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It is a personal, diary style report of a very unpleasant encounter of the author with two trigger happy special forces who obviously fulfilled all the cliches, and actually called the author "trash", because he is a journalist. I think, given what the author has experienced, it is perfectly acceptable to report on it.

Btw: the article doesn't talk exclusively about americans. It refers to special forces in general (it also explicitly mentions the German KSK as an example) and provides some stereotypes about them, which I think are true to some extent. Special forces are certainly no peace loving, frog-carrying hippies, and "shoot first, ask then" is probably true. Of course, the two soldiers serving as an example happen to be american, as the article series reads "Iraq diary"

@Matz

"..given what the author has experienced, it is perfectly acceptable to report on it."

Nice of you to give him the benefit of the doubt. Can we have the other side of the experience from the "2 Special Ops" point of view? Thought not.

"Btw: ...It refers to special forces in general (it also explicitly mentions the German KSK as an example) and provides some stereotypes about them, which I think are true to some extent."

You think they are true because.....?

"Special forces are certainly no peace loving, frog-carrying hippies, and "shoot first, ask then" is probably true."

You know this from experience or osmosis? You assume alot.

"Special forces are certainly no peace loving, frog-carrying hippies[...]"

Well, I would hope you are right.

"and "shoot first, ask then" is probably true."
"You know this from experience or osmosis?"

He knows. He has watched Rambo.

What's with the recent increase of apologists and white washers here anyway? Don't like having the spotlight on your ilk? Deal with it, because the light will only get brighter with time. Your days of hiding ugliness behind language are numbered. Welcome to the village.


@Ray D. - When I did read your recent praise of "Die Welt" I was wondering when was the last time you've looked into it. I bought it regulary, and it's still the one major outlet which is not as bad as the rest, but since a while they do indeed come up with bad smear articles from time to time. They probably are afraid of being accused of CIA conspiracy otherwise. You should know the drill. ;)

"Throw another liberal on the fire Jed." "Okay Jethro". Morons in Germany.

If they can't get the caption right for the photo, then how accurate can the rest of the article be. The soldier shown is not Special Forces but probably 2nd Infantry 4th Battalion 9th Regiment, out of Ft. Lewis, WA. The patch is visible enough to identify the unit by the border of stars.

@Pat: The caption is right. It states "... U.S. soldier on patrol".

It looks like this reporter was made to feel less than welcome by these troopers and exacted his revenge by expressing his disdain in the article.

Given that US soldiers in Iraq are well aware of how unfair they think the media coverage (especially from Europe) has been, is it any wonder they were not so friendly to this reporter from Die Welt?

At the same time, it is hard not to see the pattern of the German MSM with regard to America: whenever possible, seek to reinforce the sterotyped caricature of the USA and its people. For those Germans who actually know something about the USA (know some of us, have been here), they can compare it to reality and cast it aside. For the rest, this is the only "truth" they may ever know - a real shame.

Pat, trivial perhaps (and I could be completely mistaken), but I believe the patch on the right shoulder is the "combat patch," i.e., the patch from the unit he was in when he first saw combat (or, if he's seen combat with more than one unit, he may choose which one to wear). It's not necessarily the patch from the unit he is in currently -- it may have been a unit he was in 2, 3, or 4 years ago. The patch for the unit he is in currently (and any "Special Forces" insignia) would be on his left shoulder -- which we can't see in the picture.

What is strange, though, is that according to regulations the full-color US flag insignia is supposed to be mounted *below* the combat patch, not above it. So, in this picture it appears to be mounted incorrectly.

Nevertheless, just from looking at this guy -- his appearance, his uniform, and his equipment -- I would guess he is not SF, and is probably not the subject of the story.

This writer has an important point, if the culture industry would not embellish the lawful assassins, they would have to grow real pride instead of blowhard attitude.

Next week: How the Imams thought I was one of them

Scott H; I wondered about the position of the flag as well. Special Forces would not use the "old" 1st combat patch on that shoulder but only the flag as you pointed out. On the equipment I completely agree! Since the post I scrolled through at least 50 photos of SF and none had any unit patch on their right shoulder.

The subheadline, at least to my very bad German led me to believe that the photo of the soldier, though not the SF in the article, was shown as a typical Special Forces. It just seemed typical to get such an easy item to correct wrong!

BuckeyeAbroad,

I think that in a place like iraq, where you can be dead the next moment, it's somehow understandable to shoot first and ask then. That's the reason why these people shouldn't be there in the first place. For me, the main point of the article is what war can do to soldiers, even if they survive.

Interesting how Matz points out this article is about special operators in general not just about Americans.

This causes me to wonder then why a picture of what is obvious an American but not an American Special Opns solider is used.

Can anyone think of a good reason for that?


As seeing how the reporter was able to file the report, I'd say the soldiers weren't too trigger happy. That's just my own observation. It's perfectly acceptable for me to make my own observations.

@Matz

"I think that in a place like iraq, where you can be dead the next moment, it's somehow understandable to shoot first and ask then."

Glad you're not in Iraq. I'm sure you can provide the evidence of this happening regulary? Do you know what the ROE are for US soldiers in Iraq? You'de be surprised how restricted they are.

"That's the reason why these people shouldn't be there in the first place."

German media? Absolutely. The misinformation they provide give people like you a warped world view that has no connection with reality.

"For me, the main point of the article is what war can do to soldiers, even if they survive."

I think the main point of the article is probably fiction aimed at gullible fools like you. A story crafted way before the journalist even set foot in Iraq.

@Scott H -- Regulations change. SSI-FWTS (aka the combat patch) are now supposed to be worn below the flag on the ACU's (where IMO it should have been in the first place, it never made any sense to have anything above the US Flag, even a unit you have served with in combat (the more paranoid would say particularily, since that feeds into the paranoid delusional belief of possibility a military coup due to a military more loyal to itself than the country)).

I'd say the caption says it all. The bold headline "Jesus und die Special Forces" with the sub headline painting the SFs with an enormously broad brush stroke and of course the obligatory picture of an American soldier. Thus, the average German reader with their standard German predilections need only briefly scan the headline without reading the entire story in order to further enforce their dismal view of "Amerika".

I wonder if Matz thinks that reading the entire article would truly mitigate this initial absurdity. After all, it does give lip service to the KSK- naturally though, it’s sandwiched between the story headline and its ending note; both of which reflect the same dismal tone.

Although it "refers" to SF in general, someone please explain why an article based on a personal experience with TWO SF members would even justify drawing any conclusion about special forces in general. (Even with dubious statements like Das erfuhr unser Irak-Reporter posing as possible disclaimers)

[I think that in a place like iraq, where you can be dead the next moment, it's somehow understandable to shoot first and ask then. That's the reason why these people shouldn't be there in the first place.]

WTH!?!? Does this refer to ALL soldiers? SF soldiers only? (the latter which by your own explanation have been lumped into the same 'shoot first' category by the author) If that is your contention, than the stupidity of it speaks for itself and requires no further rebuke from anyone.

If you are referring to only the specific SF referred to in the body of the article, then your conclusion is only slightly less preposterous. For 1) relying solely on the subjective reporting of ONE journalist in his brief encounter is patently irresponsible and thoughtless, and 2) you said that the reason why "these people" should not be there is because Iraq is a place where you would shoot first and ask questions later because it's a place where you could die at any moment. Again, even this is only aimed at these two particular soldiers, it's still overly broad. The details of the article including their behavior and religious missionary zeal then become merely incidental because according to you the looming threat of imminent death itself would disqualify them. Tellingly, in that particular posting you don’t even mention any of the specifics from the report, but only state to the threat of death & its ‘shoot first’ consequence.

[For me, the main point of the article is what war can do to soldiers, even if they survive.]

Well, as long we're playing armchair-shrink here, why don't we all attempt to analyze the roots behind Matz's ueber-giddy visceral reaction to yet another example of preposterously slanted tripe in the German media masquerading as insightful journalism.

German discussion culture in action: Broad generalizations, wild assumptions, unsubstantiated claims and the "now let's all get along nicely (and what you are doing here should be verboten)" remark when leaving this mess.

Some time ago, I thought differences in discussion culture were mostly percieved and superficial, however by now I've seen too many examples indicating otherwise. My theory is that the mindset in Germany is - in general - more collectivist than in the US for example and thus, there are more things accepted as "common knowledge" and "basic truth" which need not / must not be debated. This is bad for any topic up for discussion and it is exactly this characteristic which makes it difficult to debate anything US with most Germans. Too many "common knowledge" there. As in "US soldiers in Iraq shoot first and ask questions later". Something like that is not seen as a wild, unsubstantiated claim, but rather as a postulate to underline another point.

In this context, the recent newcomers (albeit I think Tibor and Matz are one and the same person, check the lower article's comment section) are giving good examples for the tone of those self proclaimed "Transatlantik Germans" (I don't neccessarily mean Jörg from TAR here) checking in here occasionally. Most of the time, it goes like "Hallo guys. You misunderstood ze article. Ze article doesn't say that you guys are stupid, but that you are NOT TO BE blamed for that. Bush is. So, everything fine now. Cu and Love!"

I just read two other articles in this series:

http://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article753165/Raketen_im_Badezimmer.html
http://www.welt.de/politik/article741598/Keine_Kriegs-Barbies_sondern_Frauen_an_der_Front.html

The soldiers portrayed in these articles are quite decent people, and their daily life in the war is shown. I have not read the rest, but I have no doubt that they are similar. Fiction aimed at gullible fools? Stories crafted way before the journalist even set foot in Iraq?

@ Alex

Is it just me, or is it the more and more I hear "No, it's the American people, but their government" or "My only problem is their violations of international law" the more I really hear: "No, you don't understand. Our anger is only based on concrete and self-evident facts because by definition it is impossible for us enlightened and evolved Eurocrats to ever entertain an irrational unjustified prejudice. How silly of you to think otherwise."

that should be "...not the American people...."

As is often the case on this site, I don't see the big deal here. The article isn't even meant to be taken seriously, it's just an amusing anectode. The article on Atlantic Review is "freakier" in it's over-analizing ways...

This sounds so made up. On a beautiful day in Baghdad tanned, bearded, wonderful Carsten Stormer just happens to be sitting at the airport reading a book and two Special Forces soldiers sit next to him. He doesn’t talk to them or look at them, but they dare interrupt him, mention Jesus and tell him their life stories. Riiiight… It is such a silly story. Its only purpose is to cater to the growing anti-American sentiment in Germany.

"it's still the one major outlet which is not as bad as the rest"

That would make a funny motto for their masthead: "Wir sind nicht so schlecht wie der Rest."

"Special forces are certainly no peace loving, frog-carrying hippies, and 'shoot first, ask then' is probably true."

Brilliant comment from someone who has no clue about the ROE (Rules of Engagement) restrictions placed on US troops -- especially in Iraq -- much less SF.

My German sucks, but I'm pretty sure the photo caption does not imply that the soldier is SF. But he definitely is not SF because you rarely see SF in BDUs. Also, he appears to be carrying an M4. Although that is not standard Army issue, many soldiers do carry them but most SF use other weapons (they get to pick the weapon of choice). As discussed before, the patch on his right shoulder is a combat patch, which designates the unit he was with when he experienced combat. Few SF would be caught dead wearing a combat patch or much of anything because they don't give a crap about that kind of stuff.

Just as an aside, special operators (including SF) are big on high-end sunglasses, watches and personal equipment. The guy in the photo does not have high-end glasses or gloves.

Of course this is made up. There are so many things wrong. Probably the biggest three are in order: 1) SpecOps types do not identify themselves as such. 2) They would surely not do this to a German. 3) They surely would not do this to a journalist.

But this all fits a template which those like Matz are so willing to believe.


... SF soldiers...

Science fiction soldiers?

joe, from reading the article I would think these conversation partners were generic soldiers with a strong desire to talk to and become a special forces dudes, but if had they reached that goal they wouldn´t be talking that way.

FranzisM,

You may very well be correct in your assessment. If you are this would be just another nail in this article. It shows how easy the writer was either dupped or that he already had a templete as to what he was going to write. I would question if he talked to any US personal.

But then it really does not matter if he did or not from the prespective of his readers. They have been fed some crap which people like Matz consume as factual.

joe - Dress up as a military moviestar, go to Baghdad, and see how the troops take on it. That´s what he did on his small scale.

/Ah the good ol´ days of Marlene Dietrich are gone gone gone

Matz... re: "I think that in a place like iraq, where you can be dead the next moment, it's somehow understandable to shoot first and ask then. That's the reason why these people shouldn't be there in the first place."

Which leads me back to the much-discussed photo of the soldier.

Has it struck you as, say... odd... that the passers-by in the street behind the "trigger happy" soldier seem totally unconcerned about a fully armed soldier standing in their street?

Is this photo saying more than the writer intended? (snicker)

Alex,

"My theory is that the mindset in Germany is - in general - more collectivist than in the US for example and thus, there are more things accepted as "common knowledge" and "basic truth" which need not / must not be debated."

Nice theory, that would have to be underlined with facts, otherwise it will remain a theory.
If you were right, then in Germany everyone would vote the same party, which is not the case. There is a wide range of different opinions, from the ultra-left to the ultra-right.
There are mainstream opinions everywhere. How many people voted Bush last time? More than 50%. The two major German parties (left and right), got far less in the last elections. Hm... "more collectivist" ...

The simple point is this: the mainstream opinion is just different than in the US on many topics. Perhaps generally more to the "left", if you want to use that term.

"This is bad for any topic up for discussion and it is exactly this characteristic which makes it difficult to debate anything US with most Germans. Too many "common knowledge" there."

Too bad a lot of Germans have a different opinion than you...

@Matz
[There are mainstream opinions everywhere. How many people voted Bush last time? More than 50%. The two major German parties (left and right), got far less in the last elections. Hm... "more collectivist" ..]

Yes, Matz, the US has a two-party system right now which makes it very common for a presidential contender to earn over 50%. The reason for this party system is that it's somewhat of a natural result from the winner take all Electoral college system. It's obviously not a perfect system, but advocate it claiming that considering the diversity in the US compared to Europe, we would end up with an even larger multitude of political parties, which could prove very problematic considering we do not use a parliamentary form of government.

Furthermore, your 50% analysis is overly simplistic by itself. If nation A has 5 parties and nation B has 2, it's still possible for "A" to be more collectivist than "B" because the political philosophies amongst those 5 parties may be less widely diverging than B's two parties. I'm not saying this is necessarily the case if you compare Germany to the US, but your logic is uninformed and shoddy.

[If you were right, then in Germany everyone would vote the same party, which is not the case.]
Exact same thing as above, and for the same reason. Regardless whether Alex's collectivist theory is right or not, the fact that Germans don't vote 100% in lockstep does not undermine it as you seem to think because he was speaking in general terms. Using an absolute fact example to refute a general theory is just childish.

Bottom line Matz, this article is asinine* and your uncritical reaction (dare I say enthusiasm?) to it is not justified. Based on your shallow analysis and oblivion to basic facts about the US government and military, I'd say that you are plainly predisposed to accepting inaccurate portrayals of the US, especially when they reinforce your existing and ill-formed conceptions.

*I'm not convinced that this article was not meant to be taken seriously, as Tarito claims. But, if Tarito is correct, this changes nothing in this post except for the fact that Matz should be further disconcerted for relying on such a piece.

"This is bad for any topic up for discussion and it is exactly this characteristic which makes it difficult to debate anything US with most Germans. Too many "common knowledge" there."

Matz wrote : "Too bad a lot of Germans have a different opinion than you..."

Too bad you miss the point. If it were opinion, it would be fine, since much of it doesn't hold water and would disappear rather quickly. But it's "common knowledge" to them, which makes all the difference. And my guess is, this is how they want it to be.

"If it were opinion, it would be fine, since much of it doesn't hold water and would disappear rather quickly. But it's "common knowledge" to them, which makes all the difference."

Do you have an example?

I was watching the discussion about my article for quite a while - and, frankly, quite amused. Well, for all of you who did not read it propperly or, maybe, are not to familiar with German: This is neither anti american nor about special forces. The Jesus guy was an army dude, the other one a former SF guy. Thats it. The story is basically about a guy (me) who just arrives in Baghdad trying to read - and getting disturbed. Besides that it is playing with the sterotypes and rumours of SF. As it is mentioned - nobody really knows what they are doing.
For the picture. Well, badly chosen. It is clearly not a SF dude. And neither says the caption. To be honest, I don't really care, snice I have not taken that picture. So, dear critics, I suggest to read the other articles of Die Welt which I published. Its a diary, fragments of a day and not meant to generalise.

Carsten,

I guess you did not write the headlines either?

Carsten, just out of curiousity, did you already wear your beard before you were watching those SF operas?

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