"The West is not in decline, at least not in its entirety. Rather, the financial crisis has created a two-speed West. Four large countries -- Germany, South Korea, Turkey, and the United States -- are actually increasing their international influence." write Bruce Jones and Thomas Wright in Foreign Policy:
Germany stands apart as a rising power amidst a weakened Europe. Its unemployment rate is at a post-Cold War low and its timely market reforms have allowed it to export its way out of the recession. The euro crisis is Germany's greatest challenge but, ironically, it has also made Germany the continent's preeminent diplomatic and geoeconomic power: For better or worse, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has won argument after argument about the future direction of the EU, often despite deep reservations from other member states. Francois Hollande's election in France will complicate but not erode Merkel's position. And even if she loses power next year -- an unlikely prospect despite her recent setbacks in regional elections -- a different German leader will continue to profit from Germany's economic strength within Europe.
A new Atlantic Council report states that "Germany must match its economic power with the strategic ambition and military capability to contribute more strongly to Alliance operations worldwide."
Continue reading "GUTS instead of BRICS"
Although Germany approves one aid package after the other for Greece, "hardly a day goes by without Chancellor Angela Merkel being depicted in a Nazi uniform somewhere. Swastikas are a common sight as well," writes Jan Fleischhauer in both the German and English Edition of Der Spiegel.
He does not blame the imposed austerity measures for our lack of popularity, but rather Germany's success, self-confidence and strength. He concludes that Germans have become "the Americans of Europe":
Continue reading ""We have become the Americans of Europe""
Many Americans have rocked huge crowds in Berlin. Here are videos of John F. Kennedy in June 1963, Ronald Reagan in June 1987, Bruce Springsteen in July 1988, and Barack Obama in July 2008.
Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan spoke in West-Berlin and stressed America's solidarity and commitment to freedom.
Bruce Springsteen performed his political songs in East-Berlin, the biggest rock concert the GDR had seen. When the Berlin Wall fell a year later, President George Bush senior was not a loud rock star, which would have been inappropriate and added insult to injury to the Soviet Union. (Poking a wounded super power in free fall would have been dangerous.).
Senator Obama was greeted like a rock star when he spoke in Berlin during his presidential campaign. Berliners longed to hear his message of hope and change after the disappointment in America caused by the Bush junior presidency.
Continue reading "Top Five: Americans who rocked Berlin"
Dear Don Lee and Los Angeles Times,
Thank you very much for writing and publishing a positive article about the German economy that goes beyond the usual focus on our exports and also looks into the general economic model and the frugal lifestyle with plenty of recreation:
Continue reading ""Germany has the economic strengths America once boasted""
Every summer, Volkmar and Vera Kruger spend three weeks vacationing in the south of France or at a cool getaway in Denmark. For the other three weeks of their annual vacation, they garden or travel a few hours away to root for their favorite team in Germany's biggest soccer stadium.
The couple, in their early 50s, aren't retired or well off. They live in a small Tudor-style house in this middle-class town about 30 miles northwest of Frankfurt. He's a foreman at a glass factory; she works part time for a company that tracks inventories for retailers. Their combined income is a modest $40,000.
Yet the Krugers have a higher standard of living than many Americans who have twice that income.
Their secret: little debt, frugal habits and a government that is intensely focused on high production, low inflation and extensive social services.
That has given them job security and good medical care as well as well-maintained roads, trains and bike paths. Both of their adult children are out on their own, thanks in part to Germany's job-training system and heavy subsidies for university education.
1. Germany's Federal President will resign after less than two years in office. Christian Wulff will be the second head of state in a row who resigns because he does not like what the press writes about him. Germans will get new president. Again without the opportunity to vote.
2. Americans will vote, but they won't get a new president. Obama will win in November because the economy improves, unemployment goes down and the Republican base does not care enough for Mitt Romney to do intensive door-to-door campaigns.
Continue reading "My Predictions for 2012"
Excellent post by Kosmopolit:
Continue reading "Short Guide to Lazy EU Journalism"
1. Not sure how the EU works or what institutions are involved? -> Just write "Brussels".
2. Germany is generally seen as important in EU politics and journalists know how to frame it:
If Germany is active in a certain policy domain just write something about "German dominance" and if you work for British newspaper add some subtle references to the war.
If Germany is passive in a given policy area just write that Germany abandons the EU and it clearly adopted a unilateral strategy, if you work for a British newspaper you could add something about the war.
The NY Times published the craziest op-ed on Germany's policy on Greece that I have seen in a broadsheet. Ever.
After tons of articles about Germany being too slow, too hesitant, too selfish to sufficiently help Greece, the NYT now opened its op-ed pages for the American economist Todd Buchholz to write about "Germany's Love for Greece":
Continue reading "Craziest Commentary on Germany and Greece"
Germany's real motivation to help Greece is not cash; it's culture. Germans struggle with a national envy. For over 200 years, they have been searching for a missing part of their soul: passion. They find it in the south and covet the loosey-goosey, sun-filled days of their free-wheeling Mediterranean neighbors.
In the early 1800s, Goethe reported that his travels to Italy charged him up with new creative energy. Later, Heinrich Heine made the pilgrimage, writing to his uncle: "Here, nature is beautiful and man lovable. In the high mountain air that you breathe in here, you forget instantly your troubles and the soul expands."
"Germany has become a key arms supplier in the Middle East despite stringent export controls that have inhibited weapons sales in the past," writes UPI (via SeidlersSiPo) in a good summary of recent sales. In the current conflict in Libya, weapons manufactured by German defense companies are being used by both sides:
Continue reading "Shame on us: Germany Boosts Arms Sales to Mideast"
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces use tank transporters built by Mercedes Benz, German-made electronic jamming systems and Milan-3 surface-to-air missiles made by the French-German MBDA company. NATO forces employ the twin-engined Eurofighters for their air campaign against Gadhafi's beleaguered regime.