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Who Wants to Dream?

"Germany in Need of a Dream" is the headline of John Kornblum's op-ed, that I discussed earlier in: Has Germany Changed to the Worse? The former US ambassador to Germany adds to the mantra that 200,000 young fans of Obama attended his campaign speech in Berlin in 2008:

But as Germans will themselves often tell you: They have forgotten how to dream. Younger Germans feel this lack of inspiration as well. Dreams were what 200,000 of them were waiting to hear when they rallied to hear Barack Obama in Berlin two summers ago.

I was there. The crowd was a mix of all generations, not just young people. Not just fans, who "rallied". A few thousand Obama fans came hours before the speech and were able to stand in the front and smile and cheer into the TV cameras. Not just people in need of dreams came to see the new global superstar. Most folks were just curious, I think.

My atlantic-community.org colleague Ben Heine and I interviewed quite a few attendees after the speech:

Read Ben's article Obama in Europe: Continuity We Can Believe In: "Generally favorable towards Obama, many of the attendees we spoke to during the rally indicated they had come to hear the speech out of curiosity and interest in politics, rather than a specific desire to admire the presidential nominee."

Anyway, is Germany in need of a dream and are Germans waiting to hear dreams, as Kornblum is saying? I tend to disagree, but I agree to the extend that we need to overcome political cynicism and revitalize politics at the grassroots level. This requires much more than a charismatic leader, who would raise suspicions for historical reasons.

Related posts: Germans Learned Nothing from Obama and Campaign Slogan in Germany: "Yes, Weekend". Favorite quote from another post: "Obama might be as popular as Elvis, but even the King couldn¹t wean Germany off of Russian energy." And don't forget to read Nanne's analysis of what Obama said in Berlin: Obama Keeps it Global


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Pat Patterson on :

Why is that the lack of some kind of collective or shared dream not a good thing? Wouldn't the opposite be more desirable in dreaming and acting to procure a better future for the individual or their family have a more positive effect? Usually when people bemoan the lack of a national dream or spirit they are actually admitting that few share their dream not that there isn't such a feeling.

Marie Claude on :

Germany’s exposure and vulnerability thus make it an extremely active power. It is always under the gun, and so its policies reflect a certain desperate hyperactivity. In times of peace, Germany is competing with everyone economically, while in times of war it is fighting everyone. Its only hope for survival lies in brutal efficiencies, which it achieves in industry and warfare." http://www.speroforum.com/a/27176/What-will-Europe-do-if-Greece-should-fail While I agree with the "psychological" analyse of the Germany character, I don't share the other assertions that Germany is only a EU contribuator,in the iceberg hidden face we can see that the german dream is effective, it has won the EU economical leadership, by the return of investment in it

Zyme on :

Very interesting article Marie! I must admit that I am always astonished at the position my country is in Europe today, given past developments. If I had been alive at 1945, I must admit that I would probably have been among those who ended their lives, knowing that all hope is lost and the country will never get on its feet again. Yet over the course of the decades, slowly but surely the country did precisely that. After Britain and to some extent France have outsourced their industrial bases into overseas while Germany has strengthed its sector into high quality and precision machinery, one could argue that the country today is in a position its formerly militaristic leaders could only have dreamed of. Now that the economic fundament of the European integration is getting shaky, a new groundwork should be established. A common army is in discussion again by central European countries. But I don't think the primary benefit of such an institution would be to compete with Americans when it comes to overseas adventures. Instead a military European branch would make it possible to bring countries (or rather, provinces?) into line where discussion fails. But Marie, be honest on this one: All of this integration has happened and will happen with the support of the French government. They won't do this out of altruism either - I suspect them to have similar ambitions as well.

Marie Claude on :

the french governments has been sold to globalism since De Gaulle. They just had/have the appearence of autonomy, and fought/fight against mirages, (like today the burqa and the poligamy). I would like to recover our sovereignity, even if the price is to quit EU. It won't happen, I know that, unless a deeper money crisis happens, where the whole western world would be doomed. The Bismarckian Germany of today will not invade us, nor it will not starve us, but will diktate our policy. A Sarkozy can't hold the independance deal, since he is a lawer by his curriculum, and a globalist by his origin and relations, we need a strong personnality, that has the love for our country

John in Michigan, US on :

"a charismatic leader, who would raise suspicions for historical reasons." This is also how I interpreted this quote from John Kornblum's NY Times piece: "Younger Germans...wanted more than to “Dare to Hope,” which is the characteristically timid German translation of the title of the president’s best seller." The Prussian military tradition certainly understood audacity, from which I infer that the concept and the word must exist in the German language. So, why not use it? I think Kornblum correctly notes that "Dare to Hope" is less likely to cause this concern. So, this makes me wonder: Joerg and Ben found that many people at the Obama speech denied having "a specific desire to admire the presidential nominee". But how many of these were saying this because it was the safe, expected, respectable answer?

Zyme on :

There is another article by Stratfor from March. This one deals with the changes in the relationship between Germany and Europe and future prospects even more in detail. http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100315_germany_mitteleuropa_redux Apart from the fact that a regain of full sovereignty and reunification had to occur before being able to act this way in foreign policy, I think that there is another fundamental condition which was necessary: A change in public perception of the past. As long as the press and public opinion felt that we owe our neighbours one (to put it in a sloppy way), there would have been staunch opposition against alienating our neighbours and not even bothering to look for foreign support. These days though public opinion has shifted to a point where people are convinced by heart that our neighbours owe us immensively - for decades of support and that it would also be to the benefit of everyone if German virtues are forced upon them. It is this public sentiment that causes a change in the political wind, according to which our leaders are setting sail now. It gives power to act in foreign policy where there was no such thing for a long time. Must be very tempting :) Interestingly the press is following this change, which personally surprised me most. Surely there were strong articles against Americans in the last decade. But against our European partners? Just look at this example: http://p3.focus.de/img/gen/Z/r/HBZrzUeA_Pxgen_r_Ax480.jpg (It roughly says: "Swindler in the Euro-family - will Greece waste our money?") The main article in the magazine was then titled: "2000 years of downfall - From Europe's origin to its backyard - how could that happen?" :D And that magazine does not even belong to the yellow press ;)

Marie Claude on :

Mitterrand and Thatcher shouldn't have allowed Kohl's dream of "reunification" happened. Eastern Germany should have had the same independance as Poland or as the other former eastern republics. In letting reunifying the both Germany, it was a certain bet for awaking its old deamons !

Joe Noory on :

Who are you to tell 80 million Germans what they choose for themselves? Mitterand wasn't deeply concerned with German remilitarization - he wanted to keep an undeserved level of control over Europe. He wanted the colonial style dream of "a French jockey riding a German horse". Do you really expect others to simply go along with things that crush their hopes for the sake of your fellow power-obsessed nationalists? The west Germans would have [b]never, EVER[/b] left the east German population go unaided, not for Mitterand's megalomania or even anyone else's. They paid dearly for it, and rather willingly with their own prosperity for a decade, because people wanted to see history resolve itself, end the idea of their shame for the sins of a previous generation, and help their fellow Germans a great many of whom suffered in poorer health, mediocrity, and misery under the DDR regime. Thinking that they should be left in that state to crown an de facto emporer in Paris is venal and arrogant beyond words. Why not break up France that way too? Savoy wants it's independance anyway! Breton and Normandy can argue that they have a different culture, etc., etc. Now think for a second of what it feels like to hear such a thing, and ask yourself who was a better student of human character and man's will? George Bush or that man with the Francisque vichyssoise?

Marie Claude on :

the monkey escaped from Pasaran, what can you expect from him ? anti-frenchism ! go back to your niche !

Marie Claude on :

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,648364,00.html http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,648927,00.html

Zyme on :

Joe as much as I enjoyed reading your comment, I must admit that from a French point of view, Marie is probably right. I never quite understood why the wartime opponents so readily accepted a reunification. Some surely only did once it became unevitable, but others were simply naive. "Why not break up France that way too? Savoy wants it's independance anyway! Breton and Normandy can argue that they have a different culture, etc., etc." I think I read about German foundations close to the established parties who support the cause of the Basque region, or encourage the Scots to seek ever more independence. It would make perfect sense, as these efforts can lead to a considerable weakening of the biggest competition in Europe. Whether you like it or not, political leaders hardly ever pursue foreign politics which make foreign people happy. Its quite an achievement to keep your own populace happy in the first place :)

Marie Claude on :

Zyme you're a person that makes us still keep a hope. "I never quite understood why the wartime opponents so readily accepted a reunification. Some surely only did once it became unevitable, but others were simply naive" We were sold that was the only solution to avoid future conflicts between our two countries. But we ignored the underneaths of the agreement. Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of EU wasn't totally a uninterested person, he has been working for international businesses banks all his life long, even when he was delegated into Washington in order to lobby for a Alliance and the intervention of the Americans into the war. Before being a union for peace, the purpose of the original EU was to make businesses restart, in France and in Germany. Since WW1 french and german "actionnaires" (and Wall Street bankers)were managing the Ruhr, Sarrland and Lorraine mines and factories. Their commitment and or participation wasn't cancelled by WW2, just frozen. So, what were successful enterprises that brought such tangible revenues before WW2, and kept busy a certain amount of both populations, became the symbol of the pacific franco-german possible entente for the next decades, thus the first "ccoal and steel alliance". In the meanwhile these EU initiators wanted to extend this businesses alliance to a few more proxy countries. Though the hidden agenda of this financial internationality was to develop a global governement for western Europe first, then to extend it to the eastern Europe, and finally to America. But this wasn't foreseing the pervertion of the Finance world, that conducted us to this grave crisis, instead of investing in local businesses, and protecting them, they preferred the short terms gains, and delocations to low costs labor force countries. This the very cause of the nowadays nations debt. If we had been able to keep our populations fully employed, our states wouldn't have to face such huge Debt. I guess bankers have no country preferrence, nor patry. Germany surfes on its strengh, that a natural pragmatism generated, yes, I acknowledge that Germans are industrious, and that they are more encline to make sacrifices than nations that benefit from a generous sunny climate their easygoing way of life. Though this german equilibrium is fragile, it depends largely on exportations, onto EU first, then onto Asia, and I read that China foreign investments have seriously decreased since 5 years, now China can make her proper investments and production of the very same goods and materials that we used to sell her, and that she can sell us back at lower prices now. Also if the Euro zone get broke, it will also benefit to China or to India, their products will be more attractive to these "broken" european countries. That means that Germany will suffer of this unbalance too. Unless a global conflict happens, that will redefine the after 1945 world. "The European Union: from Jean Monnet to the Euro" http://tinyurl.com/347vpqx "L'architecture du bloc euro-atlantique" http://www.diploweb.com/forum/hillard07022.htm "Jean Monnet 1888-1979" http://www.historiasiglo20.org/europe/monnet.htm

Marie Claude on :

Welll, I overpassed the "reunification" dilemn, for cluching to the origin of this gödelian alliance, that is EU

Joe Noory on :

Again: not your country. I don't know who to get this into the classically European control-hungry and megalomaniacal world view. The idea that the EU is some conspiracy to take over eastern European societies, and then the US is obviously fed by the indulgent nonsense you enjoy reading. Why not Canada then? Why not Brazil? [i]As to your economic wisdom:[/i] Think for a moment and out in perspective what time does to economies. There's no denying that Asia is getting more proserous. It's reflected in their imports of foreign goods. It's not a sin, and economies are not static, like a merchant who refuses to move or change their offerings. Time shows us that their standard of living will rise the same way Korea's has, and Korean industries are themselves outsourcing to other parts of asia, where the pattern of rising wages will raised them as well. It sounds as though you would prefer their permanent poverty, and some structural, unmerited system whereby Europe remains wealthy despite its' economy. The fact is that the Chinese will be a growing market for European and American goods and services, period, end of story, in the exact same way the US' imports of European goods were indispensible to the rate of activity in the European economy. A lesson to all of the bumper-sticker leftist types who think "it's better to have a slower, more socialized economy", not to mention the nativist, isolationist anti-globalization morons: this requires wealth. All of their fantasies about what the rest society can pay for to salve your guilt require wealth. Germans, almost entirely, get that form exports, as does most of the rest of EUtopia to a lesser degree. A more proseperous world is a more humane one. Poverty breaks down social order and peace, no matter how many NGOs you send, or how many workshops on empowerment you gin up. What too many people just don't get, is that no-one works for a poor person. So unless you want to live in a society that operated like the DDR, where there was STILL poverty, and virtually no social services for the ingigant outside of the charity of the membership of the Lutheran and Catholic churches, only a healthy consumer market, and wealthy people whose success is not terminally abused with emotionalized attributions such as comparisons to priveledge and greed, can relieve the difficulties of people with needs. It's true in a recession or not. It's not a dichotomy to wring one's hands over, it's a natural social pattern that is characteristic of thoughtful and decent societies.

Marie Claude on :

I don't read your crap full of clichés anymore

Pat Patterson on :

I doubt very seriously that any of the powers were actually going to stand in the way of German reunification as it was the Germans themselves who either voted with their feet to get out of the DDR and Germans in the West who essentially dismantled the Wall. The West in this regard would have looked as foolish as the courtiers who insisted that Canute could stop the tides. Which he himself proved was not the case. And once Kohl convinced the Germans to accept the East German mark in parity with the German mark the issue became moot. Regardless of the response of Thatcher (who as the links go softened her opposition) or Mitterrand. What alternatives did they have aside from putting a brave face on events outside of their control?

Joe Noory on :

Very simply because [b]it isn't their damn country.[/b] Who are they, or anyone, to impose by some detached bullying a 'right of refusal' on a mature society trying to close the chapter on a difficult period of history, and one with a fair and genuine political system? Besides: remember what France DID get out of the BRD for not getting in their way: the adoption of the Euro, which without the force of the German economy would be little more than a slightly enlarged French Franc.

Marie Claude on :

Zyme Hesitation and Patronizing Advice: How Germany Made the Greek Crisis Worse http://tinyurl.com/2udovtv amazing article from Der Spiegel, FrauMerkel is having a shower !

Joe Noory on :

How could anyone other than the Greek government and public be responsible for the position they're in? Especially, another government that had a) virtually nothing to do with the problems in teh first place, and b) took no action. It's like saying that since you didn't run into the burning building, that you started the fire. It's lunacy, and it's tailor-made for the personae that enjoy the [i]possible implications[/i] of some magical thinking rather than a genuine understanding of it.

Marie Claude on :

Zyme check this artcle : http://www.businessinsider.com/germany-media-greece-2010-4 it has a "Bild" insert as a link inside (The old retiree woman looks more German than Greek) Look like that Germany doesn't bluff the foreigners on her agendas anymore

Joe Noory on :

Do you still think that there is some kind of continuity in policy over the Bush administration? Is is a metter of needing to -believe- in a foreign leader or deal with them?

Marie Claude on :

do you still think it's worthy to respond to your affirmations ?

Joe Noory on :

Yes, because it actually mentions something that's in Joerg's post. All of your comments are in some way about how the nation you live in is owed something, whereas Wolf does not mention Greece or France ONCE. Instead, we have to hear the creaking floorboards of you mind say things like: [i]"While I agree with the "psychological" analyse of the Germany character..."[/i] ...as though the things you think that you know in certainty that people will do are either genetic, or a function of what little you know of their nationality. Dit is ganz klug. Do please tell us what you think every German is like, psychologically. Or Americans, what are all of those Americans like, psychologically? Does some all-powerful or supernatural force require them all to wear straw hats, overalls, and carry a rake? Who are or is this mythical people you talk about when you refer to a whole country doing something, or saying something, or feeling something? Are governments the whole of their nations? Are they "a people". Hell no! That's just an old fashioned patronizing vision that people indulge themselves to somehow mark themselves out as somehow wiser or better.

Marie Claude on :

you invited yourself into the discussion that Zyme and I were having, just to throw your venom at the French ! and to fail to demonstrate how much more intelligent than the French you are ! get loss vermine !

Joerg Wolf on :

If you continue with such ad hominem attacks, I will have to ban you from commenting here.

Marie Claude on :

Isn't it that I am rather responding to attacks ?

Marie Claude on :

I'm not a child, if you want to ban me, go ahead !

Zyme on :

Where did it go wrong between you two, Marie and Joe? Honestly I must have missed it. Why don't you simply relax and try not to get caught by the other one's comments emotionally? Nobody is going to benefit from offensive language or asking a row of questions which are not expected to be answered in the first place.

Marie Claude on :

Zyme Joe is from Lebanese origin, and like our former Arab colonies net contribuators, he has the same paranoid antifrench discourse, that I read everyday from islamists, that are attacking our policies and laic constitution. He is stalking me here, and want to anihilate whatever I say. On his very fair blog "No Pasaran", he deleted my comments whenever they don't fit his agenda : demonise the French !

Joe Noory on :

a) I have never once criticized your Laic constitution. b) my origin and nationality do not indicate my behaviour as you would so bigottedly like to believe. If anything, the Lebanese are uncritical Francophiles. What you are missing entirely in this and many other comments on postings is that when France isn't mentioned, that you seem to be disturbed. My "venom" as you put it in my comments here is not directed at France, but at the assertions you make. What next? Do we have to wear a "national costume" to help your tangible understanding of the world?

Pat Patterson on :

Plus it is interesting that MC referred to Lebanon as a former French colony even though it was a League of Nations mandate and was approved for independence by the Vichy government and not the Republic.

Joe Noory on :

Correct. In most of the years between the fall of the Ottoman Empire (1918) and Independance (1941 & 1943), It was a French protectorate under a Leage of Nations mandate (from 1920-1943). It was not a french colony. It WAS however, briefly under the rule of the Vichy regime from 1940-41.

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