Two Nations In Need of a Hug

The new Transatlantic Trends survey (pdf) on European-U.S. relations is out. I don’t see much of a point anymore in blogging about America’s reputation abroad, for several reasons. First, America’s popularity is much less of an issue since I re-structured my life to reduce contact with people who wanted to lecture me about U.S. foreign policy. Second, there’s been no real news since 2003. Condition: critical, prognosis: extremely guarded.

Third, the people who used to lecture me about foreign policy (generally without inquiring about my own views before hand — why is this so common in Germany?) have grown quiet. Many of the critics’ predictions about U.S. foreign policy have come painfully true. They no longer need to make their points, history’s doing it for them. European supporters of U.S. policy, who incorrectly assumed I would warm to their defense of George W. Bush, have also gotten very quiet — at least about the issues they were banging on about in 2003 and 2004. ("How can you not support your visionary President? He’s the only one who sees the real problem, unlike our feckless leaders!")

Frankly, everybody seems a little concerned about how unglued it’s all become. The implosion of U.S. foreign policy has created a new wave of dangers — things like the prospect of a George W. Bush with nothing to lose turning his attention to Iran, or the coming tsunami of Iraqi refugees who will shortly be trying to find nicer places to live than Jordan and Syria. I never though I’d say this, but right now, I feel something akin to pity for George W. Bush. He was always in far over his head, but now he seems to have realized that fact. He looks frightened and insecure. His ability to spontaneously build grammatical English sentences, which was once impressive (don’t believe me? click here) has almost vanished.

So, that long preface aside, let’s get to the money graph.  Here it is (yawn):

Still_unpopular_2

On another note, this caught my eye:

  • Turkish feelings toward the United States and European Union continued to cool. On a 100-point “thermometer” scale, Turkish “warmth” toward the United States dropped from 20 degrees in 2006 to 11 degrees in 2007, and toward the European Union from 45 degrees to 26. Turkish feelings toward Iran also cooled this past year from 43 degrees to 30.

The study left out an important question: What’s the level of Turkey’s warmth toward Turkey

In another interesting result, "Europeans thought it far more likely that Turkey will eventually join the EU: 56% of Europeans believed Turkey will join, compared with just 26% of Turkish respondents." Make of it what you will…

26 thoughts on “Two Nations In Need of a Hug

  1. Turkey’s warmth towards itself may be gauged here, there, and there. Arguments tend to become really heated should you be an Alevi, a non-Muslim missionary or disfavour outright chauvinism. Anyway, give those lads a hug, and–if you can’t manage that–at least some respect. They’re human, too, which not even your humble ranter will deny.

  2. Don, do you think that combat action is always good and justified? Why should Europeans support it given the recent military engagements of the United States and their (lack of) justification and their devastating effects? Last time I checked, not blindly running into a needless war is not the same thing as “having your cake and eating it too”.

  3. > Why should Europeans support it given the recent military engagements of the United States and their (lack of)
    > justification and their devastating effects? Last time I checked, not blindly running into a needless war
    > is not the same thing as “having your cake and eating it too

    Stefan, last time I checked–and if this guy’s calculations are to be trusted–the rate of killed people each year has been cut in half, and a dictatorship has been toppled. While people are still being killed in Iraq on a daily basis, it’s Sunnis and Shiites, that do 99% of the killing, the target being other Sunnis and Shiites. Actually, it’s those Sunnis and Shiites, that weren’t allowed to kill each other under Saddam’s rule, as the state had a monopoly on any kind of misuse of power – incidentally, that’s like it still is in almost all Arab and Islamic societies. It’s better now in Iraq than it was before, even if the way success had been achieved will deservedly undermine a not so bright US government’s credibility for years to come.

    As for our ‘recent military engagement’ in Afghanistan, some might want to care for the Taliban’s, err, legitimate, interest of self-preservation, and the preservation of the most reactionary and inhumane brand of Islam and societal order, while others might care for those wanting to live like Afghans already did under the King’s rule, miniskirts and–sort of–free press having been part of that way of life, which–alas!–was not anti-Imperialist and class-conscious at all – sorry, Stefan. Than again, if you really and thoroughly think it over, neither is the Taliban way of life, some clumsy agitprop for the Western ear put aside. So you might get over it – give yourself a hug. Should a hug not be enough to get into the mood, have some porn – don’t you fear, no naughty pictures contained:

    • Here’s former activist of 68 Hadayatullah Hübsch giving us “Spiritual Visions against US-Cultural Imperialism.” This should appeal to you. It’s the NPD’s “Deutsche Stimme,” he shares his visions with – but don’t you despair: Mr. Hübsch is a Muslim, which makes up for a whole lotta ugliness – if you ask a gutmensch, and the Berliner Zeitung gave him the Kosher certificate this morning, by having him relate a most truthful account of Djihad’s true nature – as the Berliner Zeitung and other non-racist and non-Islamophobe media of repute do regularly.
    • Here’s Ulrich Maurer, presently PDS chairman and longtime chairman of Baden-Württemberg’s SPD’s parliamentary party. He feels that the Left’s traditional atheism is an obstacle resisting the “neoliberale Hegemonie.” He has even more insights to share: “Ist den »werte- und würdelosen Befürwortern des pragmatischen Nihilismus« der Markt Gott, so postulieren fast alle Religionen »den Vorrang von Werten vor der Ökonomie.« Deshalb seien gegenwärtig »Gläubige und Linke (…) natürliche Verbündete.«” Isn’t this turning you on?
    • PDS member and Lafontaine supporter Jürgen Elsässer puts it all together in national-bolshevist rag Junge Welt: “Im Libanon kämpfen Islamisten, Nationalisten und Linke Schulter an Schulter gegen die Aggressoren.” … and that’s how it should be here, too, according to him and his PDS think-alikes.

    To those who might accuse me going of astray or hogging textual bandwidth: this post is about anti-Americanism, and so is my comment, the insights of the gentlemen cited above – and Stefan, though he might not know it. Yes, Bush is a nitwit, and the war(s) were started for the wrong reasons and by the wrong means, but that’s no reason to become a leftist reactionary.

  4. > … His ability to spontaneously build grammatical English sentences, which was once impressive (don’t believe me? click here) has almost vanished.
    Ah yes, his biography on rotten.com also mentioned this point.

    To quote:
    The Brainiac
    In 1978, George made a halfhearted stab at politics when he ran for an open Congressional seat….
    …And in the debates, Bush tried his best to come off sounding smart and serious. He made references to complicated economic policies. Difficult as it may be to believe now, many voters in the 1978 campaign were turned off by George W. Bush’s overt intelligence. They figured him for some kind of brainiac…

    Although he was gaining on the Democrat near the end, Bush lost the race. But the experience taught him everything he would someday need to mount an effective campaign. He discovered that voters aren’t looking the smartest candidate, or the guy with the most experience. They want somebody who makes them comfortable. Somebody who’s one of them. A regular guy.

    He filed away all of that information in his head, and then turned to business.

    http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/presidents/george-w-bush/

  5. I must thank Stefan for making my day. By writing three sensible lines (It might be more for some people here. at least if their browser window is as broad as their world view) he managed to trigger yet another one of the resident fanatic’s famous rants were he calls the NPD, the *double quotes* PDS *double quotes* and finally the Gottseibeiuns, Mr. O. B. Laden himself as witnesses that those lines are actually a proof that “Stoffel” (Name calling Marek? Are you trying to adapt your niveau to us surrenderist dumbwits that make up the rest of the world?) is a “leftist reactionary”.

  6. “since I re-structured my life to reduce contact with people who wanted to lecture me about U.S. foreign policy.”

    Do you give workshops in this? Please send dates, fee schedule and application forms. Please.

  7. “Don, do you think that combat action is always good and justified?”

    No. Stephan, do you believe that combat action is NEVER good and justified – as when it brings down a reginme which kills million(s) of it’s own people? This seems to be the majority German view thses days – and no wonder….

    I believe I can find a reference or two if you wish….

  8. “Last time I checked, not blindly running into a needless war is not the same thing as “having your cake and eating it too”.”

    Stephan, when it’s all take and no giove for more than 50 years it becomes really obvious after a time. Germans seem to believe it’s *never* time to fight. I merely invite them to test their theory – without any further help from the US.

    Who knows? Maybe it will work! Britain tried it for a while, and it worked – for 21 years.

    After that it didn’t work so well…..

  9. Don, it is just so we had our share of killing that was good for the last 60 years, and many of us have become very careful and even suspicious if somebody wants to sell us a just war for the right reasons. Especially if he lies about the reasons why to begin the war, which was all too obvious in the Iraq case. Maybe this will change sometime soon (hopefully not the part about not starting a war based on lies, though).

    It is still not clear to me what the motives were for starting this war, but it was certainly not because of an imminent threat, nor because of terrorists (those came from Saudi Arabia, after all), and I doubt it was because of the Millions of Iraqis killed. The killing has been going on for a long time in this country, even when Saddam was still a good friend of Rumsfeld, so I don’t buy that altruism was the main reason (or even a reason). I really don’t think this is the best example for bashing Germany about not wanting to take responsibility.

  10. “Good friend of Rumfeld”

    This shows the pernicious effect of propoganda. Rumsfeld was never a ‘good friend’ of Saddam Hussein. I would hesitate to tag even Jacques Chirac with that title – and Chirac went a LOT further than Rumsfeld ever did.

    Look at US arms sales to Iraq – it comes about 15th on the list. After the USSR, France, China, Germany, and even the UK. Well after in every case except the UK.

    But Rumsfeld did make a trip to see Saddam and there were a few photographs which were blown way out of proportion to the business being transacted – so Rumsfeld became the poster child of G8 dealings with Iraq – in Europe at least. And after that you have the cheek to complain about the ‘Big Lie’?

    Look in the mirror….

  11. Well, when a sarcastic comment about former good relationships with a murderous dictator (and I hope you are not implying that the US, unlike every other western country, never had good relationships with Saddam) making it unlikely that the murdering was the reason for any action is a lie in the same magnitude as starting a war based on fabrications about weapons of mass destruction, then I’m a really bad liar, probably.

  12. The US had polite relations with Saddam, while the French (and to a lesser extent the Germans) were being his fart-catchers.

    Later on the US had ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ type relations with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and provided intelligence information from satellites. The objective was to prevent Iran from overrunning Iraq – and it seemed to work.

    Do you wish me to believe that Germans thought it would be good business if Khomeni ruled Iraq as well as Iran? Ok, I’m willing. I’ll believe anything about Germans after the experiences of the past 10 years!….

  13. The US had polite relations with Saddam, while the French (and to a lesser extent the Germans) were being his fart-catchers.

    Later on the US had ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ type relations with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and provided intelligence information from satellites. The objective was to prevent Iran from overrunning Iraq – and it seemed to work.

    Do you wish me to believe that Germans thought it would be good business if Khomeni ruled Iraq as well as Iran? Ok, I’m willing. I’ll believe anything about Germans after the experiences of the past 10 years!….

  14. Don:
    I thought I made clear what I think — that the reason that was given to start the war was a lie, that I have reasons to believe that altruism was also not the basis for the decision, and therefore this war might not be the best example to bash Germans about not wanting to take responsibility. I think you could easily find better ones, e.g. in the context of the intervention in ex-Yugoslavia a couple of years ago.

  15. Alex, there were many reasons given for the war. An entire case was carefully built – and then utterly ignored while one weak part was torn apart and then mischaracterized as a ‘blatant lie’ – when it actually was merely mistaken.

    Then in turn this incredibly narrow and self-serving view was blown up into justification for Germany not keeping faith with it’s allies.

    Very well. But do understand that everyone can play that game. And everyone will play it. A country which has not been faithful to it’s allies ought not expect steadfastness from it’s allies – no matter what the wording of the treaty is.

    Next time think about the spirit as well as the letter – and better luck next ally!

  16. Alex, there were many reasons given for the war. An entire case was carefully built – and then utterly ignored while one weak part was torn apart and then mischaracterized as a ‘blatant lie’ – when it actually was merely mistaken.

    Then in turn this incredibly narrow and self-serving view was blown up into justification for Germany not keeping faith with it’s allies.

    Very well. But do understand that everyone can play that game. And everyone will play it. A country which has not been faithful to it’s allies ought not expect steadfastness from it’s allies – no matter what the wording of the treaty is.

    Next time think about the spirit as well as the letter – and better luck next ally!

  17. @Don:

    Later on the US had ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ type relations with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and provided intelligence information from satellites.

    So now you’re saying they were friends, and of course it was during this time that Donald Rumsfeld was special envoy to Saddam. But you just cried out in horror at the suggestion that Saddam and Rummy were “good friends.” That may not be literally true, but your fake outrage at such “propaganda lies” is ridiculous.

    Do you wish me to believe that Germans thought it would be good business if Khomeni ruled Iraq as well as Iran?

    That’s a weird question. But apparently it made good business sense to the US administration to sell weapons to Iran at the height of the conflict.

  18. @Don: “Alex, there were many reasons given for the war. An entire case was carefully built – and then utterly ignored while one weak part was torn apart and then mischaracterized as a ‘blatant lie’ – when it actually was merely mistaken.”

    Would you mind elaborating what those (other) reasons were, and, in particular, lay out which of those reasons, in your opinion, had been rightly identified?

  19. Don:
    Was Iraq a threat to the US or not? We’re allies wrt to helping each other in case of being threatened by an aggressor, not allies in the sense that either one has to defend each and every interest of the other one. I agree Schröder behaved like an asshole when he said he would not engage in an intervention even with a UN mandate. But otherwise I think the spirit of the treaty is not that one party has to do everything the other party wishes.
    As I already said repeatedly, you’re certainly right about bashing the Germans about not wanting to take responsibility, but this is really an unsuitable example.

  20. “So now you’re saying they were friends, ”

    I am sometimes struck by the depth of historical ignorance on the part of apparently intelligent people. This is one of thos occasions.

    I could make a simile by asserting that the US was as much a friend of Saddam as it was of Stalin during WWII. That would be inaccurate, because the US was allied with the USSR during WWII – and the US was not allied with Saddam’s Iraq at any point.

    No, we were not friends with Saddam. We weren’t bitter adversaries either. Rather we were adversaries who shared a common enemy.

    Next time try a bit of analysis before you pounce. Works better…..

  21. “Would you mind elaborating what those (other) reasons were, and, in particular, lay out which of those reasons, in your opinion, had been rightly identified?”

    Yes actually I would. Been there, done that. Over and over – and it never changed a single mind. It is a mark of the invincible ignorance propounded untiringly by what passes as German ‘journalism’ that an ‘imformed’ German could even write this sentence. It’s out ther – look it up yourself.

    I guess I should not be surprised. After all Abu Ghraib is irrevokably set as the scene of AMERICAN atrocities in the German mind. This because the few victims of the place under American management have been reported thousands of times. The tens or hundreds of thousands of gruesomely tortured victims under Saddam’s management don’t register on the German mind – because they were barely reported in Germany.

    Sigh….

  22. “Would you mind elaborating what those (other) reasons were, and, in particular, lay out which of those reasons, in your opinion, had been rightly identified?”

    Yes actually I would. Been there, done that. Over and over – and it never changed a single mind. It is a mark of the invincible ignorance propounded untiringly by what passes as German ‘journalism’ that an ‘imformed’ German could even write this sentence. It’s out ther – look it up yourself.

    I guess I should not be surprised. After all Abu Ghraib is irrevokably set as the scene of AMERICAN atrocities in the German mind. This because the few victims of the place under American management have been reported thousands of times. The tens or hundreds of thousands of gruesomely tortured victims under Saddam’s management don’t register on the German mind – because they were barely reported in Germany.

    Sigh….

  23. More invincible ignorance – or perhaps wilful ignorance is a better term. ZDF ran an online poll yesterday asking ‘Who was behind it?’, ‘it’ being the 9/11 attacks.

    Wer ist Drahtzieher?
    Osama Bin Laden

    Rüstungslobby (Arms lobby)

    George W. Bush

    US-Behörden (US Authorities)

    Ich weiß nicht (I don’t know)

    The current figures as of this writing had Bin-Laden barely in the lead at 28%, with George Bush and ‘US Authorities’ close behind at 25% and 24%, respectively. ‘Arms lobby’ also is doing well at 15%.

    http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/8/0,1872,7000488,00.html

    It’s this kind of sophisticated ‘analysis’ which increasingly seems to be the hallmark of German journalism – and German public opinion…..

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