Wow, I did not realize the German and Italian Nazi leaders were so young when they came to power. Should I be worried about the political radicalization of youth in Europe today due to the economic crisis? Will some of them turn into Fascist leaders in five years? Walter Laqueur in The New Republic in July:
Continue reading "Be Afraid of Young Europeans"
If youth is the season of hope, it is also the age of credulity and fanaticism; the radicalism on behalf of which youth has served as a vanguard has not always been so admirable. Consider Italy's fascist movement. Mussolini was not yet 40 at the time of his march on Rome, and those surrounding him were even younger-Achille Starace, the future secretary of the party, was 33; Dino Grandi, the future minister of justice, was 27. Galeazzo Ciano, the future foreign minister, claimed to have participated at the age of 19. (The anthem of the fascists was "Giovinezza primavera di bellezza": "Youth, Spring of Beauty.")
1. Today is Armistice Day. Americans celebrate it as Veterans Day, for the Polish it is Independence Day and quite a few Germans, who want to forget war, celebrate today instead as the beginning of the carnival season. What hedonistic, ignorant society we are.
2. Armistice Day is an appropriate term, as November 11, 1918 did not really bring an end to the "Great War," at least not lasting peace. Neither did the Treaty of Versailles. The world war was only really over on May 8, 1945. Thirty-one damn years.
Continue reading "Remembering World War I"
Today is a great day for Freedom.
Today thousands of Russian protesters have demonstrated in Moscow against Vladimir Putin and demanded fresh elections and a new president. That's a bold demand, but I wish they will succeed.
25 years ago today, President Reagan made a bold demand as well, which became reality two years later. He stood in front of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War's frontline, and said: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" A big moment in transatlantic relations that deserves more appreciation. The plea sounds simple today, but was controversial back then. Former US Diplomat John Kornblum wrote a great background article. I include Reagan in the Top Five: Americans who rocked Berlin
The Russians deserve the same kind of freedom that East Germans got, when the wall fell.
Continue reading "Celebrating Freedom"
French President Hollande suggests that intervention might be required in Syria, but Germany's political leaders don't like the idea, explains the Christian Science Monitor. Germany is extremely reluctant and cautious of any military intervention. Libya last year was not an exception, but the rule.
Despite all this, Victor Davis Hanson, a historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, warns in the National Review that Germany might go to war against its EU neighbors:
Continue reading "Davis Hanson: Poking Germany Leads to War"
The Man in Black was born 80 years ago today. From About: "In 1950, Johnny Cash was stationed in Landsberg, Germany as a radio operator with the U.S. Air Force. While in Germany, his hearing was permanently damaged by a German girl who had playfully stuck a pencil in his left ear. But it was also in Germany that Cash bought his first guitar and put together his first band, the Landsberg Barbarians."
Below is a video of his performance at Wetten Dass 30 years ago.
Continue reading "Johnny Cash: 80th Birthday"
Two years ago, European Commission President Barroso called for a more dynamic transatlantic relationship based on results rather than process. Speaking at the German Marshall Funds' Brussels Forum he said "We must go beyond traditional Atlanticism and build a new Atlanticism." (Video)
It was one of those grandiose speeches that resulted into applause, but nothing else. N_o_t_h_i_n_g ! I assume that Barroso and his staff only worked on the speech, but not on any initiative to actually build a new Atlanticism.
I believe it is really up to a new generation to revive Atlanticism. Will they (we) succeed? Hard to say. While I am generally pessimistic (realistic), I do feel optimistic once in a while, like right now, when I read Transatlanticism: From a Political to a Social Identity It's a sober-minded, realistic analysis, which criticizes the sort of hollow expressions of transatlantic solidarity and values that I see in Barroso's speech, but it also ends with a positive outlook. The author, Kristin Durant, is President of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association, and wrote this great op-ed for atlantic-community, my day job.
Continue reading "Young Atlanticism"
Many Americans have rocked huge crowds in Berlin. Here are videos of John F. Kennedy in June 1963, Ronald Reagan in June 1987, Bruce Springsteen in July 1988, and Barack Obama in July 2008.
Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan spoke in West-Berlin and stressed America's solidarity and commitment to freedom.
Bruce Springsteen performed his political songs in East-Berlin, the biggest rock concert the GDR had seen. When the Berlin Wall fell a year later, President George Bush senior was not a loud rock star, which would have been inappropriate and added insult to injury to the Soviet Union. (Poking a wounded super power in free fall would have been dangerous.).
Senator Obama was greeted like a rock star when he spoke in Berlin during his presidential campaign. Berliners longed to hear his message of hope and change after the disappointment in America caused by the Bush junior presidency.
Continue reading "Top Five: Americans who rocked Berlin"
"There's been a lot of love for the 40th president of the United States these past few days in Europe," writes Robert Zeliger in Foreign Policy. Ronald Reagan got a street named for for him, was honored with statues in Budapest and London and with a Catholic Mass in Krakow.
I remember that there was a short debate in Berlin about a memorial or street for President Reagan, but the leftist government does not like him. It's all politics and ideology. Even a small memorial plaque in the ground at the Brandenburger Gate was rejected, as Majjid Sattar wrote in the German FAZ newspaper in February.
Instead of honoring the US president who urged the General Secretary Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall," the square next to the Brandenburg Gate hosts the The Kennedys Museum, even though President John F. Kennedy acquiesced to the communist construction of the Berlin Wall.
The German fans of JFK should read Fred Kempe's new book "Berlin 1961". Kempe is the president and CEO of the Atlantic Council and argues in the Amazon Q&A:
Continue reading "Ronald Reagan Love-Fest in Europe, but not in Germany"