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Majority of Germans in Favor of More Transatlantic Cooperation

The German media is full of NSA and TTIP criticism, but 56% of Germans still want more cooperation with the United States. That’s a surprisingly positive result of the Körber-Foundation poll “Involvement or Restraint” in support of the German Foreign Office’s “Review 2014”-process. And yet, several journalists manage to draw Anti-American conclusions from this poll.

I have explained it in German at Deutschlands Agenda, but including some tweets in English.

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"We have become the Americans of Europe"

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":

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"Europe" is a Dirty Word in the United States

Mitt Romney's Anti-European rhetoric is stronger than the Anti-American statements by leading German politicians in the last few election campaigns. Romney seems to assume that Republican voters are so stupid, uninformed and Anti-European that he can get their votes with scaremongering.

His Europe bashing seems to be his response to the criticism of his "socialist" health care policy in Massachusetts and his French language skills. (Newt Gingrich released the attack ad "The French Connection".)

In Iowa Mitt Romney accused Obama of turning the United States into "a European-style welfare state," saying Obama's policies would "poison the very spirit of America and keep us from being one nation under God," according to the Washington Post.

In his New Hampshire Primary Victory Speech he said Obama "wants to turn America into a European-style social welfare state society. We want to ensure that we remain a free and prosperous land of opportunity. This President takes his inspiration from the capitals of Europe; we look to the cities and small towns of America." (See video at 6:30 minutes.)

Well, Norway, Finland, Denmark and even Germany and France deserve the title "land of opportunity" more than the US does because social mobility is higher. The NYT writes about five such studies.

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Obama Uses anti-Americanism in Election Campaign?

First Gerhard Schroeder was accused of using anti-Americanism to win an election. Now the British Telegraph's Toby Harnden claims that Obama echoes Europe's anti-Americanism to win the midterm elections: 

Bill Clinton spoke like a Good Ol' Boy from the Deep South, ate junk food and enjoyed trashy women. He was clever, but he did not look down on people. Obama, by contrast, has become a parody of the Ivy League liberal smugly content with his own intellectual superiority and pitying the poor idiots who disagree with him. It is an approach that shares much with the default anti-Americanism of British and European elites, who love to mock the United States as a country full of gun-toting, bible-clutching morons. (.)

Joining the Europeans in mocking ordinary Americans for their supposed idiocy may play well at big-dollar fund-raisers. In adopting this as a political strategy, however, the Democrats could be the ones who end up looking stupid.

WTF? No wonder the article received more than 400 comments since Saturday.

American Success in Iraq Shuts Europe Up

"If someone had said two years ago that the US would have largely withdrawn its forces from Iraqi cities by now, he would have been called naive," writes German journalist Christoph Suess. Europeans did not believe that the Iraqis would be able to handle their own security so soon. They (we) "completely ignored all successes on the ground" and "did not want to confess that maybe the US did in fact achieve something in Iraq."

Read his op-ed on American Success in Iraq Shuts Europe Up.

Another Crazy Bush-Hitler Comparison

I always found the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung's feuilleton to be weird compared to the rest of the paper, but this book review (in German) by Edo Reents is beyond weird, i.e. it is outrageous. The book tries to explain why the Dreyfus Affair matters today and is written by the US novelist Louis Begley. The reviewer claims: ". the Bush government, which, inasmuch as it illegally imprisoned and tortured people, essentially behaved no differently than the National Socialists."

So, now John Rosenthal was able to state in Pajama's Media: "German Daily: Bush Was Hitler" And it is this sort of blog posts and headlines that seems to give quite a few Americans the impression that Bush-Hitler comparisons are a common feature in the German media. I find that quite unfortunate, but I admit that these crazy comparisons (or even equations) do happen and are worse than their exaggerations on some US blogs, like on the American Thinker.

Related posts on Atlantic Review: Two More Americans Accuse Germany of Historical Revisionism and Top Democrat on Auschwitz, Guantanamo and Europe

WSJ: "In Berlin, Obama's Becoming Just Another Bush"

Chancellor Merkel uses her opposition to Obama's financial policies to campaign for reelections, writes Malte Lehming from the German Tagesspiegel.

According to Lehming, Angela Merkel is following Gerhard Schroeder's anti-Iraq war strategy, but implements it in a more sophisticated way:

Is the financial crisis for Angela Merkel what the Iraq war was for Gerhard Schröder -- namely, a reason to seriously strain Germany's relationship with the U.S.? One need not answer with an unconditional "yes" to be very concerned. (...)

There's no question, Mrs. Merkel has good substantive arguments on her side. Mr. Schröder had some as well when he opposed George W. Bush before and during the Iraq war. Nevertheless, Americans and the German opposition -- namely, Mrs. Merkel's Christian Democratic Union -- accused Mr. Schröder of dishonesty. After all, his antiwar views were also motivated by electoral strategy and were not entirely free of general anti-Americanism.

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Cheese Wars and Strong Coffee

Americans will soon pay more for a precious piece of French Roquefort. The American government has as a last, petty gesture in its trade policy decided to raise tariffs on the product from 100 to 300 percent. This is part of a more general round of retaliatory tariffs in response to the ban the European Union maintains on beef produced with growth hormones. But it is clear that Roquefort has been targeted for political sensitivity, as the Independent writes:
There was a violent reaction in France when import duties were first raised on roquefort cheese 10 years ago. The small farmers' leader José Bové – then a roquefort producer – began his rise to international celebrity by attacking a McDonald's restaurant at Millau, near Roquefort, with mallets and a bulldozer in August 1999.
The main effect this will have is making Roquefort more exclusive. And, perhaps, something of a political statement among Michael Pollan fans and the like. I do hope the French embassy will react appropriately at societal events. If the new administration does not dial this back... Continue reading "Cheese Wars and Strong Coffee"