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Wikileaks Hyperventilation or "Transatlantic Brainwashing"

According to Spiegel, Wikileaks reveals that US diplomats consider Foreign Minister Westerwelle to be incompetent and Chancellor Merkel to be risk averse. So what? Most Germans think the same. Of course, US diplomats are more candid in secret cables than in public statements. Everybody is.

I refuse to join the media's hyperventilation over these revelations caused by WikiLeaks' "information vandalism." The Guardian opines that the leaks have already created a "global diplomatic crisis." They used that headline right after publishing the cables. That sounds like we are at the brink of war. All of a sudden it is 1914 and Franz Ferdinand has just been assassinated.

Okay, for a few seconds, I was hyperventilating, when I read in the September 2009 cable published on Spiegel:

According to XXXXX Westerwelle has never been able to shake his skepticism about how the United States wields power in the world. Citing an exchange with former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Burt (1985-1989), XXXXX recalls how Westerwelle forcefully intervened in a discussion the Ambassador was having on U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War to say: "But you are not the police of the world." XXXXX comments further that Westerwelle was immune to any "transatlantic brainwashing."

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Stop Reading Tom Friedman: Reason #354 and #355

I am sure, I am preaching to the choir here: Friedman is totally overrated..

Dan Drezner: "Psssst... Tom Friedman... texting is really not the problem"

Salon: "The War Room Hack Thirty is a list of our least favorite political commentators, newspaper columnists and constant cable news presences, ranked roughly (but only roughly) in order of awfulness and then described rudely. Criteria for inclusion included writing the same column every week for 30 years, warmongering, joyless repetition of conventional wisdom, and making bad puns." (HT: Andrew)

ENDNOTE: Needless to say, the Economist is always a great read and the best adult magazine. So many English language publications wrote this week that Germany "ended" the military service. The Economist's newsletter got it right: "Germany is to suspend military conscription from next July. It will remain in the constitution but the move ends what has been a cornerstone of post-war German identity."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Like America, Germany Needs More Sanity, Less Hysteria

I would like to call for a "war on hysteria," if that would not be so hysterical in itself. Where are the German Jon Stewarts, who could restore some sanity over here? The whole debate in Germany about multiculturalism and Muslims, immigration and integration is full of hysteria. It's gotten so hysterical, that this debate now includes Halloween and nuclear energy.

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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!

Anti-European Schadenfreude Rising?

When Foreign Policy featured an article on Anti-Europeanism in the United States as "Today's FP" cover, I got intrigued, but I was disappointed when I read this article Guardian columnist Simon Tisdall, which currently is FP's most read piece of the week. Old arguments about the Iraq war debate and last year's Obama trips to Europe.

Here are the more interesting paragraphs regarding the reason for Anti-European attitudes:

Fear, envy, anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, cultural inferiority-superiority complexes, trade, political and military rivalries, and America's quest for identity all fed anti-European feeling as the new country sought to differentiate itself from the old countries whence most of its people came. Many of these phenomena remain relevant today.

"Expressing one's anti-European sentiment can be a way of building up and displaying one's American identity and patriotism," said Patrick Chamorel in a European University Institute study published in Italy in 2004. "Anti-Europeanism has always been part of American exceptionalism, which defined itself in contrast to European history, politics, and society."

It would be easy for Europeans to shrug off America's Europhobic generalizations and mischaracterizations if they were exclusive to would-be-intellectual neoconservatives, Bible Belt evangelists, and provincial Midwest xenophobes. But ever since the European Union dropped the ball in the Balkans in the mid-1990s, a potent mix of influential American thinkers, policymakers, and commentators have given anti-Europeanism a new respectability that cannot be dismissed out of hand. On the major issues that preoccupy Americans -- defense, security, terrorism, intervention, free trade, sovereignty, and nationalism -- the argument that Europe has lost its way has gained in influence. And as a debt-laden European Union stares at the fiscal abyss, one can almost feel the schadenfreude emanating from across the pond.

"Almost feel the schadenfreude emanating"? Does it get any more vague than that? Read the FP article Venus Envy and come back here to comment, if you like.

Europeans Are "a Pack of Pagan Losers"

"A spectre is haunting Europe-the spectre of Communism." Those were the words of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848 and their predictions turned out to be highly accurate, as we all know. Now the spectre of communism is haunting America and the end of the world is near.

The conservative media is scared shitless by this spectre and accuses Obama of turning the land of the free and the home of the brave into Russia/Europe/communism/socialism. For instance, Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of National Review Online, writes in Townhall (via No Pasaran): "The recently passed health-care legislation is the cornerstone of the Europeanization of America." Like "Amerikanische Verhältnisse" (American conditions) in Germany, the "Europeanization of America" is an increasingly popular catch phrase for fear mongering ("The Europeanization of America", Atlantica: A Threat to American Freedom, "If It's From Europe, Forget It" and Other Comments on Health Care).

Apparently the US conservative media needs to resort to fear mongering in order to attract an audience and advertisements from big companies. Capitalism is the excuse to exaggerate and insult. Americans live in the harsh reality of a free market economy and are not living the sheltered lives of 7 year old kids as we Europeans do, according to Goldberg:

We can't become Europe unless someone else is willing to become America. Look at it this way. My 7 year-old daughter has a great lifestyle. She has all of her clothes and food bought for her. She goes on great vacations. She has plenty of leisure time. A day doesn't go by where I don't look at her and feel envious at how good she's got it compared to me. But here's the problem: If I decide to live like her, who's going to take my place? Europe is a free-rider. It can only afford to be Europe because we can afford to be America.

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A European Saves Americans on Flight 253

The 9/11 attacks and the failed Christmas Day airplane bombing have two things in common: US agencies had enough information about the terrorists and could have intervened if they had properly analyzed and shared the information that they had, but instead another systemic failure - as President Obama called it - has occurred. Like with United 93 in 2001 it was again the passengers, in particular the Dutchman Jasper Schuringa, who subdued the Nigerian terrorist.

Yep, it was a European. And it is documented well. It is, however, not well documented what exactly happened on United 93. Nevertheless a movie was made that defames the German passenger Christian Adams as the "stereotypically weak-kneed Euro-pacifist," even though no information suggests that he acted that way. Hollywood should apologize by making a good movie about Flight 253 with a Dutch hero.

And while we are at it: The Dutch are also taller than Americans, probably because of better health care and more comprehensive welfare systems. So, perhaps Obama's health care reform will prevent further terrorist attacks ;-) Nah, I hope the systemic problems will be fixed. And to be fair: The system, including the much criticized No-Fly List, has probably prevented a few attacks, but such success can't be quantified and does not make headlines.

Endnote: Thanks to Robert Farley for the related post "But Bob Kaplan Said that Europeans Have Lost Their Will to Live!"

I used to be big fan of Kaplan, when he published The Coming Anarchy in the early 90s, but I got more and more disappointed by his writings since the turn of the millenium. I am not sure to which article Farley refers to. It could be this month column Let's Go, Europe about the "neopacifism" in a "debellicized Europe," which can only make a difference in the naval sphere. Or it is his November column The Fall of the Wall, where he argues that "We may have gained victory in the Cold War, but lost Europe to apathy and decadence in the process." Kaplan was so nice and took the 20th anniversary of the first ever peaceful revolution in Germany (our best contribution to the 20th century) as well as the revolutions in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which are now part of the EU, as an opportunity for Eurobashing:

What does the European Union truly stand for besides a cradle-to-grave social welfare system? For without something to struggle for, there can be no civil society—only decadence.  Thus, with their patriotism dissipated, European governments can no longer ask for sacrifices from their populations when it comes to questions of peace and war.

Of course, Jasper Schuringa's initiative on Flight 253 won't change Kaplan opinion about the decadent, neopacifist, debellized, unpatriotic Europeans.