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"Germany's Intolerant and Militaristic Culture"

"Support for the far-right National Democratic Party quadrupled in local elections in the eastern state of Saxony on Sunday. In the village of Reinhardtsdorf-Schöna, one in four voters chose the NPD," writes Spiegel International.

Michael van der Galien of the PoliGazette blames Germany's culture for these election results. He also claims that most of his Dutch compatriots "basically believe that what happened in World War II was not an 'accident,' but a logical result of Germany's intolerant and militaristic culture."

Such accusations will not lead to more German troops for Afghanistan, more burden sharing within NATO or a higher defense spending, which have been long-standing demands by the United States and other NATO allies. Instead these accusations contribute to the dominant feeling among the majority of Germans that we should not participate in any wars on foreign soil anymore.

Well, the Dutch press -- in contrast to their US or Canadian counterparts -- has not called for more German troops for Afghanistan. I thought the reason was that they understand that there just is not enough support among the rather pacifist (a better term might be: "war-weary") German public. Though, perhaps van der Galien is right and "the Dutch" are really concerned about the next invasion by their xenophobic and militaristic neighbors and therefore they don't want the Germans to play a stronger military role in Afghanistan, but I doubt it. I think he exaggerates Dutch concerns regarding Germany.

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franchie on :

"basically believe that what happened in World War II was not an 'accident,' but a logical result of Germany's intolerant and militaristic culture." I got the impression that the former eastern Germany has the highest unemployment rate in Germany. An economical marasm was also the raison that let National Socialism increased ; must be there some correlations.

Don S on :

I don;t think things have changed that much except that Germans have gone from intolerantly militaristic to intolerantly anti-militaristic. An improvement I suppose - unless your country happens to be an 'ally' of Germany, wherupon the preachiness can sound more than a little screechy, and the lack of burden-sharing rather more serious than that.

Joe Noory on :

I think that it's hard to use a theory based in history 6 decades past to cite war weariness or the public humiliation and economic causes of Hitler's rise. The war-weariness is trying to get a grip around the nerves felt by the current Afghanistan deployment and Germany's new role in the western world in the absence of the Berlin Wall. On the part of the public it's justified. It isn't consistent with the public mood as recently as the 1980s where the stage they were at in "getting over history" was healthy and put the past in an appropriate context vis-a-vis the potential of eternal self-loathing and carrying the burden of that history. I think what we're looking at is the present-day movement to want no action to take place, and avoid the prospect of commitment through pacifism playing a role in the mix of ideas in the public zeitgeist. The current neo-fascism of the NDP requires an incomplete view of history only possible in any large way among those less than 30 years of age, not the classical humanism that has characterized most of German society after 1950 or so. Let's not get too precious with these NDP people: they are reflexivelyt anti-american, nativist, anti-capitalist, frequently openly racist, would nationalize industries, and have a nationalistic bent that would ask for the border controls around Germany to go back up. As an attraction to skins trying to ligitimate their lifestyles through some sort of political verein, they are an abberation in society, but a sign of some sort of feeling of discontented directionlessness that might be lurking in the hearts of a larger number of people.

Don S on :

BTW, this kind of thing is a cheap shot, and intended to be so. When a person gets angry enough they tend to try to drive a nail into what hurts most, and for Germans that is the subject van der Galien touched on. Germany (and Germans) can be an intensely irritating group of people, and never more than when they are being holy and allowing their 'friends' to do the hard work while standing on the sideline waxing philosophical on how 'evil' said 'friends' are - compared to the saintly Germans that is. Cheap shots can be seductive but ultimately empty - you can take it from one who has lobbed more than a few cheap shots at the Deutsch. They don't do any good that I can see. Of course the real question is - what WOULD do any good in terms of getting the Germans off their butts and stop standing on the sideline being holier than thou? I have no answers for that question and neither does anyone else I've heard.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

[i]"what WOULD do any good in terms of getting the Germans off their butts and stop standing on the sideline being holier than thou? I have no answers "[/i] But at least you know what not to do, which is reminding us of our evil past and describing our current culture as militaristic. Calling us militaristic serves as the perfect reason (excuse) for saying: Sorry, we can't do more in Afghanistan, because our dear neighbors worry about our military power. We can't increase our defense spending, otherwise they will worry that we are about to invade them.

Don S on :

Joerg, as far as I can see EVERYTHING which has been attempted has elicited precisly the same response - or so close as makes no difference. 'Wait another generation for the mood to change' seems to be the mantra. If this endures another decade (much less another generation) this will split like a pair of cheap pants.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ Don [i]'Wait another generation for the mood to change' seems to be the mantra. [/i] Well, the "mood" has changed so much within the last 15 years, which is even less than one generation. There has been a huge increase in military contributions by Germany in the last 15 years.

Don S on :

The mood has changed you say. My question is has the 'mood' changed for the better - or for the worse. From where I sit it often appears to be the latter.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

What do you prefer: 3000 German troops in Afghanistan today or no troops, but a big cheque like with the Iraq war in 1991, i.e. Germans, Japanese, and Saudis pay, while Americans fight and die.

Joe Noory on :

Agreed - and I think don is right about people using images and allusions to dispense cheap shots. It's dead wrong. I'll admit to trotting out the sharp stick to deal with similar overblown hatred sent west, but I don't care for the foolish untruthful truisms that "a militaristic Germany" slight would fit into. For one thing, it's a lie. That's not disagreement or verbal retaliation, it's mendacious abusiveness, and no German deserves it. Period. Ever. When I see a small story from Goober Gulch, USA that I see people abroad taking a kind of adulatory delight in, I feel no guilt in doing the same back - but to depart from reality, and drop verbal daisy cutters on a whole national culture is sad and wrong, and is at the core of my truc with anti-Americanism. To let someone call Germans "miltaristic" is no better, and deserves confounding, if not a sharp stick or an emotional arrow shot through his statement.

franchie on :

may-be someone ought to allow them to become hashish searchers/smockers :lol: [url=http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/pressreleases/2008/06-june/pr080611-246.html]http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/pressreleases/2008/06-june/pr080611-246.html[/url]

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ Joe Noory Sorry, I am not quite sure what exactly you mean with this paragraph: [i]I think that it's hard to use a theory based in history 6 decades past to cite war weariness or the public humiliation and economic causes of Hitler's rise. The war-weariness is trying to get a grip around the nerves felt by the current Afghanistan deployment and Germany's new role in the western world in the absence of the Berlin Wall. On the part of the public it's justified.[/i] What is justified? The public's war-weariness? Yep, and I do not just refer to the war six decades ago, but to the last four centuries of blood-shed in Europe. We had so many killing fields in Europe from the Thirty Years' War (1618 to 1648) until WWII. [i]"It isn't consistent with the public mood as recently as the 1980s where the stage they were at in "getting over history" was healthy and put the past in an appropriate context vis-a-vis the potential of eternal self-loathing and carrying the burden of that history."[/i] Well, but in the 80s Germany has not sent any troops abroad. Germany did not even participate in the 1991 Iraq war. IMHO a real change regarding "getting over history" started only in the mid or late 90s.

Joe Noory on :

I have yet to meet a 400 year old person. I think that a large part of the German public hasn't really had to think about the consequences of having troops deployed outside of Europe, and navigating in the course of 12-18 months what most of the rest of europe and america could spend much longer contemplating is enough to make them weary to a degree. Taken all at once, tt's a moral maze. I hate to have to pull this one, but as an (ahem) mature personage who spent both gymnasium years and some working years in DE, I might know something about the temprement of some Germans in the 80s and early 90s. History wasn't crushing my colleagues' and fellow studenten's souls, and there always was a slightly pink peace movement tinge to things, but nothing that would resemble the absolutism of tone among today's antiwar movement. This is probably because for many of them the only possible war there could be would be defense against a Soviet invation, and the idea of fighting that one was tempered with either it making sense to fight back if you could survive the nukes. As for what they WERE absolutist about was the same rough percentage of people then as today falling for any conspiracy theory about large corporations/shadow government/etc..., as long as it was European executives/the CIA/the US that was involved. There were always a certain number of people who would believe it - seemingly normal people too. However, most didn't go that far, but then as now the majority just found war distateful (who on earth doesn't) and liked the idea of being able to avail themselves as a nation with "an out" if possible. ---Not entirely out of principal, or lazyness, or bearing illusions about the bad that can go on in the world, but history permitted a sort of way to bypass it. Now - that said - I've known and worked with some German Air Force and Army guys whose balls clanked and didn't see the world through rose-colored glasses, but they don't make executive decision, and they're not numerous in the population as a whole---

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Yes, of course, and if the Russians would today present a threat like the Soviets did in the past, then you would get the same mentality back. Back then, the frontlines were more clear. Today the world is more complicated. Back then, it was about defending your soil against an invasion. Quite different from today's mantra of fighting insurgents and exporting democracy and stuff to far away countries.

Don S on :

"But at least you know what not to do, which is reminding us of our evil past and describing our current culture as militaristic." I agree. I know that, and insofar as I ever did it it was in response to strong (and often deliberate) provocation. Insofar is I have achieved any wisdom it's as a carefully grown attitude of simply not giving a curse what most Germans say or think - quite sincere by now. One could ask the same of Germans though, to avoid punching American hot buttons. And perhaps I see a little of that. But it's going to take years to heal the damage done to mutual relations. It may not be possible at all. And don't forget that Germans have done at LEAST as much of the damage as poor Bush ever did. Neither Bush nor Rummy ever said anything REMOTELY as damaging as your Justice Minister did. Bush didn't play politics with the alliance - but Schroeder did, did he not? About the 3000 non-combatants - well you know what I think about that subject, no need to repeat myself. Is there?

Sijbren de Jong on :

As a Dutch national livig in Berlin, I think Joerg's analysis is right and the one by Michael van der Galien is blatently false. The Dutch public is in no way convinced of a militaristic culture having been the reason for World War II. Insinuating this is nothing short of absurd and lacks a feel for reality. What happened in World War II is explainable if one assesses the circumstances at that time. An attempt at explaining it as an extension of Germany's intolerant and militaristic culture clearly bypasses such instances as a deep economic crises and the humilation by the versailles treaty to name but a few. Framing arguments in this manner contributes to nothing but reviving old stereotypes that have done more harm than good. Regarding Afhanistan, the Dutch military has a hard enough time as it is to keep support of the population for the mission in Uruzgan. The government understands very well how hard this can be with a broad political coalition. Holland would be glad to see a stronger presence in Afghanistan, but is merely aware of the restraints under which the German military has to operate.

Nanne on :

Joerg, What Van der Galien is talking about is a kind of [i]borrelpraat[/i] you will find in certain circles. For that matter, some Dutch people will tell you all kinds of things about the Turkish, the French, the Polish, generic Arabs (never turn your back on them!), etcetera. It does not have any currency in the mainstream media or in politics. Van der Galien comes dangerously close to racism himself by talking about militarism being 'in this people'.

Elisabetta on :

The NPD wins a majority in some kaff in Saxony. The old commies and the anti-fascist student league put on a demo. They fight. Hand-wringing in the press. Concensus reached: neo-nazis are bad, but I wish the anti-NPD types weren't so violent or dangerous looking. What is the name of that Christian heresy whereby each generation kills its own Christ ad infinitum? Every 5 years, it is the same passion play with the same culturally ascribed roles.

Fred on :

Don, I wandered in here from some European Politics and have been lurking for some time but I simply had to respond to your posts further above because quite frankly you calling Germans shrill, annoying and preachy is in my opinion not unlike the pot calling the kettle black. I have stumbled over your posts on several blogs and for some reason you feel the need to make vaguely omnious references to all the terrible things that might befall Germany if we don't conform to your expectations and maintain that Americans are apparently mistreated and abused (how exactly?) in their hundreds by their European/German peers. Now I don't know maybe you have been hunted and harried by a cabal of violent anti-american birkenstock wearing attac commandos but sometimes you come of a tiny bit petulant. I just read through this and realized I could probably phrased this less confrontational but still the point stands. Out of curiosity assuming you could dictate german policy what should we do? Concerning military means - well sometimes they are just plain necessary and I got no problems in principle with that, provided they serve German and European needs. Apologies for any typos or grammatical mistakes it is rather late.

Don S on :

"you calling Germans shrill, annoying and preachy is in my opinion not unlike the pot calling the kettle black." "maybe you have been hunted and harried by a cabal of violent anti-american birkenstock wearing attac commandos but sometimes you come of a tiny bit petulant." LOL! What an image. Could be, mate! Could be. "Out of curiosity assuming you could dictate german policy what should we do?" I quit making suggestions years ago. Sorry, my experience is that whatever I suggest Germans will go out and do the opposuite, probably because I'm the Antichrist. Er, my bad. Whatever the secular version of the antichrist is.

Elisabetta on :

a resusitated hungry Ethel Merman.

Don S on :

Like in The Producers? Cool.

Anonymous on :

"I quit making suggestions years ago. Sorry, my experience is that whatever I suggest Germans will go out and do the opposuite," Don I'm not sure what you expect here. Not too long ago I had a discussion with an american internet aquaintance of mine who warned me not to take Germany's allegedly great preference for Obama for a guarantee that Mr Obama would win the elections. Well duh. I admit I rolled my eyes at that razor sharp analysis because really: Dear diary, rain is wet and falls from the sky. The same is true for europe. Politicians decide in their (perceived) interest, very occasionally even in the (perceived) interest of their people. The electorate mostly decides for on option or another because they have always done so or because the other guy really pisses them of because (s)he is a god-damned commie, a warmongering imperialist pig, a disgusting pansy etc etc. Very occasionally some of them even stop to think a certain issue through. I can't be certain until I have actually heard your position (up to this point I have read a lot of sniping from you but not much in a way of proposals) but I assume most Germans simply thought the politics you (probably) favour not in their best interest. All I can offer you is laying your arguments out. Maybe you will convince me. (I rather doubt because I think my position is the right one, otherwise it wouldn't be my position, but you never know.) Even if not I think it would be an worthwhile exercise because even if you don't agree trying to understand another persons point of view ( within reasons there are of course opinions I have no wish to understand) opens up new perspectives, maybe even leads you to revisit some of your own maxims. Now if we are going to do this I have a favour to ask: Cut back on the needling will you? Nearly everyone has their pride, constant insults only serve to make people defensiv. You should know the (?unjustly?) unfavourable press the US received in Europe is one of your major complaints isn't it? "probably because I'm the Antichrist. Er, my bad. Whatever the secular version of the antichrist is." Grow a moustache man! Moustaches are today's black among evil-doers. That way you can be ole Addie or Stalin. That should qualify with most anyone. P.S. Another reason I'm posting here is because I'm trying to improve my English. I would therefore ask every native speaker to point out any errors or bad formulations. Pleae be gentle with my fragile ego.

Fred on :

Shit! Post above that was me.

Don S on :

"Grow a moustache man! Moustaches are today's black among evil-doers. That way you can be ole Addie or Stalin. That should qualify with most anyone." a toothbrush mustache you mean? Hmmmm, that's a thought. Problem is that when you wear such a mustache and/or goose-step down the street - people look at you funny. The furthest I could go is a stick-on model like the one of the *star* of "Springtime for Hitler" wore in "The Producers". Possibly the greatest moment in the history of showbiz is when he busses the showgirl at the end of his big number - and she ends up wearing the mustache backwards. Besides they already know I'm that way. All I have to tell people is that I voted for Bush twice & they treat me like I have leprosy or label me as a National Socialist.

Joe Noory on :

To quote P.J. O'Rourke: [i]"I don't get worked up when someone calls me a Nazi. After all, when have you ever heard about a woman fantasizing about being ravished by a Social Studies teacher?"[/i]

John in Michigan, USA on :

Fred, Your writing has the style of a rant, with very long paragraphs. But that has nothing to do with your English, which is perfectly understandable. Your grammar and idiom are fine. I would start by separating your post up into smaller paragraphs. You could also organize your thoughts and make them less like a rant, but many that's just your preferred style. Anyway, welcome! Thank you for not using the H-word, because it is over-used. Do Germans call him "Addie" or does that only make sense in English? And thanks especially for mentioning Stalin who has caused at least as much grief, and gotten way too much good press.

Anonymous on :

Do Germans call him "Addie" or does that only make sense in English? Addie is a pet name variant of Adolf, which is still spoken by some of elders around here. I can't answer for Germans as a whole, Uncle Addie was one of the approximately 100000 monikers for our controversial austrian corporal bored teenagers come up with during history lessons.

Fred on :

Do Germans call him "Addie" or does that only make sense in English? It's kind of depressing to read the complete shit I write when I'm tired. What I actually meant to say was: Addie is a pet name variant of Adolf in a southern German dialect, which is still spoken by some of elders around here. I can't answer for Germans as a whole, Uncle Addie was one of the approximately 100000 monikers for our controversial austrian corporal you come up with as a bored teenagers during history lessons.

Zyme on :

I think we have to distinguish here. What is meant by a militaristic Germany? Certainly not the people, as most even were not fancy about war in 1939 - the majority just fulfilled their job more devotetly than other peoples would have. The ordinary people had a sense of doing their duty without question - and to my personal surprise, to a large extend they still have this sense. Has anybody else been astonished by the recent poll in the Spiegel 17/2008, finding out that 34 % of german women and 62 % of german men would be willing to risk their live in defending the fatherland? Now one might argue that the others would have to ;) - but astonishing nonetheless I assume. It surely fits into the general picture: While waving german flags and having pride about being german is making those between the age of 35 and 60 quite uncomfortable, the younger ones have returned to traditional values. Therefore it is no surprise that the general willingness to defend one´s home has increased as well. The real militaristic drive though has different sources. It comes from where somebody has an interest in wars. And that lobby has begun re-establishing over the last decade. It is a mixture of arms manufacturers (think of the historical roles of Krupp or Porsche and you get the idea), conservative think tanks determined to increase our influence, foreign policy politicians who want to secure our trade lanes and raw material sources and an EU-mantle that makes it easy to suppress our historical burdens. That is the combination that already has changed how our military is perceived in public in many ways and it will continue to do so.

Michael van der Galien on :

"The Dutch public is in no way convinced of a militaristic culture having been the reason for World War II. Insinuating this is nothing short of absurd and lacks a feel for reality." Do you actually talk to Dutch normal people Sijbren, or do you generally tend to talk to highly educated progressives? Because I tend to talk with 'the average Dutchman' about subjects like this one, and there's literally not one who told me that German culture is in no way connected to what happened in World War II. And my talks with highly educated Dutch have also confirmed what the average Dutch believes in that regard. I have to admit, though, that my highly educated friends - such as myself - are mostly conservatives, and people who do not think too highly of Germany and German culture. So the "it's blatantly false" is an accusation, well, it's a ridiculous accusation. All those who know the Dutch know that you're spinning in order to help your German friends Sijbren. It reeks a bit to defending "wir haben es nicht gewust" (a nonsense line as well of course; they knew or at least strongly suspected). As for what the third commenter said, from intolerantly militaristic to intolerantly anti-militaristic; that's a position you could certainly defend. But they're still intolerant ;) Lastly, if there are those who think I am prejudiced against German culture I have to say the following; I am. My visits to Germany, especially the Southern part, have only confirmed those prejudices.

influx on :

Good to hear your prejudices were confirmed. Reminds me of people coming back to Europe from the US complaining about SUVs and fat people. I guess it's reassuring to find the things you're looking for. As far as your speaking for the "average Dutchman" is concerned: get off it. I have plenty of Dutch friends from all walks of life, and very, very few would agree with your point of view. It's a good thing that you're straightforward about your prejudices, but please don't claim to speak for a Dutch majority, when your point of view is so admittedly biased.

Zyme on :

What is it with the Neerlandais ? Why are you obsessed with your eastern neighbour? The only time I come into contact with the Netherlands is when people return with marijuana and are caught. If you guys are unable to control the problem, hopefully the EU will do something about it.

Joe Noory on :

This whole thing is just cracked, and in a way it speaks to Joerg's other current blog about punching bags. One way the US is a good useful distraction is for just this kind of thing: the traditional emnities about cultural images that Europeans have always slighted one another as a personal insult. Just think of all the times you heard as a kid some Frenchman calling Englishmen effeminate, Germans calling all Spaniards lazy, some national calling everyone of some other nationality all pederasts. v.d.Galien carries around that same sad common prejudice that makes people say that the Dutch would sell their granny for a nickel and care more about their pets than their children. It isn't necessarily true, but that doesn't seem to stop the small-minded. Everytime I drop in from across the pond, one does get a sense of determinism among a great many northern people, which doesn't help if you have a minor disagreement over something. The other issue is that unless you're talking to younger people generally, not much of a premium is placed on plain old friendliness. Friendliness is the grease that rids the works of most of the screeching sound, and everyone knows that it isn't meant to be deep conversation but a way of signaling accomodation and civility. Those pointless "howdy dos" that people do is key to the functioning of civilization, and brings us all into a common human plane. When in the Netherlands or in most exceptionally "cosmopolitain" seeming places and just about any Euro-city and some north American cities, I've noticed that this doesn't come naturally to a lot of people, especially in cities - and it's a shame. This might be a trait of higher achieving people, but it makes for a sucky existence. Northern determinism doesn't help either, but language is the main problem. Because not everyone knows the languages of their neighbors fluently, not only does it give opportunity to show a dislike for one another, but it also leads to conversation (and ultimately thought) on the part of many that is very, very, VERY basic. Uninspired, pedestrian conversations about the universality of being tired, broke, or horny seem to pervade. It's like trying to chat with people between flights using a handful of words you know, but without the glamor and thrills of travelling for pleasure.

Pat Patterson on :

Well, at least the Romans were right in that as soon as they allowed Greeks bearing sauces the Empire went into decline!

joe on :

Joerg, As a percent of GDP German is spending less and less each year. What it does spend for the most part is ineffective. Need proof only look at the crying deploying 10K members of the military is causing. NATO - the joke - has an agreement to spend 3% of GDP for defense. Like so many agreements this one is just another piece of paper signed and forgotten. Then again as germans and germany do not see a real threat to their secuirty I guess one should be thankful for the amount that is spent. It will be interesting going forward just how NATO, secuirty, etc is going to play out. Will the dem's continue to pay for the free ride which most of Europe now enjoys. Time will tell. As to being war wary - of the more than 16m who served in the US armed forces during WW2 there are now less than 2m still alive. I doubt there that many in germany. Then again some rational is better than none at all. It is just sad to see germany always on the wrong side of history.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ Joe [i]"As a percent of GDP German is spending less and less each year. What it does spend for the most part is ineffective."[/i] The US spends more than the rest of the world combined, but that is also ineffective. Americans feel less and less safe. The US can't shape international security the way it wants to despite the astronomical amount of defense spending. [i]"Will the dem's continue to pay for the free ride which most of Europe now enjoys. Time will tell."[/i] What free ride? You are not making us safer. You are making us less secure. The Iraq war has increased plenty of risks for us. It is US arrogance to say you would give us a free ride. Everything single US national security decision is taken for the US interests (incl. profits for the defense companies) rather than for Europe. [i]"As to being war wary - of the more than 16m who served..."[/i] My reference to being war weary does not refer to individuals but to national mentality/mood/culture etc. Just like Americans did not want to intervene in Rwanda because of Black Hawk down in Somalia a few years earlier. Germans are tired of all the wars we participated in in the last 400 years, at least that is my own thesis. [i]"see germany always on the wrong side of history."[/i] Most of the big wars we participated in (or started) were wrong. Going to war was being on the wrong side of history. Thus we did not join the Iraq war. And as it turned out that was the right decision. We would have been again on the wrong side of history if we had joined you. By starting the wrong war in Iraq, the US is making it less likely that Germany will join you in the right war next time. Because of US mistakes in Iraq, which are blamed on Bush, the Afghanistan war is seen as the "small Iraq war" by some over here. If you, the US, want followers, then you have to do a better job leading.

Don S on :

"Most of the big wars we participated in (or started) were wrong." Quantify, please. The devil is in the details. WWII? Hard to argue with you. WWI? Collective madness with Kaiserine Germany perhaps a bit madder than most. Franco-Prussian War & Austian-Prussian wars? Pretty much a wash morally speaking. The Austrians & Louis Napoleon were no moral prizes. Crimean War? Not sure. Naploleonic Wars and 7 Years War? Seems to me Prussia was on the side of the angels insofar as there was ons. Morally speaking Germany had a no worse than average record before this century, Joerg. France & Britain worked up some heavy karma with colonial wars, not Germany. No?

Elisabetta on :

The 1864 war of aggressive northern expansion against the Danes was unjust and counter-productive, as well as its extension against Saxony and Austria-Hungary in 1867. There was absolutely no reason for Bismarck to wage war in either case. Prussia already possessed a deep-sea port and lands bordering France to foment war if needed. Germany by 1867 was firmly in the leadership position amongst the Germanic nations; the entire gross deutschland debate had been settled. Austria had been begging to be included in the Zollverein which Bismarck of course refused. History was on Prussia's side and a little patience might have allowed a federalist Germanic entity to be created organically, instead of a Prussian imperial state. And I say this as one happily free from unjustified prejudice about Prussian militarism et alia. Well, the Grenztruppen had their day yesterday. take that Jogi and for God sakes put on a shirt that fits.

Don S on :

Elisabetta, I just had a look at the wikipedia discussion of the Schleswig-Holstein Question which was the basis of the 1864 war between Germany and Denmark. It appears this was a less simple matter than I had thought. Apparently Denmark and the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein were seperate legal entities ruled by a single Danish prince (similar to arrangements within the Austro-Hungarian empire at the time, where Austria and Hungary were separate states under the same Emperor. In 1848 Fredrick VIIth of Denmark announced that the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein would become intergral parts of Denmark, leading to an uprising of German-speakers in these duchies. This was in essence a conflict between rising nationalism and the old medieval power structure of that part of Europe. By the 1850's Holstein was almost completely german-speaking and Schleswig about half German, half Danish, with the German proportion increasing. Denmark sought to legally amagimate both Duchies which led to war with the German Confederation (Prussia) in 1852 and again in 1864 after the last legitimate ruler of both Denmark and the duchies died without issue. The new Danish monarch, Christian IX signed the 'November Constitution' passed by the Danish legislature, which legally annexed the duchies to Denmark. Prussia and Austria regarded this as a violation of the 'London Protocol' which had ended the 1852 war, and declared war on Denmark. This was not a simple war of aggression, then, but rather a matter of national identity not unlike the situation in Ireland circa 1920 or indeed the situation in Texas circa 1836.

Elisabetta on :

It is not often that I disagree with you Don, but I am. The use of ethnic or linguistic as the basis for legitimizing territorial acquisitions in the mid 19th century is incorrect. "Germany" itself was a hodge-podge of independent nations with long-standing minorities (Sorbs, Poles, Czechs, Ruthenians...) not to mention the k.u.k umbrellaesque Imperial crown. This was not a war consistent with the medieval or early modern paradigm. Ethnicity was not irrelevant but hardly the determining factor that it was to become as virulent ethnic nationalism grew with the century. I apologize pre-coffee and I tend to wing these anyway, but the salient points I am trying to emphasize are: (1) the grumpiness of the ethnic Germans was not insubstantial, but more similiar to present-day Albertans than ethnic Serbs in Kosovar; (2) the notion of a greater German ethnicity was fluid and easily manipulated by both sides to meet political exegencies (german pan-slavism)--why are the Sudetenland Germans called Germans? no German land ruled over them perhaps with exception of Saxony. Reason after the 1919 slaughters by the Czechs only German had the obvious power and will to protect them; (3) the size of the condominium established by KUK & Prussia was huge vis-a-vis the territories actually incorporated into Prussia and any corresponding comparison with the actual placement of German speakers;(4) provided an example of sucessful territorial enlargement after ethnic strife which contributed to the unraveling of central and eastern Europe upon ethnic lines--why are the Vertriebene are gone, Wilno is Vilnius and Lemberg is Lyviv.

Don S on :

Interesti8ng points, Elisabeth, but I think when you examine the larger picture you will see two other nations complicating things - France and the UK. France over a period of centuries came into being as a result of a process very similar to what Prussia was doing under Bismark's leadership. Ile de France in turn swallowed the Languedoc, Provence, Brittany, and most of the old Duchy of Burgundy, and as a result dominated Central Europe for hundreds of years, making the German states into a battleground in successive wars of French imperialism. Napoleon (and Louis XIV before him) had eventually been foiled) but only after Germany had been devastated twice (at least). How to end this? Amalgamate the northern and eastern parts of Germany under one state. Which is what Bismark was up to. Sure it was a *new* idea - so was France at one point. From this sensibility it appeared that Schleswig and Holstein were naturally part of Germany, and their rule by Danish princes an accident of history. The UK was the other factor here. The 1850's were perhaps the zenith of the UK's economic dominance. Germany was emerging even then as a potential rival to the UK, but lack of national unity (customs barriers, legal impediments, etc) was holding them back. Unity on the basis of common language was the obvious way to solve these problems. I will grant you that Schleswig and Holstein were not perhaps absolutely necessary to the unification of Germany, save that the wars against Denmark and Austria were used to justify amalgamation. A 'Liberal' amalgamation driven by the vision of 1848 would obviously have been preferable - but the events of 1848 had proved that to be impossible in a Germany riven by small and medium states. Bismark used the unity issue to bring Germany into being led by Prussia. Expedient, yes. But absent that vision the german states would have continued to be pawns for policies made in London and Paris & perhaps St. Petersburg. Not a good thing for Germans, I think. The results were mixed of course. But without Bismark I think wars would have occurred in place of the Franco-Prussian War, WWI, and WWII. But these wars would have been fought on german-speaking territory as was traditional. As it was the first two wars I mention were fought in France - surely better than on German territory (from a German POV I mean). The Frech would surely disagree of course.

Elisabetta on :

I agree that the UK and France did serve to spur Prussian expansion. The necessity of German nation-building I do not disagree with, but the manner by which it was accomplished. S & H were never considered parts of Germany proper any more than the Siebenbuergen Saxons were or are so categorized today. Re-interpreting Bismarck's foreign acquisitiveness through the lens of our current understanding of those fitful bed companions, enthno-linguistic identity and nationalism, was not settled in 1864. It seems quite appropriate now to consider a northward expansion of PRussia but that was far from settled then. Much as Jefferson thought it inevitable the US would expand north and swalllow the Canadian provinces, the core assumptions of earlier times do not necessarily survive. In 1864, Prussia needed a deep water port on the right side (meaing left) of the Jutland Pennisula and the allegience of the old Hanseatic states with their commerical enterprises and contacts(Hamburg, Bremen, Luebeck...). There was no need to attack Denmark for Kiel. Bismarck could just have easily attacked and subsumed those states without setting a destabilizing precedent. The greatest boon of the war was the incorporation of these states into the future REich. Had Bismarck just settled with this intra-Germanic acquisition, Prussia would have enjoyed the two great centers of German manufacturing, Silesia and the Ruhr, westward ports of Bremerhafen/Hamburg, east ports Memel, Stettin, and a contiguous land mass from the Kurland to the netherlands to develop and exploit. The annextion of S & H justified other European landgrabs: the consolidation of the risorgimento from their proper Austrian overlords, Max in Mexico, the Ausgleich, Russia wars in the Caucus, the Polish uprising of 1864, and helped foment Balkan nationalist movements in response to the kuk's colonising in the south in reaction to Prussian aggresiveness. The European landmap with the exception of the Italian gains post Solferino was static after '48. Look at the upheaval in macro sense between the bigger states and nationalist movements within these countries in the 15 years after '64. 1881 Europe was a precarious and indeterminate place. I am not convinced but am somewhat sympathetic to the proposition that a lot of the blame is to be placed on the Prussian acquisition of S&H based on voelkisch solidarity.

Elisabetta on :

Aw shit I forgot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Ac.prussiamap3.gif.

franchie on :

the eu national wars that were launched by our kings (UK, Spanish, or austrian kings either) were more of inheritence claims than imperialism ambitions : the Gallic borders still remained Rhein,Alps,Pyrenneas, Channel since the Franks' kingdom the exception was Napoleon, and previously, Charlemagnus, (a frank-sxon empire), François Ier, that was envious of Renaissance italian tresors, but got his son married with a Medicis, then ... still a family fight in the corner

Don S on :

Well, Napoleon (and the French revolutionaries who preceded him) were a helluva exception. I think the attempt to bring Spain under the control of the French crown (War of the Spanish Succession) was just a trifle ambitious as well, as it would have been the largest kingdom since Charles V and an contiguous mass as well. Both of them make Bismark look restrained by comparison.

franchie on :

diplomatic alliances with marriages, fights with the descendances, that have been our long history with the Brits, Spain, Austria through Chales le Quintus descendants, indirectly with Flanders as spanish holdings ; only Italy was the gratuitus conquest envy, except for the Palerma kingdom that was also from the complicated anglo-french "Anjou" family interaction. I don't see there a spirit of imperialism, other than minds manipulation with ambassades

franchie on :

the "imperialism" is more on seas, who's got the best "armada", how many exotic comptoirs for merchandises we can get... soon colonies conquests !

Joe Noory on :

Actually, I dont think you even have to make that point. Just becuase something regrettable once happened, for whatever the reasons, it's childish to think that one is chained to it, and that it informs forever what once may do. Someday a German will be in another coflict beside the ones where they're deployed now. People will wonder how the Bundeswehr should have as doctrine and fit into it. People will wonder how history will effect them, but none of that will inform their ethics in combat more than the same interpretation of what is a legal order to give and follow as any other military anywhere else on earth. They will reason through that based on everything they've learned must or may not be done. If anything the German POST-WAR past equips German military leadership as well if not better than anyone on earth. It's the civil society that's got to chose what their military does anyway, and v.d.Gelein's prejudice, the weariness that Joerg freely discusses, and the burden of social history figures into that. I just think that all of that is a minor feature in the face of the desperate desire to maintain a democratic socialist "lifestyle thing" to which a view of "[b]no war ever[/b] being worth fighting" is often attached. But you have that in every part of Europe that has had a broadly interventionist social (safety net) philosophy. In many ways it demonstrates the value of democracy promotion. It proves that pluralistic societies are loath to go to war unless it's deemed specifically necessary by enough people in that society. (Forgive by spelling errors. My fingers are bigger than the buttons on this Crackberry.)

Joe Noory on :

Based on the help the US is getting, I'm not sure the white house really wants it. You'll recall in late 2001, the pleas on the part of Fischer, Villepin, etal not to be "left out". Even then it would seem to have been for symbolic reasons that would give the EU a chance to "have its' moment" and become a real player in something. Harsh as that sounds, it was followed with serious domestic anti-terror focus throughout Europe, but that was mainly because it represented a domestic and international threat, not necessarily as a favor to thier old friend America for who they've had more passive-aggressive an attitude since their role in the integration of eastern Europe was done. Look - to say that America should have carried the ball in Rwanda, and any and everywhere else in the world is specious. European criticism of America not doing enough for "the world" has largely to do with America not satisfying all of the Europeans' desires in the world. A reminder: Europe is not "the world." It is a semi-organized aggregation of a population 1-1/2 times larger than the US which beyonf the PR does comparatively little in the way of humanitarian aid (concidering state and private aid), military intervention in the way of anti-priacy, dealing with rogue states, dictators, and peacekeeping. That the funds spent by the US government don't do everything they can is disappointing, but to say that it's ineffectual is to imagine that the outcome of every other course of action that could have been taken is even knowable, or even thorize about what sort of mish-mash of results would have come from a variety of courses of action. You know from reflection on every major and minor diplimatic or stratecic failure reviewed in history that it isn't possible. If you did, you sure as hell wouldn't have to work at an policy institute, and we'd be referring to you as "dear leader" or bribing you for tomorrow's horse-racing results. Were we to take on any and evey crisis in the European view, how many minutes would it have taken before the old "golbal hegemony" argument? This can only be said because much of the world does so little to tend to rogue states, dictators, and globally dsisruptive and inhumane disorder. It most certainly makes large parts of the world and the EU free-riders. It's made worse by being parasitic in the way European governments, NGOs, "public intellectuals", and the main of the media trained public dispense criticism. What's telling and frightening about them is the ubiquity and uniformity of opinion among so many people. That we're hated for doing their will in a way that they don't wish doesn't disturb me one bit. In fact as the years go by, it's seems like a signal that we're doing something right. That jihadists sympathisers world and europpe-wide poured into the places off their patch to fight Americans most certainly HAS made Europe less volatile. Germans and large swaths of the European public are NOT on the wrong side of history, but the temprement of a very large number or people is clearly more willing to indulge whatever it is that makes them imagine America as an "authority figure" feel good to hate, and willing to adopt whatever position it takes to require no effort on the part of their societies to be resolute about anything uncertain. To suffer from periods of confusion and indecision in historic transition is one thing, to attempt such passivity over a lifetime is called feebleness.

Don S on :

Agreed. I think it's time for Europe to set up as a DIY shop and the US to cultivate a little more isolation. "You'll recall in late 2001, the pleas on the part of Fischer, Villepin, etal not to be "left out". Even then it would seem to have been for symbolic reasons that would give the EU a chance to "have its' moment" and become a real player in something." And they DID become players. At tearing Uncle Sugar a new orfice if nothing more effectual. I think it's time Uncle Sugar showed a bit less tolerance for gettign shafted, by the most effective ways possible - cutting off the EU's defense 'subsidy'. DIY time, folks. Don't let the door hit yah in the ass.

Franchie on :

the problem is that the US have so changed in the late decade, we don't recognize our GI, the problem is that AIPAC and arms manufacturers are the leader lobbies in Washington... the bigoted relgious... come back Elvis, James Brown.... Aretha Franlin F... you Paris Hilton, Britneys and Co... I dunno if Irak war was inevitable, though even "unjust", it will be a factor of progress among the arab world : it has made them acknoledge how separated they are, how their religion is subject to caution and different interpretations, what are tribal rules and what are dogmas, it will be a progress for their women, their condition have been mediatised... therefore cultural and scientific progresses will follow....

Joe Noory on :

So all we are are bits and pieces and flakes of some anonymous French woman's passing memories of pop culture? You realize that your deeply uncritical acceptance of repeated opinions about AIPAC, or any other example of something repeated often enough or some idea that the US is responsible for your emotions about how you imagine we've changed isn't just irrational, it's based in a sort of cultural imperialism? It's absolutely ridiculous, and a sign of the basic and small level of your own capacity to think critically. You obviously only know about America what you've read in a magazine, imagining that we all fit in the limited categories of the sort of stories people write about in them. How much of this is a desire to look at the rest of the world as easy to understand, pitiable "primitive" cultures? We, and the rest of humanity don't exist to service your feelings and your thin skin. More to the point, the rest of the world isn't Europe, doesn't necessarily want to live or think like Europeans, or take the judgemental opinions of every one of their citizens on the street as a guide to their conduct.

franchie on :

is it because I quoted what represents your "popular culture" ? though they are the witnesses of your image in the every-day life of the other nations. yeah, magazines are great to study for knowing a level of a nation : it explains its reactions

Joe Noory on :

First of all, they were never you GIs. Further, bits and pieces of exported pop culture impressed on foreigners is not why the US puts soldiers at risk. If you really want to know who created the screwed up middle east, including Israel, you'd best look at the colonial practices of the Europeans.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"we don't recognize our GI, the problem is that AIPAC and arms manufacturers are the leader lobbies in Washington." With regards to arms manufacturers, that is less true today than in 1945. I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, which in WW II was known as the Arsenal of Democracy. Even 10 years after the Depression, we still had many idle factories and many idle workers. It was war spending, not domestic economic reforms, that got Detroit back on its feet. Do you really think that, after Pearl Harbor, arms manufacturing lobbies didn't play a major role in involving American in WW II? Based on the history of my city, I can tell you quite clearly that they did. Mentioning AIPAC in that context is bigoted and ignorant, and you should be ashamed. AIPAC is a powerful lobby, but they are no where near the most powerful ones in Washington. They are just another interest group; and unlike, for example, the Saudi lobbies in the US, they are legitimately grass roots. American Jews, and other supporters of AIPAC, spend their own money to lobby Washington. They do not rely on Israeli money, and they do not take instructions from Israel. You are so blinded by your fixed ideas, if we put you in a time machine and took you back to the streets of liberated (or would you insist, occupied?) Paris, I don't think you would recognize our GI's from back then.

franchie on :

john, easy to class me as evil, though an eminent policy teacher of yours said it : http://www.counterpunch.org/gillespie05162005.html Aipac is a sionnist lobby that has its entries in each universities, and government associations. It ensures that Israel is not forgotten in the holly US crusade as the state on which focuse all these evil muslimS the bigotry can be found in this commun agenda that have Israel, Saudi Arabia... : Persia is the actual "evil" link, as was Irak a few years ago. revisit your copy my little friend :lol:

Joe Noory on :

No-one called you "evil", just horribly wrong and with a misplaced of what or who is "yours'". On top of that, using Counterpunch agit-prop is totally and completely inapproriate even if it was related to the subject of discussion. [i]Death Notices for the Warrior Theocracy The Family Released a Statement...[/i] Gillespie also finally notices something those of us who do not hate our country have always been aware of because aren't suddenly trying to notice what the world outside our little bubble looks like. [i]If you've been paying attention to the exclusively local media coverage of the funerals of the mostly young American servicemen and security contractors killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, you will have noticed that the families are increasingly finding it necessary to make public statements declaring the goodness and decency of their loved ones who have given their lives in the line of duty or in the service of the corporations that provide manpower to meet the Pentagon's still growing demand for private security contractors.[/i] One thing I've observed about these people who "suddenly notice" something because it is being reported with intent, is that they never paid any attention to or knew anyone in the military before in their lives. Do you actually take this kind of thing for "news"? or even "factual information"? It's opinion based on random, selective observations by a man who is shocked that people say things about their dead relatives - something we hear whenever the news actually covers a private funeral, including those of a firefighter or policeman. Do you also blanketly accept the theories of someone who is trying to emotionally exploit the dead and their grieving families? I think you need to reflect on your own preceptions a little bit.

franchie on :

"just horribly wrong and with a misplaced of what or who is "yours", just in your own perception, so it's ok for me :lol: actually,I wanted you to notice Eisenhower quotation in Gillepsie's paper, that is related to the Washington lobbies

Pat Patterson on :

That Eisenhower quote is very nice, referring to the Merchants of Death, except for the slight problem in that Eisenhower, even though negotiating an end to the Korean War, tripled the size of the military budget to 15% of national expenditures which is the highest figure since World War II. And guess who got the contracts, why those same old plutocrats and munition makers that Eisenhower had criticized. Maybe its wiser to look to see what the leaders do rather than relying on feel good speeches.

franchie on :

hehe, your the wise man :lol:

John in Michigan, USA on :

What on earth does Eisenhower, or the military-industrial complex he warned about, have to do with the Jews or AIPAC?

franchie on :

nothing, BUT a contrario ; though I am very disappointed that Eisenhower didn't make what he said

Joe Noory on :

He said that in his last few months in office. What was he supposed to do? Just hold power after his term ended?

franchie on :

oui papa

Joubert on :

Be silent! You are an embarassment.

Joe Noory on :

As much as I disagree with the lady, I'd imagine you'd want to think of the cultural habit associated with shutting people up. You'll note that there are numerous links to bad and degrading news about America linked by commenters on this site. Though people have a temptation to silence things of that sort, honesty and self-effacing criticism still comes first. So long as it's role isn't to abuse, I don't rebut. But to quash anything or anyone who has an opinion? Ask yourself if that's healthy in the long run, and above all: grow up and accept that you can't control what people say and think. It's a habit about as "old Europe" as you can get.

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