for Lockheed Martin (and with the FBI I was wrong, it was actually the Pentagon).

This has nothing to do with a conspiracy theory, but was reported by the Financial Times and the Int. Herald Trib. and Mr. Jackson admitted it himself on Wehrkundetagung in Munich by saying, if Germany and France think they could generate Alliances, the US could so the same.

That the EU was split up here with active US' advice / cooperation or even initiative is therefore not a "nefarious plot", but a fact - like it or not.

That is why people here think that the US-approach towards Europe is hostile with the agenda to keep domination in Europe by using the old, proven "divide et impera"-approach.

>If Bush's support of admitting Turkey to the EU according to Turkey's requested schedule (which you failed to note in your post)was seen as hostile to the EU because of financial considerations, was the EU's comment that Turkey "is not European" seen as sensible? Hostile? Chauvanistic? Is it just possible that Bush saw a democratic Islamic country belonging to the EU as a counter-balance to the fundamentalist Islamic forces threatening all of us?<

Aha. And why didn't he say so, neither in public nor intern? I don't say you'r wrong out of hand. But if really THIS was his plan, he'd better 1. should have said so and 2. inform himself about the financial aspect BEFORE.`- "The EU" said that Turkey is not European? How that?

>So, if no NATO, what do you want? To be left on your own? Believe me, if it were up to me, that's exactly what you would get - in a heartbeat. If I recall, Germany had to enlist the help of foreign countries to transport troops to Afghanistan. <

Well, France for example want an own European army not in addition, but instead of NATO. Old plans, by the way. Here, the oppinion is split. Left Berlin seems to have a friendly approach to that, but there are others, too. Like me, for example, since I don't trust Brussels at all. And your personal oppinion is irrelevenat, as long as members of the "Project of a New American Century", which attitudes up to now are copied / realized by Washington nearly as 1:1 blueprint, think that the US should keep a dominating role in Europe.

>And here is one thing I find absolutely appalling. The powers being given to Brussels in effect rob each and every citizen of a member state of accountability of their government. You are throwing away your very sovreignity. You are morphing from citizens to subjects.<

Well, you wrote that to Hans. Let me just say that I fully agree with your view here. Please also note polls here, which show that people don't like THIS EU very much neither the Euro-currency.

And please keep also in mind, that the people, the souvereign, here has no tool to correct the mistakes of politicians. We have our election terms and that's it. What happened in California (Davis/Schwarzenegger), is possible here only on a town/city-level, not on a county-level, not on a "bundesland" (federal state)-level and not on Berlin-level.

I suppose this is why the media here presented the election in California as a regular election by simply leaving out the story before and the agenda behind. Check the media reports (perhaps a job for David;-) !

Best wishes

Hi Klaus!

Apologies if I was less than clear. The post of yours I was referring to stated that population density in Europe necessarily resulted in loss of some freedoms. A subsequent poster noted that New York is one of most densely populated cities on earth and no freedoms have been compromised there (I am of course referring to polical freedoms, not civic license such as being allowed to double-park your car wherever you wish). I felt that your population-density premise had been adequently disproven, so I suggested that any compromise of freedom may be do to class. By that I mean social class, the elite versus the ordinary. I could write lots of questions I have about that issue. David posted one of my emails on an earlier thread about just this subject so I will leave it at that. I hope this clarifies.

Regarding Bruce Jackson and the Vilnius Declaration: I finally found a source that explains what you mean (I love google!). Here's the link I have.


I've skimmed it briefly. I don't yet feel I've done enough research to put just this one article in context in order to agree or disagree, but if this is what has been promulgated in Europe, I certainly understand the sentiments you expressed. (The first searches I did only showed that the Vilnius 10 meeting was about technology. No wonder I was bewildered.)

"Turkey is not European" Chirac. It got lots of play here in the U.S. It was right around the time he told "Old Europe" they had missed an opportunity to shut up. I am in awe of the nuance and subtlety of French diplomacy, aren't you?

Bush's rationale for promoting Turkey's interests vis a vis the EU was widely reported here. Bush himself said nothing of the kind publicly but "administration sources" were quoted widely. I don't know if this got any coverage in the European press.

France. Don't tempt me. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Clue me in on "Project for a New American Century". I'd love to read that one. Anything that can help me understand anti-Americanism in Germany/Europe is much appreciated. And actually, my opinion is relevant. My vote counts. As Germany becomes more subsumed in the EU, yours won't.

I imagnine the California recall elections were very difficult for the European press to report on, as not only are the rules so different from those in Europe, they are wildly different from those of any other U.S. state. California tosses referendums around like teenagers toss toilet paper on Halloween.

Best to you Klaus,


Hi Pam!

>Apologies if I was less than clear.<

No need to! :-)

>The post of yours I was referring to stated that population density in Europe<

Yeah, and by reading this sentence it came in my mind that the failure was probably on my side. ;-) Perhaps I should explain (and apologize myself!):

Our system here guarantees (it's law or even part of the constitution - by the way: have you read this bureaucratic nonsense? To me, a "constitution" looks different - we had it once, but since the 90ties, it is just looking like a kind of law - well, different issue)....anyhow: our system guarantees that there should be a kind of "equality in chances" or "equality in living circumstances". That means the request to state institutions to guarantee a minimum of infrastructure - trains, bussses, highways, freeways, police, fire brigades, hospitals, schools, etc. Agenda behind: ALL parts of Germany should be worth to live in and ALL parts should offer people the chance to build up a career and educate their children.

So what I was driving to has at first nothing to do with the density of population. My mistake was to put wrong bits and pieces together here, sorry.

Now, given the before said it is obvious that there are areas, which can afford to pay the infrastructure on their own and that there are areas, which can't. This is why we have this subsidized system, which grew and grew and grew and that is why we have the pretty intransparent system of grants and subsidises. Because to guarantee a standard in an economically poor area (less dense populated, few jobs) you can only achieve that via grants and subsidises. This is what I have meant by saying that there will be always a certain "socialistic" approach. I hope this makes it more understandable.

>so I suggested that any compromise of freedom may be do to class. By that I mean social class, the elite versus the ordinary. I could write lots of questions I have about that issue. <

Ask me! ;-) Well, the "social class"-issue: no, I wouldn't think so. I think the chances, prejudcies, etc. could be well compared to the US-situation. With one very big exception: look at the political leaders (or the leading members of the "political class" there) of the US, France, the UK and Japan: their biographies include mostly with nearly no exception the visit of elite-universities - be it Harvard or Eton or Oxford or ENA. Here in Germany? A taxidriver as foreign state secretary, a lawyer with a little office as chancellor, a town bureaucrat as defence secretary and so on. The small minded little stepping policy mirrors exactly that. And the ones, who could really "lead"? Well, you find them in the corporations - or as emigrants in other countries, if they are fed up with that stuff here.

Regarding Bruce Jackson: well, I didn't read your link (lack of time - sorry, nevertheless: thank you very much for it). Anyhow: please be aware that this point is now really based on real politics and is also used to make the fictitious stuff more credible. It's really important to differ the bits and pieces here.

>"Turkey is not European" Chirac.<

Ah - why am I not surprised about that origin? ;-) Okay, we agree that it was not "the EU".

(Regarding France: please be aware that the French people are aware of their Arabs-problem - what mostly is forgotten is that conservative winged LePen got second most votes and that Chirac got only into office, because the political left voted for him to avoid Le Pen, who is considered extreme conservative winged and compared to Nazis - don't ask me whether this is true, I am not familiar with inner-french politics).

>Bush's rationale for promoting Turkey's interests vis a vis the EU was widely reported here. Bush himself said nothing of the kind publicly but "administration sources" were quoted widely. I don't know if this got any coverage in the European press.<

Aaaah - now THIS is very interesting - thank you very, very much for that! I never have read a word about the intentions. Nothing. It was presented to the public as a request of Mr. Bush. That's it. Public responds was like: "He? Is he crazy? He should mind his own business instead of ours!" And the rest you know.

Now this is a good example for the misleading "activities" of the media. Because taking Turkey into the EU as a democratic islamic country to set a counterpart to the radical islamists is one argument of the supporters of a Turkey membership also here. (And I think it is a good one!)

"Project for a New American Century": simply google a bit - they have a good website. url like : " http://www.pnac.org ", but no guranty given (I can't find the link in my browser although I am very sure that I've bookmarked it - strange!)

Anyhow: founded in 1996/1997 by conservative publisher William Kristol the agenda is said in the name or title: to construct an agenda, which takes the US through this century. Well known politicians support it: Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney - the website is a collection of articles and reports, a lot of them written by Kristol or Pagan etc. You will need hours and more hours to get through.

A visit indeed highly recommended! (I am stunned that you don't know about it - are you not American?)

>I imagnine the California recall elections were very difficult for the European press to report on,<

Well, okay maybe. But I already would have been satisfied, if the media would have made it clear that this election was a result of a REFERENDUM, which they did NOT mention (or only 1-2 times). And again: I think there was a certain purpose for it, since the introduction of referendums was part of the public debate here and also on the left agenda in the '98 election-campagne and the first thing dropped into the dust bin after they came into power here. Perhaps another job for David (I saw the last entry - more of it, please!;-)

Best wishes to you from Germany

Hi Pam!

just a short note: I checked the URL of the New American Century Project, which is:


Best wishes from Germany

I think I know what Klaus is referring to with The Project For A New American Century. It's a working group within The American Enterprise Institute (www.aie.org). AEI is a conservative think tank in DC, of which I am a proud and paying/supporting member.

The PNAC is not quite The Diabolical Plan For World Domination And Eternal American Empire that the left portays it. It (basically) is a set of goals for American foriegn policy. Primarily, it suggests that since the US finds itself with unprecedented influence here at the dawn of the 21st century we should use that influence to actively promote freedom and democracy around the world. It also points out that while the US has previously supported unsavory (to put it mildly) characters in positions of power in various regions to offset Soviet influence - much the same as we supported Stalin/Soviets against the Nazis - we no longer needed to do this. In fact, those very dictators were the biggest stumbling block to the spread of freedom and democracy in the world today.

Now here's the controversial part. The manifesto of the PNAC suggests the US should not alllow any country to put the US and the West at risk of destruction the way the USSR was allowed to. They should be stopped/opposed/overthrown before they gain that level of power. Freedom is too precious, too important and was too hard won to be risked that way again. The PNAC suggests, rather undiplomatically, that the US should not allow ANYONE to reach a level of power that challenges the USA's primacy in the world.

That statement went off like a diplomatic nuclear bomb in Europe, Russia and China. I have to agree it's arrogant in the extreme. I don't support that statement. I think the PNAC should have said, WE, the democracies of the world, will not allow tyranny to overcome us and extinguish freedom. I think we're all in this together.

For the record, my family is primarily of German and English ancestry. My German forebearer, Nicholas, arrived in Philadelphia in 1728.

I'd like to weigh in on the subject of military spending and world responsibility in Europe. More of both, please.

For my entire life I've watched Europe stand by (or maybe sleep, or party) while the US is left to deal with the virtually all the hardest problems in the world. I've paid MY taxes to support an army to defend Europeans. My own son spent time deployed in the Balkans. Explain to me why that was necessary.

I will credit the Germans for sending Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) to Afghanistan; 5,000 troops, I believe. Good for you. First time in my life I've seen Germany attempt to help out with any problem in the world that didn't directly affect them. Bravo.

Meanwhile, the US has deployed hundreds of thousands of troops to Europe, Japan, Korea and the Middle East. We could use a little more help. Europe enjoys being in the position of Critic In Chief. It's the Americans job to do something about the problems in the world and the Europeans job to criticize us, no matter what we do or don't do. Either way, we're wrong. Europeans could have done it better, smarter, more sensitively, more diplomatically, more effectively, etc. Good for you. We'll never know, of course, since you never actually do anything. Just criticize.

Europeans complain they're not listened to in Washington. Why should they be? Are they going to do something to help? No. Are they going to risk their sons/daughters in a bloody war of freedom? Of course not. Don't be absurd. They're too sophisticated for that. How 'cowboyish'. Let the stupid Americans die. Just make you sure you send us big fat reconstruction contracts when it over. American taxpayer funded contracts, of course.

I suggest American politicians and average Americans are going to continue to ignore Europeans as long as they continue to act like irresponsible, spoiled children. You do the hard work, they say, we'll stay home and watch you and criticize you. Give us benefits, you say, just don't give us any tasks or responsibilities. That's too much to ask.

Most people believe that they are better than average drivers. Obviousely that is not possible, yet people believe it. Most of think of ourselves as good people, better than average even; certainly better than that louse your aunt married, and most probably better that the neighbours on either side of us.
And this is not entirely a selfish opinion. Most of us might be willing to concede that the neighbours we have are a pretty good lot, certainly better than that bunch from the other side of town. And surely we are all better than those guys in that foreign country, where they don't even have the sense to speak our good, wholesome, and elite language. And if anyone from here should leave to go to that foreign country, well, they must be losers.
Everone knows, just for instance, that the US was settled by immigrants from this country as well as others. They must have all been losers, or transported criminals, or slaves, or those unwanted here ( of a certain ethnic group ).
While it looked like Germany was catching up to the US, they weren't hated. After all, life was getting better in Germany all the time, and the US would soon be overtaken. One doesn't hate losers: one feels sorry for them.
But then the 'losers' refused to lose. The US caught their breath in the eighties ( and learned a few things from the Japanese, who had originally learned them from the US ), and then started increasing their lead. What was even worse, things were getting worse in Germany. All those refugees and Gastarbeiter were causing problems, unemployment went up, taxes went up, the Germans were feeling poorer, and even worse, those 'losers' were getting richer. Still, Germany was needed by the US. Until suddenly it wasn't needed anymore and influence slipped.

So long as Germany saw the future getting brighter and the US helping them ( as in 1963 ) they loved the US.
When there was a possibility of Germany coming back together, and the US was trying to help Germany achieve this the US was loved.
When the US was in a slump, and the Germany economy looked good, the US wasn't hated.
When the US econmy was going gangbusters, when the US interest no longer coincided with what educated Germans felt were their interests, well then Germans started getting grumpy. In their previoius feelings of superiority they felt they had some evidentiary support. But now all the evidence showed that those to whom they felt friendly, and yet superior to, were doing much better than a bunch of losers had the right to. A big case of cognative dissonance hit Germany.
It's as if your neighbour when you were growing up went to the technical stream in high school and you went to the academic classes, but you still hung around with him because he had money from his part-time jobs, and he helped you fix your car. Then you go off to medical school. When you come back you find out that your buddy ( to whom you always felt slightly superior ) started a manufacturing business that's turned him into a millionaire and you are no longer in his social class. That would just tick some people off. And a lot of Germans are just the type of people who would be ticked off. Believe me, I know. My family is German, and even here in Canada there are a lot of German immigrants who still feel superior to the 'English'.

My conclusion: a bad case of cognative dissonance ( I love that phrase ). Things are fine when your buddy is of some use to you and he gives you things. But when your buddy starts doing better than you ( even though you know you are better than him ) you either start hating him or you try to learn where he went right. Hating is easier, and with their 38 hour work weeks and six week vacations the Germans have gotten lazy.

RonG -

I enjoyed reading your post, but I think it's fair to say that this case of "cognative dissonance" regarding attitudes towards the US goes back a long time. Ordinary Germans have never had a higher standard of living than the people in the US, and to one degree or another have never quite understood why or indeed accepted that fact.

The US gross domestic product caught up with and surpassed Britain, then number one, soon after 1900.

But even earlier than that, tourists and immigrants from Germany and Britain to America commented on how they found, for example, American homes to be larger and farms to be more properous. Everything from factories to steamboats just seemed bigger. Especially, they were struck by how ordinary Americans had more money in their pockets. This is comparing the same kinds of jobs in Europe and America - the German farmer to the American farmer, carpenter to carpenter, barrel maker to barrel maker, etc.

Americans appeared perceptibly wealthier to these tourists and immigrants, even if the new arrivals criticized (even then) what seemed to them a noisy American culture and chaotic economic growth. They thought: how could a country so unorganized and uncultured be so successful? But extraordinarily successful it continues to be - a big mystery to them.

That's partly why, after all, immigration continued in such massive numbers from Germany, Italy, Poland, etc. People arrived here and wrote home to say that the life was pretty good - once you dropped your expectation that life here would be the same as in the old country, i.e., once your got over your cognative dissonance.


Good point. My great-grandparents came from a small village named Feulen along the Wark River in Luxembourg. Most people were day laborers and the soil in northern Luxembourg is poor. They came to the US in the mid-nineteenth century and settled in loess-soil land in Iowa. My Great-Grandpa Stronck turned into a successful farmer and bought a 160-acre piece of land for his son-in-law--still in the family. Farmers in the Midwest live on their land and not together in villages like in Europe.

This is an excellent thread. Many Thanks to all who have posted.

To Mark: (about 834 posts earlier):

..."America with its perpetual rights to bases in Rammstein, Heidelberg and all those bases near K'town is a visible, daily reminder of not just defeat but subjugation."

The presence of US troops in Germany may not continue in perpetuity. There are many in the US who strongly believe that since the demise of the USSR, Europe in general, and Germany specifically, should bear the cost and risk of defending herself.

More to the point, as there is the perceived ingratitude, if not frank hostility, of France and Germany toward the US, in response the US may relocate its bases to countries who have demonstrated true friendship of late, i.e., Poland, and the smaller states of the former Eastern Bloc.

This kind of change should no doubt ingratiate the locals who have had to endure the continued presence of the US military and its attendant subjugation.

Or not.


Another light bulb just went off. I finally had a chance to read the link provided by tm to Pascal Bruckner's article in Dissent (what, 4 days ago? Sorry tm, but thanks).

Here, I think is the illustration of the fundamental and unbridgeable divide between America and Europe.

(Bruckner's comments are noted with '>')

> The American government sets itself above the law.

What law? The American government abides by its own laws and by treaties it signs. What other law is it beholden to?

> refusal to ratify major treaties;

Oh, please, just say Kyoto.
Yes, Mr. Bruckner, my government is not about to sign an agreement based on questionable science that would cripple it economically. We're quite capable of seeing what European regulations have done to the economy there, and, well, you can have it.

> absurd and futile guerrilla warfare against the International Criminal Court

> it [Europe] is obliged to establish for itself a new pan-European democratic structure-an entity that would be unprecedented in its ambitions and political form, and that derives authority from the voluntary surrender of local and national sovereignty to a higher body.

"unprecedented in its ambitions"? Ok, but don't let me hear any kvetching about American hegemony, m'kay?

There's that annoying, unsophisticated, concept of sovereignity. Let's just do away with it shall we? There is, after all, a higher authority.

Well,Americans are rather fond of our sovereignity. And, please, Mr. Bruckner, the language of the '68 revolutionary, "futile guerrilla warfare" is quaint, but one would think that after 36 years one would be able to recognize formulaic tripe when it dribbles down one's chin.

Mr Bruckner, we have a word for what you term
"voluntary surrender of national sovreignity". We just call it, in our blunt, uncultured, cowboy way "surrender".

> its contempt and arrogance toward the UN,

It is not the fault of the United States that the United Nations is a contemptible institution. If our attitude towards the U.N. betrays a lack of humility on our part, perhaps it it because none is in order.

> its shameful treatment of the prisoners in Guantánamo are disgraceful.

Like what?

Ok, I'm done ranting. Oh, wait, one more thing. This article contained the word "dialectic". Please. Don't anyone ever give me a link to anything that contains the word "dialectic". It makes my teeth itch.

So, here is what I finally get out of all this:

The Euopean psyche could never allow the ascendency of the individual to the extent found in America. Fundamental rights are devolved to the individual, to act as his own agent. The government is designed OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people. I really didn't appreciate how critically removed the European mind is from this very simple premise.

In Europe, the people are governed.
In America, the people govern.

Hoo boy, did this tick me off.

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