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Man that is really well put. The Ambassador needs to be shaken from his slumber, nothing else can explain such a statement. Well perhaps his being a total fool could explain it.

The Gorbymania in Germany and Western Europe made the media and people blind for the democratic developments in Eastern Europe. A lot of things are forgotten already.It seemed to me chancellor Helmut Kohl was never a big friend of the Baltics at that time of change, cause of Russia, at then the Soviet Union. There was for example even hostility against the Baltics(inside the diplomatic departments and the German media). They both critizised especially the Baltics often claiming they should slow down the pace of protests and decision making. The fear of desintegration of the Soviet Union was there.
My conclusion here: Angst is the driving force of Germans instead taking risks for better chances.

And even the United States were scared:

Sorry in German, DIE ZEIT Nr.11 1996
George Bush in a talk with Gorbatschow, Mitterand and Thatcher:

"Ich sagte Michael [Gorbatschow], wie sehr es die amerikanisch-sowjetischen Beziehungen belasten werde, wenn er in den baltischen Staaten Gewalt einsetze. Wir waren für die Unabhängigkeit des Baltikums, und das wußte er. Aber ich glaube noch immer, wenn wir die Litauer, die Esten und die Letten ermuntert hätten, dann hätten wir sämtliche Fortschritte in den sowjetisch-amerikanischen Beziehungen zunichte machen können. Das hätte sich auch auf Europa schädlich ausgewirkt."

That was REALPOLITIK, but not the nice one.

Does anyone have the email address to this moron or to the embassy, etc? I think he deserves a response. Please send it to me or post it somewhere in this blog.

Note from David: that's the best I can come up with:

I'm sorry Germany, but your ambassador to the U.S. is either ignorant, or an outright idiot.

No blood spilled in the transformation of Central and Eastern Europe to democracy? Who in their right mind would believe that?

Just take an example from my own family. My father, William Kraft, was a Sergeant in the U.S. army in Germany in the 1950s. Our family are German-American, with my great-grandfather immigrating in the 1890s, so my father grew up with some day-to-day conversations being in German. On top of that, he picked up Russian from growing up among the Russian community living on "Russian Hill" in San Francisco.

So after his active army service, he was recruited to work for U.S. military intelligence. His last big mission was to go into Hungary in 1956, and get out a some Hungarians that the U.S. wanted to save.

My father was a first-hand witness to what the Soviet army in particular did to Budapest. Frankly, the experience of war on a civilian population shook his russo-philic feelings and his romantic images of what war was really about. He was also actually wounded by the Russian army when his Volkswagen was machine gunned by the Soviets as he was crossing the border back into Austria. Two of his Hungarian passengers/charges who were in the back seat were both killed.

After Hungary, my father retired from military intelligence, and returned to California.

Among the things he saw in Budapest that he told me about:

1. A Soviet tank crushing a bread line of 20-30 Hungarian women against the wall of the shop they were waiting to get into. Before he had gone into military intelligence, my father had been a tank commander in the U.S. 2nd armored division in Germany, he had driven and commanded tanks, and had seen many accidents on the autobahns and elsewhere involving U.S. tanks and German civilians and property. He was convinced that under the circumstances, there was no way that the death and maiming of those Hungarian women was anything but an intentional act by the Soviet tank crew in question.

2. He was around one of the universities in Budapest during the Soviet crackdown. Being your normal university, it was a center of intellectual and student support for the Hungarian revolution. When the soviets arrived, they stormed the campus, dragged out the leaders of the student/faculty opposition that they could find, tied them to steetlamp poles outside the university, and then bayoneted them.

3. My dad was eventually picked up by the soviets as a Western citizen, and before being cleared to leave Hungary, was placed in a hotel in Budapest guarded by Polish troops. A group of Soviets apparently captured a "free Hungarian" tank, covered with all kinds of revolutionary slogans, and drove this tank around the corner at the hotel. The Poles, thinking that these were Hungarians, opened fire and destroyed the tank and killed most of the Soviets. The next day, the KGB showed up, none too pleased that the Poles had killed off several Russians, and suspecting the Poles of sympathizing either too much with the Hungarians or too little with the Soviets, arrested many of the Polish officers and noncoms who were in command at the time.

So it's pretty ridiculous to talk about how the "transformation" of Eastern and Central Europe a bloodless affair. Maybe this particular ambassador never had to see a drop of blood spilt, but only an ignoramus would say that no blood was involved.

@ Mr.G

I agree.

Give us an address. The Green / Red idiots have surpased themselves on this one. I have rarely heard
such nonesense and stupidity.

Ambassador, my foot.
What an arse.
Expel him.

Give the ambassador a break. What he meant was

"As older societies, we tend to delude ourselves into believing we are more experienced..."

13. January 1991 crackdown, Vilinius Lithuania
Darius Cekanauskas was 17 at the time of the crackdown. As tanks started shooting at the TV tower, he was at a party in a nearby neighborhood. He ran to the tower with his friends to see what was happening.

CITY PAPER: What was the scene like as you approached the TV tower?
We got near the tower 10 minutes after the shooting started, around 1:00 am. The tanks hadn’t yet closed in, but we could see them bearing down on the tower. As we got closer to the tower, we saw cars that had been crushed by tanks. And the force from the blast of the tank cannons was so powerful that it knocked us down twice. When we got to the tower, there were lots of Lithuanians surrounding it. We were the last ones there, so we were on the outside of the circle. That meant we were the first in line, so to speak, and I wouldn’t say it was a real big pleasure to be standing there. We could only hear that tanks were coming towards us, though we couldn’t see them yet. But we only had to wait for about a minute—then we saw them: soldiers, armored trucks and the first tanks. The tanks were firing their cannons. It was so loud that glass windows in the tower were shattering and falling down on us like rain.
At first, they were shooting rubber bullets, to scare us. So, we stood there, waiting I’d say for about a minute. Then we saw the special forces, the notorious Alpha troops. When we saw them coming, I can’t say I felt very patriotic, but I really didn’t feel scared either.
Soldiers started wading through the people towards the tower. I think they were very surprised that people just stayed there, that they didn’t flee. Then, all of a sudden, everybody started pushing to one side. My friend said: "Be careful! Watch the tank!" I turned and saw the tank directly in front of me. You know the picture of people pushing the tank with legs trapped underneath it—I was standing right beside that very tank. My friend started pulling me and we tried to get around the tank. But when we did, I got hit tremendously hard on my head by a gun or baton. It would have knocked me down, but my friend held me up. Then we got out of there. As we were leaving, we could hear bullets whizzing through the air; these were definitely real bullets. I was in the hospital for a month, and even briefly went into a coma.

Another country another crackdown (Latvia 1991) and a well known camera man whom this German diplomad did never know or never heard off or even forgotten:


‘Keep Filming’

Latvia remembers filmmakers who risked their lives to document a Soviet crackdown.

By Steven C. Johnson

When she learned Soviet troops had opened fire on a government building in downtown Riga 10 years ago, Natasha Dushen feared for the life of her husband, Andris Slapins. She knew he’d be in the thick of it.
Ten minutes later, the dreaded news came: the radio reported that well-known filmmaker Slapins had been cut down by a Soviet bullet while filming an attack on Latvia’s interior ministry. He was one of five fatalities that night.
The January 20, 1991 attack was part of a wider Soviet crackdown at the time to snuff out pro-independence drives in the three Baltic states.
But the attempt only ended up spurring on Baltic independence movements. And eight months later, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia did regain their independence after a failed Kremlin coup triggered the collapse of the Soviet empire.
Despite ultimate victory for Latvia, the deaths of Slapins and his colleague, Gvido Zvaigzne, dealt a severe blow to a team of celebrated filmmakers whose work beautifully traced the demise of the Soviet empire.
Slapins and Zvaigzne anchored the crew of renowned director Juris Podnieks, who cemented his reputation with a series of poetic documentaries about the promise and the pain under the rule of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
They were no strangers to violence. They had filmed ethnic tensions in the Soviet Central Asian republics of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. They also documented the aftermath of the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, Ukraine.
“They didn’t think about danger, because for those who lived under the Soviet system to speak the truth was almost more valuable than life,” said Antra Cilinska, a Riga filmmaker also active at the time.
So when word came on that night in mid-winter that the interior ministry was being attacked by elite Soviet troops, known as black berets, all three of the Latvian filmmakers rushed to the scene, cameras in tow.
One week earlier, Soviet troops had attacked demonstrators in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, killing 14. Now, when shooting broke out in Riga, it looked like Soviet forces were bent on crushing the three Baltic states one by one.
Slapins and the others gathered to film the assault in a park across the street from the ministry. Minutes after shooting began, a boy and two Latvian policemen were fatally wounded.
Suddenly, the cameramen became targets.
Slapins was hit first. As he lay on the ground coughing blood, he pleaded with Podnieks to train the camera on him.
“Film me, film me. They got me right in the heart,” he was videoed as saying.
He died minutes later. He never learned his wife was pregnant with the couple’s second child.

This is just typical Euro-tripe of the often superior attitude Europeans have to anyone else in the world. He just draws a comparison to the US because the US: is more successful, is more powerful, is richer per capita, is growing, has a can-do attitude, et cetera, et cetera... Europeans have always had an inferiority complex with the US, the Iraq war has just permitted them (in their view) to vent...

How about the long-term view that Ronald Reagan had: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Such a simple but profound statement, it took vision and courage, something not often found on the continent any longer. I recall that many in Germany cringed as those words were spoken. Furthermore, it was the USA who desired and recognised the importance to Germans about the reunification whilst many other "older societies" like France and the UK were originally opposed to it.

Isn't it strange than, that many Easter European countries tend to identify themselves with the US more so?

I find that a comparison of Easter Europe (Western Civilisation) to the middle East is rather tenuous at best. Perhaps use a non-European country like South Korea or Japan would be more appropriate. Their permanent establishment of democracy was born of fire and blood.

What about the USA, whose democracy was born of fire?

Continue to sell arms to the Chinese, that will make them a democracy.

Hans Dietrich Genscher also felt that the establishment of democracy in Easter Europe was a rather easy business. Under his tutelage, Germany was the first country to recognise the breakaway country of Slovenia from Yugoslavia. What an easy thing to do, see soft power, patient old societies, USA crazy, it does work! Although it didn't work out that way. Instead, after much fighting, European impotence, 300,000 dead and genocide unseen since the second world war, the US had to come in and bring an end to hostilities.


There seems to be so much you don't get. Why is that? Read the article again and the prior one. Maybe if you open up you mind you will start to get it. Don't open it up to o far we can't have your brain falling out in shock.


All the pictures refer to incidents before 1989/90. The transformation mentioned by the ambassador was probably the one 1989 and after that. That is when the transformation to democracies happened. So i don't get whats the point of these pictures.

I think that Ray used these pictures based upon the direct comments by the Ambassador:

1) As older societies...
2) ..we tend to think of ourselves as more experienced in the way
3) societies evolve..

So, if one is to claim that older societies have an innate abilitiy evolve, then one should make a full examination of the cliam. Using the same history that serves as a basis for the argument...

PS Doesn't the USA evolve? Strangely, Germany having an impossible time in evolving.

Look, even American Presidents said stupid things:

From the 9 Dec '04 William Safire column:
"George Bush snr's most memorable foreign-policy blunder took place in Kiev in 1991, then under communist rule. With the Soviet Union coming apart, Bush - badly advised as US president by the stability-obsessed "realist" Brent Scowcroft - made a speech urging Ukrainians yearning for independence to beware of "suicidal nationalism". His speech, which he now insists meant only "not so fast", was widely taken as advice to remain loyal to Moscow's empire."

"I dubbed this the "chicken Kiev speech". That so infuriated Bush, who mistakenly saw the phrase as imputing cowardice rather than charging colossal misjudgement, that he has not spoken to me since."

This speech btw was written by Condi Rice, when she worked for her mentor Brent Scowcroft. One difference is that George Bush was President and everything he said was scrutinized and could have an effect that would cost people's lives [pay attention Newsweek]. The Soviets had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons targeting the US. Ambassador Ischinger is speaking 14 years after the end of that threat.

Ischinger's comments remind me of an incident. I was at work at Bayer AG, during the Iranian hostage crisis. A colleague came in gleeful, yes, gleeful, with the news that a couple of American fighter planes had been shot down over Iran. First reports are often wrong, but he was reporting the failure of Carter's rescue operation at Desert One. I'm very concerned, this could mean war with Iran and alot of people getting killed.

My colleague also filled me in [I never asked for it] on his opinion, that the US foreign policy was bungled and that the Europeans [Germans] would do a much better job. So, I pointed out to him, say in the then 35 years since 1945, assuming the US ran the world, there had been no major European wars. In the 35 years before 1945 with the Europeans running the world, there were two major European wars, which almost destroyed Western Civilization. Who did a better job of running the world? That wiped the smirk off his face.

What's the difference, Ischinger is an Ambassador to the US, he's has to be well-read in history, diplomacy and culture, while my colleague may not have even had college education. Amazing, they both believe the same things.

Once I thought like Ischinger, yes I did. In the 80s I was pro Gorbatchev (after his 87 speech about democracy) and probably against Reagan`s srategic politics.
.."tare down this wall".. was seen as an affront against "Gorbie". I changed my mind when the uprising in the Baltics started with the "Singing Revolution" 1988, suddenly I turned to be a "nationalist" (Baltic style). I became a Gorbatchev critic and at the same time I realised that Thatcher, Mitterand and Kohl and others preferred the thought of a future Soviet Union instead of disintegration. George Bush was not very active in supporting the independence movements but at least he was not against independence (in the Baltics). Since then, of cource, I do judge the American foreign policy from a different view.

...without shedding a drop of blood. So don't preach to us.

Those words, oh, those words, they drive me literally crazy! I can't believe that Ischinger pig with his Nazi-like arrogance. Romania has seen plenty of blood in December '89. Too much blood, some of it that of relatives of mine. Some of it could have been mine. Instead of being dead, I was lucky and now I write here. I got to know how bullets passing by at not more than 10 inches sound like. I heard injured people calling their mothers(I had always thought it's a stereotype), I saw a young soldier with a bullet in his back looking perfectly at peace - he was hit in the spine and paralyzed for life, so he couldn't feel a thing. I guess he was lucky, eh, or maybe not...

A man with such a Nazi-like disregard for life represents Germany in the US. I guess it's a bad thing, but it's also a good thing. It proves, once again, that nothing, not even truth and human life, can stand in the way of EU bureaucrats. All that matters to them is scoring points against the enemy, the USA. The good thing is that the US doesn't have to worry about any "competition" from the EU, the EU-nuchs are doing their best to burry the unborn EU-baby.

I think Mr Ischinger meant the 90s, which clearly saw a peaceful transformation of Eastern European countries from former Soviet satellites to democratic states, not the time under Soviet domination. Of course the transformation didn't begin in 1990, and as long as the Soviets ruled with an iron fist much blood was spilled in the process.
The comparison between Eastern Europe and Iraq (if that was the intention) is of course erroneous, as Iraq had to be liberated from a bloody dictator by force and this hardly could be done without blood being spilled.
Had the Soviets stuck to their tradition ways the transformation of Eastern Europe would have been very bloody... and probably failed.
We were lucky.


"All the pictures refer to incidents before 1989/90. The transformation mentioned by the ambassador was probably the one 1989 and after that. That is when the transformation to democracies happened. So i don't get whats the point of these pictures."

If you really don't see any connection between the pictures and events that happened after 1989, Niko, I'm afraid you never will get it.

What's wrong with with Wolfie? This ambassador also oversees the Fletcher School of Diplomacy. So what he says defines what is acceptable thinking and conduct in the diplomatic community!

Silly Medienkritik, when the ambassador spoke of "blood" he meant only the blood that matters, that of Germans ... West Germans in particular. Who cares about the cost of Polish, Hungarian, Czech, or even East German blood. The beauty of appeassment is that you escape the suffering of your neighbors. And it is even better when you can claim credit for the sacrifice of others. Now that's superiority if there ever was such.

niko, you little idiot, you are just as criminally stupid and ignorant as the Ischinger-pig. Are you hurt by those words? Don't worry, they hurt less than bullets in 1989.

Besides that, the blood spilled before 1989 in Eastern Europe in the struggle against communism "counts" just as much as the blood spilled in 1989. If you don't see that, you didn't deserve to incarnate in a human body in this lifetime. You can make it as a German ambassador, but you are still a failure as a human being. If I were you, I wouldn't show up around here for a while, but in your infinite stupidity you'll do just the opposite.

Ray, now THAT was a good fisking.

Actually a better comparison might Europe of 1939 and Europe of today if he wants to make reference to Iraq.

Of course, this is a part of his nation's history he would like to forget and like the rest of us to forget as well. If we remember then we have some base to question everything he says as a repersentative of Germany.

Below is a link which can get your comments to the DE Embassy in WDC. It is not a direct email address but having used it before and actually gotten a reply - broiler plate "BS" - I know it works.


Terrible story, great post.

Real sorry 'bout the double trackback. . .

Dave at Garfield Ridge

The ambassador does seem to be going out of his way to antagonize America. But for what reason?
Perhaps to curry favor with the new Herrnvolk, the muslims? As the man said, those Europeans sure think ahead....

Off topic, but I just read this on the New Republic and thought of you guys,

"Schroeder, for his part, has to distract voters' attention from the dire state of the economy--and since George W. Bush is not planning a war in time for the next German election"

funny how transparent this fact is over here compared to over there.

The blood spilled by people involved in the above mentioned incidents and others - and the US' Cold War policy - is the reason why Herr Ischinger can play Ambassador today and talk out of his arse with the sun shining on it instead of getting it wet from nuclear rain drops. That guy is a disgrace to my country and myself, he is a complete fool. Problem is this he shares with most walking this place here these days, niko is just one example of that.

Oh dear, I work hard every day trying to convince myself "it's not so bad as it seems, it ain't, you might not really have to emmigrate Germany at some future point" and then everytime I look around I'm even more baffled. Truly, mark my words: The upcoming general elections I recon as the last chance my country gets to win back some BRAIN. If it votes for the socialist idiots again, or even if it does not but the other parties fail to HAMMER change into this country, then that was it. And I will start planning my exit-strategy. Maybe Churchill was right after all with his "The hun is either at your feet or at your throat":
Before and during WWI: Throat. After: Feet. Before and during WWII: Throat. After: Feet. These days and aftermath: [?]. I'm afraid there might be a pattern in the end. The upcoming elections and the following policy will be another historical crossroads. I hope we break the pattern.

anonymous wrote: "The ambassador does seem to be going out of his way to antagonize America. But for what reason?"

That's the exact question (in less words) I posed myself in the above post. I hope my answer: "It might just be the pattern, stupid" will prove false.

Boy, I've read it again and can't get over it.

"I have told my American friends that the region in this world that has seen the most transformation and change is Central and Eastern Europe--without shedding a drop of blood."

I really WONDER what his "American friends" must have thought while he shared his wisdom with them. Because, even I as a German, the first thing that stroke my mind as I read this was the U-2 Pilot who was targetted and killed while performing a recon mission over Cuba at high altitude during the Cuban missile crises. "Without a shed of blood." my ass. It's not that difficult to connect the dots here, but still the AMBASSADOR seems to be unable to do this, seems to not have grasped any comprehension of the Cold War, seems to not be able to see what nuclear missiles in Cuba would have meant for Berlin and his great "evolving societies" in Europe.

"@WhatDoIKnow: omg, you are so angry don't even get what I as trying to say."

Well, niko, at best you were just trying to say the Ambassador does not comprehend history. At worst you were saying that you don't either.


Maybe you haven´t noticed, but Ray didn´t mention Romania once in his article (before he updated). So you should add Ray to your list of criminally stupid nazi pigs.

If you wipe the spit off your mouth and read niko´s comment again, you´ll see that he never claimed that the blood of the people that died in the earlier revolutions did not count. Nobody doubts that these were heroes. But they FAILED. They didn´t bring any change or transformation.

There is no reason whatsoever to assume that the revolution of ´53 somehow "forged the path" for ´89. It´s stupid to assume that anybody went to the streets because of the previous massacres. It´s much more reasonable that the demonstrations of Leipzig were possible because people did NOT think of ´53.

Of course the heroes of ´53 shed their blood for democracy. But the actual transformation of Germany to a democracy happened without bloodshed.
It would be equally nonsensical to claim that the Korean or Vietnam wars were part of the "transformation" of North Korea resp. Vietnam to democracy.

And what´s with the Gulag Archipelago? With the same right one could claim that the KZs were part of the German transformation to democracy.

Therefore, niko is completely right: the pictures Ray had up in the original version are pointless.

Georgia and Romania are examples that fit.


I think WhatDOIKnow is mad because he and his family are members of those —nonexistent according to Herr Ischinger— peoples who shed much blood for the liberation of Eastern Europe...so you will have to excuse him.

To my mind, one of the most telling signs of the current trans-Atlantic imbroglio is the difference in reception the American president receives when he visits Western Europe vs. Eastern Europe. In the East he, and Americans in general, are greeted like rock stars. In the West he is booed and his effigy burned, and Americans scorned as the root of all evil suitable for any occasion.

For those of Eastern Europe who know what suffering and tyranny is like, and who know those nations that stood for them and their independence during the dark 50 years of Soviet occupation —as well as those nations who apologized for, appeased, and legitimized their oppressor— the choice is simple.

For those of Western Europe, the collapse of the Soviet Union was a freak coincidence contingent upon nothing, certainly not the machinations of that idiot Reagan and his handmaiden Thatcher, seems as both desirable, as then European powers were no longer dependent on the US for their security and thus free to antagonize their old protectors as their populations demanded, and regrettable, as then —and still today— the Soviet Union was the political inamorata of much of the Western European elite.

@ fuchur,

So we are supposed to believe that historic events have absolutely no connection with one another. Democracy came to Germany peacefully? Was World War II peaceful? If the Allies had not defeated Germany in World War II, neither East nor West Germany ever would have been democratic. If people had not resisted Communism from both within and without for so long at the cost of so much human life, it would have never fallen apart where it did.

And you say the revolutions of 53, 56 and 68 failed. WRONG. They succeeded. Communism is dead in those nations today in part because it proved to be a brutal, inflexible system, a point that was proven by the rebellions. Those who fought for freedom in Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia indeed lost the battles they were fighting, but they did not lose the war.

And how did the gulags help Germany become a democracy? If some Germans were imprisoned for Nazi crimes that is fine, but millions more Germans and other peoples were thrown into Communist prisons for political beliefs or for no real reason at all. There was nothing at all democratic about that.

Today we have Holocaust denial on the right among those who deny the Nazi genocide and we have Holocaust denial on the left among those who deny the Communist genocide. It's time to stop the denial fuchur.

---Ray D.

@ niko,

BTW: Thanks for helping me improve my posting. Just a small warning though, we have another 'Niko' who has been a long-time commenter on this site. I strongly suggest you include an initial for your last name or use a different name so we can tell you both apart.


"But they FAILED. They didn't bring any change or transformation."

It must be nice to see history as a constellation of bifurcated and discrete events fuchur...it really does allow one to make whatever point one wants without have to face up to past.

For one example: did the Hussites preclude the Protestant Reformation? No because "they FAILED. They didn't bring any change or transformation." Sounds pretty lame to me boss, but that is exactly the form of argument you are making.

Of course the overriding issue is that if every single cause of movement in human society in sui generis, then the past itself is rather meaningless isn't it? Much to the pleasure of utopian idiots like you I'm sure.

If you wipe the spit off your mouth

What other idiot could show up and relativate the words of another idiot than fuchur. fuchur, this is not about politics. It is about loss of human life, denied by Ischinger and relativated by the failure niko. You never had to fight and bleed for freedom. How do I know that? Simply by your response. If you had ever had the blood of a innocent human being all over you, you would NEVER think of "debating", you would simply shut up.

But the actual transformation of Germany to a democracy happened without bloodshed.

fuchur, it is not ALL about Germany. I, and many others, had very well on my mind the earlier death of countless innocents when struggling for freedom. EVERY drop of blood shed before 1989 in the struggle against communism counted for me and for others. If it doesn't count for you, don't think that all are like you(fortunately).

Ray's posting is one of those postings where no normal human being would find something to "debate". But the fuchurs and nikos don't mind relativating death sitting in front of their monitors.

fuchur, you might be mad as hell because I called you an idiot(amongst others). On the other hand, I am mad as hell because loosers like Ischinger ignore death of extraordinary people, relatives and strangers. How much do you think I care about you being mad, or about you, for that matter? You and niko are nothing but failed projects.

P.S. I appologize to the rest of the readers for my choice of words. It is not the way I usually write(or talk). I just don't know how else to talk to savages like fuchur, niko, Ischinger etc.

Note from Ray D.: I've deleted some of the more choice words in this comment.

@ fuchur

As Ray and others have pointed out, the "peaceful" transformation of Eastern Europe in the 1990's was the result of a long historical process that included quite a few non-peaceful events. To truncate history at 1989 is historically naive at best.

But the part of the Ambassador's "history" lesson I really liked was "the without shedding a drop of blood" after 1989. Those Bosnians, Albanians, Serbs, and Croats don't count: Untermenschen naturlich.


I wouldn't lump in Ms. Thatcher with the rest of them. She gave the blessing for posting those Pershing II's in the UK in response to Soviet SS-20's (funny how lefties didn't protest those in the '80's). The Iron Lady was alright.

@ Jeff,

You wrote:

"But the part of the Ambassador's "history" lesson I really liked was "the without shedding a drop of blood" after 1989. Those Bosnians, Albanians, Serbs, and Croats don't count: Untermenschen naturlich."

The shocking part is this: Have a look at the link on the ambassador's name we provide above. It links to a short bio on the German Embassy's website. He was personally involved with negotiations on Bosnia and Kosovo. So there is just no way he can be in the dark about that.

---Ray D.


i like your theory of spontaneous democracy and liberty. it just happens!
After all, if each man is an island, each nation or event is as well!

Ischinger is a pathetic soul.

OT but, ahhh, the socialist paradise, via Babalu Blog:

Castro Shows Off Energy-Saving Appliances
Friday May 27, 12:39 pm ET
By Anita Snow, Associated Press Writer
Castro Shows Off Energy-Saving Appliances Being Distributed to Cubans

HAVANA (AP) -- Looking more like a game-show host than a head of state, a jovial Fidel Castro dressed in military uniform and flanked by government ministers went on live television to show millions of Cuban viewers how to use new energy-saving rice steamers and pressure cookers.

In one of his increasingly frequent live appearances on state television, Castro joked Thursday night as he demonstrated kitchen appliances which Cuba has begun distributing at heavily subsidized prices to combat the island's energy problems.

He assured Cubans that those who did not have them yet would have them soon.

The cookers, light bulbs, electric fans and other appliances are designed to help prevent blackouts common here in summer when Cuba's aging electrical grid is overtaxed.

"They are our hope that we get to August without Yadira having to kill herself," Castro joked, referring to Yadira Garcia, Cuba's Basic Industry Minister, who held a microphone for him.

Castro announced in March that 100,000 new pressure cookers would be made available to Cubans each month, saying the appliances will use half the energy of the homemade ones they are replacing, at about the same price.

In another recent television appearance, the Cuban leader stood up to lecture around a display of unique Cuban appliances -- including homemade rice cookers and an old fan operating on a Russian refrigerator motor -- which he said were hazardous and used too much electricity.

This, folks, was the big speech Cubans were waiting for yesterday. I dont know whether to laugh my ass off or cry.

No wonder many Europeans flock to Cuba for vacation!!

@ niko_k

No offense taken. I absolutely DO appreciate valid, constructive criticisms of this website and suggestions for improvements.

---Ray D.


Thanks for this great piece.

I did write the German Embassy in D.C. and here is their response:

"Dear _____

Thank you very much for your response to the article in The New Yorker which quotes the German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger on transformation in Europe. The Ambassador has asked me to convey to you the following:

My statement that "the region in this world that has seen the most transformation and change is Central and Eastern Europe" should have continued "since 1990". My unfortunate omission may have created the impression that I was not specifically referring to the peaceful transformational change since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, - the last 15 years. I am, of course, totally aware of the horrible history of bloodshed, terror and repression that caracterized much of Europe in the first half of the 20th century and, in certain parts of Europe, well beyond 1945."

We are sorry if his comment lead to a misunderstanding, and we hope this clears it up.


German Embassy Washington

= = = = =

I guess there's still a MAJOR gap in the "official" German government's knowledge from 1945'ish to 1990...

Apparently there was no Hungarian uprising, nor were there no 100's of thousands of people who were sent in cattle cars to the Soviet Gulags, etc, during this timeframe.

My Senator and Congressman will be reading from my sometime next week.


1990's Germany's starting fresh date, why do you think this is Kyoto's baseline?

@ WhatDoIKnow

No, I never had to fight and bleed for my freedom. And I am very grateful for this.

As I explicitely said in my comment, I have the deepest respect for anybody who sacrificed his life for freedom and democracy.

And I honestly admire you for what you have done while I was savely sitting in front of TV.

But I also think that your comments sometimes are BS.

Of course there often is a relation between events in history. But not always.

The idea that the revolutions "unmasked" Socialism and thus lead to its fall sounds good. But then: Why didn´t the Soviet Union crumble then and there? Why did it take another 20-40 years?

Of course, we cannot be sure of the truth. But did the people shout "Remember 1968!" in 1989? There were lots of interviews etc. back then, and I don´t remember any mentioning of the "old" revolutions. Yes, I´m talking about Germany here; but let´s not forget that the storm started in Germany (ok, Hungary).

For example assume that the "transformation of Cuba to democracy" is finished in 2010. Would you really say that the Pig´s Bay battle was part of this transformation? It´s part of the history, but it did not contribute anything to the transformation of Cuba to democracy.
It was a failure, but that doesn´t make the deed any less valueable.

The gulags certainly showed the inhumanity of the Soviet system. But I still wouldn´t say that they were part of the transformation of the SU to democracy!?

Btw, please don´t get this wrong: I´m not fighting for Mr Ischinger here (although I think that quick interviews shouldn´t be overrated). Ray´s scathing words are dead on.

As for Kyoto, it still slays me that the treaty was crushed 95-0 in the United States Senate (yes, John Kerry voted 'no', as well as Ted Kennedy and a few other 'luminaries') but, of course, that little "detail" gets little to no mention.

Who was the US president when this occurred? None other than William Jefferson (aka Bill) Clinton.

I got the same response from the German Embassy that "Anonymous" received.

At least the ambassador chose not to convey the following to me--"Since 1946, relations between Germany and it's neighbours have been a model of peaceful cooperation!"

No point in writing to the German Embassy in Washington. Write to his boss in Berlin. Ask for his recall.

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