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I don't think Germany is a nation of failures but I think they have convinced themselves they are. Their entire political dialog seems one of fear and loss. They don't appear to ever ask "What new thing can we do?" but rather "How do we keep from losing what we have?"

Tomorrow always bring change. A fear of change becomes a fear of tomorrow. A fear of tomorrow leads to hopelessness and paralyses.

Is the Iraq War still seen as a bad/stupid thing by most Germans? Or is there a growing sense that perhaps it was worth it to enforce the UN's will?

Along the same lines how do most people feel about German non-participation in the war?

Just Curious. Thanks.

Response from David: I'd guess most Germans still have negative feelings towards the Iraq invasion and would not want the German army to participate, but the whole topic certainly is not as much on people's mind as it used to be. Germans worry MUCH more about the economy - the German economy, that is.

David, Raymond; Is there an English translation of the Spiegel article? I don't see it. The article on Germany's economic suicide is very sad. I don't want the German people to suffer anymore. For any Germans reading this, this American does not laugh at you. You were and can be again, a vibrant, cultured people and I think the whole world misses that Germany. Please don't beat yourselves up.

I'm not quite so sure that Iraq isn't on the Germans' mind any more. I think the vast majority is absolutely convinced that Iraq is a complete mess now and would have been better off left alone. So, lots of people see their rejection of the war proven to be correct (which may also have to do with the fact that there is more talk about the fate of Saddam or ICRC people visiting him than about the mass graves found all over the country). It's still very much this 'Well, Saddam was not a nice person, but...' kind of thinking, especially after there were no WMD finds to this date. And many Germans remain very angry about America's 'unilateralism' and 'arrogance'(while praising similar behaviour in Schröder's foreign policy towards partners and allies, e. g. in EU matters).
And I don't see the media campaign against Bush getting any weaker, either. Quite to the contrary, there is more schadenfreude than ever about every problem and there is no day without new horror scenarios about Vietnam, civil war etc...
And I don't think there has ever been more coverage of the American election campaign. It's now breaking news in Germany when Senator Kerry wins the Tennessee primaries or when Democrats claim there is something wrong about the president's national guard service. (The general line seems to be: Democrat statement - plain truth; Republican statement - lie, propaganda, no sufficient explanation etc.) And there are positive reports, commentaries etc. about Kerry almost every day. 'Stern' magazine even has him as 'John F. Kerry' on its cover this week, using the JFK comparison that is getting more and more popular among German media, with Spiegel a notable exception in this case. By all I get to know from U. S. media here, this is not quite the John Kerry I have read about...
So, let there be no doubt about: A lot of Germans are desperately waiting for the November elections because they hope Kerry will rid them of this stupid, unelected liar and warmonger with his neocon and oil industry buddies. And I don't think this will change too much even after a possible re-election (there will be criticism of those stupid voters half of which don't vote anyway - now, what kind of democracy is this? -, of Bush's big 'war chest' he owes to people who profited from his corrupt administration by those tax cuts and wars, of his using the Americans' fear for election purposes, of the Republicans' smear campaign, of FOX News etc. The funny thing is it would be easily possible today, even before we know for certain who the Democratic candidate will be, to write the commentaries the German mainstream media will be writing in case of a Bush victory in November), especially because much of this was already very much 'common sense' here at the beginning of his first term. Anyway, Bush said he didn't care much about those people, and I think he's probably right that if he really wants to change anything in the world he has to neglect European public onion for the moment. It's a shame, though that it has come so far...

Hmm. 'Public onion' - now, that's a nice one... :-)
It should, of course, have been 'public opinion'...

Well, I think the answer is yes. The Germans for their own reasons left the French to lead the EU, while they stood aside and provided the money. Well, like in personal life - if you don't acompany you acts with authority and the potential of force, other people, including your own family, will suck your sap, and leave you without real power. The Germans had no reason to capitulate to the Frogs to lead their affairs. Now, they pay.

As a German living in Germany (with my American husband) I agree with your posting about the situation in Germany. There is still no real discussion about the threat by terrorism and proliferation in the media. They hate Bush and his administration so much that they cannot think clearly. I worry a lot about this.


You are a minority of clear thinking Europeans then.

SPIEGEL? Not worth to argue about any article they write. The german media are always hysterical - about every subject. Especially SPIEGEL, Focus and BILD-Zeitung. Not to mention the TV-channels. Investigative journalism in Germany? Very rare... The media love to spread opinions not facts. But the recipients seem to want it that way. All want to hear comments, no one wants to be bothered by boring facts. Everyone gets the media he or she deserves I presume.

Ray D.,

[Perhaps if they hadn't been so incredibly obsessed with bashing the US, the Iraq war, and Bush last year and getting the whole country lathered up into a hate-America frenzy, and had instead spent a little more time covering their OWN COUNTRY's very serious political and economic problems, people would have addressed and given attention to Germany's own domestic problems much earlier.]

Makes me think of a bible saying; although, it may not be word for word & it's also off the top of my head: "How can you help a brother get a splinter out of his eye, when you have a board in your own." (Sorry, don't mean too sound preachy.)

It's all rather sad; the german media, by focusing on somebody else's problems, and not their countries own problems. Has done such a great disservice, and not just to us americans, but to their country as a whole. Making the situations underneath the surface, a whole lot harder to fix once it's realized where the problem's lay. Same goes for us!(note to David: You got a mighty hill to climb, but you got this local texan's support.)

There is plenty of blame to pass around the table for all to share. But, the future between our countries doesn't look very bright at the moment. Strangely enough though, i haven't seen any anti-german hatered in our press. Makes me wonder...

(This next paragraph isn't meant to be offensive), I have seen this past year schroeder & chirac taking turns speaking for each others countries, within EU affairs. Unless i'm mistaken, wasn't Herr Schroeder's party elected by the german parliament? The E.U.'s momentarily failed intergration aside, aren't germany and france still indepenent from each other? If not, then my next question is Whom annexed whom? To whom is my government suppose to work with?

Or did i just miss something...?

And the conversation goes on.

I was sitting in a bar this week with a (loud) American friend. The Germans next to me were obviously interested but also a bit annoyed. We never did get into a coversation with them, but I heard one of the Germans say to the other that, even though he was a conservative CDU type, he was against the war. This war was highly unpopular in Germany and I think Germans feel that the current situation there confirms their doubts about the war. Of course they only see the bad news here.

As Gabi points out, the issue of terrorism has yet to be confronted in any sort of honest fashion. The leaders appear to be betting/hoping that it won't happen here first. I'm sure security has been cranked up, but the public dialogue is not taking place. On that note, Berman's Terror and Liberalism is due out in German this week. I'm going to buy a copy and pass it around to a few select Germans to try to do my part to help kick-start a discussion of our mutual interest in this fight.

One of my friends just handed me a bunch of back issues of der Spiegel. (BTW, check out the Sistani interview in this week's Spiegel. I have yet to read it, but the summary indicated that Sistani has now started demanding things such as re-introduction of the Sharia that up until now he has refrained from demanding.) Make no mistake, the same outlook that causes "Speigel Germans" to bash America at every turn also creates these kind of self-loathing headlines. These Spiegel Germans are like Art Buchwald's French: they can't stand themselves; how can you expect them to like the Americans.

What never ceases to amaze me about the tone of Der Spiegel is how obsessed it is with power. If Geroge Bush talks to Schröder, someone has to lose face. Every sentence and reaction is analyzed, and there absolutely has to be a loser. For instance, if Bush is friendly to the French or Germans, then he is begging for forgiveness. This is an incredibly destructive worldview, and it feeds the sickness in this society. One sees the same kinds of analysis in other publications. It reminds me a bit of the "shame culture" analysis applied to the Islamic countries. My conclusiobn: Der Spiegel is a very primitive publication in spite of its pretenses at being a highbrow cultural magazine.

Germany is still a very vibrant society. I've had American friends visit me here after having visited places in France and Belgium and remark how vibrant things seem. Make no mistake, the current generation that is coming up has much more in common with America that the '68-ers now in power. I have pleasurable conversations with kids in Gymnasium and at the uni. They are much more likely to start a business with a few friends. They are generally open and friendly and have a good sense of humor. Der Spiegel belongs to the past.

@ Karl B.

If you ever want to trump a German over a debate about the Iraq war, consider the following.

More French died this summer (13,000)through their own government's negligence than Iraqies or Americans in Iraq during the last year.

More Americans were killed in both New York and Chicago through violence or foul play than American soldiers that have died in this present war to date.
(Consider that Iraq has a population of 20 million and New York and Chicago 6 and 3 million respectively.)

In 1998, then German defense minister Sharping, backed up the Clinton administrations statement that if Iraq didn't let the UN MWD inspectors back into the country, the consequences would be military force. (which didn't happen.)

I also agree with you about the attitude of Gen X Germans....they "get it." They realize that they are the "pill" generation. They will not be able to subsidize their parent's welfare state with a birth/death ratio of 1.6 new born Germans to every German that passes away. It is only a matter of time until the German welfare state implodes.

Danke schoen


As one of those "Generation X" (really? lol) Germans,mI can only concur to some thoughts that have been brought up earlier (forgive me that I don't quote you guys individually... great discussions around here, I really appreciate you)

Germany's self-loathing is 100% in accordance with the obsession of our public and media with America and the attempts to portray America as "even worse" (can't feed your kids there unless you work 3 jobs at a time, environmetal "sinner", arrogant superpower, yadda yadda... the usual tripe).

Back in the 50s we were probably one of the economically freest Western countries of all, if not the freest. At a time when America had marginal income tax rates over 90% (the figure for 1945 was 94%, I've read it stayed really high for quite a while), we had the Wirtschaftswunder. Fast-forward to 2004, and you see a Germany entangled in its own social safety net, with *chronic* and ever-larger deficits, an ever-larger share of government spending as a share of GDP (while pretty much the rest of the West except France has liberalized their economies in the 80s and 90s), economic stagnation or even decline, a sense of resignation everywhere, the highest unemployment since the founding of our republic (and still increasing)... At the same time our schools and universities are going down the drain, and the students who successfully graduate from whatÄs left of good schools in the country scramble to leave for America (1 in 7 German PhDs lives in America, 3 of the 4 living German Nobel Laureates live and work in America)... This is probabaly the one thing that scares me the most: Whenever I meet bright people of my generation (bright as in "this guy has all it takes to rise far in life"), we end up talking about leaving the country within 5 minutes of our first conversation... fpr most it's America, for some it's Luxembourg or Switzerland... just some emotionally healthy, economically free nation. I, myself, certainly won't stay unless major changes occur here...

People see all those problems, but they dont see a reason behind them. They go as far as not believing there even IS a "why", that's just the way thungs are, and those arrogant Yankees had better not believe their nation is doing any better. People just dont see that there is a reason why Germany is mired in such problems - i.e., Socialism; the encroachment of our economy by regulation and the financial cost of excessive government spending.

Other countries went through similar stages; for Britain and the US, it was the 1970s. The difference is that most Western countries turned around and today have a healthy picture of themselves, whereas here even our conservative big man, Kohl, called Thatcherism "capitalism run amock". THIS is why we're in this kind of malaise.

Armes Deutschland, indeed. We'd better get busy working toward change.

More bad news:


Business & Economics 20.02.2004

Germany Joins List of Poor EU Members

Germany's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) has for the first time slipped below the European average, according to data published in the latest edition of the British magazine The Economist. It calls the downturn of the German economy "alarming." At the end of the 1980's, Germany's per capita GDP was around 20 percent above the EU average. But now, only four out of 15 EU nations (Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece) have a lower average than Germany. In Ireland, which for a long time had the reputation as the poorhouse of western Europe, per capita GDP is currently 20 percent higher than in Germany, the article said. It blamed part of Germany's decline on the effects of reunification. Due to the relatively poor standard of living in the former East Germany, German per capita GDP sank considerably in 1990, though managing to remain nine percent above average. The Economist concluded that the figures are further evidence that Germany needs to reduce its additional labor costs and cut taxes.

This is all very sad and personal to me. I have visited Germany many times in the last ten years, mostly in the East. It is a beautiful place and great people. Always there was this criticism about America that I took as almost playful. We could have a good laugh about it.

But after September 11 and especially going up to Iraq, everything has changed. So much it has almost cost a very close friendship. Every thing negative about America all the time. Every thing bad about Bush as if he is evil incarnate. An intense and laser beam focus on every wrong with America, real or imagined, present or historical. It doesn't matter.

Any lie (like there is massive censorship in the US) is believed right away - and is used as "proof" of how right Germany is and how wrong America is.

When we were only fat and stupid (despite there are as many fat, smart, fit or stupid people in Germany as in the US) it was funny.

It is no more. Just sad. And too intensely negative to even stand anymore.

This same experience I had also in the UK. It is my thought that venting against the big fat war-mongering America is the best way to take all decision, all problems, all difficulties off oneself and project them onto the other. The great excuse and blame for everything big and small. And the best way to make one feel okay about oneself. If it gets terrible - well at least we are not America!

Very sad. All of it. Still, I think America/Americans really like Germany/Germans. Since we basically want to be friends again, we will be someday. Just not now or for awhile.

France? That is another matter.

Any psychologist worth their salt can tell you that resenment has more to do with the feelings of powerlessness than with any implied view of comparitive power. Germany (and much of the rest of Europe) isn't mad at us so much as they are mad at their weakness, but we highlight their weakness, so they lash out against us for merely being the source of their pain.

What they have not yet fully internalized is that their weakness stems from their own policy decisions.

It's been this way for the past two decades that I've been in and around Europe.

No meaning to offend anyone, but a huge percentage of such attitude towards the USA stems from ENVY, pure and simple envy, for being the most successful society in history. This is the case for many Europeans and for a lot of people elsewhere. The problem I personally see here, is that I deeply despise envious people. Ughh!

-- Germany (and much of the rest of Europe) isn't mad at us so much as they are mad at their weakness, but we highlight their weakness, so they lash out against us for merely being the source of their pain.--

And I'm getting tired of it.

Blowback's a b----.

And I think Europe's not used to that. We're starting to give back as good as we've gotten.

Of course I can understand all your feelings of anger, your disappointment, sadness but I think we should not let us divide by the Europeen media. They made this possible. I think this anti-Americanism and especially this anti-Semitism is not a deep and strong attitude after a lot of thinking, it is superficial, a reflex, eine angelesene Haltung (English: an attitude which they got by reading), it is the lack of education in history and politics. For Israel it will be deadly, when Europe does not wake up and stop these two attitudes.

I was stationed in Germany for 3 years in the '80s; had two sons born there. I lived off base in a little stadtteil and went to the stadtfests and whatnot. All in all, I enjoyed my time there(1). After returning to America, I got serious about my employment and raising the kids. I've reached the point where money isn't really an issue and my sons are off to the universities. For some time(2) we've been planning on taking a vacation back to Europe. After looking at what is coming out of Germany, we decided against visiting there and went to Puerto Rico instead. It's time for us to plan our next vacation. I'd like to visit Poland and see some genealogy related (home village) sites. At first, I had intended to land at Frankfurt and proceed from there. The more I thought about it, the more I started thinking that landing in Berlin would allow me to minimize the time I spent in Germany. I've started thinking about just spending a little more and flying directly into Warsaw and avoiding Germany altogether. I was rather surprised when I last spoke to my wife about it; she is quickly losing interest in going there at all. We'll probably just go to Texas instead.
Quite honestly, I disagree with Michael about "wanting to be friends again." At this point, I don't think I care. I think the only way for America to continue to move forward is to cut the European anchor.

(1) The only time I've seriously considered killing someone was in Germany. I was at a stop sign in Fulda when the "antiwar" people went by (this was during the Pershing missile time). As I was sitting in my car, watching the large number of people with anti-american signs, I was wondering "what if they come over and start beating on my car?" I was in an American made car with the black and white USA plates. I decided that, as I was unarmed and there were a lot of them, I would drive over them if they did. I've never felt threatened like that in the US (I've been to Watts, the bad parts of Chicago, and most of NYC).

(2) It's a language thing. I see Germans use the word "Since" (seit) a lot where it doesn't translate well. "Since a long time" isn't good. "For a long time" is better. ;)

I remember after the 2000 elections the world accused America as being a banana republic merely because of a basic "tie" in one state, and germany was one of the worst critics (as was Italy, and three months later Italy had shootings, riots and rampages following their elections). Now germany, nearly a week after they had their elections, can't figure out who the winner is either. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! And they can't blame Florida for it--or will they? What's worse, it seems their entire government may collapse due to massive scandals and a division in their government that's 10x worse than anything in America. Germany has proven to be a third world banana republic with a government less cohesive than Iraq's. What a joke! And Germany is the EU's most powerful country. I'm so glad my grandparents escaped german's death camps alive and moved to America. BTW, New Orleans was just another gross misrepresentation by the media. I would hate to see what will happen to germany when their muslims are unleashed....

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