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Actually Bush gets along fairly well with the Europe that will matter in the future. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland etc. etc.. Germany, France and the nether region countries will become less and less relevent in the future. They've had their day in the sun and squandered it. The East European countries, they understand the difference between freedom and creeping socialism. They are the future of continental Europe.

@ Joseph

Like Rumsfeld said..."old Europe" (France, Germany) Old Europe is "old hat". I agree. The Baltic states, Poland, and perhaps Ukraine, among others, are the future.

Germany and France are just about irrevelant.

We anthropomorphize nations too much on this blog—and in political debate in general. It's silly to think of Germany "liking" the U.S., or Germany being "grateful" to the U.S. for something. If you approach politics in such a childish manner, your "feelings" will get hurt.

Still, it's a shame that anti-U.S. sentiment is so prevalent in Germany currently, although it's really not surprising. The previous paragraph notwithstanding, nations are led by individuals and some of the individuals leading Germany and France, particularly, right now seem to carry a personal animus toward the U.S. as an entity. These politicians have used their personal grudges to whip up public opinion in directions that the U.S. might consider unfriendly solely to win votes. All politicians are guilty of this type of behavior.

Europe isn't ‘over’ or irrelevant, even though many of the western countries appear to be on a path that will lead to economic, social, and even (for lack of a better word) ethnic collapse. But it hasn't happened yet. As one of the commenters on a prior post noted, Germany remains the world’s largest exporter. Surprising for such as a relatively small country with double digit unemployment where no one wants to work if you believe everything you read (and I don’t), but true.

Even after we acknowledge that econometrics hasn't kept pace with economic change—that is, that a largely service-based economy like the U.S. sells the world billions of dollars in phantom exports that aren't measured by old industrial-economy metrics, we have to grant that Germany sells an amazing amount of goods to the world. If no one's at work and the economy is collapsing, how does this continue? Also, Germany manages to sell these exports in euros, currently over-valued if the European economy is really on the verge of collapse.

Obviously, Germans go to work and make a lot of consumer and industrial products that the world values highly. Obviously too, Germany is not really exporting more than the U.S. in any realistic measure. Service exports in the U.S. are under-reported, as are other intangibles like “innovation” generally, or even one of our biggest exports, the world police force—our tacit security guarantee to the entire globe. On the other hand, there are many more Americans than Germans, so on a per capita basis, who knows? Vaunted American productivity is driven only partly by technological advances; it's also driven by our willingness to work unpaid overtime. Germans may be doing plenty wrong, but they're doing something right also. And sometimes they’re doing it here: The BMW x-series SUVs are made in the U.S. and are unavailable in Germany. And what’s more German than a BMW?

The other side of the import-export coin, of course is that a positive balance of trade, as Germany enjoys, signals a rate of domestic consumption that is too low. The state diverts too large a percentage of wages to public coffers, rendering the German worker unable to consume at a rate in line with individual needs and desires. Ah, individual needs and desires—the welfare state manages these issues so the proles don’t have to. Right. Slipped my mind.

The main point re: economics and Europe—there’s still some gas in the tank. The European surrender-trope is often matched with an ability to rise to the occasion. It’s hard to predict exactly what will happen. Except in France, where the tendency to shoot oneself in the anthropomorphized foot—or cut off the heads of almost all the country’s elite—is unparalleled. At any rate, to whatever extent Europe is sliding down the tubes, it does so on its own, at its own pace, and will have only itself to blame. We can just watch quietly and see which pipe drains fastest.

Another big theme of many of the commenters here inevitably concerns WWII. The ‘Germany as victim’ sentiment that’s become more and more apparent in the last three or four years is truly interesting, a bit sad, but not one that Americans—in my opinion—really need to worry about. I think in this case, we actually can count on our allies the French and British and even the timid Dutch to remind Germany who the aggressor was. And who was beaten, not liberated. Cf. the protests in China recently over Japanese efforts to whitewash their bloody past. Again, however, I argue that to expect a country to be forever “grateful” for actions taken by another country is both unlikely and unhealthy. Nations don’t have a conscience.

Some, but certainly not all, of this strange aggressor-as-victim-turnaround can be laid at the feet of the American media, I feel. The war—any war—is complex, and people don’t deal in complexity very well. In an effort to understand the war, or cynically, in an effort to easily market war nostalgia to the American and world markets, the U.S. media has turned WWII into Germany’s war against the Jews. The only thing you need to know about WWII is that six million Jews were killed. This is nonsense, of course. Not that six million Jews were killed, but that the war was about this. A stat you never see in the U.S.—which shouldn’t be construed as minimizing the tragedy of the holocaust, yet is very telling—is the paltry number of Germany Jews who were killed. A startling percentage of German Jews escaped and emigrated, many with their assets. There weren’t millions of German Jews to start with, of course. The vast majority lived in Berlin and Munich, incidentally. These were informed, savvy, influential burgers, not peasants from the Russian stetls. The Jews who were killed were largely eastern Europeans, esp. Poles, Croats, Hungarians, etc. Most of whom were gladly given up by their non-German countrymen. This is not offered as any kind of excuse, however.

WWII was a war of aggressive expansionism, an effort to take over Europe. Millions of Jews died, but that’s not why Germany went to war. The U.S. joined the fight very late, of course, thanks to the strong American pacifist movement, allowing millions of Jews and French and English and Dutch…etc. to die. America never fought to save Jews. We joined when it became clear that the expansion might not stop at the Atlantic. And you should never fight at home if you can help it. It wasn’t simply benevolence that led the U.S. to join the war, and it certainly wasn’t a warm feeling toward Eastern European Jews. We’ve decided that after the fact.

The conversion of WWII from a violent land grab into purely a genocidal melee goes a long way toward facilitating the ‘Germany as victim position’. It’s easy for modern Germans to say that they or their parents, never supported Hitler’s anti-Jewish bloodlust. They were victims of his mania too. I suspect for the most part this would be correct. What was overwhelmingly supported, however, was Hitler’s single-minded leadership, his imposition of order and control (dear to all Germans), and his promise to make Germany strong and respected. That’s why people fought. But national pride and a mere land grab aren’t as cinematic as an effort to destroy an entire people. The U.S. public consciousness is an enormous contributing factor here. We’ve allowed Germany to forget why they were fighting.

Sorry, David, for the length of this rant—Mainly I take issue with people who post comments here like, “Why worry, it’s just Europe. It doesn’t matter.” Such an attitude is pure thanatos, worthy of the most depressed Dutch novelist. No one benefits from this attitude, certainly not Americans. Europe does matter. On the other hand, I don’t have any specific recommendations. I think Pres. Bush’s sunny ignoring of the bitter ad hominem attacks coming from such ghouls as Chirac and Schröder along with most Euro-media outlets is a great way to proceed. Underlings like Rumsfeld can make the snarky “Old Europe” attacks while the President acts as if nothing is out of the ordinary and he’s everyone’s best friend For the President to care so little about what the French and Germans think of him must be the ultimate insult.

This is a bad post. There is no content, simply anti-German sentiment. Why would we highlight such flames? I'm very dissappointed.

David's Medienkritik provides a valuable service and is an excellent blog. A post like this damages your credibility and does us readers a greater diservice.

Too bad.

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