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The media in German-American relations

The American Institute for Contemporary German Studies published a collection of five essays concerning The Media-Public Opinion-Policy Nexus in German-American Relations. Following are some conclusions from the foreword regarding the credibility of the US media and anti-Americanism in German:

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One sided coverage of Iraq

National Review contributing editor Deroy Murdock believes that the media overlooks many achievements in Iraq ranging from a new water treatment plant in Kirkuk and 3000 refurbished schools to increasing petroleum exports and internet users, as well as a vibrant and free press. He concludes:

While journalists should not whitewash Iraq’s mayhem, they should cover the accomplishments of U.S. personnel, soldiers from the 27 other nations with boots on the sand, and the Iraqis who are rebuilding their country — never mind the evildoers’ blasts and billowing smoke.

Jeff Gedmin, Director of the Aspen Institute Berlin, accuses the media of focusing on terrorist attacks, while ignoring the good news, for example the near absence of attacks in 10 of the 18 Iraqi provinces in the first half of 2005 or the positive aspects of Iraq's draft contitution. In his latest Die Welt column, Gedmin wonders:

Kommen unsere Journalisten jemals auf die Idee, "nützliche Idioten" der Terroristen zu sein? Manche wünschen den Terroristen sogar den Sieg. Roland Heine von der "Berliner Zeitung" gibt das zu. Er schreibt, die Dschihadisten und ihre Verbündeten hätten das moralische und legale Recht, die "Besatzer" und ihre einheimischen Hilfskräfte zu töten.

Iraq is not Vietnam

Frederick Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, opposes Senator Hagel's comparision with Vietnam. Writing for the LA Times, he reminds the increasingly war-weary American public:

Despite what you may have read, the military situation in Iraq today is positive -- far better than it ever was when we were fighting guerrillas in Vietnam or when the Soviets were fighting the Afghan mujahedeen. (...) Yes, the Iraqi insurgents have inflicted a steady stream of casualties on U.S. troops with improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and car bombs, but they are not able to hold ground or attack prepared U.S. forces and fight them toe-to-toe as the North Vietnamese and mujahedeen did regularly. (....)
Another piece of good news from Iraq is that the insurgents are offering a mainly nihilistic message. Most skillful revolutionaries promise concrete benefits from their victory. Insurgents frequently work not only to terrorize local villagers but to help improve their lives in small ways. The Iraqi insurgents offer only fear. (...) Perhaps the best news from the region these days is that the Iraqi army is finally producing units able to fight on their own. According to Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, there are now more than 170,000 "trained and equipped" Iraqi police and military personnel, and more than 105 police and army battalions are "in the fight."

Misleading reporting in German public TV

The investigative German TV program "Panorama" began its recent segment on torture and killings in Iraq and Afghanistan by criticizing that a US soldier, who shot a wounded Iraqi in the head, does not have to serve a prison sentence. In contrast to the BBC and CBS, Panorama fails to report the mitigating circumstances the US soldier and US witnesses mentioned in their testimonies. Panorama's biased and misleading segment can be watched online or read here. Dawson's Danube and Davids Medienkritik analyze and translate the report and criticize that German public broadcasting engages in anti-American propaganda.

Flying Spaghetti Monsterism and the English language :-)

The Kansas Board of Education decided to teach both "evolution by natural selection" and "intelligent design" in biology classes. President Bush welcomed this move by saying "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought." Bobby Henderson took this opportunity to create the parody religion Flying Spaghetti Monsterism. He is protesting against the teaching of intelligent design by demanding that Kansas schools should also include in their biology curriculum his theory that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. The followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster sometimes call themselves "Pastafarians" (a pun on Rastafarians) and are organized in Germany as well. Folkard Wohlgemuth informed us about this controversy and Internet phenomenon.

Unrelated to the Spaghetti Monster, but also very funny indeed is the following list of reasons, why the English language is so difficult to learn. We thank Folkard for forwarding this list as well:

If you've learned to speak English, you must be a genius! This little double take on the lovely language we share is only for the brave. Continue at your leisure, English lovers, or those forced to speak our language: 
The bandage was wound around the wound.  The farm was used to produce produce.  The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.  We must polish the Polish furniture.  He could lead if he would get the lead out.  The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.  Since there is no time like the present, he began to present the present.

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SUV drivers undermine US foreign policy

Fareed Zakaria describes in the Washington Post, how the high oil prices make the war on terrorism and the democratisation of the Middle East, Russia and Central Asia more difficult and strengthen anti-American governments in Latin America and Iran:

In almost every region, efforts to produce a more stable, peaceful and open world order are being compromised and complicated by high oil prices. And while America spends enormous time, money and effort dealing with the symptoms of this problem, we are actively fueling the cause. (...)
In 2004 China consumed 6.5 million barrels of oil per day. The United States consumed 20.4 million barrels, and demand is rising. That is because of strong growth, but also because American cars -- which guzzle the bulk of oil imports -- are much less efficient than they used to be. This is the only area of the U.S. economy in which we have become less energy-efficient than we were 20 years ago, and we are the only industrialized country to have slid backward in this way. There's one reason: SUVs. They made up 5 percent of the American fleet in 1990. They make up almost 54 percent today.

Republican Senator Hagel walks in Senator Fulbright's footsteps

All high ranking Republicans support President Bush's policy on Iraq? Think again! Senator Hagel, a Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran and member of the Foreign Relations Committee, reminds Boston Globe Columnist Derrick Z. Jackson of Senator Fulbright:

As President Bush's war in Iraq becomes more maddening to Americans, the more Hagel talks as if he is the Republican who will become to Bush what J. William Fulbright once was to Lyndon Johnson. Fulbright was the Democratic senator from Arkansas who publicly turned against Johnson's war in Vietnam. Fulbright used his power as the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold nationally televised hearings to debate the merits of the war. (...)
The more disconnected the Bush administration becomes, the more Hagel -- who is said to be testing the waters for a presidential run in 2008 -- finds himself linking himself to the legacy of Fulbright. A measure of how badly Bush has botched events since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is that a Republican might run on something that smacks of an antiwar platform. In a January speech before the World Affairs Council, Hagel noted Fulbright's Vietnam hearings. ''Fulbright received criticism for holding public hearings on Vietnam, especially with a president of his own party in office," Hagel said. ''Fulbright later wrote that he held those hearings 'in the hope of helping to shape a true consensus in the long run, even at the cost of dispelling the image of a false one in the short run.' " Hagel continued by saying, ''Today, we must not be party to a false consensus in Iraq or any foreign policy issue." That echoes Fulbright's famous statement: ''The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust government statements."

Big thanks to David from Dialog International for sending us this article.

"Europe toughens up"

The Wall Street Journal welcomes that Europeans contemplate tougher anti-terrorism policies. The conservative newspaper believes it's time to find a German word for "Patriot Act," while it still perceives remnants of a "religion of appeasement" in Germany:

Italians who think their vulnerability is the result of their participation in the Iraq war should look no further than Germany, which opposed the war yet feels compelled to step up its security. Interior Minister Otto Schily has been outspoken about his belief that Islamic terrorists are at war not just with the U.S. and its allies in Iraq but with Western society in general. Mr. Schily has called for increased search and detention powers in cases involving terror suspects who are known to be a threat but who haven't yet committed a crime. (...)
The old-time religion of appeasement hasn't completely disappeared. Mr. Schily's proposals have been compared to Nazi-era tactics by leading members of the Green Party, a minority partner in Gerhard Schroeder's coalition government. Some German officials have--in all seriousness--floated the idea of a new Muslim public holiday as a way of mitigating the terror threat.