German American Friendship

Reality Check

“a friend in need is a friend indeed”

Last update: October 15, 2008


Updates: 1 More of the Same   2 Even More   3 Sauerkraut High-Mindedness  4 German-Jugend!  5 Statistics  6 Sahafism  7 Top Secret  8 God Bless Iraq  9 Error Prone  10 Psychiatrist’s Couch  11 The Pig’s Bristle  12 Delectable from David Kasper    13 Sympathy where Sympathy is due  14 The Exception to the Rule  15 Fun in the Sand  16 Dr. Kong and Mr. Hitler  17  Tsunami Aid  18 Thus Spake Joschka  19 Mirror on the Wall  20 War Criminals 21 Iraq War  22 Humanity Fog  23 Science and Politics  24 L’affair Al Masri  25 Balmy Weather  26 Naughty BND  27 For a Handful of Euros  28 Pride Parade 29 GraSS  30 Berliner Bär 31 Minimalism   32  A call to Arms  33 Lethal Injection


Staunch Friend 


September 5, 2002


In the aftermath of the 9–11 infamy, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder declared his Nation’s „unlimited solidarity…” with the US in its declared war on terrorism. Quoting this fragment  media types in the US, with the rarest of exception, were quick to describe Germany a staunch friend of America, wishfully ignoring the fly in Herr Schröder’s solidarity ointment. What he proffered was “unlimited solidarity— but we are not going to be a party to any adventures!”.


Now this is something you want to chew on. The chancellor of the nation with a proven record of abysmal lack of good judgment, indeed with the most shameful history of any nation bar none, has the gall to imply that the US is a nation prone to adventurism in need of being restrained or chaperoned by, of all things, the likes of Germany. This fellow—just by watching his body language you know you have before you a small-time bumpkin i.e. a politician as German as they come—seems to forget that the US had to save Europe from Germany and Germany from itself twice in the twentieth century and that Germans never before had it so good as under US “occupation”: which provided political tutelage, reconstruction resources and protection from the Soviet Union!


So Germany supplied 1000 troops for peace keeping duties in Kabul and another 200 to handle supplies at an airbase in neighboring Uzbekistan. If it doesn’t occur to you on your own, you can learn from the German media that this is a big deal.


In Germany practically everybody agrees with Herr Schröder—politicians, not the least the members of his cabinet, the media, intellectuals and the majority of the citizenry. A surreal unanimity, reminiscent of authoritarian regimes. A situation not very conducive to debating all aspects of a proposed course of action. Compare this to the US where the Iraq debate is raging on and off since the days Saddam invaded Kuwait and not only in the media but conspicuously among the then and the present President’s closest advisers. Unmistakably, Herr Schröder is projecting the limitations of his own ethnic mentality onto the US.


The chancellor is getting more strident by the day; parroting, for the US’s own good we are told, ideas rehashed daily in the US media as  his nonexistent judgment that Iraq isn’t Al Quaeda, the Taliban are not yet vanquished, the US (adventurers) didn’t consider the consequences of war and diplomatic means haven’t been exhausted yet; while ludicrously admonishing the US “not to play with war”.  “Germany will not join the US in military action against Iraq—even if the UN approves it!” is the latest broken record playing out of the German chancellor’s mouth—thus revealing his true colors. True to national form, not acting on the merits of the case but securing for Germans the pecuniary and risk avoidance advantages to be had by courting the maladjusted—while the US is drawing the ire of these very same international ruffians by standing up to them—is the unprincipled course preferred by Herr Schröder. GERMAN AMERICAN FRIENDSHIP


Some opine pointing to the upcoming German elections, in the German chancellor’s defense, that said stand is just electioneering palaver. Which is the same as saying that  this is what the majority of Germans want to hear. You bet: according to the opinion polls 80% of the electorate approve of Schröder’s perfidy. (For more perfidy click here)


Does anybody really need friends like this?



More of the Same


January 22, 2003



Driven by his hang-ups, the German Chancellor misses no opportunity to try inflating his stature by grandstanding before the people that deserve him as head of state—by snapping as befits a Lilliputian at the ankles of the American Gulliver. Thus, the other day, he reiterated on TV that an approval in the Security Council by Germany of military action against Iraq is inconceivable. Adding, we will under no circumstances say yes to war:  wearing that self satisfied mien fitting such a profound statement. The thought that such a statement may hopefully serve to insure that the US is going to be the lightning rod receiving all the terrorist Blitz, while deflecting all harm from Germany, of course never crossed this dependable friend’s mind.


The next day in France at the Versailles Palace, the venue of humiliation on different  historic occasions of France and Germany, there stood the Chancellor, with the President of France Jacques Chirac towering over him as if presenting to the assembled that amusing Michelin trademark the “Tire-Man”. The two were celebrating a German-French Friendship day; a friendship, no doubt, harking back to the days of the WW II Vichy-Third Reich collaboration pact. France with its well equipped and bigger army than Germany’s folded, due to the monumental ineptness of its defense establishment,  in no time at all in the face of the Wehrmacht’s assault. A disgrace only partially ameliorated by the French Resistance and general Charles de Gaulle’s  refusal to capitulate; a course of action made possible by the protection provided for his troops by the other allies, who treated him more as a never-do-well guest than an ally of consequence. As for Germany’s Third Reich no comment is needed.


With that kind of historical burden weighing on the collective psyches of the respective nations it’s not surprising, though obnoxious, that both leaders manifest in their actions and pronouncements the justified inferiority complexes afflicting their societies. The President gave the Chancellor welcome succor by succumbing to that so French penchant for penny-philosophy with his Delphic utterance “the resort to war is always a failure”. The Chancellor declared he couldn’t express his own sentiments any better.


Thus Germany, comes around the full circle with its conclusion that war isn’t justified under any circumstances—Adolf Hitler notwithstanding. The new generations of Schröder clones obviously relish the feel good juxtaposition of the noble peace loving Germans against the savage Wild West Americans. One cannot be blamed for being overtaken by that uneasy feeling that Germans typically still have difficulty distinguishing between good and evil or right and wrong as was so glaringly the case  with their admiration for good old Adolf. Which of course isn’t a matter of politics but of mentality.


Even More


 January 29, 2003



The German Chancellor is at it again, reiterating: no German participation in a war against Iraq no matter what; manifesting a severe case of chatter palsy. Is it the love of peace that torments his conscience? Abiding respect for the rule of UN law? Hardly. Germany supported the war in Kosovo against Yugoslavia which the US prosecuted without the blessing of the UN. Because, you guessed it, it was fed up with all those refugees from erstwhile Yugoslavia flooding into Germany; Yugoslavia had to be pacified so that they all could be sent back home. In the case of Iraq no such self-interest is perceived by Germany’s myopic politicians. Enter that star of the government coalition, Joschka Fischer, who from humble beginnings as a rubbish and anti-Americanism spewing political hooligan managed to become his country’s foreign minister. This fellow is in the habit of reminding his “Volk” that Saddam doesn’t pose any danger to Germany; never mind that he may be a menace to others. German friendship and responsibility do not go far beyond sheer gab.


Now how stupid can one get? If  you want to avert war and don’t wish to be confronted with a situation in which not taking such decisive action is no option, the last thing you want to do is to give Iraq assurances that under no circumstances has it to fear being bloodied by war; which lack of resolve will of course also be taken notice of by other villains. Can you imagine what would happen if the German government announced to its citizens that while still having to  obey the law forthwith, under no circumstances whatsoever, will the police and the penal system interfere with criminals? Or for that matter, can you imagine what kind of a world we would have if Germany were the sole super power? One must not wish such a nightmare even on one’s worst enemy.



Sauerkraut High-Mindedness

February 5, 2003

 Commenting on secretary Powell’s discourse before the UN security council, Germany’s personable Ambassador to the UN treated us to his master’s voice: Disarming Iraq with the help of the UN inspectors is the only way acceptable to Germany! And how?  If you are wondering what’s so special about the inspectors that is going to make Saddam so accommodating then you are missing the obvious. Red Heidi and red haired Thierse, among others, have been telling it to the folks for some time now in innumerable TV talk shows. Heidi is most notable for taking care of the Soviets’ propaganda for them in her younger days. She is now Schröder’s cabinet  minister for economic cooperation and development assistance. Thierse, an erstwhile cleric in communist East Germany, is now president of the Federal House of Representative. And that’s the brainy recipe: —pressure should be put on Saddam so that the inspectors can do their work of disarming Iraq. Period.


What they don’t tell us is: —where do we get that precious “pressure” from? But those of us who aren’t totally batty of course know the secret: there wouldn’t be any inspections or UN inspectors in Iraq in the absence of credible US military threat. Stated differently, said pressure, admittedly so indispensable to Germany’s pious strategy, is supplied by the build-up of US forces at Iraq’s doorstep (and President Bush’s un-Teutonic habit of straight talk). But what are we expected to make of the German position of: —under no circumstances is Germany going to contribute soldiers or money to the US’s  Iraq campaign. Which only can mean that, that “pressure,” which Germany is in favor of, should to boot be paid for entirely by the American taxpayer. Whoever said that dishonesty is ingrained in the German national character? Of course there are exceptions.






 April 7, 2003

 The other day I couldn’t believe my TV screen:  There they stand, rows of school children  carrying placards—shepherded by teachers and parents their faces radiating pride. Presently, this real cute 8 year old girl steps forward and declaims with an angel’s earnest mien into a microphone stuck in her face:

 “ we hope president Bush will come to his senses!”


displaying at that tender age no lesser intelligence than that of the Federal-Chancellor or any members of his cabinet. Amazing the wealth of knowledge and seasoned wisdom this budding person must be storing in its little head to be able to second guess the performance of a US president.  This child is a glowing testimony as to how Germans learn to think for themselves. If you happen to think that most Germans must have learned something useful from their nation’s very nasty experience with brown or red indoctrination of the very young,  you’re kidding yourself.






April 12, 2003


Currently the Federal-Chancellor scores low in voters’ esteem as disappointment in his Government’s economic policies mounts. However his anti US stance on the Iraq war is acclaimed by no less than 80% of the populace as it has been all along.


What does this tell us? To make that assessment it be may be useful to note: — the last time around it was that beloved Reich-Chancellor Adolf Hitler who enjoyed such public approval —80%— as the German Wehrmacht marched into Paris and strutted in Goose-step down the Champs-Elysées. Something, no doubt, the French head of state Chirac, to Schröder the tail that wags the dog, must reflect upon fondly. Are our German friends reverting slowly but surely to their old form?





April 16, 2003



Saddam Hussein, of Gulf War I and II fame,  gave us Mohammed Saeed Al Sahaf. Who, letting loose his exuberantly fertile fantasy,  managed to endear himself to the world with his humorous daily additions to the Tales of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, which he slyly passed off as the war briefings his dull title Information Minister led some to expect of him.


The Federal Chancellor, while lacking Sahef’s charisma, certainly can hold his own when it comes to the truthfulness of his discourse. Today is the day that the admission of another ten member countries to the European Union was agreed upon. A moving occasion which fittingly moved the chancellor to make a speech. Among other things the chancellor made a point of piously pointing out that the partition of Europe — at long last being truly overcome — was an inconvenience for which Germany, who had to suffer by having been partitioned herself, has a  special understanding.


What rubbish! As for East Germany, life there, even if not paradisiacal, was decidedly better than in the other Eastern European countries which came under Soviet domination; theirs a miserable fate that was a consequence of Germany invading Eastern Europe to subjugate its “sub-humans” thus starting World War II. As for Germany and  Berlin, west of the Iron Curtain, life there thanks to the US was just about as good if not better than anywhere in the world. And, visiting relatives in the East, if one had any and cared to visit them — the other way round an impossibility providing a welcome shield from pesky visitors — gave the visiting “Wessi” that good feeling of potency that makes slumming a popular pastime.


So there he stands, the Federal Chancellor, portraying Germany as one more victim among victims of Soviet rule, by evoking pity for his nation as he is conjuring suffering that never was. This fake suffering is the vessel from which he then condescendingly dispenses  his soup of phony “ special understanding”:  Well, if this isn’t something our friend Sahaf could appreciate.




Top Secret from J


May 7. 2003



The following message can now be revealed:


Germany is now saying that they won’t go along with an invasion of Iraq. However, they did say they would go along if the invasion included Poland, France and Belgium." —Jay Leno





God Bless Iraq


June 15, 2003



Andreas Fecker’s website tells us how 50 German soldiers on guard duty spontaneously saluted wounded American soldiers flown in from Iraq for treatment at the Ramstein Air Base hospital in a touching expression of solidarity.


Indeed, it must be said to their credit that those German military spokesman who were interviewed at the time by the media seemed as a rule less than enchanted by the cowardly line taken by the nation’s political leadership.


Back at Ramstein: the following deliberate greeting splashed on a banner by the local chapter of the Christian Democratic Union  (one of Germany’s two major political parties)  awaited the wounded:


"Thank you for 50 years of German-American friendship. God bless America and the Iraqi people."


After all, we all are God’s children: so why not name the 180 or the so of the world’s nations on that banner? Lack of space?  But why single out the Iraqi people for special mention just at this moment? We don’t have to go into all the good things that America did for Germany since the second World War. But what did Iraq do for Germany? For most of said fifty years one hardly ever heard anything said about Iraq or its people. Only lately Germans started taking notice of Iraq, taking pity, in the context of bigoted anti-American discourse, on the people who gave us Saddam. What a ludicrous idea of a fitting welcome for American soldiers gravely harmed by those very same Iraqi people shooting at them.


Can you imagine during WW II wounded American GIs arriving at a Hospital in Britain being welcomed by a banner proclaiming “God bless America and the German People”?




Error Prone


June 20, 2003



Recently, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was quoted in one of Germany's leading newspapers “Die Welt”, as claiming that Washington had gone to war because Iraq "swims on a sea of oil." As it turned out Wolfowitz had actually said — that because Iraq "floats on a sea of oil," economic pressure could not work there. A case of erroneous translation the paper’s readers were subsequently told in its June 7 edition. To judge by remarks commonly made by Germans that seem to suggest that they prefer their own history with its Third Reich to that of the US with its Wild West, said translation error strikes you rather as a Freudian Slip — rushing to understand not what was said but what they prefer to understand.





The Psychiatrist’s Couch


August 31, ‏2003


Sample Exhibits of how Germans say it — from Mark Twain’s  “ A tramp abroad” / “The awful German Language”:



Wilhelm, where is the turnip?


She has gone to the kitchen.


Where is the accomplished and beautiful English maiden?


It has gone to the opera."


Here is an example which I (Mark Twain) culled from a novel and reduced to English:

"The trunks being now ready, he DE- after kissing his mother and sisters, and once more pressing to his bosom his adored Gretchen, who, dressed in simple white muslin, with a single tuberose in the ample folds of her rich brown hair, had tottered feebly down the stairs, still pale from the terror and excitement of the past evening, but longing to lay her poor aching head yet once again upon the breast of him whom she loved more dearly than life itself, PARTED."

However, it is not well to dwell too much on the separable verbs. One is sure to lose his temper early; and if he sticks to the subject, and will not be warned, it will at last either soften his brain or petrify it.

Mark Twain’s observations, by the example of “reiste ab” = departed, more than a hundred years back imply, that the peculiarities of the German language’s grammar seem to reveal a cerebral out of sync syndrome endemic to the German people as evidenced by their language. If you have good command of  German and your linguistic sensitivity is well developed you may have noticed that also the prevalent Germans’  usage of their language, without any necessity dictated by grammatical rules, reinforces the validity of said diagnosis; as does conclusively, putting it mildly, Germany’s twentieth century history. So?  A most useful litmus test: You should generally be quite skeptical of opinions on matters which are somewhat removed from peoples’ daily practice if such opinions happen to be held extensively by Germans.  




The Pig’s Bristle


October 23, 2003


Lately, we have been registering sounds emanating out of Germany to the effect that: 1. admittedly the world is better off without Saddam. 2. Germany may be willing to contribute something to the US efforts to stabilize postwar Iraq. 3. Under no circumstances will German troops be stationed in Iraq. Sure, if any soldiers are going to get killed in Iraq than it better be Americans, British, Australians and others. But that’s not something our German friends are going to risk alongside the  troops doing the job. Still Germany indicated it’s willingness to train Iraqi Policemen – not in Iraq mind you but in Germany.  So the other day President Bush saw fit to praise Germany, highlighting its humble low-risk engagement in Afghanistan as something the US has to be grateful for.  The American President must have been thinking of the Arab saying: “Even  a single bristle off a pig’s ass is welcome”.




Delectable from David Kaspar


December 29, 2003




Sympathy where Sympathy is due



February 3. 2004


Time magazine chose for its Person of the year “The American Soldier”. Our German friends who in the not so distant past suffered so much under US occupation, knew better than anybody else what to make of this choice. Here is the text of a German reader’s letter to Time appearing in the February 2, 2004 issue expressing his compatriots’ widespread sentiment:


I was very disappointed by your selection­. The U.S. invasion of Iraq killed and wounded thousands of innocent civilians and only made matters worse. I would have chosen the Iraqi people. They have suffered so much under the cruel dictatorship of Saddam and now under the occupation of their so ­called liberators.”


That’s what you get for treating your friends so badly. Don’t say Germans haven’t got America figured out.





The Exception that Proves the Rule


May 9, 2004


In his recent article in the German daily WELT, Mathias Doepfner (Chief Executive of German publisher Axel Springer AG) calls anti-Americanism the "Comme il faut" (standard) of the Left and the Conservatives in Germany - a thesis that has often been stated in this blog. And he criticizes the predominance of appeasement policies in Europe - a critique we wholeheartedly subscribe to. And as to his appreciation of President Bush... well, just read Doepfner's article!



The worldview of the average German in 2004 in seven sentences: Bush is stupid and evil. Iraq is the new Vietnam. America is doing virtually everything wrong. Sharon has himself to blame for the Palestinian terror. Israel has gotten us into this whole quagmire. Germany has thank God stayed out of it. Now we just have to be careful that our nice democracy isn’t turned into a police state by unnecessary security fears.

You think I’m exaggerating? A little! But when you listen in on the conversations at the watering holes of the leftist establishment – and much worse still – at the salons of the so-called bourgeois camp, you will rediscover these elements.

Above all, anti-Americanism has become a "Comme il faut" of intelligent conversation. But – and this is new – not just on the side of the Left. Even in nationally conservative and culturally conservative circles a sense of relief predominates that one can once again finally be open about the Americans. …

Only when two things come together can the network of self-declared holy warriors really be weakened: Tough resistance from the outside through the Western democracies and a clear distancing of the moderates in the Moslem world, especially among the clerics, from such extremists. George Bush has realized that from the beginning and made that excessively clear with his visits to mosques: The terrorists can only be stopped together with Islam.

When one takes seriously the challenge of this war of religion, which in reality is one of culture and capital, when one is convinced that “there can be no compromises reached with Jihadis,” when one prepares oneself to take on such a long-term and desperately aggressive threat, then the question has to be asked why the non-Islamic world apparently has little willpower to complete its part of the job.

Who is really protecting himself? Who is defending us effectively?

Since September 11, the day that Islamic terrorists declared a world war, there have been above all two nations who have done something and believed in themselves: America and England. And since that day three nations above all have been grilled morally: America, England and Israel again and again. …

Naively, and from the comfortable and seemingly secure gallery of the European observer, tips are being given out as to how Israel, surrounded by an anti-Semitism of the most bloodthirsty sort, should carry out the fight against suicide commandos and those madly seeking to destroy Israel and drive the Jews out: More compromises, more allowances, more negotiations please! I ask myself how the German government would behave when on virtually every weekend a bus full of German school children would be blown apart in downtown Berlin.

He who acts, makes mistakes. Case in point Bush and Blair: For example in their reasoning and communication regarding their Afghanistan and Iraq policy, in the concept and the management of expectations the key question is how fast the region can be pacified and democratized. But despite all of the mistakes regarding the details (or often just in public relations) their policy and politics are at their core right. It is a policy of clear and tough resistance against the enemies of the free world.

One can truly see that the leaders of the governments in London and Washington are doing exactly that which the general public is supposedly increasingly demanding from politicians: They are following their convictions against the general spirit of the times, against resistance, in part within their own parties, and they are doing that which an international alliance of cowardice is not prepared to do.

In that sense it is not about downplaying war and violence as long as they serve a good purpose. On the contrary: Morality and good intentions as arguments to defend violence are always suspect. But it is about weighing the balance as to when tolerance for intolerance has to stop. And when doing nothing is worse than defending the Western system with military means. …

In broad sections of Europe and in less threatened parts of Asia an appeasement is spreading that is frightening. If the consequence, for example, of the terror in Madrid is that Poland comes to the conclusion that it would be better to stay out of the matter, then the strategy of Al-Qaeda will soon succeed: Short-term in that the alliance of opponents collapses demoralized and discouraged. And long-term in that a demographic bomb is ticking whose explosion will be more damaging than any explosive.

The illusion that the aggressor can be soothed by good behavior reminds of 1936: Had the Allies not waited, negotiated, formed pacts and maneuvered back then and instead intervened, than millions of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, millions of soldiers, millions of people who thought differently could have been saved.

We are the ones who think differently. Maybe we need more toughness and vigilance to secure our democracy. Maybe it is wrong that Germany has refused to join the coalition of the willing. Maybe Israel is one of our most important allies. Maybe we should help this ally and not give them advice. Maybe America is doing more right than we think. Maybe more people in Iraq are better off today than they were one year ago. Maybe George Bush is not as stupid and evil, maybe one day, looking back on the developments that have just begun – we might even be thankful to him because he was one of the few who acted in accordance with the maxim: These things must be nipped in the bud. (A phrase often used in Germany to refer to stopping the re-emergence of Nazism.)

And maybe we Germans need more than seven sentences for our worldview.

The above courtesy of:






Fun in the Sands 


July 26, 2004



I was more than intrigued when I learned in Berlin a couple of months ago that Germans were getting ready to play Tennis on “sand courts” at the French open.  I figured this must be some kind of a special treat: an exhibition of a German specialty, something like playing Badminton on a beach volleyball court using tennis rackets and balls. Then recently I learned that a Mercedes sand tennis tournament was in progress. A clever Mercedes publicity ploy I thought. In my mind I could see a swarm of Mercedes powered dune buggies scurrying across a sea of rolling sand refracting under a searing sun, sand clouds trailing, ferrying fans to the appointed site somewhere in the Sahara desert. There, dressed foreign legion style, contestants maneuvering on camels swinging tennis rackets with polo stick handles, are deftly bouncing tennis balls across a flattened sand dune to the captivated spectators delight. But then again: how the hell do you get a tennis ball to bounce off sand? So I switched on my TV set. It transpired that the Mercedes sand tennis tournament was taking place not in the Sahara but in Stuttgart Germany and everybody there, except Germans who to their mind were playing on sand, was playing on clay laden earth in a clay court tournament. It stands to reason that people who play tennis on sand probably play a water variety of ice hockey on a water rink in a water stadium. As they say in German: Sind sie noch zu retten?


Now we learn from the media that Germany believes it should have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council: as if all what the United Nations needs for its guidance is Germany’s kind of clear thinking. Would it be too much to expect Germany to show us first that its tennis aces have mastered playing the game on sand before letting it join the select circle?




Dr. Kong and Mr. Hitler


September 27, 2004


Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde German style: Did you never ever feel sorry for Adolf? I don’t mean your neighbor’s ill fed dog, I mean that scoundrel Adolf Hitler. One Bernd Eichinger, a German film producer and script writer of some note, took it upon himself, as he put it in his own words, to show that Adolf was human. The films purports to show us authentically Adolf’s depressingly shabby ending as he spends his last days in his claustrophobic underground Berlin bunker, to the accompaniment of the reverberations of soviet artillery shells incessantly bursting above ground. At the same time Adolf’s monumental crimes and thus also those of the nation, of humans mind you, that has chosen to follow this undersexed madman are conveniently underplayed. A story sad enough to make the viewer’s heart fill with compassion for the wretched monster; as we all felt when coming out of that heartrending movie classic King Kong. It strikes you as yet another variation on the theme of German self-pity. No wonder Germany submitted this movie as its choice for the Oscar nomination: to make the world appreciate that causing assorted horrors and in the process the death of over fifty million people wasn’t all fun. What a shame.




Tsunami Aid


January 10, 2005


You can stay friends with your German friends. On a superficial level Germans can be quite charming, display commendable traits and be good company. And honestly, you’ll find also through and through good people. Still the problem with most of them lies in the depths of their souls or, putting it in non-medieval terms, the inner layers of their psyches. For instance, the majority of them are afflicted with ingrained Anti-Americanism: Which is a warped way of compensating for collective shame.  Don’t believe their shopworn protestation: “We are not anti-American we are only against Bush and Rumsfeld”.  Beginning with the “Wild West” things American are habitually and with sickening casualty cited as examples of bad behavior and villainy underscoring by contrast German virtues. (The worst offenders are the younger generations fancied by some to be the good Germans. The WW II generations, having learned their lesson, have been on the whole rather US friendly after the war.) 


So it is with post tsunami assistance to its hapless victims. The U.S. having first pledged $35 million for tsunami aid upped the ante to $350 million, as the real extent of the catastrophe started to transpire. Aha gloated German media commentators: with this proffering of obscene amounts of money, the Americans are trying to burnish their tarnished reputation. The entire EU, exhibiting undue modesty, initially offered ridicules €2 million to which offer Germany expansively added €1 million. However, not to be outdone by the US for long, Germany trumped it by finally earmarking € 500 million for the good cause. You guessed it: German media commentators couldn’t get enough of extolling German generosity. No talk of the proverbially soiled German reputation needing some polishing.


Now pledges and actual money flowing are two entirely different things. In all likelihood no more than 10% of amounts pledged will ever reach the intended recipients. As for real meat assistance, while others were mostly talking up minor responses, the U.S. started substantial aid operations the day of the disaster and dispatched within days naval support groups among them an aircraft carrier group with up to 90 Helicopters and thousands troops to bring food, potable water and medical supplies and assistance to the most affected remote areas while evacuating the stranded; saving thousands who otherwise wouldn’t have survived to have a chance of even hearing of all those money pledges. A feat not even remotely matched by German efforts and studiously not even mentioned by the vast majority of German commentators.


Needless to say, the described unsavory behavior can hardly be explained away by “being only against Bush”. 



Thus  Spake Joschka


March 1, 2005


Self educated Joschka Fischer, made it from a political hooligan to foreign minister of the federal republic of Germany. Only all-time satanic great Adolf Hitler, similarly self educated, outperformed Joschka’s remarkable career rise by making it from a bum to the most powerful head of state Germany ever had. Said Joschka:


First: The German nations answer to the misery of the Great Depression of the early 1930’s was Adolf Hitler. By contrast the answer of the American people was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


Second: Americans didn’t have any need to land at the beaches of Normandy, if it weren’t for the Germans.


Bravo Joschka. His select audience, presumably of the converted, gathered at a meeting, honoring the prominent German-Jewish thinker Hanna Arendt, most likely understood. For Joschka was reminding them, by implication, that the death of hundreds of thousand of American soldiers in World War II (as of course all the rest of the casualties of that war) was the criminal outcome of German nation’s bizarre fascination with Adolf. It is a necessary reminder for a nation self-righteously deluding itself that it is different now: While the nation’s politics changed commendably, earnest respect for democratic institutions being widespread, the idiosyncrasies of the German mind did not change much. The root problem, collective bad judgment, is as present now as it was then. Tell it to your friends.




Mirror Mirror on the Wall

who is the stupidest of them all?


March 5, 2005


Before the event greedy investors, idiocy driven, were bidding stock prices up with mindless abandon. And then in the first quarter of the year 2000 the bubble burst. Stock market indices all over the world went into a free fall. The question is, were all investors equally stupid? Market indices being quasi fever thermometers offer a reliable means of ascertaining the answer. Those investors who got the most feverish, gullibly following the advice of self anointed stock market prophets, are of course the most stupid. And make no mistake, considering the fact that playing the market is nowadays no less popular than watching major sports, investors are nothing less than a representative sample of their societies.


So what happened?  Expressed in percentages with the indices highs of the year 2000 being 100% the New York Dow Jones index of leading industrial stocks fell to a low of 67% in October 2002 for a loss 33% while at the same time the DAX index of Germany’s leading stocks plummeted to a 29% low in March 2003 for a whopping loss of 70%!


Interestingly the Tel Aviv stock exchange index of leading stocks retreated only 47%, from its high of March 2003 to its low of 53% in February 2003.


Stock prices have recovered since: as of March 2005 the Dow Jones came back to about 93% of its pre crash high; the DAX achieved a paltry 55 % of its respective high while the Tel Aviv index, climbed to an amazing 119% of its year 2000 high watermark; let’s face it: no trace of German superiority here.


Adjusting for currency exchange rates is for our purpose not appropriate because the run of the mill investors buy usually the stocks of their country not because of currency considerations but simply because it is natural to buy stocks of companies you are most familiar with. The Iraq war which the US is fighting practically alone, even though it is the western civilization’s war, resulted, as it inevitably must have, in the $ depreciating against the Euro.  Israel’s currency is pretty much tied to the $ and to boot it got that immense burden of its war against Palestinian terror. That makes Germany look a bit better in Euro terms. Nevertheless, currency adjusted, compared to year 2000, Tel Aviv stands at 88%, the Dow Jones at 71% and the German DAX, still the worst, with its 55%!


Now who is the stupidest bunch? 


Looks like our moralizing German friends are hardly qualified to indulge their habit of lecturing the US and for that matter Israel on what is right and what is wrong. Self-improvement should be their more urgent goal.



War Criminals


May 8, 2005


It is the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II European edition.


It was the end of the Nazis or so you would think. But believe it or not Germany experiences a Nazi renaissance. I’m not talking about those old Nazis who lived happily ever after wed to the new Germany but of the much younger generations of Neo-Nazis.  There are quite a few of them around, certainly many more than is seemly for a nation with the history of Germany. And they are quite boisterous and in some regions they are more than just a nuisance. Many citizens are indifferent others are embarrassed still others are concerned. At any rate it is a recurrent topic on TV talk shows.


What has to be done to get rid of the Nazi plague was the question recently on such a talk show. Herr Hans-Ulrich Jörges a member of the post-war generations, probably born in the late fifties, had the answer. Herr Jörges isn’t just anybody. He is assistant chief editor of the influential and widely read weekly “Stern” and a talk show habitué. As befits one who is righteously in possession of the truth, he doesn’t simply declare it, rather it blows out of him like hot steam out of a safety valve: We have to stop being silent we have to start telling the people the truth, only telling nothing but the truth is going to do the trick. We just have to tell the truth! The truth being to his mind as follows: Of course Germany committed the worst war crimes, “but”, there is always this but, not only Germans did commit such crimes. The bombing of the German city of Dresden, needlessly, serving no strategic purpose as the war ended three months later, killing some twenty thousand unarmed innocent civilians was nothing but a dastardly war crime committed by the British and the Americans. Herr Jörges emphasizes for the benefit of the TV audience that this needs to be said loud and clear


It was Air Marshal Harris the commander of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command, who ordered the bombing, who also observed aptly that Germans never make small mistakes. They only make big mistakes. Herr Jörges royally proves the rule. It is probably a safe assumption that nobody outside Germany can understand how telling Germans that the Allies were war criminals is going to persuade Neo-Nazis to give up their admiration for the teachings of Adolf Hitler. This sort of nonsense not restricted just to the muddleheaded Mr. Jörges but now widely in vogue in Germany, is nothing but grist for the Neo-Nazi mill.


But the effect on Nazis aside, this “our history is not much worse than that of the others” insinuation is a pathological attempt at reputation overhaul by means of warped reasoning. One must wonder if Herr Jörges and the likes of him can answer the question: what were Germans fighting for in the first place? And how come they went on fighting after their defeat in Stalingrad in early 1943?  And if some of them didn’t notice it then, after D-Day 1944 all of them knew for sure that the war was lost. So even if Germans, according to their own dim lights, thought that there was some justification for going to war, there certainly was not the slightest justification to go on fighting in the last year of the war. A war that everybody knew by then that it was lost. So from that point on at the latest, every time a German soldier pulled the trigger of a gun, not pointed at his Generals, knowing that this act served no purpose, he was committing a crime: the killing of every American GI or a British Tommy or a Soviet Ivan was murder just for the sake of murder.


There is a right to kill aggressors. But mind you, aggressors, killing those who seek to defeat aggression, cannot exculpate themselves by claiming self defense. The only legitimate way for an aggressor to defend himself is surrender. And who says that there is a right to kill soldiers just because they are soldiers? Soldiers hate to die just as civilians do. Allied soldiers even though armed to the teeth were innocents who were dying for no other reason than Germans’ idiotic aggression.


So what about the unarmed civilians of Dresden? As for the German people 80% of them accepted Hitler as a legitimate leader with approval ranging from the fanatically enthusiastic to somewhat reserved. German soldiers were fighting as proxies of those very same civilians, who did raise and educate them to be the way they were, and who did send them to war. Thus 80% of Dresden’s civilians were no innocents at all, they either deserved what they got or at least brought it upon themselves. The first carpet bombing of a major German city took place in 1942 and devastated Cologne.  Hamburg got it in full measure in 1943 as the Allies’ air forces were zeroing in on all German cities of consequence. So the civilians of Dresden, like German civilians everywhere, had plenty of warning of things to come and plenty of time to see to it that their men who made up Hitler’s armed forces and had the guns turn against this madman to stop the slaughter. As for being unarmed, let me point out that war isn’t a gentlemanly tennis match in which both sides enjoy the game. There is no obligation to treat “fairly” those who are responsible, in the widest sense, for starting and maintaining  a war that menaces ones life.


But we are told, since it was already obvious that the Allies are going to win the War shortly, even without bombing Dresden, why bomb the city. Well because in the judgment of those prosecuting the war against Nazi Germany not bombing Dresden would have prolonged the war. Say by three months. But every day of the war allied soldiers were dying (as well as German soldiers!) Allied commanders, properly, weren’t prepared to see a couple of thousand of their own innocent soldiers, to whom they were duty-bound in the first place, go on dying in order to save in exchange German lives even if some of these lives were indeed innocent and their fate was beyond doubt one of the many tragedies of the war.


As already pointed out, war isn’t a sport. War is hell. The terrible things that happen lie in the nature of the beast.  The true war criminals are only those responsible for the war (easily ascertained in the case of WW II). The fact that not just a few but millions of their kin were such criminals is what Germans ought to be talking about if they don’t want to persist in a course confirming the adage “the more they change the more they stay the same”.




 Iraq War


August 1, 2005


The betting is that early German general elections are coming up in September. Things don’t look particularly promising for the so called “Red Green” government coalition partners. The legislation they have passed during their tenure proved both ineffective and unpopular. So the stars of the coalition, Red chancellor Schröder and Green foreign minister Fischer, having won the last election solely by their refusal to support the US in the Iraq war, setting a perfidious example for other nations, are staking their hopes to win yet again, among other things, on a strategy of I told you so: reminding voters that they have kept Germany out of an unnecessary war, judged by them to be the failure they predicted it was going to be.


Saying the war was unnecessary misses the point. Saddam’s thwarted extortionist regime guilty of terror against minorities and political opponents, systematic torture, war crimes, mass murder, inciting rhetoric and aggression mongering, couldn’t be let to stand there unpunished as witness that you can be all that with impunity. Saddam’s Iraq had to be made an example of, so as to serve as a stern warning to assorted criminal international leaders and their followers.


While the US commendably and practically alone lets principle inform its policies to a significant extent, nations like Germany believes in being nice to extortionists and thus bask in the sun while the US takes the heat. But in fact the war against international thuggery be it the Iraq war or be it he war on terror isn’t solely the business of the US, it is the business of all nations laying claim to being truly civilized. The right way to go about it was to accept that the US (who else? don’t be ridiculous and say the UN) provides the leadership as well as the main combat thrust and for Europe and the rest of the civilized world to provide tangible solidarity by way of substantial complementary manpower. Take Iraq. Several hundred thousands of troops should have followed close on the trail of the spearheading Americans to secure the myriad ammunition and armaments dumps abandoned by the fleeing Iraqi armed forces so as to preclude them falling into the hands of would be insurgents. With enough troops on hand, to smoke out the remnants of the regime, mop up rebels and intercept infiltrators and secure vital installations things would have looked differently. For one there would have been a fraction of total casualties among the occupying forces as well as the population than is the case and the task of pacifying the country and collaring Saddam and his gang would have been speeded up. The war would have been over by now.


The awesome sight of a formidable fighting force fielded by the world’s leading nations showing unswerving resolve in closing ranks behind the US wouldn’t have failed to instil the love of peace and good manners in the assorted evildoers strutting on the world’s stage. Regrettably the likes of Schröder and his flock, oblivious to the long term consequences of their stance had no use for unity preferring instead the short term comforts of treachery.



Humanity Fog


September 4, 2005


I must think of Adolf, not the one that usually comes to mind. I mean Adolf my neighbor’s ill fed dog. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that perennially not letting your dog have a decent meal is anything but humane behavior. If so, is my neighbor guilty in international law of “a crime against humanity”? Should he be reported to the International Criminal Court? To a German the answer must be yes.


“Humanity” hmm… what is it anyway? The commonly accepted definitions are 1. Humans considered as a group; the human race. 2. The condition or quality of being human. 3. The quality of being humane. Thus we have here an easy I. Q. test: since crimes are committed against persons, not against conditions or qualities, the answer is obvious. In international law “a crime against humanity” is a crime whose prosecution is deemed to be the concern of the human race, i.e. the international community, as a whole. Thus the German translation should have been “Verbrechen an der Menschheit”. If it wasn’t for the difficulty that humanity translates in German into Menschheit as well as Menschlichkeit: the first meaning humanity in the sense of mankind and the second meaning the quality of humane behavior. Now you guessed it: the current German translation universally accepted by academia and laymen alike is “Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit” meaning crimes against humane behavior: the victim thus being incongruously not a person or a group of persons but insubstantial “behavior”.


If this isn’t more than a bit batty: but how can a nation practically in its entirety be that way? Mind you language is the facilitator of human thinking. Thus quirky usage of one’s own language must be a sure indicator of some inadequacy of one’s thinking processes. Discuss it with our friends. They need our help.



Science and Politics



October 12, 2005




September is gone and the early German general elections are behind us and we have the results. Some results. Going into the election campaign, the CDU/CSU with Angela Merkel in the saddle looked a sure bet to get, together with the FDP, its coalition partner of choice, a comfortable majority of Parliament seats. After all it was leading in the polls its archrival social democratic party SPD by formidable 23% percentage points! But by the time the votes were counted that lead shrunk to a miserable 1%. Gone were the dreams of a conservative liberal coalition getting the chance to pull the Federal German state out of the rut it is stuck in. Even if Merkel still gets to hold the reins, instead of a spirited troika she gets a coalition of stubborn mules harnessed to her chariot, as a consequence of a sympathy meltdown worthy of Guinness’ Book of Records. Well, let’s wish her luck. She’ll need it. For the time being all that can be said is that Merkel, who has a degree in Physics, is the best scientist among Germany’s politicians and the best politician among its scientists.





L’Affaire Al Masri


December 21, 2005


Forty two years old Khaled Al Masri even though his name means Khaled the Egyptian is since some ten years a naturalized German of Lebanese origin. His troubles began when he boarded a bus in Germany heading ostensibly for a holiday stay in Skopje. At the Macedonian border, after being taken of the bus by the Macedonians, he had his German passport confiscated and was incarcerated in a dingy hotel room for about three weeks where he had to submit repeatedly to ungentle questioning. Subsequently he was flown out, drugged and chained, to a prison in Afghanistan where he was treated harshly by CIA interrogators curious about his alleged terrorist connections. After several months of this he was free to return back to Germany. No explanation for this seemingly sordid affair was offered. Now you guessed it: in Germany where politicians, bureaucrats, the police and the courts and indeed the nation as a whole never make mistakes or even worse, indignation was boundless. Politicians and media types where quick to sanctimoniously criticize the US for the perceived extra legal treatment of a German citizen by the CIA. What is hardly taken cognizance of is that among Al Masri’s cohorts, at his hometown mosque in Germany, were Islamists suspected by the authorities of terrorist connections. In view of this, his trip to Moslem Macedonia merited close scrutiny: as it is a safe bet that Islamist terrorist find the country a place where they don’t attract much attention as they go about intermeshing their activities.


Macedonian intelligence took Al Masri off the bus at the border, we are told, because they wrongly suspected him of traveling under a forged German passport. What a cockeyed story. The trouble with it being that Al Masri, a German citizen was traveling with his genuine German passport.  Now let’s face it, border police are often fooled by a forged passport but who ever heard of them being fooled by the real thing? Especially as Al Masri’s identity could be checked out easily enough. Naturally neither Macedonian or German intelligence nor the CIA is likely to divulge the truth. The truth obviously being that German intelligence tipped off Macedonian intelligence and the CIA to the effect that on that bus to Skopje a passenger by the name of Khaled Al Masri needs some interrogation, of the kind not available in Germany, about his mosque connections. Therefore if our German friends are convinced that a crime has been committed they would do well, before pointing fingers at others, to concern themselves with their own.


Whoever is responsible for Al Masri’s apprehension did so on the basis of probable cause while brushing aside the customary legal procedures, technically kidnapping Al Masri. This may or may not be appropriate in a case like this. But let’s accept that Al Masri is innocent and that his arrest was entirely wrongful.  If that is the case than Al Masri can bless his lucky stars that he was, as he claims, a victim of the CIA which can be sued for damages in the US. Because the courts in Germany, of which he is a citizen, are notorious for their great understanding for the plight of criminals on the one hand and for the fact that for perfect symmetry human suffering counts for hardly anything before them. Surprising? German history may furnish a clue. Should Mr. Al Masri manage to prove his case in a US court it may turn out to be the best deal in dollars and cents that has ever come his way.



Balmy Weather


January 30, 2006



A warm breeze is sweeping German-US relations. Chancellor or rather, as they say in Germany, Chancelloress Merkel mounted the brightest meteor in her stable (having no use for Schröder’s broom) and streaked away to visit the American President. The latter was enchanted by the appearance of the smiling fairy. Pleasantries were exchanged with the good lady assuring an anxious president that Germany will stand by the US in confronting the evils of the world. Like what? Like, and especially, Iran. In the mean time, back in Germany, trade with Iran, not restricted solely to potatoes, is flourishing unabatedly: Profiting by no mean measure by the principled reluctance of the US to engage in such trade. Well business is business and principles are principles and the latter shouldn’t stand in the way of the former, seems to be a venerable German (alas, also French, Russian and Chinese) adage. But of course different perceptions of decency shouldn’t friends divide.


Correctly betting that the newly established affability should withstand some stress, Merkel for the benefit of the folks back home, didn’t omit the opportunity to tell the president that what the US is doing in Guantanamo prison camp is wrong: The place should be shut down! This is the kind of talk that the folks back home relish. Indeed, or so it seems if you go by their media, there is nothing in the world that worries our German friends more than the crimes of the US, this satanic super power ― with no political opposition, no free press and no checks and balances, and a dysfunctional judiciary ― who in the last century did nothing good while engaging in the subjugation of the worlds nations. And now, the latest victims are those hapless so gentle and sensitive terrorist suspects against whom crimes, especially of insensitivity, are allegedly being committed on a regular basis. Germany’s better than 10% unemployment and the assorted problems associated with it must be inconsequential in comparison one would think.


Her mission in America completed, Chancelloress Merkel, to be even handed, wasted no time pouncing on Mr Putin in his Moscow hideout. Once there she scolded him, in all friendliness, on Russia’s human rights record. Needless to say neither Putin nor Bush paid much attention to her criticisms.




Naughty BND


March 20, 2006


You may be thinking sure Boys in Need of Dames will occasionally get naughty, but then you guessed wrong. We are talking about the Bundes Nachrichten Dienst. Translation: Federal Messages Service, which however, being Germany’s CIA, expects its name to be understood as Federal Intelligence Service. The BND stands accused of a terrible crime. Or so it seems when you watch on your TV screen Herr Ströbele making the accusation: a gnarled deep furrowed face the texture of old parchment, complete with deep seated eyes staring from under the shadow of bushy eyebrows tinged with grey, thrust into the TV Camera his voice quivering with sulphuric indignation. One wonders if presently his mouth starts foaming or is he getting ready, just waiting to be outfitted with a wig, to play a cauldron stoking witch in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. So what was the Crime? Did the BND operate secret gas chambers?  No. But probably almost as bad: the BND supposedly gave the Americans some information helpful to US forces in the assault on Bagdad. A secret revealed to Herr Ströbele by way of an, possibly unfounded, article in the NY Times. Herr Ströbele is one of Germany’s Greens party’s founding parliamentarians most noted for his performance at political talk shows where he happens to be a frequent guest. Ströbele is an expert on the evils of the world and irrespective of what particular evil happens to be the subject of his vituperation it invariably turns out to be the fault of the US. He found enough support among parliamentarians sharing his sanctimonious indignation to have a special parliamentarian commission appointed to investigate the allegedly dastardly BND affair. It must be said in all honesty that most Germans don’t really care about the matter one way or the other, still when Herr Ströbele expounds on it in talk shows the preponderance of the studio audience gives him a resounding round of applause. Since the thing in itself doesn’t excite the crowd then what does? Obviously not the subject but rather the US bashing twist Herr Ströbele gives it as is his wont is what titillates so many German psyches.




For a Handful of Euros


April 18, 2006



It was September 1, 1939 the day that Adolf’s trumpet sounded the signal to attack Poland, thus starting a campaign of unsurpassed infamy in history. It was also the start of World War II. Adolf Hitler’s lap dog armed forces performed as befits such an inspiring occasion with verve: subjugating hapless Poland in a few weeks. Not much different was the fate of France that alongside Britain joined the conflict with the noble intention of coming to the aid of the Polish people. The folks back home were first relieved and then elated as they savoured the unexpectedly swift and not too costly victories. Things were settled now: The German nation was indeed the Master Race as Adolf was proclaiming all along. And while Adolf’s commitment to solving the “Jewish Problem” one way or another assured him the sympathy of a sizable chunk of the population the flattering delusion of being a Master Race enjoyed even wider appeal. The Slavic nations, sub humans according to the Master Race tenets, especially the Russian Bolsheviks occupying vast territories due east, if they were entitled to life at all then only as slaves of the Master Race. It was their destiny to put their toil and their excessive land resources at the service of the race that on account of its genetic superiority was deserving of the unsurpassed opulence beckoning at the expense of the inferior. All this is history and of course hardly anyone thinks like this in Germany anymore. Still there is more than a bit of irony in the following:  The other day a certain Herr Schröder, until recently nothing less than Germany’s self-important Chancellor, accepted, in the wake of some hanky-panky some opine, a paying job with a Russian state pipeline operator. His boss of bosses is no other than that shrewd ex Soviet intelligence operative and President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Proposed title of the play: The Slav master and his obedient German servant.




Pride Parade


July 21, 2006



One would think that Germans should be proud to be America’s friends. But you better think again. National hero of the month, the month of the 2006 World Cup Soccer Championships hosted by Germany, was Germany’s personable national team trainer Jürgen Klinsmann, an ex star soccer player himself. He is certainly a friend of America. But prior to the championships games he was the cad of Germany: not least for spending unpatriotically most of his time in the US, among other things at the side of his charming American wife. All this was of course forgotten, at least for a while, chiding turning into veneration as the German national team performed in the games much better than expected, indeed at times brilliantly, having lost only to the later champion Italy.  At about the time that admiration for him was at its height he was asked at a televised press conference if the drilling by American physical trainers ministering to the German national team made the difference. Klinsmann, obviously mindful of the prevailing mindset of his kinfolk, sensed a mine field. So he answered with a non sequitur to the effect: the trainers didn’t have to be Americans, they could have been say Japanese or whatever; it just so happened that at this particular time the Americans were the best. Unmistakably Klinsmann was apologizing.


Think of college football cross town rivalries. You are in Los Angeles and rooting for one of the rivals. If you are so disposed, what are you going to fasten to your car to broadcast your sympathies? As the case may be a USC or a UCLA pennant of-course. At the soccer World Cup games national teams are competing one against the other, so what should one wave as a sign of his sympathies? Say you are rooting for the Italian team, a flag with a serving of Spaghetti Bolognese or a sizzling Pizza depicted on it could be a possibility. If you happen to root for Germany you may choose a flag portraying Frankfurters and Sauerkraut. However, in all likelihood if you like the Italians to win you’ll signal your support of the team with a flag bearing the Italian national colors and if you are for Germany you will display the German national colors. In sports all this is natural as is support for one’s home team and hardly calls for comment. Not so in Germany. The fact that German soccer fans were sporting the German colors was perceived as a phenomenon comparable, say, to a sudden appearance of a giant flying saucer at low altitude in the skies above Berlin. Media commentators, sports celebrities and functionaries, talk show regulars, self appointed gurus and not to be outdone leading politicians were all pontificating with zest upon all the flag waving as an expression of a  wondrous renaissance of German patriotism and national pride. The revelries of soccer fans mobs in “Fan-miles” especially set aside for the occasion were inexorably conflated with a newfound love of Fatherland.


Cognizant of the fact that perceptive minds view pride and prejudice as sins and therefore it behooves us to indulge in such only in homeopathic doses, it can be said that worthier things than soccer come to mind that Germans can be proud of. German culture is certainly one of the pillars of western culture. The contributions of its thinkers, scientists, technicians, industrialists, merchants, literary giants, musical geniuses and so on are certainly nothing to sneeze at. But then again there is that one unmentionable unfathomable blemish. Unfortunately the term German encompasses all these associations. What is one to make of the phrase “I am proud to be a German”?  The uneasy question springs to mind -- what exactly are you proud of? --.  Of course one source of pride could be the fact that recognition of the wrongs done is widespread and can be said to have become a component of German identity. Under these circumstances deriving German pride out of ebullient enthusiasm of the crowds for soccer is a bit awkward. True in a world increasingly beset by boredom watching the acrobatic skill of the players is quite entertaining and offers welcome ennui relief. But the boundless cheating taking place on the playing field is the kind of honesty deficiency and lack of respect for fair play that the young shouldn’t be taught to admire and no nation should aspire to; certainly not Germany: having had enough bad manners in its past.


As it happens, at most every thirtieth car sported the national colors and while many watched the games enthusiastically others did so simply out of curiosity or for lack of anything better to do and many others didn’t care at all. This business of a sea of German flags sweeping the streets and the whole nation succumbing to soccer fever was as is to be expected more media and bumpkin politicians’ hype than anything else. Needless to say that none of these talking heads bothered to mention that the German team had an advantage no other team had: All of its matches were after all home games. One celebrated wag, it seems in awareness of this fact, quipped however that should the German national team win the championship it would be akin to inviting guests for dinner and than devouring the food served all by oneself. Who said Germans don’t have a sense of humor? Some certainly do, even if some tend to laugh at the wrong places.






August 12, 2006


Germany’s latest newswire buzz: Günter Grass, the literature Nobel Prize laureate, easily post war Germany’s most renowned novelist and self appointed moralist, confesses: I was a member of the Waffen-SS. The fighting arm of the SS, as an enforcer of Nazi policies, was involved in numerous major crimes and was declared at the end of WW II at the Nuremberg Trials of the leading Nazi criminals a criminal organization. So as some wags have it when asked why confess now, sixty one years after the war, Grass’s answer was: I joined just recently.




Berliner Bär


March 26, 2007


On December 5, 2006 a luminous star appeared brightening up Berlin’s (capital of Germany) emotional firmament. It was Knut the white furred baby polar bear. Weighing in on that day at less than two pounds (900 grams) it sports by now, not quite 4 months later, a body mass as cuddly as could be already ten times that. With that kind of appetite this lively cutie wasted no time proving how wrong his mother bear was rejecting him for a weakling. One can only guess how busy his kindly keepers at Berlin’s zoo must be just getting enough baby meal to him. But it’s certainly worth the trouble. Just watching this snow-white fur ball strolling about in his bumbling gait, his dark probing eyes straddling a white snout with a coal black nose at it’s tip, makes one’s heart lighten up. No wonder that Knut the baby polar bear gained in no time worldwide fame and affection with TV appearances everywhere.


It so happens, that Berlin’s coat-of-arms is an upright standing bear. This must be an omen portending great things for Knut and Berlin. One is reminded of the Roman Emperor Gaius Germanicus Caligula who appointed his horse a Senator. Mind you our Knut the baby polar bear strikes one as being more intelligent than any horse and indeed most Berliners. Considering the low esteem, if any, accorded politicians here and probably elsewhere too, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Knut the Bear became one day the Mayor of greater Berlin or better still the Chancellor of Germany?






August 31, 2007



Angela Merkel Germany’s smart and levelheaded not surprisingly all around well liked lady chancellor shows among other things in word and comport understanding for the travails of the United States. One imagines that she is well aware that humanity at large is not quite the harmless crowd some delude themselves, or may be just pretend, it to be. So if she understands that threatening constellations need contravening action one may assume that chancellor Merkel isn’t quite comfortable with Germany’s self-serving minimalist contribution to world order; however being an elected politician she cannot afford to ignore the disposition of the people that elected her.


Germany’s some six years old presence in Afghanistan, at the beginning miniscule, has reached under Merkel 3000 soldiers in all. All of them engaged in reconstruction aid in the relatively safe north of the country while the whole of 6 German Tornado aircraft are doing air reconnaissance support work at a pretty safe distance from harms way.  Recently however 6 German soldiers lost their lives to roadside ambushes. In the face of such huge losses (at least three times that many are killed in Germany daily in traffic accidents) in what is essentially recognized as a good cause, the nations resolve, such as it was, melted away. Opinion polls showed that a good 70% of the German electorate favor pulling German forces out of Afghanistan: why not let others who already are doing the heavy lifting also do the rest?


A Call to Arms


March 7, 2008


Defense secretary Robert Gates may have been inspired by the sentiments expressed on this webpage under the Heading “Minimalism” as he sat down recently to write a letter to his German counterpart. In his letter Gates expressed in no uncertain terms his impatience with Germany’s, among others, inadequate performance as a NATO partner. The gist of his message being that he expects Germany to shoulder some of the fighting in Afghanistan: certainly an overdue reprimand and one if anything not going far enough. Secretary Gates could have saved his ink for he got the answer he should have expected to begin with. With Wotan’s Wagnerian bloodthirstiness more than satisfied on stage and even more so in real life Germany’s people are now the most peace loving of any to be found anywhere in the world. So true to form Mr. Gates was lectured to by Germany’s defense minister about the importance of reconstruction work for the salvation of Afghanistan. It seems to be the case that German opinion is oblivious to the fact that it takes fighting, i.e. holding the Taliban at bay, to create the conditions that make reconstruction in Afghanistan feasible in the fist place. To say nothing of the fact that Germany’s strict adherence to its idea of the division of labor in Afghanistan implies a low opinion of U. S. reconstruction skills. May be Germany’s friendly politicians ought to think again.


Lethal Injection


October 15, 2008



A couple of months back the U. S. Supreme court okayed Kentucky’s practice of executing by lethal injection those sentenced to death. Since this method of disposing of the condemned is favored by most other states having the death penalty on their books, no executions took place in the U. S. for almost a year. With said decision things returned back to business as usual. Now the other day they executed in the US the guy who claimed to be too obese to be executed: Claiming the administered poison will need considerable time to suffuse the expansive mass of his body thus unduly prolonging his agony. The high court didn’t see it this way thus approving the execution of the obese, not all of them of course. It must be pointed out that it was the manner in which the lethal injection was administered and its composition that was contested, the constitutionality of the death penalty as such was not at issue. Some criminals deserve death and executing them is OK: such punishment is neither unusual nor particularly cruel. That’s the law of the land in the United States of America. As far as most Germans are concerned it’s unmitigated Barbarism. In Germany they neither execute the obese nor the underweight. They don’t execute anybody regardless of how heinous the crime committed may have been. One could imagine they wouldn’t have been in favor of executing Adolf Hitler. I must admit that would also have been my inclination. I think death would have been too mild a punishment for the monster. But that kind of thinking is not behind the German rationale as to the inadmissibility of the death penalty. Yes there is a strong argument against the death penalty, the one typically advanced by its opponents in the US: The fallibility of the courts. With the courts very often not being the seats of wisdom they purport to be this is a supremely strong argument. But this is not what the German body politic is thinking of. The argument carrying the day in Germany is rather on the esoteric side. Germans are, or are told to be, mindful of the human dignity of the criminal regardless of how terrible his crime. Some may say a rather confounding concept of dignity this is. One can only regret that our friends haven’t always been that pious.