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Lack of Open Anti-Americanism

Alan Posener is very pro-American and in charge of the editorial page at the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. On March 3, 2007 he called for more honesty in the debates about the United States. He complained that there is not any open Anti-Americanism in Germany: "Friends of America have it hard in Germany. They don't have any real opponents. Everyone is against President George W. Bush, but nobody has any strong opposition to the USA. This is an intellectual and moral shame" (Moralisches Armutszeugnis). Alan Posener's article is in German, but Benjamin Perry has an English summary and discussion at Anglofritz.

Perhaps Mr. Posener could look for some opponents among his colleagues:
Carsten Stormer for instance writes an Iraq diary for Die Welt: Today's entry is titled "Jesus und die Special Forces" and starts by repeating typical prejudices against the US military: "Special Forces are said to shoot first and ask questions later, which then usually isn't necessary."Jesus Forces

The entry continues to quote a soldier, who had a drinking problem and a conversation with Jesus in his dream. Jesus told him that he should rejoin the Army, go to Iraq and convert the "infidels" to the "real faith." He believes that Jesus has saved him. Jesus, however, did not tell him that Muslims don't like to be converted, therefore it is necessary to kill so many of these guys. That's how Carsten Stormer describes the soldier's statements.

There are probably a few crazy guys in the Special Forces of any military, but nothing indicates that a significant number of soldiers shares the points of views of this guy; assuming that the reporter did not make it up completely. The Special Forces are proud of a very selective recruitment. The overwhelming majority of US troops in Iraq perform a very honorable and difficult job and do not deserve to be smeared in articles like this one. The headline "Jesus and the Special Forces" indicates that the article is not about a single soldier, but about "the Special Forces."

Good journalists inform the public about important issues and work against myths and stereotypes rather than reinforcing them.
Question for Mr. Posener: Do you consider your colleague guilty of an undeclared or unconscious form of Anti-Americanism? Are you asking him to be more open about it?

Related post in the Atlantic Review: German Newspaper Blames Haditha partly on a Military Dominated by "White Trash" and Minorities.

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David on :

Posener's essay is clever, but he posits the false dichotomy of America being from mars and Europe from venus. "Amerikaner sind Idealisten, die ihr Demokratiemodell exportieren wollen; die Europäer hobbessche Zyniker, die mit der Macht der realen Welt paktieren und den missionarischen Impuls des Amerikanismus ablehnen." Trouble is, the neoconservatives want to export the American model using preemptive war. The Iraq debacle has forever discredited this kind of "idealism". We can't forget that the neocons are an historical aberration. At one time America spread its influence using multilateral alliances now championed by Europe. Also, it is preposterous to state that America owns the ideals of freedom and liberty. John Adams stated that there was not one original thought in the Declaration of Independence, and he was right: the American idea of freedom had its roots in English, Dutch and French thinking.

Pat Patterson on :

Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Gen. MacArthur and Gen. Marshall are neo-cons for exporting democracy back to Germany and Japan? It seems that America has actually done a fairly good job of either cajoling or forcing some nations to institute forms of democracy as opposed to the divine right of kings, the vanguard of the proletariat or simply the fun of robbing and shooting their fellow citizens. I wouldn't argue about American democratic thinking coming from the English and the Dutch but considering that both of these countries were monarchies at that time makes comparisons tenuous. And the claim that French thinking concerning democracy is true only in that the Americans used the disasters and fleetingness as examples to be avoided at all costs. Most of the American ideals of democracy came from the simple expediency of having to make do with the Atlantic Ocean separating them from being subject to English law. English influence on democratic thinking disappeared when the colonists had to fight King Philip's War on their own without any act of Parliament or the King. The Ninth Amendment states, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retianed by the people.' The Tenth Amendment states, "The powers not delegated to the United states by the Constitutio, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." The amendments were and are a complete rejection of the European model of democracy then and now. The government does not exist in America to determine or permit what rights the citizens have but to defend those rights using only the tools that the states and the citizens have merely loaned to the Federal government.

2020 on :

Pat, your last paragraph: It would be a little bit exaggerated to talk of categorical implementation, right? Or is this quote an example for the complete rejection of the European model of democracy: "The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or every citizen is granted or assured the right to habeas [corpus]. It doesn't say that." [U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales]

Pat Patterson on :

In the US and Britain habeus corpus is a writ by the citizens from incarceration without publishing the charge. In the US this writ has NEVER applied to captured enemy combatants, even if no state of war has been declared. Witness summary judgement and execution of sentence vs. pirates and slavers both by the US, France and Great Britain. The section the AG was referring to says, "The Privilege of the writ of Hageus Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in the case of Rebellion or Invasion the Public safety may require it." Article 1, Section 9 Maybe habeus corpus should be a right but in the Constitution isis clearly enumerated as a privilege. But that would take a constitutional amendment to accomplish. Since 1863 the President has assumed the power to determine when these circumstances apply. In this particular case, Congress by its Joint Resolution of 2002 essentially gave the President the power to act. There have been no cases of enemy combatants or detainees that are American citizens that have been denied a writ of habeus corpus. Even Jose Padilla sought a writ but was denied in court not by the President. In fact to date the only American citizens that are denied this right are people posing as lawyers.

Axel on :

Anti-Americanism? How about this: [url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/03/12/nsas12.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/03/12/ixhome.html]SAS soldier quits Army in disgust at 'illegal' American tactics in Iraq[/url] (The Telegraph 11/03/2006) An SAS soldier has refused to fight in Iraq and has left the Army over the "illegal" tactics of United States troops and the policies of coalition forces. After three months in Baghdad, Ben Griffin told his commander that he was no longer prepared to fight alongside American forces. Ben Griffin told commanders that he thought the Iraq war was illegal. He said he had witnessed "dozens of illegal acts" by US troops, claiming they viewed all Iraqis as "untermenschen" - the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human. The decision marks the first time an SAS soldier has refused to go into combat and quit the Army on moral grounds.[...] (Note that the SAS is the oldest special forces unit in the world, tracing its existence back to 1941, and has long been recognized as one of the world's foremost special operations units and counterterrorism agency. SAS members ARE the elite.) or [url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml;jsessionid=5O1KMOK4LAZINQFIQMFCFF4AVCBQYIV0?xml=/opinion/2006/03/12/do1201.xml]The fatal divide at the heart of the Coalition[/url] (The Telegraph 12/03/2006) Here is a quote from a British security contractor in Iraq about his American counterparts: "I hate those bastards more than the scumbag insurgents." A British colonel recently returned from a tour in the country said that, in our next war, he would sooner fight alongside the Russians than the US. This is another quote from a British security contractor: "The American way is not my way. I don't mind a scrap but I draw the line at mooning the enemy and inviting him to shoot at my backside, and that's virtually what the Yanks are doing. I'm also convinced that many Americans hate the Iraqis, not just the insurgents but all Iraqis… What a mess." [...]

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Thank you for these interesting articles. They are much better than the one by Carsten Stormer. I have briefly compared them in a response to Fuchur's comment further below.

2020 on :

Alan Posener likes to call himself a 'liberal hawk' but I think that's just a label swindle, an oxymoron. The arguments in his editorial are very weak, first he puts anti-Americanism in context to antisemitism, then he explains why this is wrong, then he pretends that today's anti-Americanism means (and is limited to) the rejection of the ideology of Americanism. In the end, having reduced the subject almost to singularity, he remains the fool on the hill wondering why the Anti-Americans he excluded don't show up for a clean fight. If he really wanted such a dispute, there would be a great number of blogs on both sides of the Atlantic to engage with, even in his own blog he's regularly confronted with 'Anti-Americanism'. But then, of course, he's misunderstood again, be it as a liberal, be it as a hawk...logically. He carries his Americanism like a sash, he's a drill sergeant of the rightosphere. At the very least, he couldn't refrain from trumpeting the classic American 'Freedom and justice for all (of the world)' tune -before the background of illegal wars and war crimes. There is a huge discussion about America in Germany, as everywhere in the world. Mr. Posener would be free to join it, but he seems to be too occupied with holding his own position in his blog - leaning on a much more hawkish than liberal blogroll. Guilty by association? Nooo! A misunderstanding...again! =D

Fuchur on :

In Posener's diction, "America" means not the real USA, but rather, it is an abstract idea - an ideal utopia of freedom and capitalism. What an absurd notion! Well, first of all I'd like to point out that, by Posener's standards, America (i.e. the USA) itself is fairly un-American. So, this terminology seems rather nonsensical to me. A more serious complaint is that the whole idea is utterly arrogant: I, for example, like to regard myself as a "German". I consider myself a strong adherent of democracy and capitalism - and I resent the notion that these "virtues" should somehow be "un-German". Btw: If "America" stands for "democracy and market economy" in Posener's diction, then I'd like to know what "Germany" stands for - or rather, I don't want to know...

Anonymous on :

Very thoughtful and smart comments. Great community here.

Pat Patterson on :

What is typical of the press is its woeful ignorance of military affairs. The photo in the post is misidentified as a member of the Special Forces. He is probably a member of of the 4th Batallion 9t Regiment(Ft. Lewis), due to the patch that is partially visible and the fact that this Stryker brigade is currently patrolling in Baghdad. Special Forces do not patrol in this manner in this war; they are used for long range reconnaisance, raids against specific targets and acting as pickets for major offenses or movements. When I see these type of mistakes I immediately wonder how accurate the rest of the article might be. A dictionary may seem to have a wonderful article on ducks but if they use a picture of a goose then alarm bells will sound

Fuchur on :

The caption of the photo says simply: "Martial appearance: [b]US soldier[/b] on patrol".

JW-Atlantic Review on :

What is "martial appearance" supposed to mean? The Iraqis in the picture don't seem to mind. They are probably used to it by now. Similar comment at Die Welt homepage: For instance regarding the photo, one commentator writes: - und illustrieren den gesamten hämisch-besserwisserischen Erguß mit einem Photo eines Soldaten (übrigens Army, nicht SF) auf Streife, dem Sie "martialisches Auftreten" vorwerfen, weil er... warum eigentlich? Bewaffnet ist? Uniform trägt? Jedenfalls scheinen die Shopper, Passanten und Kinder im Bildhintergrund dem Auftreten des Soldaten keine besondere Relevanz beizumessen.

bob on :

This is purely 'freak show Amerikkka' jounrnalism and should be considered a piece of no consequence. However, it is so obviously a 'freak show' piece that one wonders how it past the editors and the public. They must be preconditioned to believe our born-again Sgt. is just one of many bible wielding, gun-toting grunts ruining the world. It is just plain silly. You interview one crazy then tangentially allude to other social or political factors which coincide with the prejudices of your readers. I could fly to Germany and, after a few beers, interview my friend as an upcoming star in the field of X. My friend, after a few beers, will invariably admit that he does not think the Czechs are European and should never have been let in the EU. He is not an racist. He just does not beleive that Czech culture has reached a level of maturity which would allow them to join. So I have my crazy guy, now all I need to tie it to is something the average American will recognize about Germany--neo-nazis in the East. I mention the gradual (very gradual happily) electoral gains in the east by the NDP, their march in Berlin by the Holocaust memorial, gatherings in Dresden and misrepresent Herder's Leitkultur theory and BOOM, as Emeril would say, we have a Germany willing to abide by a new Nazism and a pervasive Germany-wide political movement. I could go the bible belt in the NL and talk about Christian parties in Adam; or to Anadulsia and talk to unreconstructed Royalists, then seriously reconsider Aznar's motives for marrying his daughter off at the Alcazar; or pick an ethnic group or region in France with a rebellous history...To extrapolate from a criticism of statistics, there is no way to guage the strength of conviction. Our Sgt. believes that he is on a divine mission to convert the heathen Iraqis while serving his tour. Great. How is going to do that? With puppet shows and hand signals? He does not speak Arabic and unless he serves in the Green Zone, he is not allowed off his base. So the only time he meets Iraqis is when he is fighting them or standing guard. Does he sneak off the base to follow his religious conviction and jepordize a very succesful military career? No. He doesnt do anything. As for my German friend, has he ever engaged in any activity to further his political conviction? No. He does not write crank letters to Topolanek, Barrosso or Merkel explaining his prejudices and demanding immediate action. He would never do anything to risk his career, but post a few beers if you're mates he will admit sub rosa that he thinks Czech culture is juvenile and crap.

sue on :

Bob, you are right on the money. I also find that since religious faith of any kind is viewed as strange by many Europeans, they tend to see it as evidence of a psychological pathology. For example, every Christian (i.e. someone who actually professes a belief in the divinity of Christ) is a "conservative" Christian; there is no other kind. There are many evangelical Christians in the US military (and in the US as a whole), but I doubt that they see themselves as on a "crusade" of the convert-or-die sort in Iraq. Only people who don't know any actual Christians would make that assumption, just as many people who don't know any actual Muslims deem all of them to be potential terrorists.

Fuchur on :

It's difficult to define anti-Americanism. I, for one, do not consider this article anti-American. The important point is: The author didn't run around and search for some freak to interview. He just ran into him on accident. And now you say he should not report on this, because it might show the US army in a bad light? But, wouldn't that simply be dishonest journalism? The point of going over there and writing a diary is that you report on what you see. You might have a point if there was any indication that the journalist would only report on encounters with whackos, and ignore the "normal" US soldiers. But I see absolutely no reason to assume this. If you think that Carsten Stroemer is an anti-American hack who only went to Iraq in order to bash American soldiers, then for example read the 7th edition of his diary: [url]http://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article753165/Raketen_im_Badezimmer.html[url]

Fuchur on :

that's better: [url]http://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article753165/Raketen_im_Badezimmer.html[/url]

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ Fuchur Surely, the reporter sees all kinds of weird and exiting things in Iraq every day. There must be tons of stuff to write about, but he chose to write about this encounter with a single US soldier. One form of Anti-Americanism is IMHO to pick the weird and then generalize. The headline "Jesus and the Special Forces" indicates that the views of this soldier should be seen as representative, typical, common or widespread. Besides, I wonder what the point is of starting the article with this: "Special Forces are said to shoot first and ask questions later, which then usually isn't necessary." It seems to me that the article -- based on a conversation with a single anonymous soldier -- is intended to portray the special forces in a negative way. I believe that such accusations (trigger happy Christian fundamentalist Special Forces) have to be backed up with some evidence rather than a conversation with one weird soldier. I could even imagine that this one soldier was playing a game on this journalist. Perhaps he was fed up with the way journalists write about the war, and wanted to go satirical and portray himself as a cliche. (Just like Stephen Colbert plays the cliche of an ultra-conservative. Some real conservatives don't get that either.) In one of the comments above, [b]Axel [/b]linked to articles about a SAS soldier and British contractor . The authors of these articles do not generalize, do not refer to hearsay (unlike carsten stormer: "it is said that special forces shoot first"), but was specific and gave the name of the SAS soldier and the contractor. The tone of those articles was serious and appropriate to the charges and not Anti-American IMHO.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Okay, there are similiarities in the charges made by Carsten Stormer in die Welt and by those in the Telegraph articles cited by Axel, but the tone is different and the Telegraph is more specific and names some names, whereas Carsten Stormer relies on the conversation with a single soldier. Carsten Stormer does not say that he met many soldiers, who want to convert Muslims. [url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml;jsessionid=5O1KMOK4LAZINQFIQMFCFF4AVCBQYIV0?xml=/opinion/2006/03/12/do1201.xml]The fatal divide at the heart of the Coalition[/url] ""I've had conversations with many [US security contractors] and regular US soldiers who are evangelical Christians," writes John Geddes, the ex-SAS soldier quoted above, "who see themselves in a crusade against the Muslim hordes. In my view, they're not much different to the Iraqi militiamen and foreign fighters who see themselves at the heart of a jihad against the Christian crusaders."" Still, I got some doubt, because the ex SAS soldier is trying to sell a book... Telegraph writes "Highway To Hell, written by an ex-SAS man who signs himself John Geddes." I guess this means that "John Geddes" is a pen name... The [url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/03/12/nsas12.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/03/12/ixhome.html]other Telegraph article cited by Axel[/url] is more credible, because it refers to a SAS soldier, who resigned: Ben Griffin. Okay, I guess, one can find some reason to discredit him as well. But if there are many more reports like this, I might change my views of the Special Forces, since I like to think of myself as being open-minded. Anyway, just my spontanous reactions and thoughts.

Fuchur on :

There are several reasons why I disagree: 1. The general tone of the article is tongue-in-cheek and not very serious. 2. The author explicitly states that these are stereotypes. Also, keep in mind that the "badass" image is not necessarily an anti-American/anti-military stereotype. I mean, Rambo is the incarnation of all these stereotypes - but one surely wouldn't label the Rambo series anti-American, would one? I have the impression that many soldiers don't object very much to being portrayed as big, bad, tough motherf**kers. 3. One funny detail is that, in this story, it is actually the "Jesus"-soldier who falls victim to the stereotypes: He mistakes the journalist for a special ops guy (because of his beard), and therefore drops his guard. 4. The most important reason is that this is one article in a whole series, and as far as I see it, the other diary entries clearly are not anti-American. Therefore, I give the author the benefit of doubt. Under different circumstances, the stereotypes presented could be interpreted as anti-Americanism. But IMHO not in this case.

Axel on :

I fully agree with Fuchur's analysis, so it seams that we use rather different criteria for "Anti-Americanism". Just look at the article that is part of a personal "war diary" where Carsten Stormer writes about his personal and more or less bizarre experiences in Iraq. In my understanding a diary entry doesn't claim to be extensively researched, it's only a summary of his subjective impressions. When it comes to "Special Forces" he says: "Das sind die Special Forces. Genau, die, die hinter feindlichen Linien abspringen, auf Pferden durch die Wüste reiten, ein Koffer voll Dollarnoten am Sattel. So soll schon manch ein Kriegsfürst umgestimmt worden sein. In Deutschland heißen Special Forces KSK (Kommando Special Kräfte). Kein Mensch weiß genau, was sie machen, alles ist hochgeheim. Es heißt, sie schießen zuerst bevor sie Fragen stellen, was dann meistens nicht mehr nötig ist." Regardless of the questionable quality of this cheeky characterization, it's a general description of this kind of military unit ("Es heißt"), not restricted to US soldiers. It's also not a concrete accusation but a rather nebulous and somehow ironic statement. Nothing I would complain about and during my Bundeswehr service I regularly heard the same ironic phrase from my platoon leader about my unit, too. No, it wasn't the KSK or paratroops... Therefore I suppose the main reason for the detected Anti-Americanism is the different "respect" or "tribute" Germans and German journalists typically pay to the military, which is more likely comparable to the spirit of movies like "M.A.S.H." than "Pearl Habor"...

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Do journalists (at Die Welt for instance) write similar articles about conversations with German soldiers or Polish, Danish, Australian, British soldiers? I doubt it. These kind of stories are only of interest to German newspapers, when they deal with Americans. If any other nation were involved, the author (or his editors) would feel the need to stress that this is an individual case and one should not generalize individual cases. They would not choose a headline like "Jesus und die Special Forces"? Isn't that headline just reinforcing stereotypes? Besides, I think the article is bad journalism. When I criticize something as Anti-American, then I am referring to bad journalism mostly. If Carsten Stormer had recorded the conversation with that guy about converting infidels and confirmed that he was indeed a member of the Special Forces, then he could have written that this soldier is not fit for military service. That guy would get dishonorably discharged. That would be good journalism. That would not be Anti-American. Besides, perhaps the guy, who had a drinking problem and heard Jesus in his dream, is NOT a member of the Special Forces at all. Check this part of the conversation involving a third person, mentioned by Carsten Stormer: [quote="Die Welt"]„Damals“, sagte er. „Bei den Special Forces. Was waren das für Zeiten.“ „Sir...“, sagte der, dem Jesus erschienen war, zum anderen. „Sir...“ Keine Reaktion. Schade, dass er nun für solche Einsätze zu alt sei, fuhr der Bärtige fort. Die Hüfte, sagt er, da steckt noch ein Schrapnell drin. Souvenir aus Afghanistan. Deswegen ist er jetzt bei einer privaten Sicherheitsfirma.[/quote] [b]Why would a member of the special forces or any other military branch address a private security contractor with "Sir"???[/b] Isn't that extremely unusual? Perhaps the Jesus guy did not rejoin the army as Stormer claims. Perhaps the Jesus guy is working for a private contractor now as well. This would mean that Carsten Stormer is giving the wrong impression about the Special Forces.

Don S on :

Is not the fact that there is clearly a market for this kind iof 'journalism' clear evidence that Anti-Americanism is a very big industry of German journalists? And is not the fact there seems to be little dissent from German readers evidence that moast sufffer from the same problem?

Fuchur on :

I'm sorry, but this is getting way too hypothetical for me. Let's take a step back and consider again what this is actually about: Carsten Stormer mentioned a undeniably funny encounter with a weird American soldier. And he made a few cheeky comments about special forces (not even American special forces, mind you, but special forces in general - he even explicitely mentions the German KSK as an example). I mean, that's it! I fail to see what should be anti-American about that. It would be ridiculous to suggest that Stormer should not have mentioned this incident (You assume that there were lots of much more interesting and exciting stories he could have told. That's just a baseless assumption. Let's stay with the facts.). Likewise, it's ridiculous to suggest that he should have written something along the lines of: "Keep in mind that not all American soldiers are like that! Also, in reality, special forces members are not really like Rambo!" His readers are not from Kindergarten. My guess is that the main reason why you object to the article are the intro and headline and the photo. Well, it can't be repeated often enough: These things are usually NOT written by the author of the article. IMO one shouldn't give too much weight to them. The headline and the intro have to be catchy and provocative. Anyway: There's a much easier way to convince you that Carsten Stormer is definitely not anti-American: Read the rest of his diary entries! If you think that he's out to spread stupid stereotypes about American soldiers, then read the couple of short interviews he published today: [url]http://www.welt.de/politik/article757662/Hoffentlich_geht_er_bald_zu_Ende_der_Krieg.html[/url] You know what's really ironic about all this? Carsten Stormer is actually doing what the people at Medienkritik demand all the time: He went into Iraq, and reports about the tough routine of the US soldiers. He gives you an idea of how it's like to operate under these conditions, and he tells of the soldiers' bravery and their idealism. If anything, then this guy should get a prize for pro-American reporting! Instead, he's down in the list of evil-socialist-anti-American hacks.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"These things are usually NOT written by the author of the article. IMO one shouldn't give too much weight to them. The headline and the intro have to be catchy and provocative." The headline, photo and intro are extremely important. Most people read/see them, but don't read the entire article. Okay, I admit I should have pointed out his other diary entries and reserved some criticism for the editors, who are responsible for a misleading headline, incorrect picture, stupid intro and photo caption. This would not happen with any other nation. Die Welt would not do this with Israeli troops or French troops in Congo or German troops in Afghanistan. I think this article is specifically about US special forces rather than special forces in general: a) It's an Iraq diary, b) the picture, c) the English word Special Forces is used. He just mentioned KSK once. He writes on the one hand that nobody really knows what the Special Forces are doing, but then also describes them as trigger happy. How does he know? Making cheeky comments about hearsay is bad journalism. It is not funny, but stupid. Besides, he could have read Imperial Grunts or other books that describe Special Forces partly. Besides, I do think that he did not even talk to a member of the US military, because a US soldier would not addresss a privat security contractor with "Sir!" I see a contradiction with what Posener is indirectly preaching about honest and open debate in Die Welt (with all kinds of weird rhetorical tricks) and what Stormer and the editors are doing. Besides, you criticize Posener's catchy and provocative exaggerations and don't accept his rhetorical tricks as fair game, but you accept (or excuse) the catchy and provocative headline and intro in the Stormer piece. Regarding your last paragraph: a) I did not read his other diary entries, but only this entry, because it was featured very prominently on Die Welt with headline and photo, when I browsed their homepage. b) I did not criticize Stormer's character or describe him in anyway as you suggest. (Okay, that was just some rhetorical trick of yours, which I should accept rather than take it literally) c) re you comment about pro-Americanism, I recommend this: [url]http://www.dialoginternational.com/dialog_international/2007/03/with_friends_li.html[/url]

Pat Patterson on :

US servicemen generally on first meeting a civilian do refer to them as "sir." Just as my parents taught me to do in any new social situation. When the army recruiters come on the campus where I work they are unfailing in addressing the faculty as either "sir" or "ma'am." Now that might not be true if that recruiter got his elbow bumped in a bar but that's a different story.

Fuchur on :

We'll just have to disagree on that one... I guess it shows the problem with identifying anti-Americanism: What one finds harmless and funny, the other finds offending and stupid. It can be misleading to judge only by one short article - that's why I keep pointing out the other diary entries from Stormer. IMO they show the US soldiers in a very positive light. Do you at least agree on that? Concerning the last paragraph of my last comment - it was written after I saw what Medienkritik made of this story. So, I was actually venting my anger at them. Wrong place, wrong guy - sorry 'bout that... [i]I did not criticize Stormer's character or describe him in anyway as you suggest[/i] Of course not. Still, you suggest that this article reveals some kind of "hidden" anti-Americanism; that the author just isn't honest enough to express his ressentiments openly. And that seems to me to be an attack on Stormer's character. [i]you criticize Posener's catchy and provocative exaggerations and don't accept his rhetorical tricks as fair game, but you accept (or excuse) the catchy and provocative headline and intro in the Stormer piece[/i] I attacked Posener's main thesis - not just some exaggerations or rhetorical tricks.

Don S on :

One question on my mind whilst reading about the American soldier "quote a soldier, who had a drinking problem and a conversation with Jesus in his dream"was 'does the German army have no such men? Well, perhaps not. Germany spends only 1% of GDP on it's armed forces and they do seem to be very small. Or at least that is a good assumption when one leans that deploying 10,000 soldiers abroad is the limit of Germany's strenth. Not very reassuring to one's allies - no matter you don't need the US! This little gem of a story begins to verge upon "Makin' mock o' uniforms what guard you as you sleep". A German specialty as I have previously remarked on this blog. But no, it's the Bush administration who is to blame. Sending inferior soldiers to protect Europeans - who ever heard of such a thing?!

ADMIN on :

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mbast on :

Honestly, I don't particularly care for either of the two articles. Problem is: once again, as is our wont, we're talking about sweeping generalisations here: nobody seems to know exactly what "Anti-Americanism" entails because nobody really knows what "Americanism" is. To some, "Americanism" is about democracy, freedom, etc. etc. To others, it's mainly about cultural and military imperialism. Similarly, to some Americans "European culture" is a culture of weakness, to others it's a culture of reason and enlightenment. I say the discussion verges on the absurd. Why, oh why, do we have to conjure up this "American thinking vs. European thinking" debate? Face it, there isn't any one American or European way of thinking. US Americans are just as diverse in their thinking, their mores and their way of doing things as Europeans. Which, of course, is the main beef I have with Posener's argument. It's a sign of cultural decay that there isn't any real opposition to the US as a whole rather than to the Bush administration only? Huh? Why? I should think that being able to differentiate between distinct political undercurrents in America rather than just "being opposed to America" is a sign of intellectual maturity, not decay. As for Stormer's article, well, that's the stuff a tabloid journalist's wet dreams are made of: a simple black-and-white story about war, about the military, special forces, about lunatics and about America. The only thing that would sell better would be the latest on Paris Hilton's amorous exploits (with pictures). I can't take that kind of article very seriously, regardless of whether there's anti-Americanism involved or not. In fact a really serious article about the US military in Iraq would have to be much less graphic and much more "in depth" as well as factual. Yes, there are problems with the US forces in Iraq, and yes, there are even very bad problems with US forces in Iraq, but it's not because all US military servicemen are raving monsters. Mostly the problems are rooted in the fact that the military is trying to do a nationbuilding and civil security job, which they aren't cut out to do. And that, of course, is not a "typically American" problem. Cf. Afghanistan, where the problems are similar in nature, but where they are by no means confined to the American forces only.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"As for Stormer's article, well, that's the stuff a tabloid journalist's wet dreams are made of: a simple black-and-white story about war, about the military, special forces, about lunatics and about America." I agree. And it is about Jesus and Islam as well. All this adds to the perfect tabloid combination. My main issue with this article is that it is the worst tabloid nonsense. The Anti-Americanism is just part of it. It would be much more interesting, if Die Welt had sent Carsten Stormer to Afghanistan and report about the Bundeswehr and life in general over there, because Germany is much more involved there and we do not get that many news about the Bundeswehr, reconstruction efforts and lives of Afghans.

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