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I stayed up til 2 a.m. reading Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism in one sitting. I highly recommend this book to anyone trying to understand the divide between Europe and America from the American standpoint. I believe that it is due to come out soon in German.

Berman starts with Camus (ah, an old and comforting French friend). The second chapter of the book is a brilliant synthesis of the development of ideas from the nineteenth century that evidence the cult of death that blossomed in the twentieth century and culminated in WWI and WWII. Hugo, de Sade, Baudelaire, Dostoevski, Conrad, Henry James, all make appearances. What an incredible tour de force! His point: (i) the cult of death that we see in the Muslim world today is nothing new -- we've seen it all before; and (ii) contrary to the claims of its sponsors to being a unique development from within Islam, it has ties to the West.

Berman clearly lays out the dividing lines between America and Europe. It is not a pretty sight. This book is a challenge to Europeans from an American friend (Berman is a leftist, a so-called liberal hawk) to respond to today's challenges in a way that lives up to Europe's prouder traditions of anti-fascism and anti-communism. He does not spare the left in America, nor does he spare Bush or the "Realpolitik" right.

Maybe, just maybe, if we go back to the intellectual honesty of Camus and Orwell, we can pick up the pieces from the Iraq conflict and find a common ground from which to move forward.

My hope for the ongoing discussion at this site: that it spawn reflection on both sides as to how we can move back to that common ground and then move forward. Simply heaping scorn on Bush & Co. or on the Americans in general will not suffice. I challenge Europeans to read this book and to engage America on this level instead of on the petty level of anti-americanism. Don't just look away.

I challenge my countrymen to give up the left-right slander that is destroying the political climate in our country and swear an oath of allegiance to intellectual honesty. The proper response to anti-americanism in Europe is not anti-europeanism; it is engagement (oops, I almost said dialectic, Pam).

My feeling is the German anti-Americanism is more an Anti-Republican-attitude. Most of the Germans and also Europeens look forward to the election 2004. Their hope is that with a democratic President in the USA the good old times come back again: nice live for terrorists and dictators. We can again close our eyes and believe they will kill others not us.

n. klaric,

"Get real. ARD, ZDF, all Dritte Programme, Phoenix, 3sat, arte, and so forth."

i see some differences between "öffentlich-rechtlich" and "governement controlled". germany's state-run part of the media is a bit like the BBC and you'll hardly find someone who'll say that the BBC ist government-controlled, right?

"Sounds like a bunch of hobbyists trying to get their voice uttered, while in actual fact "state-run tv and radio" has a budget well over 6 billion Euros each year."

what does that tell us, besides prooving an amazing waste of money?

"And no, the guys in control are not proportionally recruited from political parties. There's lots of union and church guys in those boards, also note that former Chancellor Helmut Kohl tried to establish privately held broadcasting corporations because ARD and ZDF have been so blatantly leaning to the left."

the point is: they are not controlled by the government. read also here: http://db.ard.de/abc/CONTENT.ergebnis?p_id=823&p_typ=eg

"You must be kidding."

no, i'm not. do you remember "Frontal" or "Monitor" (which was tending to the left when it was produced by the BR [sic!], more conservative when it came from hamburg etc.)?

"Are you just uninformed, or purportedly skewing facts? ARD, ZDF, SWR can be received via antenna in every part of Germany, the format "Das Wort zum Sonntag" (church guys tell us lessons about Jesus and stuff, shown Saturday nights, 10 minutes long) has more viewers on average than many prime time shows on private tv."

try to find out about the market shares of ARD, ZDF and Dritte (e.g. at http://www.wdr.de/unternehmen/mediendaten/quoten_brd.phtml). when you're talking about movies, quiz shows, soaps or sports (f1, soccer), it's mostly the private channels that catch the viewers. there are some reasons why people watch the "tagesschau" instead of "rtl2 news", but it's definitely not a question of what channels you are able to receive...

"Gee. So you never heard of the fact that e.g. the SPD has shares in some 300+ local newspapers?"

does "main newspapers" tell you something? i'm talking about faz, welt, süddeutsche etc., not about "hinterbirnbaumer anzeiger".

"Soso. Versuchst du etwa die "Der schreibt auf Englisch, also diskreditiere ich ihn damit, dass ich einfach mal so ein paar Behauptungen aufstelle und hoffe er widerlegt sie nicht weil er nicht in Deutschland wohnt"-Karte zu spielen?"

conscia mens recti famae mendacia ridet. i was just trying to find out where you got your informations from. otherwise i would have asked in a different way.


Hi Pam - or should I say "Grey Squirrel" from now on?;-)

I am short on time, just a remark ref. the media:

Kohl wanted to erect a conservative alternative for the mostly left media (Up to the late 70ties /early 80ties there was no private media).

The left, being aware of what could happen, was trying hard to erect regulations to make it as difficult as possible for them to establish:

- you cannot just open a TV-business and begin to broadcast, first of all you need a "licence". Given by the government of a state (i.e. Bavaria or Hesse for example). (That has something to do with the structure of the öffentlich-rechtliche TV).

- while there is an obligatory fee to be paid for the öffentlich-rechtliche, the private ones HAVE to finance themselves via advertising /propaganda. Now, the political left insisted that there should be a limit for that - not more than 2 times a film should be interrupted by an advertising block with a defined maximum length. You can imagine what that means for financing.

- Leo Kirch got a licence by Bavarian government and at the same time the left (SPD) was keen to get a "left" alternative for Kirch, so they gave a licence to Europe's biggest TV-group (in the meanwhile), which is RTL, originally based in Luxemburg (licence was given by either government of NorthRhine-Westfalia or Hesse, SPD-governed states anyway at those times).

- private programs shall have also (expensive) news coverage and follow the same rules as the öffentlich-rechtliche i.e. "ausgewogen" (sending statements from every political party).

- and last but not least: the same time the private ones were founded, the öffentlich-rechtliche mushroomed the number of their programs, especially in the radio-section, and also found 3Sat (sounds similar to private "Sat1") and some other ones.

- oh, I forgot: the öffentlich-rechtliche of course were only a little bit limited for financing via advertising, so they have this source of income also.

- and what a lot of people are not aware of: journalists of öffentlich-rechtliche cannot be fired so easily, but have "Beamten"-like status.

Take all this together and you know why the German TV-market is called one of the most difficult ones worldwide for private TV-stations. And this is why a real conservative alternative does not exist. And above all you have the motive for people to become journalists: a lot or most of them want to "improve" the world or society. Certainly not a German-specific issue, but a valid one here, too.

Pay TV? Well, people don't appreciate that very much. Having read the above you can imagine why: people here simply expect to switch on the box and see something without anything to do in addition. That is why the only pay-channel we have ("Premiere") had money problems all the time (I have no clue about the present situation).

To öffentlich-rechtliche:

There are two of them, namely ARD and ZDF (ZDF founded by Chancellor Adenauer to erect a conservative alternative to the mainly left...well, you know the story - history repeats...)

The point now is: ARD is not an entity od body on its own, but the addition of the öffentlich-rechtliche in the länder - they are actually the base of ARD. These are NDR in Northern Germany, WDR in Norhtrhine Westfalia, HR in Hesse, SWR in Rhineland-Palatina and Baden Wuerttemberg, Saar in the Saarland, BR in Bavaria, MDR covers 3 of the old DDR-states (Thuringia, Sachsen-Anhalt, Sachsen) and MBB is a joint venture of Braqndenburg and a Berlin broadcast. (The fifth DDR-state, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the North, is covered by NDR).

The point now is: everyone of them has its own regional TV-program, has extensive radio coverage and can be received everywhere in Germany via satellite or cable. And they deliver their "head" - ARD - with features, reports, etc.

Their structure:

the main body is the "Rundfunkrat". It is law, which groupos of society may send a proxy in this institution. And that differs from state to state. Example: in Hesse members of the rundfunkrat come from the unions, their counterpart "employer association", Jewish communities, non-jewish ones (i.e. evangelical, catholic church), "Volkshochschule" (don't know the english equivalent), Commerce chambers, and very few from political parties, etc.

the rundfunkrat works as an "aufsichtsrat" (English? - well, controlling the board) and elects the board, the so-called "Verwaltungsrat", which again eletcs the "Intendant" - the station's boss.

In the meantime political parties overtook power here by making sure that the groups were working in their sense - like: the unions (SPD) chambers of commerce (CDU/FDP), etc. - N. Claric already wrote that. In my view the only real independant ones in this game are the Jewish communities.

Oh, and they all have, of course, their websites.

ZDF, Deutschlandfunk (dlf), Deutschlandradio and Deutsche Welle are structured similar on a bigger (countrywide) scale.

The brainwash begin at the websites: if you look at www.hr-online.de for example you will see that they call themselves an "Unternehmen" (company), implying that they are running a business with a risk of bancruptcy. This is, of course, not so. "Rundfunkanstalt" would be (and was) the correct name.

Just to explain what happened why. Oh, and there is always a debate here whether the öffentlich-rechtliche are going too far or not with their coverage, since their job - defined by law - is only to guarantee a "grundversorgung" (basic coverage)......

You see, it all turns around this poor tactical left/conservative-thinking, which Karl B. already (also my view - thanks Karl) outed as the destructive element to political debates and views here

Best wishes

Hi Pam and N. Claric,

ref. the media again:

well, 300+ is exaggerated, 30+ would hit it. Newspapers with SPD-shares or in SPD-ownership I am talking about.

(Historic reason: workers and unions,and also the SPD itself found papers to give their view of the world a public voice in a conservative environment. It reaches back to the 19th century. Then came Hitler, and the influence was gone. Then, in postwar-Germany, thesy were taken private ownership, new papers found and the "old titles" partly bought , which brought the SPD into co-ownership (West Germany). East Germany: papers stayed nationalized or in party-ownership and after unification were given back their original owners - partly directly SPD, which since then is owner of papers in Leipzig, Dresden, etc.

What is disturbing is that the SPD has made a secrecy of its media-shares: it was not common known that they are co-owners of big Madsack-publishing company, covering nearly all areas of Lower Saxony. There is one interesting example and that is "Kölnische Rundschau", which was always considered to be conservative, while it actually had the SPD as co-owners via Heinen-Verlag. Same applies to "Göttinger Tageblatt", which also was and is considered to be conservative (Madsack-ownership).

Which leads me to the point that the intention of (co-) ownership in post war time has been not necessarily to influence the public (what normally would be the first thought), but a very normal investment for party finance. As seen in my message above they don't need to influence the public this way - it works different. But the SPD has the option to do so, of course.

Best wishes

Pamela (from the previous thread):

Remind me to never piss you off.


On the other hand, your post carries some cultural short-hand that I would like to see deconstructed - by you. Your mother is Morrocan, thereby inculcating in you a Franco-centric view. Is that, a priori, anti-American, as your post seems to imply, (at least to me)?

My mother was schooled in Morocco, which, during her time there was either a French colony or still heavily influenced by the French colonization. In schools everyone was taught French and about French philosophers - and that France was the center of the world, the most civilized nation on the earth. That doesn't of necessity mean that it would have to be anti-American moreso then against any other country - however, if you read French works, you can see that French anti-Americanism (as opposed to their opinions of other countries) long predates this century. So while a French-centric view of the world does not of necessity mean an anti-American view of the world, in practice it largely does.

I hope that I answered your question. There's the possibility that you meant something else.

You wrote: Bush inherited a major recession and managed to turn around our country to some of the highest economic growth in twenty years

My question to you is, when and how did this become 'our country'?

Depending on what exactly you mean by your question, I have different answers. If you are not American (which I thought you were based on your previous posts), then it is not 'our country'; I used the word 'our' in error, to tell the truth, given the more international set who read this blog. If you meant for me personally, this only became 'our country' when I had decided that being 'a citizen of the world' wasn't something I could respect, given much of the world's attitudes about the UN, socialism, and Israel. (This, of course, does not mean that I would give up my international experiences or that I would not encourage others to have them. There's much that we Americans can learn from other countries. Though this also doesn't mean that we should have to abnegate our own existence.)

You are so articulate, I would like to know more about how, given your anti-american stance in your earlier life, this got turned around. Please don't tell me it was ALL due to a dinner party. I'll start up a catering business!

LOL again. No, it wasn't all due to a dinner party. That was one defining moment. Another one was 9/11, and, more specifically, the world's reaction to the events of that day. Much of the world, and a portion of the US, believed that we needed to understand the "root causes" of terrorism, which were invariably poverty. Their beliefs in this were not dissuaded in the least by the facts that all 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were from la creme de la creme of their societies - all of them had college degrees (which are considerably less common in the Arab world) and many were Western educated (also not all that common). (As an aside, note that this trend of wealth being correlated to likelihood to being a terrorist most certainly extends to both Hizb'allah [Party of Allah], Fatah [Conquest], and Hamas [the Islamic Resistance Movement].)

The cognitive dissonance started to become too great for me to bear - how could people believe that wealth would solve the problems of terrorism when it was not poor people, by and large, who became terrorists? Many news sources were consistent with 'world opinion' in presenting this perversion of truth as fact. But I had long been hawkish on Israel because I understood, from my mom's experiences in Morocco and subsequently in Israel and from reading history, that to be anything but tough with murderous dictators only encourages more of the same behavior. And it became increasingly clear to me that the course of action advocated by 'world opinion' had been tried for over twenty years while the problem of terrorism had continued to grow. Paying them off was not working.

I began to cast about for news sources that didn't have that point-of-view embedded in their biases - ones which didn't say that "Afghanistan is no Iraq" (and, of course, later flipped it to be "Iraq is no Afghanistan", without the slightest hint of irony). First I found the Jerusalem Post and Israelinsider, both of which I still like. Then I found the Wall Street Journal, and, particularly, Taranto's Best of the Web column. Taranto eventually pointed me to Little Green Footballs (LGF), which helped to educate me about many other things. The combination of Taranto and LGF have been important in the evolution of my views.

The last thing is that I met a girl, an American, who, while being first- and second-generation on her two sides of the family, is quite anti-anti-American. (We eventually became engaged.) She helped to root out certain anti-American memes that I still had. (Which is not to say that I don't still have some - I still think that most movies produced in this country are predictable garbage; the fact that they sell well all over the world doesn't indicate to me that they have any deeper meaning - though it does indicate that a deeper meaning may not always be what sells best. And that also explains why Americans value intellectuals less then do other cultures.)

'ot' probably hates you right now. I imagine you can carry this burden with the appropriate aplomb.

I'll probably survive. Though hopefully s/he doesn't hate me, as such.

n. klaric,

"I think, too, the best place to look for proof which dismantles allegations that öffentlich-rechtliche Senderanstalten are under the influence of certain skakeholders is at the homepages of öffentlich-rechtliche Senderanstalten. You know, just as we better had to listen to the BBC to understand why the BBC did nothing wrong in the Kelly affair."

o.k., let's stop our nice little discussion. it's useless. if you can think of a fact that proves the government's control over german media, drop me a note. meanwhile, i'm still endangered by evil government's attempts to keep me from happy living in a liberal democracy.

"Uhm? What's that about? Another shot at "Vasili's assessment of a poster's credibility", part 2: "If he can't read Latin he ain't no German"?"

depp. it reads something like "a good conscience laughs at bad rumours" and meant to express that your barely hidden accusations aren't true.

Wow. This conversation has really exploded since I was here last, a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been in the process of moving from Belgium to the States after having lived in Europe for the past six years, so I was absent from the internet.

I’d like to toss in another penny and a eurocent about the ongoing mutual misperceptions that help divide Europe and the US.

A friend of mine in the States is an activist for the Dean campaign. He’s one of the visceral Bush-haters who speaks casually about the need for "regime-change" in the US, about the "stolen" election, the importance of making US foreign policy sane again, and how the crony capitalism of the present administration (Halliburton etc) is approaching third-world levels of corruption.

He was very much a part of the gigantic wave of patriotism which followed 9/11. For three days he drove around in his red Miata with a big American flag mounted on it, but then decided that it might be taken the wrong way by Middle-Easterners so he took it down. Along with 90% of the country, he fully supported what we did in Afghanistan. Obviously, his support for the Bush administration was temporary and he has reverted to the same heated rhetoric about it that characterized his pre-9/11 attitudes.

He was skeptical about the invasion of Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, but when it came to pass he supported the troops. After Baghdad fell he emailed pictures of US troops in action to a number of us in his address book, and with pride.

Yet his assertions about Bush’s diplomacy and foreign policy vis-à-vis Iraq are very much bound up in his opposition to Bush. He believes that Bush deliberately excluded France, Germany et al from the war so that there would be more contracts for his oil buddies. He thinks that if Bush had genuinely sought support, and had handled the diplomacy and the timing differently, we would have gone in with a broad coalition, as in 1991. He has repeatedly spoken of the "unprecedented support" for the US which was manifested worldwide after 9/11, and how Bush has squandered it.

Similarly, there was another Deanie in the comments section of one of the blogs I read who kept making similar points about Bush’s gratuitous alienation of our allies, and how we need our European allies to win the war.

Now, that’s quite a contrast with some comments one of my Belgian friends made a couple of weeks ago. She was saying that she hoped Bush would be defeated, and that she was supporting Clark (I’ll leave it for others to comment on the implications of Belgians deciding which candidate to support in the US elections). She said that when Bush was elected, a couple friends of hers—Americans, I think—said that it meant there would be wars. And, sure enough, there were.

In other words, she thinks that there were wars because that’s what Republican presidents like to do, and if a Democrat had been in office there would have been no war in Afghanistan and no war in Iraq. The cause of these wars is the nature and intentions of the present administration, and changing the administration will ensure that there won’t be such wars during the next four years.

Judging by what I’ve seen and read and heard in post-9/11 Europe, and what has been reported to me by my Belgian companion and others, such beliefs are prevalent in Western Europe.

I think there is a double blindness here. My American friend and many others in the States assume that Europeans also understand that there is a war on; they just think that either (a) Iraq didn’t have much to do with fighting this defensive war (it was a "distraction" from the real war), or (b) that, whether because of incompetence or ulterior motives, the Bush administration gratuitously failed to ensure that the Iraq war was undertaken with broad support by our European allies. They fail to see that Europe doesn't believe there really is a war. They fail to see what has changed in Europe since 9/11, and what is new. They also fail to realize that, during the 1990s, the European "core" changed from being an ally to what Stratfor calls "a rival-ally hybrid," and that the this core's perceived long-term interests were a big factor in opposition to American plans for Iraq.

Meanwhile, most in Europe don't seem to grasp the impact of 9/11 on the US, and fail to understand that, to the vast majority of Americans, those attacks were self-evidently an act of war, and that this transformative world-historical event necessitated a serious and permanent change in American foreign policy.

To me, my Belgian friend’s comments were genuinely offensive. They effectively deny the reality of jihadi-Salafist warmaking, and also constitute a denial of the horror of the massacres in New York and Virginia and Pennsylvania. In this vein, I think it’s worth mentioning the title given to the interview with Norman Geras at Imprints: "Marxism, the Holocaust and September 11."

For some stimulating thoughts on the state of transatlantica, there’s an interesting conversation between Sam Huntington and Anthony Giddens which touches on quite a few points in a fairly short space. And also this useful summary of André Glucksmann’s L’Ouest contre l’Ouest.

N. Claric,

>Or should I have included a link residing at an RTL homepage?<

Certainly! ;-)

Please think of "Ausgewogenheit"! Actually, I have no translation for that. Anyhow, it's a kind of:

Politician A on TV: "2+2=4"
Politician B on TV: "2+2=5, beacuse we insist on social justice!"

TV-"Anchorman": "Now, we presented you both 'oppinions', make up your mind yourself. And now let's shift to our correspondent in Washington with a report about poverty on the US-countryside and who benefits from the tax-cuts".

Hope it fits...

Best wishes

“Ausgewogenheit” on German TV ? Good one. Balanced view ? Ha, ha...

A while ago I was in Canada and I noticed something funny. Around 80-85%(if I remember correctly) of Canadians were against the war and liberation of Iraq. There were anyway some voices complaining about the biased view of the CBC, which is the Canadian BBC(this says it ALL…). The CBC checked then with the viewers and they came to the conclusion that about 85-90% of them considered that the CBC was balanced in its presentation of the events.

Now, I don’t know if you get the idea. If 85% are against the war in Iraq and 90% of the viewers consider the CBC coverage to be fair, it definitely means the CBC is clearly on the side of those who oppose the war. Otherwise, you could never come up with those high numbers of approval. Balanced view, eh ? Nice shot in the foot. Not that they would care…

I bet my lunch that you would come up with a similar percentage if you had numbers for ARD and ZDF. But they’re probably smarter than the CBC and won’t do that.


I know this is about German anti-americanism, but I have to say this:

Blessed are the ones who don’t speak French, for they all shall know peace of mind !!

If you think German TV is biased(and it is), you should watch TV5 Europe, a “respectable, cultural” French channel in Europe. Those guys don’t need subtleties like raising an eyebrow or changing the tone of their voice when they talk about the US(which they do ALL the time), or even small lies and misrepresentation. No, they don’t waste their time with stuff like this. They are the Al-Jazeera for the “educated” European public. I challenge anyone to prove it isn’t so.

Yesterday, discussion on the head scarf on TV5. The guest were from the French “elites”: intellectuals, politicians, well the usual boot-lickers. I said to myself I might as well stare into the TV while I tuck in. The head scarf is a 100% French issue, so there is no danger of hearing Al-Jazeera style lies about the US and thus spitting out my food. Boy, stupid and naïve people like me never learn. Never underestimate the French. Guess what they were talking about ? U.S. of A.

I found out something very instructive from the French politician invited to discuss the head scarf issue. If you have a car accident in the US they won’t bring you to a hospital if you don’t have a credit card on the spot !! Wow, that scared me. Next time I’m in the US I’ll carry my credit cards around my neck just like the soldiers do with their dog tags.

Now, leaving aside the accuracy(or lack of) of his statement, what in the world does this have to do with the head scarf ? Anyway, this is just a small, TINY example of DAILY French discussions of TV. Things are MUCH worse than this. Those guys would go bankrupt without having the US as a constant subject.

Anyway, after such an experience, switching to a German channel is like a breeze of fresh air. The German manipulations and lies are so much nicer to hear. Their unsuccessful attempts of subtlety are nevertheless almost an expression of art compared to the French perverse exhibitionism.

It’s crazy. The only thing that will be safe to watch on TV will be soccer, and I’ll turn off the sound even on those. You never know. Those Americans are cunning… I heard it on TV. Boy, aren’t those weird times :-((

If I ever get my hands on the Chinese who said the famous line: “may you live in interesting times”, I’ll hit him with my car on an American street and leave him there without a credit card.

tm, thanks for those links. It was particularly encouraging to see that even a self-proclaimed Marxist (Norman Geras) was able to pick his way through the intellectual mistakes of America's critics over 9-11.

Norm has blog that is worth one's attention. He also had a piece in the Wall Street Journal awhile back asking why so many on the left marched to save Saddam Hussein.

For more leftists who are trying to swim against the flood, try Harry's Place and, once it recovers from its recent disaster, lastsuperpower.net.

whatdoiknow, i really liked your proof of Candian media bias.

With this mechanism, you can finally reveal that any and every tv station you dislike is biased.

The majority of Germans are against death penalty, the majority will probably find Germany's media coverage balanced => German media biased

The majority of Americans thinks death penalty is a good thing, the majority will probably find the American media coverage balanced => American media biased.


The point is that you cant split up public and media opinion that easily.
If 85% of a country are against the Iraq war, the reporters in the tv station will probably have the same attitude, so they will probably also report from this perspective.
However, there is still a great variance within this "No war" attitude, between radical pacifists and people that simply want further investigations, UN participation etc.

The task of the media is now to report in a way that is balanced towards both sides of this spectrum.

Tv stations in all countries broadcast within the national conses of their country. Stating that Candian tv stations are biased because they have a different point of view than American tv stations is simply arrogant.

Hi Karl,

Ok, I'll get Berman's book on one condition: Does he address Sayyid Qutb? Because if he doesn't he missed the whole enchilada. If he does get it, then the only trajectory he could draw from western roots would be to facism, communism and nihilism. So, let me know.

For readers who don't recognize the name, he is the ideological father of bin Laden. In not the smallest of ironies, his radicalism arose directly from his revulsion toward the U.S.

Here's a quick link, but google has lots.


I too, would hope for an adherence to intellctual honesty, but there are huge obsticles, the most serious one, I think, pointed out by Kelli in an earlier post: moral relativism manifested in the multi-culti ethos in schools on both sides of the pond. If you read the Geras interview carried in tm's link, you find a man self-described as a Marxist - but on closer reading he is not - he is a humanist in the deepest sense, who advocates Marxism as the economic system that best serves his humanism. I can tell just by knowing he is from the now-extinct Rhodesia he was not educated anywhere near the current environs. Moral relativsim is indeed the 'human' face of nihilism and it is insidious. It allows, nay, insists, on the abdication of the responsibility to develop the faculties of critical thought. I think I metioned this in an earlier post, but in this world, "narrative" trumps facts every time.
This alternative universe was introduced to me in no uncertain terms by a smug little Brit bitch by the name of Charlotte Raven. In a September 18, 2001 article titled "A Bully with a Bloody Nose is Still a Bully" (Guardian), she wrote

>The subsequent roar of anger was, amongst other things, the sound of the US struggling to regain the right to control its own narrative.

She's on my list.

So, Karl, if you can think of a way to eradicate this little disease, let me know. I will continue to tilt at windmills, just in case. I think without rational voices finding media outlets in Europe, there is little hope. The only thing I, as an individual can think of to do is try to educate decision-makers here about what is going on in Europe and maybe some of them can get somebody by the short hairs.

Klaus, N. Klaric thank you so much for the info. I have alot of research to do on it.

Ariel from Boston: Awwww! Congratulations!
I think the 'cognative dissonance' you refer to and the 'narrative trumps fact' I refer to are about one and the same critter. And yes, LGF has been a womb for many of us.

And to all: this thread (which has to be the longest over any given period of time in the history of blogdom) was all started by some guy named Scott who had a paper to write. As far as I can tell, he's never shown up to say thanks.

Ungrateful little sod.

Pamela, Berman's book is excellent and he definitely tackles Sayyid Qutb. There was an excellent article in the NYTimes Magazine a little while ago about Qutb. He's the Muslim Karl Marx. I forget but the article may have been written be Berman actually.

Daniel, I don't know about Germany specifically but I've seen studies that indicate the majority of Europeans are for the death penalty.

Also, the job of the press is not to tell people what they want to hear. whatdoiknow is exactly correct. Are both points of view reflected? Have they actually explored the issue? Has the press ever bothered to report why the US may be opposed to Kyoto and the ICC or do they demonize demonize demonize.

The lack of actual debate on the question of going to war in other countries is reflected by overwhelming public opinion against the war.

Whew! The suject that wouldn't die! Seeing that my interests in european news started in the summer 2002 to try and help myself understand the virulent anti-americanism that was and is prevalent across western europe. David's site was an eye opener when i found it last summer.

Now i know this doesn't pertain to the discussion, but just felt the need to send a note of thanks to those who have impressed me with their comments.

To me every site has a certain group of regular contributors that i like to read!

My hat is off to:

Gabi, N. Klaric, Karl B., Klaus, and Pamela.

Along with David, this intelligent group has made this site well worth checking back to 3 to 4 times a day! Just my humble opinion!

Pamela, as linden points out, Qutb is one of the central figures in Berman's book. According to Berman, Qutb's brother actually taught OBL.

The piece on Qutb in The New York Times Magazine was indeed by Berman, and here it is. Last May NPR had a report on Sayyid Qutb's America that's also worth a listen.


Actually, no, there is not a majority in favor of the death penalty in most of Europe. The UK is the exception, where between two-thirds and three-fourths favor it. Eastern Europe is the other exception (by less of a margin than in the UK) but they're still on the margins of the European project, and I would expect views there to move in the direction of Western Europe. Joshua Jonah Marshall had a good piece in TNR on this, but unfortunately you have to have a subscription now to see it. The title of the piece was "Death in Venice."


Regarding the death penalty
In all polls I have seen the supporters of the death penalty are the minority, however their specific number varies from 30% to 45%, probably depending greatly on recent events like the exposure of pedophiles etc.

Regarding whatdoiknow's post
He makes two obsevations:
a) 80% against Iraw war
b) 90% think CBS is balanced

and implies
=> CBS is biased against Iraq war.

This deduction is only true if you believe that Canadians simply dont know the meaning of balanced and think that its significance is something like "tell me only my point of view", a quite arrogant charge.

Whatdoiknow ignores that there is another, less sensational explanation: the CBS really reported from a balanced point of view, and based on this information the Canadians decided to oppose the war in Iraq.

But he is apparently too convinced of his own opinion to even consider this second option.

He didn't talk about CBS, he said CBC, pay attention. You may not think that media has an influence on a population's opinion and that's fine I guess. But I can assure you that the CBC is anything but balanced when it comes to the US.

Following along the lines of Berman's analysis, the following article sends a chilling reminder of the kinds of forces we're up against:


The "vanguard", as Qutb called it, is active.


I also read that article, though I recall it saying that there were solid majorities in favor of the death penalty. It's cited on page 9 to justify: Furthermore, it is a common observation that the death penalty remains popular among the European public, with between half and two-thirds of the populations in Italy, France, Germany, and Britain in favor of it.

You can see a similar citation here, here(page 15), or here. (Never underestimage Google!)


My memory isn't the world's most reliable in the world, and it's been a couple of years since I read it, but as I recall Marshall said that it took almost two decades after the ban on capital punishment in France before a majority came to oppose it; that this majority was still a rather slim one; and that among those who opposed it many also didn't think it was any of France's business whether or not other countries saw fit to practice it.

That supports his contention that the differences between the US and Europe are not nearly as great as often imagined, but it doesn't add up to majority support.

And I definitely don't think the data support his rhetoric about Europeans craving the death penalty nearly as much as Americans do.

My impressions from living in Western Europe are that even people who support the death penalty in principle do not feel strongly about it, and probably don't necessarily want the current policy to be changed.

Re islamic fascism: I just stumbled on the MEMRI website that provides translations of publications from the Middle East. I found a fascinating article that supports Berman's thesis at:


I urge sceptical European readers to check out this article.

The main page at MEMRI also has a translation of a fascinating interview with Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri about the situation in Iran. This is another area where until recently Europe and America held widely diverging views. I hope the Europeans are watching the events in Iran closely. The reforms have failed, and one can no longer speak of fledgling democracy in Iran. I'm just wondering whether the whole place is going to explode. Of course, Americans were here in the press for pointing out the undemocratic nature of Iran. The consensus here was that Iran is well on its way to democracy, and the Americans were behaving typically warlike for trying to confront the poor Iranians.

As to the death penalty, I also recall seeing polls over the years indicating that roughly half of Germans polled would support a death penalty in certain circumstances. For me, the death penalty argument is usually used as a red herring to rub salt in the wounds of German-American relations by folks who are unable to understand the American federal system. I predict that more and more U.S. states are going to move away from the death penalty even if it is popular. Recent DNA technology is proving "beyond a reasonable doubt" just how imperfect our justice system (any justice system) is. This is my reason for opposing the death penalty, not any sympathy towards murderers. The problem in Germany is that the sentencing is far too light and the justice system far too lenient towards criminals. The German Constitutional Court just got around to affirming the legality of holding in prison for more than ten years someone who received a "first" life sentence. (Absent some prior periods of incarceration, ten years was the longest you could hold someone for their "first" life sentence.)

I'm wandering a bit off topic here. Sorry.

Left out a word up there:

"Of course, Americans were [ridiculed] here in the press for pointing out the undemocratic nature of Iran."

Re: Berman

I, too, second the endorsement of Berman's book. But I'm not so sure about reducing jihadi-Salafism to "totalitarianism."

A couple of months ago I was browsing the correspondance between Strauss and Kojeve included in On Tyranny, and I noted that certainly in terms of Strauss's understanding of totalitarianism the concept could not be extended to include phenomena in the Islamic world because on Strauss's view totalitarianism is inherently part of the modern scientific worldview.

Although he's talking about a recent Berman essay rather than his book, David Adesnik finds fault with Berman's understanding of the origins of WWI and also his understanding of WWII. And for links to various reviews of Berman's book (and other stuff, too) the Brothers Judd have got a substantial list.

Also worth checking out are this Berman interview at salon.com and his lecture at the "Old Demons, New Debates" conference.

Several of the other lectures at that conference are worth the time, and illuminating about the present divide. I especially recommend those by Lilla, Finkielkraut, Caldwell, and Joffe.

I thought that one of the most interesting points was the relationship between anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. Caldwell points out, but minimizes, this relationship. Joffe disagrees with Caldwell, asserting that the connection is stronger than Caldwell makes it out to be.

Back to the death penalty, there was an essay in the IHT a couple of months ago, "The death penalty: What Europe doesn't know."


It's too bad that those three or so paragraphs of Bruckner's essay irritated you so much. If you get beyond that, it's a pretty astute assessment of the European mind, and he's one of the good guys.

And on the ICC, I'd just say that US leadership hasn't really bothered to defend our rejection of it. I don't remember hearing anything other than the "national interests" argument being made by our leadership. It wouldn't have been difficult to make a public case for rejecting it based on democratic legitimacy arguments, and also to use this issue as an opportunity to address the issue of anti-Americanism in Europe and our suspicions that the ICC would become a venue for politically-motivated attacks on us.

Also, I'm curious about what exactly you think congress could do about the issue of European anti-Americanism if you succeed in making it an issue for them.

tm, you come up with the best links!

Bruckner is not one of the good guys. His political value system of "willing surrender of local and and national sovereignity to a higher authority" reeks of totalitarianism. Also, in another one of his articles, he wrote that France hates America because France is just like America, "smug", etc. Bruckner does not trust people to govern themselves, a value that is, for me, a moral imperative. But I have to tell you, in all honesty, that I've come to the point when I just get a belly laugh out of French so-called intellectuals. Derrida. Heh.

When you say our leadership has not been clear about our rejection of the ICC, I'm not sure which audience you have in mind for the explanation, the U.S. or Europe. If you mean the U.S., I don't think much explanation was required - we would have lynched any administration that signed on. As for Europe, I have had no visibility to any such discussions, so you may be correct.

What do I think Congress could do about anti-Americanism in Europe? Well, specifically my concern is in European media. And the answer is I haven't the slightest idea. Legally, nothing, nor would I recommend that approach be attempted. But speaking out in public about it when we're sure Europe is listening is a good start. David posted a link last night to coverage of Rumsfeld excoriating the German press. That's a good start. I would like to see more of that from U.S. officials at all levels, using solid examples, such as the broadcasts carried on LILIPUZ - which damn near literally set my hair on fire.

Thanks for the compliment. Here are a couple more: from the summer of 2000, What Europeans Think of America and, by the same journalist (and post-9/11), an American view of Europe. The latter is sure to warm the cockles of your heart (and it's short).

When you say our leadership has not been clear about our rejection of the ICC, I'm not sure which audience you have in mind for the explanation, the U.S. or Europe. If you mean the U.S., I don't think much explanation was required - we would have lynched any administration that signed on. As for Europe, I have had no visibility to any such discussions, so you may be correct.
That, I think, is precisely one of the problems that we can do something about. The American leadership is really not very good at explaining itself to the rest of the world. When American leaders are speaking about international issues, they are usually speaking to an American audience. But an international audience is always listening, and much is lost in translation. And even when attempts are made to address an international audience, there is a failure to have a feel for that audience.

The ICC is a central concern for Europeans, and since we aren't going to sign up, no way and no how, why not explain our objections in terms of political morality? A court which lacks popular legitimacy seems to us to be inherently undemocratic. And our constitution guarantees the right to a trial by one's peers, which would seem to clash with the whole idea.

And since many Europeans seem to think of our rejection of the ICC and Kyoto as a Bush/Republican thing, it really wouldn't hurt for us to make sure they understand that these rejections are quite bipartisan.

His political value system of "willing surrender of local and and national sovereignity to a higher authority" reeks of totalitarianism.

If anything is at all, this stance is practically the essence of the contemporary European project. And, actually, its motivation is very much anti-totalitarianism. There's a broad consensus in Europe that the catastrophes of the last century were produced by nationalism, the cardinal political sin. Hence, fascism and Nazism are seen as particularly intense instances of nationalism.

The surrender of national sovereignty is thus perceived as the solution to this problem, and the inoculation against future totalitarian temptations.

I think that this is one of the key points of difference between the US and Europe, and unfortunately most people on both sides don't even seem to understand what it is they are disagreeing about.

I would characterize American political thought vis-a-vis totalitarianism as rather Aronian: we tend to see Nazism and communism as secular religions. We would certainly agree that nationalism was a component, especially in National Socialism. But we don't think these phenomena are reducible to nationalism. Hence, we do not buy Europe's solution to that problem.

And, of course, behind that is WWI, a meaningless and massive catastrophe for Europe, and for us an idealistic (and comparatively not-very-costly) crusade.

Maybe we'll have to agree to disagree about Bruckner; for me, rejecting voices such as his is making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Hey tm, this is too funny. While I was reading the first piece, I was thinking "Yeah, but they were wrong." "Yeah, and they're wrong AGAIN". "Still wrong!". Then I read the second piece, which sounded just like me while I was reading the first piece.

It is to laugh.

Someone in the first third of this thread noted that it is a common mistake to apply one's own social/political template when evaluating what happens abroad. Hence, the befuddlement of the U.S. over the whole hijab issue in France, which, once one understands the trajectory of the history makes a kind of sense for the French (leaving aside for the moment the issue of unintended consequences). So I can understand quite easily how Europe may be lacking the wherewithal to see the U.S. through any template but their own - especially given the crap coming out of their dead trees. Your point that U.S. officials always speak for U.S. public consumption aplies only to public speech. Isn't that what we have diplomats for? Otherwise, what the hell are my tax dollars doing funding embassies in Paris and Berlin (or is it still Bonn?) And yes, indeed, nationalism has been made the scapegoat for all the 20th century ills brought to the world via Europe, but totalitarianism and the will to power are not confined to nations. The EU may be the soft tyranny of the bureaucrat, but tyranny it remains. To reject Bruckner on those grounds is not to make the perfect the enemy of the good, but to refuse to agree to a euphimism that belies what is true.

I'll write more later. The beagle is being an absolute pest - it's her "No play, no peace" mood and she will rarely be denied (one of my few soft spots, and believe me, for her I am the biggest sucker in the world. Sigh.)


Indeed, one would think that we have diplomats to explain our policies. But one would be wrong. And I remember reading that the ambassador Bush sent to Paris is a political crony who doesn't even speak French.

It would seem that indifference to European opinion (which could be seen as a danger or as a potential tool) goes straight to the top. Here's a bit from a piece by Moises Naim (the editor of Foreign Policy) about the dangers of anti-Americanism lite:

US politicians and government leaders have long been disdainful and careless about the ill effects of lite anti-Americanism. Among Washington’s heavies, the common wisdom is that murderous, fanatical, anti-Americans cannot be swayed and must be dealt with by security and law enforcement agencies while the faddish actions of lite anti-Americans are largely inconsequential.

Several months ago a bipartisan group of highly respected US foreign policy experts outside the government discreetly held a series of meetings to discuss their concern about the growing tide of anti-Americanism worldwide. The group eventually drafted a private letter to President Bush, calling his attention to the urgent need to do something about it. The cabinet member they asked to deliver the letter responded that it would not have much impact unless it spelled out the concrete costs of anti-Americanism.

I might add that the one FSO I know is closer ideologically to the European political class than to the American. And, in that line of work, he's definitely not alone.

By the way, have you read What We're Fighting For?

Karl B,

Yes, Iran is quite an interesting country right now, and another interesting point of divergence. I have an Iranian friend in Belgium who has been living there--sans papier--for about a year now. He tells me that the "reformists" and the "conservatives" are all really the same people and it's all theater: the ruling class sees fit to don these two different masks for practical reasons. The pro-democracy movement has given up on the soi-disant reformists.

He's quite pro-American and he doesn't care for Europe, which he finds "racist" in comparison, and he thinks the European public are mostly "zombies." He speaks confidently about "the revolution," which he expects within the next three or four years. He's active in exile politics and says that in Europe they are all closely watched (and intimidated) by Iranian intelligence, and that the European authorities won't do anything about it because they don't want to disrupt trade relations with Iran.

Back in December I met up with an old friend who's now well on his way to becoming part of the American foreign policy elite, and I noted how quick he was to cite Iran policy as a prominent example of European hypocrisy.


This is entirely impressionistic, but in a way I got the sense in Belgium that, from a certain point of view, the anti-Americanism in Western Europe is worse than that in the Middle East. My companion knows an Iraqi Kurd who is also (for obvious reasons) quite pro-American. So we know two people there from the ME who have strong pro-American attitudes, but no Europeans in our social milieu (not counting my companion, of course) who feel similarly. Also, a friend of mine who's studying International Relations in Belgium gets the sense that the Arabs in her program tend to be less anti-American than the Europeans.

And consider this telling incident at a café in Paris, just after 9/11:

Over baklava and sweet mint tea at a café outside a mosque, friends of mine from Iran and Algeria, who knew at first hand the agonies of war, warmly expressed sympathy and asked me for news of my family in Manhattan. As I began to answer, a French filmmaker at the table cut me off to complain that, with all the talk about the Twin Towers, everyone forgets about Bhopal.

I wish Moises Naim had named names. At any rate, that piece is going to the Hill with me, thanks.

I have already seen your other two links. The Weekly Standard piece has a point. It is fair to point out that the Bush administration has been clumsy, but it puts too narrow a focus on the present. Anti-americanism has been a long simmering problem, and what has ignited the fire under MY butt is that nobody GETS IT and nobody has addressed it in ANY administration. Naim is exactly right. So, all I can do is begin where I have the chance to begin.

Oh, and I have a question for Bruckner. Could some store owner off the streets of Marseilles get into her MEPs office and say, hey, we have a problem here? No. But I can, and I'm as ordinary a citizen as you can come by.

Ok, I've been thinking about templates. First let's talk about guns, then we'll talk about religion.

Guns. Until WWII the U.S. was primarily an agrarian society, made of a few major metropolitan areas, but was mostly rural. My paternal grandfather grew up on a farm in southwestern Pennsylvania and ended up working in the coal mines. Alot of immigrants were coming in, mostly Slavs and Italians and some Irish. The companies that owned the mines owned most of the stores, alot of the housing, and provided the only law enforcement. In other words, there was not a police force paid by municipal taxes. The only cops were a privately owned security force. Many of the immigrants were Catholic, and were referred to as 'Papists'.
There were no blacks. My grandfather belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. This is not the southern U.S., this is northeastern U.S. in a small town with no blacks. The issue was, for them, not racial, but justice. The cops beat up your brother because he mouthed off about the curfew?
Show up at the cop's church wearing the sheets.
The new guys start mouthing off about how the Pope should head the government? Show up at mass wearing the sheets. It was not uncommon for people to find themselves being burgled during dinner. To the day of his last heart attack my grandfather carried a 45 Colt when he left the house and it stayed on the side table in the living room when he was in his chair. My grandmother kept a loaded 22 rifle by the kitchen door. Especially during the depression, when people would come to the house looking for work in exchange for food and she would be home alone, it gave her some measure of protection and control. She actually did end up shooting someone once who threatened her, but he lived. I don't know if my grandfather ever shot anyone, but if he did, they died.

So what's my point? The cultural tradition of guns is not far removed from us in time. As my dad said, WWII changed everything, but we still hear the whispers of what we were not so long ago. It is not that we are a violent society as much as that we were born into a frontier that had to be tamed.

Religion. McPherson, in his Civil War epic, The Battle Cry of Freedom (if you read only one book on the war, this is the one), tells a story about how the Pontiff decided it was time to have a little more influence in the U.S. Alot of Catholics were going there and the Shepard was loosing his flock. He tried to take over the schools, and one priest he sent over had to be escorted in a hurry to a boat in New York harbor by New York city police because people were about to lynch him. We have never had the problems of the power of the church in political life here in the U.S. because we won't put up with it. We, I truly believe, could never have had, and will never have, anything like the Dreyfus affair here. So, religion, never being a public threat, has room to be respected in the private sphere. The term "born again Christian" has an unfortunate conotation - that is sometimes deserved. The likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggert, etc., are a uniquely American phenomena that deserve close scrutiny. Charlatainism in the guise of spiritual certainty is nothing new, but it is true that many Americans hold these people up as icons. David doesn't have the bandwidth for me to deconstruct this particular nonsense, but I will say that there is no way the body politic here could ever be held in sway to this - organism. What I find so very unfortunate about how off-putting any introduction of religion in the mix is that there is such a great deal to be gained by studying and understanding an enormously rich heritage. There is a great deal of wisdom to be gotten from the Torah, Acquinas, etc. To be afraid of it or to disdain it is to acquiesce to a much poorer life. I speak as one who has spent most of my adult life as an agnostic, neither Christian, nor Jew, etc.

In short, valuing religious thought is, for me, not a mark of ignorance, but one guidance for living.

tm, those are interesting anectdotes. I've been wondering since 9-11 if Europe isn't infecting the Muslim world with an even more virulent form of anti-americanism. I'm sure many Muslims come to Europe, notice how racist the systems are, and assume based on all the propaganda in Europe that America is even worse. Assuming that they even make it to the US after that, they often have been so indoctrinated against us that it becomes hard to convince them why we are different from Europe.

I agree with you that our government has done a terrible job of making its case abroad. Sending someone like Rumsfeld over here to rant like a demented person is a terrible mistake. It plays on Europeans's worst fears and confirms prejudices instead of emphasizing the common ground we have or at least disarming the critics. He's truly an Ugly American; I cringe every time he opens his mouth. I've never understood what my countrymen find so appealing in the guy. He's the same kind of know-it-all that prolonged Vietnam forever and then claimed later that it was all a mistake. I can just see him in the restaurant griping about how slow the service is and telling everyone how much better it is back home. If I were Bush I'd send Condi Rice and Powell over here to do the talking instead of Rumsfeld and Cheney.

I feel really sorry for career FSO types, who in many ways are our best and brightest, not getting the kind of support they need from the top. They are the ones who put their lives on the line every day. They deserve the best ambassadors we can find.

One hardly sees the current U.S. ambassador in Germany on TV or elsewhere. Kornblum, the former ambassador, was much more ubiquitous. I'll never forget his mardi gras appearance on TV one year where, as the guest of honor dressed as a cowboy for an evening of western themes, in fluent German he poked fun at the German celebration of cowboys by pointing out that few of the cowboys ever completed their formal guild training (no Meisterbrief) and that they worked for pitiful wages and had no pension rights. He then pointed out one of the brasher socialist guests and said, "but you Heidi, I know you would have done just fine back then" (to loud laughter in the audience). He pushed the envelope on good taste that evening but he looked so funny as a pudgy cowboy that he got away with it. That's the kind of people we need.

Also, check out Tom Friedman today. He's red hot right now.


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"Sending someone like Rumsfeld over here to rant like a demented person is a terrible mistake. It plays on Europeans's worst fears and confirms prejudices instead of emphasizing the common ground we have or at least disarming the critics. He's truly an Ugly American; I cringe every time he opens his mouth. I've never understood what my countrymen find so appealing in the guy."

Washingtonpost columnist Anne Applebaum had an editorial about the difference between EUropean and American speaking styles. It's basically a cultural gap. During the height of both wars Rumsfeld had a huge fan base. There was some article about how ratings for his "rantings" would go through the roof, especially among women. He was being asked in interviews whether he considered himself a 'stud'.

I don't think Rumsfeld is perfect and believe he's made more than a few mistakes but I do adore him. He's hilarious. He'd be really cool to have for a grandpa.

"He's the same kind of know-it-all that prolonged Vietnam forever and then claimed later that it was all a mistake."

Actually, re: Vietnam, Rumsfeld was anti-war. He's also been around the block for some time and is a very intelligent man.

Also, please tell me. When has Rumsfeld been ranting like a demented person? What did he say that was demented?

Linden "What did he say that was demented".

While i'm not a big rumsfeld fan, to put it in a nutshell - For telling it like it is.

Being an american, subjected to political correctness for the last several years. I find that a government offical who can cut through the feel good political crap a breath of fresh air.

Hope i didn't offend anyone's sensibilities!

I loath disgusting euphemisms like "collateral damage," and for me it was very refreshing to hear Rumsfeld using honest language. And he's funny. I like his sensibility (see, for example, Rumsfeld's Rules).

To a lot of us, it seemed that Rumsfeld and Powell were playing a pretty good game of good-cop bad-cop in Europe. There was too much of a pattern. Rumsfeld would blow through, leaving behind a swath of agitation and alarm. A few weeks later it would be Powell's turn, to unruffle all those feathers while making arguments that might otherwise have sounded alarming were it not for the contrast with Rumsfeld's earlier performances.

linden's right: on Vietnam, Rumsfeld was anti-war.

And here's one of Greg Djerejian's posts from 9/11/03:

At some point I was going to blog about Rummy's somewhat glib treatment of Iraqi reconstruction tasks per this article (for instance, his reference to developing Iraq's tourist infrastructure sounding quite absurdist and inappropriate at this juncture).

And then I saw some footage on CNN that I had never seen before. Of Rummy, right after the Pentagon was hit on 9/11, rushing about the grounds of the Pentagon helping to carry an injured (or dead?) man on a stretcher. And somehow it didn't feel right to criticize Don Rumsfeld. At least not today.

Anne Applebaum is probably one of our better columnists, and her piece on Parallel Universes complements the one on communication breakdowns pretty well.

I've been wondering since 9-11 if Europe isn't infecting the Muslim world with an even more virulent form of anti-americanism.
Well, that's the Anglosphere guy's answer. (More here).

I know Rummy is well liked back home, but he really is not the right person to be representing us in public. We pay a huge price in loss of sympathy abroad every time he opens his mouth. Turn the tables: it was precisely the kinds of big-mouthed critics whom I found most offensive right after 9-11. The fires were still burning in Manhattan, and they swarmed all over the European networks with their "honest" criticisms of America. It was their "duty" to tell the truth (man muss einem Freund die Wahrheit sagen können, nicht wahr?). Hell no, common decency dictated that one take a step back and reflect on the timing. Well, the same applies to Rummy. There is a reflexive backlash every time he scores a debating point in a crisis. He was right. So what? This isn't wrestling; the one with the most points at the end doesn't necessarily win.

We seem to have forgotton since 9-11 that we're still no. 1. If you're no. 1, you don't need to talk loudly and thump your chest. No. 1 doesn't need to constantly remind lesser countries of their inferiority. Speak softly; carry a big stick. It is a question of style. I'll admit part of my problem is a personal quirk. There are some folks I just cannot listen to. I tune out Schröder, and I tune out Rummy. I think Condi Rice would do a great job over here, and she is not exactly soft on terror.

"If you're no. 1, you don't need to talk loudly and thump your chest."

After 911, I think we had no choice but to engage in saber-rattling. If you're really #1, then people around the world wouldn't organize to murder thousands of your citizens and get away with it. One of the best things about this country is imo that many Americans don't feel like #1. We feel like aggrieved parties.

I haven't read about the "Anglosphere guy" but I do think quite a few of the Muslim world's problems have been exacerbated by inheriting the worst of Europe.

tm, thanks again for the links. You're incredibly well-read. I've been reading Anne Applebaum for several months now and went back and read much of her earlier posts at Slate, too. Is Lincoln Cat your blog? If so, I look forward to reading your impressions of life in Belgium and on "transatlantica" as you put it. Thanks again Dave for all the KB's to let off steam here. This is where I start my daily blog read.

linden, I understand why Americans were up for some saber rattling after 9-11. I just think that, given our determination to utilize our military muscle, a quieter rhetoric would have been more appropriate.

This conversation has been really fascinating. Thanks to all contributers.

I am a former Clinton Democrat struggling to forgive myself for supporting the man and the party that prosecuted al queda's first attempt at 9/11 (WTC 1993) in a fashion the Europeans very much approved of, thereby allowing the threat to grow into a global terrorist network. Thanks, Dems and Euros, but we just skipped down your primrose path from the 93 boming to 9/11/01. You complain that the US does not "listen" to you enough. I think the US has listened to you too much.

After 9/11, mainstream America read the jihadi literature and rightly took the Islamofascists at their word. Then we looked around to count our friends, and the Europeans had fluffed off into some alternative planet where socialist "intellectualizing" somehow made sense with the facts. Our "allies" were pretending that US Christian mothers were strapping suicide bombs to their babies, and flying Jumbos into office buildings. I was quite shocked to find that Europe thought the Islamofascists were fine, and the Americans that were the problematic religious fanatics.

I suppose I should be grateful for this hard lesson. Now I fully understand that it does not make a damn what we do, or how we do it, or what we say, or how we say it. The Islamofascists want us dead, (along with the Russians, the Indians, the Israelis, the Saudis, the Morrocans, the Balinese, YOU, etc -- but please Europe, don't obsess with the facts). I cannot tell you how it made me feel to realize that many of our socialist friends in Canada and Europe kind of liked the idea of me being dead.

As a newly-minted 9/11 Republican, there is one question on my mind that I have not seen addressed by the intellectual left/Eurocentrics: How do you reconcile your different positions on Iraq II and Yugoslavia? Can any of the Europhiles or politically-savvy Americans please educate me? I can't believe that Wesley Clark has not been required to explain that one. Or has he?

Hi Tom..
the reason the Germans were not against the Yugoslav war is because it was in THEIR interest to wage it.. The Yugoslavia war was a EUROPEAN security issue.. thus war was perfectly acceptable to them.
Also, having lived in Germany the past 5 years, I have heard enough people complaining about inflows of people from the former Yugoslavia.
If the situation was not corrected via war, there would have been even MORE refugees coming to Germany.. and Schroeder could not have THAT..

Thanks to the poster that responded above. I do understand that intervention in Yugoslavia was in Germany's best interest. And, what US President could resist the charms of Chirac and Kohl, as they came calling with bottles of wine and hats in hand talking about freedom and genocide? (I wonder what would have happened if Clinton had handcuffed NATO and left France and Germany to figure it up on their own?)

Please, help me to understand how Europeans and Democrats manage to intellectually “dress-up” the Yugo and Iraq issues with any convincing “principled convictions”? How do the Euros (or lefties for that matter) reconcile a morally supportive position on Yugoslav action with a morally outraged position on Iraq? How do they package these to make them fundamentally “different” on an ideological level for their own consumption? How is it that a Democratically elected Milosovic is on trial in the Hague by the same people screeching about the US violating Saddam Hussein's sovereignty? How can the same person believe that going to war in Yugoslavia was "principled", "moral", and "right", but going to war in Iraq was... well you know the horrible and disgusting things that have been said. I think somewhere in this space between our myopic views of Yugoslavia and Iraq is where we will find the answer to the question, "Why the recent flood of anti-Americanism in Europe"?

I see Iraq and Yugoslavia as exactly the same issue, except 1) Hussein was even more of bloody Hitler than Milosovic, 2) there was an added dynamic of potential WMD proliferation, 3) the UN had tried and failed for 12 years to diplomatically secure Hussein’s compliance with the cease-fire agreement, 4) Hussein’s wars of aggression, 5) Hussein’s known support for terrorist organizations (sorry “freedom fighters”), and 6) France and Germany wanted one and not the other etc.etc. But please, I must know, how is it that Europeans can logically support action in Yugoslavia, while disagreeing so viciously with action in Iraq while maintaining a pretense that their positions are based on grounds of morality, principle, humanitarianism and conscience?

Many Americans supported action in Yugoslavia, like myself, but wondered why Europe couldn't handle that without our help. US involvement in Yugoslavia was accepted as the kind of thing you do for friends: you get their backs. Americans are tired of "getting your backs", Europe, while you stab us in ours at every convenient opportunity. I think it became clear to many people here that France, Germany, and Canada are not our friends, and France is quite possibly an enemy. Now, I just want to know why.

no explanation other than European hypocrisy..
they are for war when it is in their best interests.. and against war when it is in their best interests (Chirac's pal Saddam). They are not on a higher moral plane or something like that.
Europeans accuse Americans of opportunism, but their behavior reflects it.
hypocrisy pure and simple.


Bennett's Anglosphere Primer is here.

Karl B,

Since 9/11 happened to coincide with the end (for awhile, anyway) of my student career, and since I was staying in Belgium but wasn't allowed to work, I had a lot of time on my hands. The reactions I observed among my friends and acquaintances served as an effective stimulus to my curiousity. Even after I became upgraded from "sojourner" to "immigrant" and gained permission to work, what I got was fairly sporadic.

lincoln cat is indeed my blog, though I might not really get into the Europe-US stuff right away. The other one is also my blog, and since I'm trying to do something sort of different with lincoln cat so far I've tended to put most of the explicit FP stuff on Elephant-Rabbits. But I've just started a new job, producing yet another reason (or excuse) for blog sloth. So I had gobs of time for reading.


A substantial portion of the "European street" and much of the left were opposed to the Kosovo war, actually.

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