I know George W. Bush is unpopular in Germany (as he is in the US) but I was unprepared for some of the pro-Putin opinions that have been expressed in the German media and especially in the German blogosphere. There was considerable Schadenfreude on many German fronts that Russia's invasion of Georgian territory was a blow to the foreign policy of the US, and the conflict in Georgia is viewed by some as a proxy war between Russia and the US, with jubilation that Putin has been victorious on all fronts.
Is the German media really supportive of Putin?
Compared to US media that might indeed be the case, because large parts of the US media tend to support poor little Georgia -- one of the first Christian nations, as McCain reminds us -- against the big Russian bear, who ran the communist, evil empire. Okay, the US media is a bit more sophisticated, but many media reports painted a picture of good guys and bad guys:
The liberal US media watch dog FAIR has analyzed the Georgia coverage of US newspapers and TV stations that are much more popular than the German media outlets analyzed by Dialog International. FAIR concludes: "Georgia/Russia Conflict Forced Into Cold War Frame":
Georgia's contribution to the escalation of tensions in the region were not completely ignored by U.S. media, but its aggressive actions were often euphemized, as in AP's reference to "a crackdown by Georgia last week" (8/11/08), and were rarely allowed to interfere with the preferred narrative of Georgia as victim of an expansionist Russia.
I think Spiegel's German press round-up of the icy summit between Merkel and Medvedev says more about popular German media perceptions of Russia than Dialog International's post. If you do not trust Spiegel, then you should take into consideration that this particular press round-up was written by Michael Scott Moore who blogs at Radio Free Mike.
Having said all that, I do think that the German media is biased and I am surprised (and worried) that many Germans are not as concerned about Russia as they should be.
At the end of the day, it is pointless to debate whether the German or the US media is more biased or whether Georgia is primarily a victim of Russia or a victim of foolish and inexperienced leadership by Saakashvili.
What counts is that the transatlantic alliance is not as united and powerful as it could and should be in its dealings with Russia. For the benefit of both Europe and the US, we should work on overcoming some transatlantic differences concerning Russia.
More dialogue between Americans and Old Europeans as well as more dialogue between the Western and the Eastern EU members is necessary so that we can cooperate more and pursue more effectively our various security interests towards Russia.
That's, of course, neither rocket science nor a new discovery.