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Vinocur is always insightful and provides an alternative voice to the normal backslapping here in Europe. Another view is from Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard "Stillstand in Deutschland".

Here is an excerpt:

Schröder made his trademark Popeye-the-Sailor-Man gesture--clasping both hands over his head and pumping them about as if he were shaking a cocktail. That did not change the fact that Merkel got more votes, or remove her customary prerogative to lead coalition negotiations. But it seemed to. "Practice humility," Schröder told Merkel and the CDU. "That's the least one can expect from a Christian party."

I have also found no criticism of Schroeder's behavior from our acquaintances who voted Green or CDU. Those who voted FDP, on the other hand, are planning an exit strategy...

"Instead, it's based, beyond the figures, on what he describes, eerily, as his reading of Germany's will."

Sounds like Schröder is practicing a bit of Rousseau's volonté générale which was also very popular with the former communist block "Partei neuen Typs": the REAL will of the people is known only to a very small elite, and if the people by chance do not agree with that "will" of theirs, then they are "class unconsciouss" or whatever and it is the duty of the political functionaries to teach them what to want (or get them out of the way by force) ... Oh dear. Poor old Germany.

What a dictatorial pig this guy is. Germany, of all places, should be wary of incipient Führerprinzip tendencies in the people its electorate vote for. Next thing you know he'll be talking about how his installation as Chancellor is (with apologies to Pravda) the natural choice of "freedom loving peoples everywhere."

When Germans are in-raged, the truth might become visible for a moment. Trouble is, Germans usually are out-raged, usually in France, always viciously.

Schröder lost greatly in popularity after the elections:


Given the fact that Schröder was massively preferred as chancellor before the elections, to me that shows that Germans indeed dislike his behaviour on election day.

While in Austria over the past several days I saw no reporting on Schroeder's odd behavior. The Austrian news only noted progress or lack of progress in talks.

I worry not that my beers might be at risk.

I have great confidence that Gerhard will lead a new government to impliment the necessary reforms thus saving the socail welfare state.

I wonder why there is an expectation of public outrage just because Schröder is spewing crapthink that makes his followers believe they were on the right side? The left has won a 327:286 seats majority, and Schröder is the leftist candidate. The loyalty that brought him there is with him as a public person not just with his handling of his job, so it won't vanish overnight just because his last big piece of crapthink amounts to a rhetorical putsch attempt. The inverted-reality Germany of Gerhard Schröder won't collapse in some miraculous way but is to be rolled back by pushing back its main exponent. And the rest of the country stopped being outraged at some point in the last 7 years when they had seen enough of it and got bored of it.

Yet his choice of this kind of game has put him into a defensive position rather than into an offensive one: If he could trust on his strength then he would talk to CDU, FDP and PDS and make them compete for the best deal. He chose to put all his bets on the CDU, and by doing so put the CDU into a position where it can make the SPD compete with the Greens for the best deal. He probably thought when he would attack his strongest opponent, then all the smaller parties would be irrelevant bystanders. His own lack of a sense for how competition sets the rules of the game made him make this strategical mistake, and I must say I feel more satisfaction than outrage about it.

However Germans feel about it and disagree with it, are they at least aware that some Americans see parallels of their current behavior with 1870, 1914, and 1939?

Very few people here are aware how precarious the situation of the world actually is. In a poll asking for the meaning of the word Shebab-3, most Germans would probably believe it was some trendy Turkish foodstuff rather than be able to identify it as an Iranian nuclear missile. Your comparison to 1914 and 1939 would not be correct if now there was more public awareness of how decisive the situation really is than there was at these points.

"parallels of their current behavior with 1870, 1914, and 1939?"

I'm not sure I agree. Seems to me that those three dates mark the beginning, high point, and beginning of the end of Germany's reign as a world power.

Is Germany a world power in 2005? No. The EU as a whole certainly ranks in the first rank of world powers with China, the US, and possibly eventually India - but what proportion of the EU's influence can be ascribed to Germany? No more than 20% is my best guess. So even if the will is there to make trouble like in 1870 - the means are not.

I think the current confusion is a result of two things: Germany remained a pivotal ally to the US throughout the Cold War era, and Germany's opinions retained great weight in the US for that reason. With the fall of the Berlin Wall both sides need each other less. The second reason is the Kyoto treaty, which is regarded by many Americans as at best fatally unbalancedand at worst a suicide pact for the US economy. Nevertheless our German 'friends' spare no occasion to urge us to comply with a treaty we have not ratified and which is comically tiltd to their favor and against us. When the US refused to ratify they have regularly berated us for our 'evil'. Hardly the actions of a 'friend', I'd say.

@Don - Germany was a world power centuries before 1870.

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