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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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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.

German Moralizers Criticize United States on Killing of Bin Laden

1. Many German politicians, media and church representatives criticize Chancellor Merkel for expressing her joy about the killing of Osama bin Laden, because it is not appropriate to have such a feeling when a human being gets killed. She was only "allowed" to express her relief. => Okay, fine with me.

2. The same folks also criticize those Americans who celebrated bin Laden's death. => Okay, fair enough. I do, however, consider the reactions understandable since he headed a terrorist group that killed thousands of Americans and was determined to kill more. Moreover, no government official celebrated. No "mission accomplished" parties. So, please let's not make a big deal out of it.

3. The same folks and several German law professors (in German) and talk show pundits question the legality of killing bin Laden. This issue seems to be dominating the debate in the German media currently. => Now I am getting annoyed. This is so typical. Aren't there bigger problems? Should not we question our policy on Pakistan? How supportive is the Pakistani military and intelligence of terror networks? As Leon T. Hadar writes in the Huffington Post: "Pakistan is a failed state with nuclear military power, whose elites and public are hostile to the U.S. and sympathetic to its enemies. (...) Pakistan is not a strategic ally but an irresponsible client state."

Law professors could also make sound proposals for ethical and efficient changes to international law to meet the realities of of the 21st century, like terrorism and assymetric warfare, failing states etc. That would be more important and more constructive than making a fuss about the killing of Bin Laden.

4. And this Süddeutsche article discusses whether bin Laden was buried correctly. => Give me a break and rethink your priorities.

Spiegel International provides an English language summary of some commentaries from German newspapers. More evidence for the above claims in this Tagesthemen commentary, which Davids Medienkritik would rip apart, if they'd still be active. Criticism of the German coverage can be found in Die Welt by Clemens Wergin and Alan Posner (all links in German)

Endnote: Last week Congressman Dana Rohrabacher responded to a four year old article on this blog. He provided some context to the quote "Well, I hope it's your families, I hope it's your families that suffer the consequences [of a terrorist attack]."

The World is on Speed

So much is going on these days. Multiple catastrophes in Japan, civilians slaughtered in Libya, cheating German defense minister, US soldiers shot in Germany, uprisings throughout the Arab world and in Wisconsin, bees disappear, Neo-Nazi changes sex and becomes a leftist etc. etc.

I find it hard to keep up, let alone form an opinion and blog about it. This is an open thread for you to discuss and share analyses of current issues important to transatlantic allies. Non-registered users can comment as well.

A few observations and comments of mine to get things started:

1. Japanese earthquake and tsunami and "nuclear catastrophe" and vulcano eruption

It seems that German TV and radio is full of pundits who warn about nuclear meltdowns and a looming catastrophe, while the BBC presents one analyst after another, who says that is all unlikely. What a contrast! I prefer the BBC in situation like this. Yet, I know that the Japanese power companies do not have a reputation of being entirely honest and the government might have good reasons to play down the dangers. Still, I believe this does not justify the shrill headlines in the German media. How's the US coverage?

My sincere sympathies to all Japanese readers! The images and news are so shocking. And yet, I am amazed how the Japanese deal with it. When I wrote about solidarity with Japan on Facebook, it did not take long, until someone responded: "I hope it works better this time than it did the last time." Come on! Nazi jokes are so lame, these days. Everybody Loves Deutschland.

2. Islamist Terror Attack in Germany

Two US soldiers were murdered at Frankfurt airport on March 2, 2011. The first deadly Islamist terror attack in Germany. The media liked to stress that he was an Einzeltäter (acting alone). That was probably supposed to play down the terrorist attack and the new threat level, but intelligence agencies are concerned about a large number of Einzeltäters doing low level terrorist attacks these days. After about two days, this terrorist attack was out of the newspapers. I don't even know how the two wounded soldiers are doing right now. I am very sorry.

3. Libya & Charlie Sheen

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NYT Criticizes German Leadership

The New York Times (via ACUS) describes a joint proposal from German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy to the EU leaders as a "German diktat." That's the first weird assessment in this Germany bashing editorial. Here are three more:

Mrs. Merkel wants all 17 countries that use the euro to fall in line with German ideas of fiscal austerity in return for limited additional financial support for countries in trouble. She expects them to run deficits no higher than Germany's (3.5 percent of G.D.P.), allow retirement no earlier than Germany (age 67), and raise or lower their tax rates as required to match Germany's.

a) Has the NYT forgotten what the EU agreed on two decades ago? According to the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 deficits should be below 3 percent and debt below 60 percent of GDP. Most countries broke the rules. For some this caused more serious economic problems than for others. Now Germany is asked to help them.

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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
We Are the World
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook
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USA Still "a Light to the Rest of the World"?

Sarah Palin responds with an 8-minute video statement to the criticism that has been leveled at her after the Arizona shooting. She claims:

Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world.

Is the US still a light to "the rest of the world" or is that just arrogant and self-congratulatory wishful thinking?

Comedian Lewis Black addressed this boasting of American exceptionalism/superiority/etc. in 2008.


Related post on Atlantic Review:
Arizona Shooting Victim Was a 9/11 Baby

Endnote: Interesting statistic quoted in the Washington Post:

According to the Brady Campaign, an advocacy group, "more Americans were killed with guns in the 18-year period between 1979 and 1997 (651,697) than were killed in battle in all wars since 1775 (650,858)."

Fellow citizens are a bigger threat to Americans than the world is? Okay, not really comparable, but still interesting.

Antibürokratieteam presents NY Times bias.

Plutocracy: US Media Concerned about the Political Influence of the Super Rich

Conventional wisdom used to be that Europeans envy the rich, while Americans hope to emulate them. Now, Americans are increasingly concerned about rising inequality and the influence of the tiny elite of the super rich.

Plutocracy is a very popular topic of discussion in the US media at the moment. I am quite surprised.

It can't be a coincidence that even mainstream and center-right publications like Foreign Affairs, The American Interest and The Atlantic write about it extensively right now:

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