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Tom Ricks Mistrusts Germany

Today is the 67th anniversary of D-Day. 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy to fight Nazi Germany on June 6, 1944. Steven Spielberg captured this heroic and scary moment very well in Saving Private Ryan.

Today most US experts -- with the notable exception of Tom Ricks -- do not worry about a war with Germany or a return of militarism and Nazi ideology in Berlin. Instead they are concerned that Germany (and many other European countries) demilitarize so much that we are not of use to the US anymore. Wait for the press coverage of Merkel's trip to the US later this week or read Secretary Gates' speech from last year:

The demilitarization of Europe - where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it - has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st.

Tom Ricks, however, has a totally different view of Germany. Mr. Ricks worries about "Germany's resurgence", which apparently will bring back Adolf Hitler. Or why else did he chose this picture of a Nazi rally in Nuremberg (?) for his blog post on Foreign Policy?

Following are few more strange, offensive, and/or stupid remarks from this senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, who is also a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine and a special (!) military correspondent at the Washington Post, who was part of the teams that won two Pulitzer Prizes:

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The Return of the 90s

I watched the West Wing again recently. I associate this show with the upbeat 90s, the unipolar moment, and the pre 9/11 area, but it aired in the United States from 1999-2006, i.e. primarily during the Bush rather than the Clinton administration. I think for many Democrats the Clinton era continued on TV for two years, until 9/11 happened, the mood changed, 24 with Jack Bauer became popular and the West Wing ratings dropped.

Today I read on the State Department blog about an Ambassador Lyman traveling to Darfur. What? Did not Josh usually send Donna Moss to the dangerous places?

Secretary Clinton's statement on "our limitless faith in human potential" could very well have been from Bartlett as well. Secretary Clinton said after a meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton on "advancing democratic values and universal rights, efforts to protect civilians and implement the United Nations Security Council resolution in Libya" and other issues:

The United States and the European Union are partners working together on, I think, every global issue and regional challenge that you can imagine. We're doing the urgent, the important, and the long-term all at once, and we are united in a transatlantic community that is based on shared democratic values and limitless faith in human potential.

Obama has not just killed Bin Laden. He also killed cynicism and brought humanitarian interventions back. The return of 90s. I can't wait for new West Wing episodes.

America's Political Hypochondriacs and Nazi Party People

Although FOX News often describes the United States the greatest, freest, bestest, and wonderfullest country in the world, some crazy FOX News moderator declares "What happens in Egypt could happen in America." This lets Jon Stewart's Daily Show to rant "Conservatives have turned into political hypochondriacs, and no one is more neurotic than the Woody Allen of Fox News." See video after 40 seconds:

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Reunification: Germany Succeeds in Icy Negotiations

Germany has been criticized for a self-centered foreign and economic policy lately: Afghanistan, economic stimulus, Greece. Germany's commitment to the transatlantic alliance and European integration is called into question. I wonder how much of this is influenced by German reunification 20 years ago. We achieved our main goal (the jackpot) back then and need allies less since. Besides, our friends in the West were not very supportive of our main foreign policy goal, if the Spiegel's summary of the road to unification is to believed.

President Bush is described as "rather indifferent to the question of unification" and erecting "the highest hurdle when he stated that the United States would only agree to reunification if the new Germany were brought into the NATO fold."

British diplomats wondered whether this was a trick aimed at postponing German reunification for years to come. Nevertheless, Kohl agreed to Bush's proposal. He was concerned that if Germany became neutral, NATO would collapse. Without the North Atlantic pact, Kohl worried, the Americans would disappear from Europe, and nuclear powers France and Great Britain would then form a tighter alliance. It was an outcome no chancellor could possibly wish for. But if Kohl agreed to NATO membership, Bush would stand by his word -- and American influence in Europe would increase. The only problem was convincing Gorbachev to accept both reunification and NATO membership. His troops were still stationed in East Germany, which was still a member or the Warsaw Pact, and Gorbachev was still convinced that a leftist political party emerging from the SED could save the GDR.

Why did Gorbachev agree so quickly? According to Spiegel he was so busy with the Soviet Union's domestic troubles that he did not care that much about Germany. (Another reason was that he was a moralist and did not want to be seen as an extortionist by putting more demands on Germany.)  Though, opposition to reunification grew in the West in 1989 and 1990:

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German-American Relations 20 Years after Unification

The election of President Obama has not improved transatlantic cooperation as many pundits claimed it would. Rather German-American relations could fall back into crisis, writes Prof Anderson of Georgetown for AICGS. "Drift and disappointment" rule the day. A return to the "old normal" is not possible, but we need to work towards a "new normal":

So although few on either side of the Atlantic would deny that German-American relations are in a better place today than they were six years ago, even fewer would describe the situation in glowing terms. Drift and disappointment are terms that come more readily to mind. Is this a relationship that is falling back into crisis, then? Many influential voices are signaling that it is, or easily could be. Hardly a week goes by in which a major op-ed or editorial is published that forecasts the end of the transatlantic partnership, or the end of the special relationship between the United States and one or more of its European allies. My sense is that the question itself is poorly framed, and as such the ensuing answers are not especially revealing or insightful. In fact, the terms of the postwar transatlantic relationship ended on the day the Soviet Union ceased to exist. What was considered "normal" for relations between the United States and its European allies up through 1991 no longer held.

His solution:

In short, the concern to resurrect some version of the "old normal," built around common security concerns, is impeding progress toward acknowledging and then fostering the "new normal," which almost certainly will not be built on a security-based foundation. (.) Along the way, we will need to interact with people outside the old and formalized transatlantic networks that exist in Washington, DC, and Berlin, and seek to bring them in. The new normal will follow, slowly but surely.

I wonder if what people he refers to. Does he include the blogosphere? Are we all part of rejuvenating the transatlantic partnership? (Anyhow. I will try to find the time to organize a another Carnival of German-American Relations. Anybody interested in writing an article?)

Germany to Kick Ass in Afghanistan?

Hey, hey, believe it or not, Germany is getting tough at the Hindu Kush. The Bundeswehr started its biggest operation yet in Afghanistan. 300 members of the Quick Reaction Force support the Afghan Army against insurgents near Kundus. For the first time, infantry fighting vehicles with heavy firepower have been deployed.

Moreover, the German Army Inspector General Wolfgang Schneiderhan stated in a press conferences that "now is the time to carry out this escalation" because of the upcoming Afghan elections and increase in attacks against the Bundeswehr. He also announced that the rules of engagement are currently being revised. "Escalating" is a normal military term, but I am still surprised that a general is using this phrase in a press conference. It might have been the first time ever since WWII that a German general is publicly advocating an escalation.

I have written a bit more about this on and would appreciate your assessment of the impact on stability in Afghanistan and the German mindset. Some German papers were talking about a "psychological threshold" being crossed in Germany.

Obama as Chancellor of Weimar America

What do some conservative US and leftist German politicians have in common? They use the other side of the Atlantic for fear-mongering.

The latest example is Jim DeMint, Republican Senator from South Carolina. According to The Washington Independent he made the following statement, when promoting his book at The National Press Club:

Part of what we're trying to do in "Saving Freedom" is just show that where we are, we're about where Germany was before World War II where they became a social democracy. You still had votes but the votes were just power grabs like you see in Iran, and other places in South America, like Chavez is running down in Venezuela. People become more dependent on the government so that they're easy to manipulate. And they keep voting for more government because that's where their security is.

Aha, I see, Iraq and Afghanistan and the current recession are for the United States what the WWI and the depression were for Germany. And the oldest modern democracy in Washington is still as immature as the Weimar Republic's, started after WWI. So Obama is running Weimar America.

OMG! People, get your guns, Hitler is just around the corner!

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Exhibition: "Gifts From the Americans"

Who says Germans are not grateful to the United States anymore? Currently there is an architectural photo exhibition in Berlin featuring cultural buildings financed by the United States during the Cold War. The exhibition and website is called Geschenke der Amerikaner ("Gifts from the Americans"), which is in German, but includes a few good photos.