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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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Think Tanks as Tabloids

Heather A. Conley, a senior fellow and director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C, has a piece in Foreign Policy titled "The Transatlantic Test" with the subheading "Europe is facing an existential crisis, and it's time the United States recognized it."

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We need to appreciate each other!

Russell Berman responded to our criticism with an update below his Daily Beast article that is longer than his original article.

This is my response: Yes, the United States started an impressive surge in Afghanistan last year, while the European NATO members "just" increased their troops. This means that the share of European compared to US troops is today lower than it used to be. The US surge, however, is temporary and Obama is expected to declare soon how many troops he will withdraw. European countries are sovereign and are not obligated to follow every US policy decision.

Moreover, this does not change the fact that Berman was factually wrong in stating that the Obama administration "was completely unable to convince any European ally to increase troop commitments" and "some [European allies], like the Netherlands, have in fact already withdrawn." Professor Berman's claim that it is "hard" "to find Europeans on the front lines," is wrong and insensitive to the families of dead soldiers.

Such statements will not encourage Europeans to increase their support US led wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere, which is Prof Berman's goal. Today, nearly ten years after 9/11, European countries have 37,000 troops in Afghanistan. That's an increase of 11,000 troops since Obama became president. Why is not Berman acknowledging this at all? Think about all the European families who have a loved one in Afghanistan!

Only if US think tankers appreciate the European contributions to Afghanistan, is there a chance that Europe continues to follow the US leadership and support the wars that the US political and think tank elite (but not the public) cares about.

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Europe's Contributions to Afghanistan Should be Recognized

Four Bundeswehr soldiers were killed in three attacks in Afghanistan's North in the last two weeks. Two in three Germans want their country to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of the year. The German government, however, stays the course. (Focus Magazine in German.)

Why? Because of a threat from Afghanistan to Germany? No, Al Qaeda and its affiliates do not need a safe haven at the Hindu Kush, but can plan terrorist attacks in Hamburg etc. As Ahmed Rashid notes, "not ever, has an Afghan Talib been involved in global jihad."

Rather, we have invested so much in Afghanistan, that we cannot afford to see it all fail. Moreover, we are still in Afghanistan after nine years as a matter of solidarity with NATO and especially with the United States due to the 9/11 attacks.

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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:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Poor Taste

Chile's president is on a world tour to bask in on the glory of the miners' rescue and benefit from the huge media interest. That might be poor taste. (I think it is, but still alright in terms of pursuing national interests.)

What is definitely poor taste is the phrase the president wrote in a government guest book in Berlin. Sebastian Pinera wrote "Deutschland ueber alles," or "Germany above all." He has now apologized, reports Yahoo! News.

The European and North American media also demonstrates poor taste considering its obsession with the 33 Chilean miners while at the same time ignoring the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Pakistan caused by the floods. See the article by Sidra Tariq, cross-culture intern at atlantic-community.org.

Endnote: A few Latin American friends of mine told me in the past that we should include their countries when discussing transatlantic relations because the continent has an Atlantic coast and European heritage/history. Well, here you go ;-(

Are We Missing the Big Stories?

James Joyner asks on the Atlantic Council's website: "NATO: A Fat, Bloated, Job Creation Project?"

So, the senior defense policymakers of the two most significant military players in Europe think that the tiny portions of their tiny defense budgets going to NATO is mostly wasted?  Now, perhaps having spent the last three years ensconced at a pro-NATO think tank has clouded my judgment but this strikes me as A1, above-the-fold, banner headline news.   At very least, it deserves a sidebar or off-lede treatment of its own.   But the average news consumer would surely have stopped well short of that point in the stories, once the writers started delving into the arcana of budgeting history.

What do you think? Should this be front page news?

Moreover, should this be big news at this time of the year? "Terror Alert: Hamburg Islamist Speaks of Threat of Attacks in Germany"

German officials are investigating apparent statements by a Hamburg Islamist recently arrested by US forces in Afghanistan about attack scenarios for terror strikes in Germany and neighboring countries. Ahmad S. is one of a number of Germany-based Islamists thought to have traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2009.

The biggest Germany related story in the Huffington Post is our new and young First Lady. Seven photo stories of Bettina Wulff within three weeks. OMG. I am disappointed by the Huffington Post, but I should have known better. Oh, and don't get me started on the media brouhaha for all these professional provocateurs like Thilo Sarazzin, Geert Wilders, and Terry Jones, who are selling stuff.

ENDNOTE: I am sorry for the light blogging these days. Atlantic Review misses big transatlantic stories. You can change that. Write a guest post. Send your submission to "ar-team AT atlanticreview.org" Thanks!