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Exposing the myth of the "squandered sympathy" cannot be done often enough

This idea is taken as absolute gospel in the US - as one can see from the Kerry 2004 campaigns use of this theme

The facts are very different - as those of us who lived in Europe at the time can attest

Excellent post, Ray!

The same was true of Le Monde (remember the famous headline "We are all Americans"?), as Fouad Ajami pointed out in Foreign Policy (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/story.php?storyID=13852):

Much has been made of the sympathy that the French expressed for the United States immediately after the September 11 attacks, as embodied by the famous editorial of Le Monde's publisher Jean-Marie Colombani, "Nous Sommes Tous Américains" ("We are all Americans"). And much has been made of the speed with which the United States presumably squandered that sympathy in the months that followed. But even Colombani's column, written on so searing a day, was not the unalloyed message of sympathy suggested by the title. Even on that very day, Colombani wrote of the United States reaping the whirlwind of its "cynicism"; he recycled the hackneyed charge that Osama bin Laden had been created and nurtured by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Colombani quickly retracted what little sympathy he had expressed when, in December of 2001, he was back with an open letter to "our American friends" and soon thereafter with a short book, Tous Américains? le monde après le 11 septembre 2001 (All Americans? The World After September 11, 2001). By now the sympathy had drained, and the tone was one of belligerent judgment and disapproval. There was nothing to admire in Colombani's United States, which had run roughshod in the world and had been indifferent to the rule of law. Colombani described the U.S. republic as a fundamentalist Christian enterprise, its magistrates too deeply attached to the death penalty, its police cruel to its black population. A republic of this sort could not in good conscience undertake a campaign against Islamism. One can't, Colombani writes, battle the Taliban while trying to introduce prayers in one's own schools; one can't strive to reform Saudi Arabia while refusing to teach Darwinism in the schools of the Bible Belt; and one can't denounce the demands of the sharia (Islamic law) while refusing to outlaw the death penalty. Doubtless, he adds, the United States can't do battle with the Taliban before doing battle against the bigotry that ravages the depths of the United States itself.

The United States had not squandered Colombani's sympathy; he never had that sympathy in the first place.

I've scanned Usenet for posts to soc.culture.german in the weeks after 9/11 but the posts won't look right here. I will post them on my blog.

Oh man, I found a treasure trove. I won't say that average working-class Germans were profoundly anti-American in the weeks after 9/11, but it seems that the vociferous Germans certainly were. It was an alliance of the usual bunch of greens/communists/anarchists, leading large protests and shouting at people. The elites in the European press were already in full-bore "America sucks" mode.

@Pogue Mahone

"The facts are very different - as those of us who lived in Europe at the time can attest"

Amen. Smug "you had it coming" was more the tone I recall. Then the apprehension of the dreaded US response.

Yep. It looks like a vast exercise in manipulation of German public opinion to me. If in fact public opinion changed as much over a period of forty days as is reported. Opinion polls can be distorted either dishonestly or 'honestly' by manipulating the sample selected.

In any case the German public has been massively mislead and manipulated into hating the US. Look into who benefitted from that change of opinion and you will get some idea of why and how it happened.....

Don: "Opinion polls can be distorted either dishonestly or 'honestly' by manipulating the sample selected."

Amen. They can also be manipulated by using loaded questions, such as (a very exaggerated sample) "Do you think Dick Cheney should stop shooting his friends?"

The way a question is loaded says more about the pollsters than it does about public opinion.

For instance, look at President Bush's poll numbers. They merely ask, basically, if you are satisfied with his job performance. Then the pollsters use that information to suggest that the Democrats with their more liberal (in the US sense, not the European) viewpoint are coming out ahead. Nothing could be further from the truth.

More extensive polling that breaks down specifics show us that large numbers of Americans think we are not being agressive enough in the Middle East, and that almost everyone is ticked off that the Mexican border is still wide open. Both of these views reduce Bush's poll numbers, but add nothing to the Democrats "peacenik" point of view. Large numbers of Americans think Bush isn't being agressive enough, and that is the truth.

The funny part is that because of this dishonest polling, the Democrats believe that they are going to win new seats in Congress during the elections this year. They might get a few, but seats that change hands are going to go to more aggressive candidates, not peaceniks. The Democrats are bringing this disaster down upon themselves by not insisting on truth in polling.

I decided to a search comparing prisoner deaths attributed to U.S. Forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan with murders committed by rogue elements of the GDR. I have not found anything on the STASI, but I did find an article reporting on trials of former East German Border Guards that shot their countrymen and women while attempting to flee to the West from 1961 to 1989.
Here is an article that Deutsche Welle published on 11/11/04:
In a Berlin courtroom this week, Germany ended its ugliest chapter when a judge convicted four East German officers for their role in border deaths. Like dozens before them, they received no punishment.
The SM70 was one of the East German border's most effective killing machines -- no one knew that better than those who designed and developed the automatic-fire weapon.
On Tuesday, four former military technicians, between the ages of 63 and 71, were convicted of accessory to murder for their part in developing and maintaining the machine, which had been placed along the East German border. But they received no sentence for the fatal injuries their machines dealt four people trying to cross the border in the 1980s.
Saying that the suspects were not "ice-cold, inhuman" killers like other members of the East German military leadership, the prosecutor in the case called for nothing more than a "symbolic conviction," which the judge granted Tuesday.
The decision, coming in the week Germany celebrates 15 years since the Berlin Wall came down, was one victims' organizations have gotten used to. Waning political will and, critics say, a German justice system that is too merciful has meant that most of the 112 trails over deaths at the border between East and West Germany have ended in suspended sentences, or no punishment at all.
"The law completely failed in its duty," said Harald Strunz, who heads the umbrella organization responsible for GDR victims. "Only a laughably small percentage of the suspects have been held responsible."
Aggressive prosecution, mild sentences
The balance since 1991: 128 people of a total of 246 have been convicted for crimes relating to deaths on the East German border. Of that number, 10 were part of the political leadership. Former Defense Minister Heinz Kessler received 7.5 years in prison, the harshest punishment. Egon Krenz, the successor to GDR leader Erich Honecker, received 6.5 years and Klaus-Dieter Baumgarten, the hawkish head of the East German border troops also got a 6.5 year sentence.
Of the rest, around 80 were border soldiers who received suspended sentences or no sentences whatsoever. In 65 cases, judges declared the suspects innocent.
Sentencing laws in Germany that are focused on the suspect rather than the victims' suffering account for the smaller sentences, said Christoph Schaefgen, Berlin's former chief prosecutor responsible for investigating crimes in the former East Germany. Though satisfied with the prosecution record, Schaefgen said he wished for strong sentences.
"That we were able to personalize the injustice and individualize the guilt of the regime was certainly a success," Schaefgen told DW-WORLD. On the other hand, he conceded that "the punishment went in favor of the suspects and that we could have done that differently."
After the wall fell, West German prosecutors were faced with the dilemma of whether they were allowed to charge someone with a crime that wasn't considered one in the country where it was committed. West German lawyers went all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, which sided with the argument that legislation so contrary to international law should be disregarded.
Border guards suffered, too
The first border guard trial began in 1991, involving four soldiers responsible for killing Chris Gueffroy, 20, the last person to die while fleeing East Germany, on Feb. 5, 1989. Two of the four guards were cleared, the other two eventually received suspended sentences. The pattern was to repeat itself over the next 13 years.
Many argued that the political leadership, not the border guards, should have been the focus of the prosecution all along. "Border" a documentary appearing in German theaters this week, argues that border guards were forced, on punishment of prison time, to serve. The theory has been questioned by former East German soldiers, who said that guards volunteered for border duty.
"I think the majority of the conscripts put in that situation weren't thinking, only acting, when they shot at border crossers," said Holger Jancke, the film's writer and director, who was himself a border guard. "They will live with the consequences of their actions for the rest of their life. In this sense, I think that's enough punishment."
Of the 112 prosecuted, 38 were members of the GDR military leadership. Doing what one could
"I think we did what was possible," said Schaefgen.
The retired prosecutor said he regretted the decision by a Berlin judge on Tuesday, something he attributed it to the 15 years that have passed since the wall came down. Following reunification, Germany's political leadership was more aggressive about going after and punishing East German government criminals, said Schaefgen. That gradually ebbed with time and a changing political landscape.
"It was also always a political question: how aggressively will we go after this?" he said.
For some victims' families the answer will continue to be: not aggressively enough.
Andreas Tzortzis

A synopsis: of the 246 murders that were committed by the East German Border Guards, there have been 126 trials. The longest sentence was 7 years, given to the “hawkish” commander of the Border Guards. There have been 86 convictions and 65 acquittals. (I know that math does not jibe. I imagine there were multiple defendants in some cases.) The average sentence was a suspended sentence. Besides the commander of the Border Guards, former SED head Egon Krenz got 6.5 years as well as the former GDR defense minister.

The AP published this story in March, 2005 regarding deaths of enemy prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Using information provided by the military and documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, The Associated Press compiled a partial list of people who have died while in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Prisoner deaths investigated as involving criminal homicide or abuse by U.S. personnel:
_Mohammed Sayari, Afghanistan, April 28, 2002. Army Special Forces captain reprimanded.
_Mullah Habibullah, about 28, Bagram, Afghanistan, Dec. 3, 2002. Sgt. James P. Boland, 377th Military Police Company, charged with dereliction of duty; more charges possible against others.
_Dilawar, 22, Bagram, Dec. 10, 2002. Pfc. Willie V. Brand, 377th Military Police Company, charged with involuntary manslaughter, according to documents obtained by Human Rights Watch. Boland charged with dereliction, assault and maltreatment, more charges possible against others.
_Unidentified person, Wazi Village, Afghanistan, January 2003. Under investigation.
_Jamal Naseer, 18, Gardez, Afghanistan, March 2003. Under investigation.
_Unidentified person, Camp Bucca, Iraq, May 12, 2003. Soldier reprimanded for not using warning shots before killing someone trying to enter the camp.
_Abdul Wali, 28, Asadabad, Afghanistan, June 2, 2003. CIA contractor David Passaro charged with assault.
_Dilar Dababa, Baghdad, June 13, 2003. Died of head injury. USA Today reported he died during interrogation.
_Obeed Hethere Radad, Tikrit, Iraq, Sept. 11, 2003. Soldier discharged for voluntary manslaughter for not warning escaping prisoner before shooting him.
_Manadel al-Jamadi, Abu Ghraib, Iraq, Nov. 4, 2003. Died during interrogation. Several Navy SEALS charged; and two CIA personnel under investigation.
_Abdul Wahid, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Nov. 6, 2003. Badly wounded man dies in U.S. custody. No U.S. charges The Denver Post reported he died at interrogation facility while shackled and gagged.
_Muhamad Husain Kadir, Taal Al Jal, Iraq, Feb. 28, 2004. Pfc. Edward Richmond, 25th Infantry Division, received three years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.
_Karim Hassan, 36, Kufa, Iraq, May 21, 2004. Capt. Rogelio Maynulet, 1st Armored Division, facing court-martial over what he described as mercy killing of wounded Iraq militiaman.
_Unidentified person, 16, Sadr City, Iraq, Aug. 18, 2004. Staff Sgt. Johnny M. Horne Jr., Fort Riley, Kan., sentenced to three years in prison in another purported mercy killing. Staff Sgt. Cardenas J. Alban, also from Fort Riley, convicted and sentenced to one year confinement.
_Three unidentified people, Sadr City, August 2004. Sgt. Michael P. Williams and Spc. Brent May, from Fort Riley, facing murder charges.
_At least 6 more investigated by U.S. Army.
Justified homicide or suspected justified homicide
_Hemdan Haby Heshfan Gashame, Nasiriyah, Iraq, March 29, 2003. Shot while attacking Marine.
_Musa Abbas Farhan, Abu Ghraib, April 10, 2003. Shot during riot.
_Khalid Abbas Mahmood, Abu Ghraib, April 10, 2003. Shot during riot.
_Yasiree Ahmes Al-Haddii, Umm Qasr, Iraq, April 18, 2003. Shot during unrest.
_Unidentified person, Camp Cropper, Iraq, June 12, 2003. Shot trying to escape.
_Ala-Jassem Sa'ad, 22, Abu Ghraib, June 13, 2003. Shot during riot.
_Unidentified person, Camp Bucca, Iraq, Sept. 22, 2003. Shot during riot.
_Jussayn Ali Salman, about 34, Abu Ghraib, Nov. 24, 2003. Shot during riot.
_Raed Shalaan, about 25, Nov. 24, 2003. Shot during riot.
_Madoor Hussein Sayar, about 21, Abu Ghraib, Nov. 24, 2003. Shot during riot.
_Dawood Mazin Thawin, about 25, Abu Ghraib, Nov. 24, 2003. Shot during riot.
_Naif Sliman Amir, Abu Ghraib, March 28, 2004. Shot during riot.
_Fahin Ali Gumaa, 44, April 28, 2004. Shot in fighting before capture, died in custody.
_Sajid Kadhim Bori al-Bawi, May 17, 2004, Baghdad. Shot during a raid.
_Ibrahim Hamadan Sudhail, May 24, 2004, Abu Ghraib. Shot in fighting before capture, died in custody.
_Fras Moazahim Habib, Abu Ghraib, Aug. 18, 2004. Shot during riot.
_Husham Nafit Ghafar, Abu Ghraib, Aug. 18, 2004. Shot during riot.
_Four unidentified, Camp Bucca, Jan. 31, 2005. Killed during riot.
Prisoners killed in insurgent attack on Abu Ghraib, April 6, 2004
_Karim Masnadane
_Hasan Hamad Abu Nasser
_Ahmed Selfeegi Gaer
_Ismael Abduslhussein Shahab
_Khudair Museif Jassem
_Awad Salih Jassim
_Khalaf Najif Jassem
_Andan Abdulhussein Shahab
_Fourteen unidentified.
Natural causes or accident:
_Unidentified male, Kabul, 2002. Justice Department, CIA investigated, but no prosecution.
_Mohammed Hussain Basim, July 12, 2003. Iraq.
_Mohamed Najem Abed, Aug. 6, 2003, Abu Ghraib prison.
_Twfeek Najm Byatay Al-Zubydy Hamza Hassad, Aug. 7, 2003, Diwania.
_Wathik Mihdy, Aug. 11, 2003, Abu Ghraib.
_Dham Spah, Aug. 13, 2003, Abu Ghraib.
_Ehad Kazam Taled, Aug. 20, 2003, Abu Ghraib.
_Tariq Zaid Mohamed, Aug. 22, 2003. Iraq.
_Abureda Lafta Abdul Kareem, 44, Dec. 9, 2003, Mosul, Iraq. Died while bound and blindfolded.
_Nasef J. Ibrahim, 63, Jan. 8, 2004, Abu Ghraib.
_Bakir Yassen Rashed Al Hussen, Jan. 16, 2004. Iraq.
_Hassan Ekab Ahmed, Feb. 8, 2004, Tikrit.
_Saad Mohammed Abdullah, 54, Feb. 19, 2004, Abu Ghraib.
_Mohamed Abul Abbas, 55, March 8, 2004, Camp Cropper.
_Fathel Ibrahim Mahmood, April 19, 2004, Abu Ghraib.
_Abbas Alwad Fadil, April 19, 2004, Abu Ghraib.
_Hussein Abdullah Awad al-Juwadi, 75, May 11, 2004, Abu Ghraib.
_Abduhl Kaddim Altia, May 22, 2004, Abu Ghraib.
_Riadh Mohammed Abd al Razak, June 10, 2004, Abu Ghraib.
_Sher Mohammed Khan, Sept. 25, 2004, Salerno Firebase, Afghanistan.
_Mohammed Nahar, 71, October 2004, Qaim. Investigated by Navy.
_At least 8 more investigated by U.S. Army.
Unknown or still under investigation:
_Hadi Abdul Hussain Hasson al-Zubaidy, about 32, Unknown date in 2003. Camp Bucca.
_Nagem Sadoon Hatab, 52, June 6, 2003, Nasiriyah, Iraq. Marine said to accidentally break his neck. His boss, Marine Maj. Clarke Paulus, convicted of maltreatment and dereliction and dismissed from military. A sergeant received 60 days hard labor in a case related to Hatab investigation. Navy says investigation still open.
_Jassim Mohammed Saleh Hussein al-Obodi, Aug. 3, 2003, Camp Cropper.
_Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly, 65, Jan. 31, 2004, Camp Cropper. Investigation reopened.
_Fashad Mohamed, April 5, 2004, Iraq.
_Fawaz Badaa Najem, June 14, 2004, Abu Ghraib. Died in cell, cause undetermined after autopsy.
_Unidentified person, Fallujah, Nov. 13, 2004. Navy investigating shooting of wounded insurgent in mosque by a Marine.
_At least 3 more investigated by U.S. Navy.
Sources: U.S. Army, Navy, and other U.S. government officials and documents

A synopsis of the article: There are as of last year 26 cases under investigation. Only three prisoners died in Abu Ghraib. In one case, the autopsy was inconclusive as to whether there was foul play. In the other case, which happened in November, 2003, several Navy SEALS have been charged with the death. The third case is still being investigated. Note that the crowd associated with the infamous Abu Ghraib pictures have ever been charged with murder.

10 U.S. personal are facing various charges. One officer was reprimanded. 18 deaths have been deemed “justified.” (After all, it is a war...American personnel have a duty to defend themselves and use deadly force when justified.) Seven prisoners died during insurgent attacks on Abu Ghraib itself.

I think 246 murders in Germany are a Schande! These murders make the three prisoner deaths in Abu Ghraib seem trivial.

We can not compare the American sentences with the German sentences because most of the Americans have not gone to trial as of the date of the article. However, 80 wrist-slaps do not give credence or merit to the German justice system.

The Deutsche Welle article only addresses murders committed my the Border Guards. I am still searching for an article that addresses how many murders were committed by members of the STASI.

The reversal of opinion is easily explained. One is either a victim or an oppressor; there are no other categories. Once the US decided to strike back hard, we were no longer victims, & thus we became oppressors. The same mechanism, for some reason, serves to condemn Israeli military strikes and excuse Palestinian suicide bombings of buses, discos, restaurants, etc.

Pretty much what Mitch said. They would have been happy to wallow in misery with us as co-victims, as if there were something noble in that, but as soon as they realized that we had no intention of playing the victim role they abandoned us. Maybe Europe has been knocked around so long that they don't know any other role. But, fortunately, our horizon is much broader and we're still intent on making our own destiny. That means taking action when warranted and standing up for ourselves when necessary. If we'd have gone as soft as Europe has there would be no Europe as we know it. Where there is a will there is a way, where there is no will there is no way.

The USSR may be dead but the propaganda and agitprop that it's secret services and the domestic agents of communism in the west spawned is still quite active and at work. Most of those involved in propagating it's memes are not even aware that they are. The desire was to destroy the west from within as well as from without. It's farther along in Germany and Europe than it is in North America but the "media" are fully bought in to the memes. It's still quite at work. Now the islamists are using it to their advantage.

SPIEGEL is involved. The memes are so popular they sell the media in Geramny it appears.

I researched and wrote the above post at 2AM this morning. This cold has been keeping me up late. I appoligize if the post was too long. I think that when you compare the list of prisoners by name, who allegedly died under U.S. custody with the amount of Germans who were killed by their fellow countrymen, you have an unbelievable contrast. You would not be able to list by name all of the Germans who died trying to reach freedom unless you were use a half dozen pages.

I checked the numbers of German dead. I realize now that the article was stating that 246 East Germans were prosecuted, not that 246 East Germans died. So I did some quick checking.

I found one source http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2000/germany/stories/order101/
that states that there were 260 deaths attributed to East German Border Guards. Another article stated that there were over 600 deaths.

No matter what, there were 1000 to 3000% more deaths attributed to trigger happy East German Border Guards than deaths that were attributted to foul play by U.S. Forces within the last three years.

So ein Schande!

I had a German colleague a couple of years ago, and over a couple of beers, he tried to give me the "tsk! tsk! you lost or sympathy" garbage. I was shocked and amazed to think that this learned fellow thought that "sympathy seeking" is how ANY country conducts foreign policy. "Oh PLEASE feel sorry for us!"
Now I realize he was just swallowing the media garbage which he was force-fed. You know what? He now has MY sincere sympathy.

Well beav. Let's not forget that Germany has arguably had the hardest 20th century of any country on earth. In 1900 Kaiserine Germany was probably the world's first power, pre-eminent in technology and strong in cultural and intellectual matters. They had the world strongest army and were able to challenge Britain's control of the seas over the next 10 years. The world leading superpower.

After losing the two world wars Germany is now a middle level European state dependent upon the EU for any real influence at all. No seat on the UN Security Council. After having been a bright light economically for most of the post-WWII era they now see that theyr are slipping even in this area. So the past was bad but the future looks worse.

Do you blame this German for seeing the world in terms of seeking sympathy? He has a complete tin ear as far as Americans are concerned, of course. If and when China and India overtake the US and we lose two big wars perhaps we'll be seeking sympathy too! But not just yet, I think....

My point, which I could have stated better I guess, is that this "you have lost our sympathy" stuff is in fact a subtle form of manipulation. In psychological terms I believe it is called "low-balling" By first suggesting that seeking the sympathy of Europeans is what we should be focussed on, and secondly we are failing in this "responsibility." To accept these terms, we would crawl to the bottom of their "totem-pole" and they would continually seek to manipulate.

...Also I think the European expressions of sympathy immediately after 9/11 were a wonderful show of support, and in my opinion, a totally appropriate usage of "sympathy". But to say "oh, we had something so valuable (European sympathy) and then lost it by kicking terrorist ass" is a bit of an insult to me. But I won't burn any German or French flags or make any threats about it.

..final thoughts, to always garner sympathy is to always be the victim.

I beg to quibble, beav. It's attempted manipulation but it's certainly not subtle! The implicit argument is 'we are your parents, you should always do as we say'.

This is wrong on so many levels that I won't bother to refute it. They simply don't understand pluralistic democracy as practiced in the US. No sooner had they rid themselves of kings and aristocracy than they build new government approved elites. No where is this more visible than in France, but one sees it in Germany as well.

Don't make the mistake of viewing Europe as completely supine, however. There is a sneaky EU 'passive agressive' strategy of attempting to use the UN and international treaties to both reign in the US and to force the US into adopting EU economic policies, based upon the fact that the old EU core states have 15 votes in international bodies to the US' 1.

The Kyoto treaty was the first of these efforts, followed by the ICC treaty. Clinton didn't actively fight these treaties but neither did he risk his political neck by advocating treaties which were heavily weighted against US interests. When Bush had the temerity to actually reject the 'treaties' the EU retaliated by forcing the US off of several key UN comittees, clear 'shot across the bow' telling the US that they could hurt us.

The problem for the EU is that the UN isn't the UN without American participation. Bush has responded by removing a lot of US foreign policy from the UN purview taking it out of range of the French veto in the Security Council.

If the EU continues to try to hurt the US by using the UN and multilateral treaties it runs the risk of turning the UN into the 'EN'. An informal US pullback from the UN might not be decisive but the discovery by major regional powers such as India, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, and even China that the 'EN' serves European interests far more than their own would be a death knell.

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