Transatlantic Media Network:
According to a German parliamentary report, the country's soldiers in Afghanistan downed about 1.7 million pints of beer and 90,000 bottles of wine in 2007. During the first six months of 2008, a further 896,000 pints of beer were shipped to the troops.
The report was particularly galling to other NATO forces, such as those of the United States and Britain, whose bases are dry. U.S. and British troops are engaged in heavy fighting in other parts of Afghanistan, whereas the Germans are kept away from the frontline and their combat role is tightly restricted by government-imposed limits.
The news was a gift, however, to the U.S. and British media, who combined the latest story with an earlier German armed forces study released in March, which found that more than 40 percent of German soldiers aged 18 to 29 were overweight - compared with 35 percent of German civilians of the same age.
David Vickrey, editor of Dialog International, wrote this guest blog post:
In the final days of the 2008 US presidential campaign, John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, accused his Democratic rival Barack Obama of being a "European socialist". McCain based this characterization on Obama's taxation reform program, a plan to "spread the wealth around", which, in fact, is nothing more than a reaffirmation of the tradition of progressive taxation in America.
The charge that Obama was a covert "European socialist" was especially curious since it was made during the weeks in September and October when the Republican Bush administration was nationalizing the American banking system. Certainly European social democrats found McCain's characterization laughable: there was nothing "socialistic" about the Obama campaign's stated policies. What did the candidacy of Barack Obama have to do with European social democracy? And what could social democrats possibly learn from a political campaign in the United States - the bedrock of unfettered capitalism and the epicenter of the global financial crisis? Plenty, according to the German journalist Werner A. Perger. Perger spent time in late summer 2008 in the US speaking with labor union leaders, political activists, and progressive thought leaders.
Continue reading "Lessons for Europe's Social Democrats from the Obama Campaign"
Our regular commenter Zyme from Bavaria has written the following guest post:
Three traits of modern German foreign policy have manifested themselves in recent events:
1. Germany as the Representative of Russia's interests in the West
Continue reading "Three Roles for German Foreign Policy Towards Russia"
The New York Times describes Germany as aiming to guide the West's Ties to Russia. A part of this is attributed to the strong economical ties between Germany and Russia, making Germany Russia's most important trading partner and the relationship thus more enduring even in times of an international crisis like in Georgia. Berlin is seen as seeking to keep its "pivotal" role in Russian affairs and thus not interested in redefining its relationship towards Moscow like the Americans do.
Because of the intense economical interdependence between Berlin and Moscow, Germany is described to be the primary address for Western countries when dealing with Russia. Without consent of Berlin, every ambitious policy towards Moscow is doomed.