A couple of articles to read

Below are links to a couple of articles that are worth reading if you’re seriously interested in how the current administration is viewing the world right now. You may or may not like the Bushies (personally, I do). You may or may not like what they’re doing. But if you are interested in what the policy-makers are thinking and why they are doing what they are doing, then these are worth reading. You might not agree with their hypothesis. You might not agree with their plan to solve it. But you should at least read them and get an idea of where they are coming from.

If your world view is so simple that you feel that it’s “all about oil” or “Bush is a moron, end of story” than don’t waste your time reading these.

“The Pentagon’s New Map”

http://www.nwc.navy.mil/newrulesets/ThePentagonsNewMap.htm

“Our World-Historical Gamble”

http://snurl.com/y7y

TK

This is nothing new, it has just expanded in scope.

Diplomacy backed by resolute force soon brought the rulers of Barbary to terms and gained wide spread respect for the new American nation.

I’m less certain it will do the same thing today :?

Yes, the Barbary Pirates were exactly like fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups supported by backward nations led by wealthy despotic regimes.

I get the two confused all the time.

Sheesh.

TK

I have a general rule against debating anonymous posters, but you are focusing on the wrong group.

Thanks for the links, TK. That were some of the most coherent justification of the war I’ve read so far. Of course they also contain an enormous amount of nationalism, pride and also hubris, I’m afraid, and to me they both read like a rationalization of a deep-rooted fear.

When the neocons say globalization they mean americanization, when they say freedom they mean selfish individualism with no social responsibilities, when they say democracy they mean American patronage, and what they mean when they say free market, well, Bill Gates’ guess is as good as mine.

The fundamental disagreement between USA and us Europeans will remain: Is the American Way inherently good for the rest of the world? Because if it isn’t, the American expansion is nothing but self-motivated imperialism, no matter how they dress it up. That wouldn’t be a disaster, really, but it would a fallback to the 19th century, and Europe had hoped that we were past these games. But I’m afraid we grossly underestimated the national psychosis and cultural atavism caused by 9/11.

I’ll respond to “The Pentagon’s New Map” first. There’s huge merit in pointing out that economic disparity contributes to violence globally and domestically. Of course, this isn’t exactly rocket science. Assuming the answer is essentially subjegation to an American-driven globalization of standards for trade is, as the Professor points out, will also lead to violence. And he suggests our role is to enforce these new standards of trade - here’s a Victorian idea - for the benefit of developing nations because it’s in their own best interest as well as our own. He also concludes that 9/11 is the result of these forces of ignorance and poverty coming into a radical disconnect with forces of modernity, liberalization and prosperity. Dismissed, rather casually, is the idea of cultural identity as just an excuse those opposed to his proposition might use to argue parts of the world will simply never want to be like us.

There’s a fellow named Jedediah Purdy who wrote “Being America: Liberty, Commerce, and Violence in an American World”. Admittedly his booktours aren’t sponsored by major corporations like Thomas P.M. Barnett’s are but, while I confess to not having read his book yet, I did listen to him speak on Booknotes. I couldn’t turn away. He suggests that in his journeys around the world he finds three interesting and dischordant notes. People rather universally love the idea of democracy and many elements of free trade. People also fear the economic ravages, cultural distortions, and geographic displacement caused by our current ‘one size fits all’ international economic policies. Further, the fact that America happened to put together all these elements of modenization first makes the phenomenon of globalization seem to be a global extention of Americanization. He suggests that, in contrast to the idea of The Core and The Void, that countries may need to instead find their own way to democratization and modernized trade policies rather than have them imposed in the image of a foreign culture. He notes that, around the world, you can find folks drinking Coke, wearing a NYPD baseball cap, while also cursing America’s arrogance and greed in the same breath. How folks can study Engineering in the west while planning to fly a plane into an office tower in NYC. Folks living in the developing world live in schitzophrenic and scarey times. Admittedly, Purdy doesn’t put forth much of a plan of action but one can draw from inference that he would like to see the world modenize but is afraid that imposing American-style modernity by force of economic or military might will only empower those resentful and regressive forces in a culture, and around the world, to resist even more violently while also attracting more recruits from the dispossessed or the culturally alienated.

Another author, whose name I don’t recall, was on Charlie Rose discussing her take on globalization which also throws some light on some of other sources of violence that accompanies globalization. She talked about super-minorities. Castes or races that tend to dominate trade and the marketplace in particular cultures. She argues that if there is an economic benefit that only accrues to a particular subset of a culture then there will be violence to follow - especially if that subset is of a different race than the majority of the population. She argues, for example, that Chinese expatriots around the Pacific Rim form super-minorities in many countries there and while one can attribute that network to what wealth many of these countries have gained there is still resentment from the populace that these outsiders are seemingly making money by virtue of how they were born. Whenever there is unrest one can generally see incredible violence against super-minorities where they don’t also hold a great majority of political and military power. In cases they do, like Sunni-Arab dominated Iraq, one tends to see very repressive regimes that inflict fear to control the population because they, themselves, live in fear. She went on, tenatively, to draw a parallel with America and globalization. We’re the #1 super-minority in the world right now. She didn’t offer a prescription either but one can assume that she might agree with either Purdy or Barnett.

All in all, as a justification for a war in Iraq looking on broad, abstract, pictures might be a bit rough especially when these arguments were never presented as a justification for this war to the public domestically, except in the most abstract way possible, or the U.N. Instead we’re told we’re there to change the regime (and to this date we haven’t firmly committed to a full democracy or a timetable - though we do know who’ll be building the cellular network) or to disarm Saddam (which has another host of problems). You can also trace particular historical events than have lead to this point that shouldn’t be dismissed in favor of a ‘no fault’ political philosophy. I think Barnett’s head is in the right place. We definitely need to be more forward thinking. I just don’t agree with the idea that projecting force and American commerical interests, carte blanche, around the world is necessarily the best way to do this no matter how much this might help funding the military that produced this thinker or the domestic commerical sector which funds his tours.

I think this is a large part of why the rest of the world thinks America has all of the sudden “gone off the deep end”. Part of it is Europe’s natural distaste (it seems) for all Republican U.S. presidents. Deomcrats are much more in line with what Europeans believe a U.S. president should be. But there is a fundamental change in America that the rest of the world isn’t quite seeing.

Americans are by nature isolationist. We were attacked overseas numberous times (embassy bombings, the U.S.S. Cole, etc.) and it never stirred up the American public in any real way. Granted, the casualty numbers were far larger on 9/11, but even if 3,000+ casualties had been inflicted on us overseas, you wouldn’t see the same impact on most Americans. To most of us, there’s a clear line between HERE and THERE, and when we were attacked HERE, it became a whole new ballgame.

Below is a link to another article that I thought captured the differences between the attitudes of Americans and Europeans. My personal experience with Europeans (mostly Brits) says this article is dead on. I remember discussing several of these issues with a very liberal friend from Kent, England a couple of years ago and we came to the same conclusions. Give it a read and, as a European, let me know your thoughts.

http://www.nationalreview.com/derbyshire/derbyshire031903.asp

TK

I mean, come on, that is the most self-serving, self-congratulatory, and one-sided explanation of the divergent views between world and America I’ve ever seen. Yeah, there’s a grain of truth in there but the writer really sounds like an apologist rather than a dispassionate observer. I could write the same essay, even as an American, that was tilted completely the other way. I can say that I do agree there’s a disconnect in perceptions and one that’s only growing wider with how this war in Iraq is being covered by American media and the world press. I only hope Arabs and others have access to the internet like I do so we can all see around the media distortions our respective systems tend to impose whether deliberately or accidentally.

Actually, the author of this article is entirely correct, as far as he’s reporting facts, judging from my personal knowledge of Germany and my media-filtered knowledge of other European countries and America.

Note the phrase “as far as he’s reporting facts” – Derbyshire gives his report a twist that anti-Americanism or opposition to Bush’s war is merely a result of mutual ignorance, and that’s of course bullshit.

Case in point: The European conservatives (i.e. people to the right of the “Christian democrats” of Europe which are leftists by American standards), which Derbyshire correctly describes as being without any influence, are just as fervently opposed to the Iraq war as the Europen leftist mainstream and far left. So the fact that the European media are controlled by leftists (which is true) is obviously not the root cause of this opposition.

Something I’ve learned is that the political spectrum is vastly different in America.

You have nothing like the large Social Democratic/Labour parties of Europe. You have two parties, which are not even parties in the European sense, and from our point of view they have a moderate rightist and a far-right stance on various issues.

American-style conservatives are practically non-existant in Europe, and those that do appear typically combine conservatism with anti-immigrant fervor and sometimes downright racism. One of the reasons why I am happy they have no influence.

[edited for clarity]

Credibility: Can’t Win Hearts And Minds Without It from today’s Washington Post. This is a closer look at our problem without all the gung-ho apologia.

Excerpt:

Historically, when a nation goes to war, media and public alike rally behind the government’s war effort and the troops, supporting “our boys” (and now girls) against “them,” the enemy. This is clearly happening today in the United States. But Britain, America’s traditional and staunchest ally, has gone to war amid unprecedented public skepticism. During the 1982 Falklands War, public approval of the Thatcher government’s decision to fight 8,000 miles from home was around 80 percent. During the 1991 Gulf War, it was near 70 percent. Throughout the so-called humanitarian intervention in Kosovo in 1999 – a conflict whose legality under international law was hotly contested, since it had been undertaken without U.N. support – it was 65 percent, rising to 70 percent once “our boys” went into action. But before the buildup to the current conflict, public support in Britain stood at an astonishingly low 37 percent. And this was high compared with the rest of Europe, where approval never topped 30 percent.

After 9/11, a wave of sympathy for Americans swept the globe, even as Americans themselves agonized about “why they hate us so much.” Today, for all Washington’s emphasis on the 40-odd countries in the “coalition of the willing,” the United States finds itself fighting in Iraq with only a little help from Australia and Poland and, of course, from a Britain split down the middle.

What happened?

You may need a free registration to read the whole article but it’s as unbiased as I’ve seen though it doesn’t get into who’s more left or more right than whom but it does look at some of the larger political issues if not the global media dissonance.

I mean, come on, that is the most self-serving, self-congratulatory, and one-sided explanation of the divergent views between world and America I’ve ever seen.

I’m inclined to agree with Brian. If anything, the condescending, holier-than-thou attitude of that article widens the Atlantic chasm. So we are jealous, cynical communists brainwashed by our leftist state-controlled media. Yeah, right. :rolleyes: But I didn’t expect better from nationalreview.com ever since they joined the Jazeera bashing.

Stuff like that we don’t revere our institutions or didn’t have an anti-abortion debate is also nonsense. Here in Germany, we hold our President and our Constitution Court in great esteem. And the anti-abortion debate is simply over. Abortion is legal. There’s still a lobby around the Catholic Church who doesn’t like that, but that doesn’t mean the political debate has to go on for decades.

The only part where I felt the article came close to home was the part about the, what did he call it, “deep idealism”. That’s correct. We don’t get how anyone can look into a camera with a straight face and say “axis of evil”. For us that just screams of ulterior motives. The reason for that I would call nihilism or moral ambiguity, not cynicism. Ever since being fooled by the guy with the comic-book moustache, we have a deep distrust against anyone who de-humanizes his political enemy with such adjectives as “evil”. That sounds religious, and when religion mingles with politics we get very, very alarmed.

As a result, we feel that what we thought was a close friend lied to us. We were first confused and then insulted by Powell’s behaviour in the UNSC. First it’s about WoMD, then not, then it’s about terrorist links, then not. If the USA are fighting for their ideology, they should at least be honest, and don’t ridicule the weapon inspectors.

But the sad fact is, we still don’t know why many people in Iraq have to die now. True, there is a strong movement of fundamental pacifists here (and for Germany that’s a good thing), but a majority has succumbed to realpolitik. We just don’t see any in Iraq. What I personally see is a giant who thought he was invincible, but then was wounded. Now, instead of accepting that he is vulnerable like all the rest of us, he strikes blindly and with rage, trying in vain to become invincible again.

9/11 was “just” a criminal act. The more advanced our technology becomes, the more damage lunatic criminals can cause. I understand that this realization was sudden and traumatic for the American citizens, but this isn’t worth toppling the world order for and start questioning the sovereignity of states, as the “World-Historical Gamble” suggests. 9/11 didn’t change the world, just America’s perception of it. This “gamble” leads to the clash of cultures, which is exactly what al qaeda wanted all along.

He didn’t say “state-controlled”, did he? He did say that European media are uniformly leftist (implied: by American standards). I don’t see how anyone could deny this. To add to this, there is also very little diversity in European media opinions – you essentially get the same news agency reprints and cumbersomely phrased mainstream opinions wherever you look. You have to look at the fringes of Freitag or Junge Freiheit to get opinions that aren’t exchangeable with everyone else’s opinions.

Derbyshire did conveniently overlook that the American media are very uniform when it comes to praising the virtues of America and its socio-economic order, however…

Stuff like that we don’t revere our institutions or didn’t have an anti-abortion debate is also nonsense. Here in Germany, we hold our President and our Constitution Court in great esteem.

splutter

You can’t possibly be serious, can you? This powerless ranting figurehead who always serves the ruling party that made him president (via the pseudo-democratic “Bundesversammlung” smokescreen) for being such a good party soldier?

The constitutional court is possibly the only political institution that enjoys any kind of respect.

And the anti-abortion debate is simply over. Abortion is legal. There’s still a lobby around the Catholic Church who doesn’t like that, but that doesn’t mean the political debate has to go on for decades.

You just made Derbyshire’s point, although you apparently didn’t notice. You may be unaware that the abortion debate in America continues to rage, and that’s precisely because Americans don’t let their media or politicians or intellectuals tell them that “the debate is simply over”, and then obediently shut up like Europeans do. That’s one thing that I honestly find impressive about America.

Ever since being fooled by the guy with the comic-book moustache, we have a deep distrust against anyone who de-humanizes his political enemy with such adjectives as “evil”.

Maybe you missed European mainstream “antifascism” which routinely uses this and stronger invectives against anyone slightly to the right of the center. Maybe you missed that Pim Fortuyn was murdered in the Netherlands as a result of such campaigns. Look at Germany for “Kampf gegen Rechts” (really a mirror image of the anti-left craze of the 1950/60s), and also Kampfhunde, Kinderschänder, “killer computer games”, and whatever daily scare is en vogue.

No, some supposed moralistic concern about bad names is hardly convincing. IMO the real reason why Germans get jumpy is that the “evil” label is used to justify a military strike. Quite basically, the Germans of 2003 can’t stand even thinking of anything military without it being cuddled in soft, caring, Clintonesque rhetorics.

That sounds religious, and when religion mingles with politics we get very, very alarmed.

Which has absolutely nothing to do with Hitler, by the way. Instead you make once again Derbyshire’s point without noticing. Europe has become largely atheist by now and strongly resents traditional Christianity, whereas other religions are protected by “political correctness”, namely Judaism and the immigrant religion Islam. What you may not know is that quite a few Americans feel the same – except that they’re a minority known as leftists over there, whereas in Europe this is mainstream opinion. Just like Derbyshire said.

9/11 was “just” a criminal act. The more advanced our technology becomes, the more damage lunatic criminals can cause. I understand that this realization was sudden and traumatic for the American citizens, but this isn’t worth toppling the world order for and start questioning the sovereignity of states, as the “World-Historical Gamble” suggests. 9/11 didn’t change the world, just America’s perception of it. This “gamble” leads to the clash of cultures, which is exactly what al qaeda wanted all along.

While I agree with your statements, I once again have to ask if you somehow missed how the EU bullied Austria’s democratically elected Jörg Haider into not joining the government, and even then harrassed the country with a hate campaign in the media and diplomatic isolation. Sovereignity of states, eh?

Sure, America is bigger and badder and does more damage wherever it missteps. But your apparent attitude that Europeans never would do anything like that is rightfully the target of American ridicule. Europeans do exactly the same things, just in their own smaller and meaner way, according to their lesser stature.

I’m almost inclined to just let Christophe handle this guy, but I can’t let this one go:

Talk about your one track minds. Can’t you wrap your brain around the possibility that this war is about a great many concerns? WMD are one aspect, terrorism another, the oppression of the populous another, the humanitarian concerns another, the hope that democracy can spread in the region if given half a chance is another. I don’t see anyone denying that ideology is a huge part of that, we aren’t being dishonest. But frankly we apparently don’t share the same ideology and the world at large (and most loudly western Europe) that they wanted specific reasons, so we obliged. I don’t think we ridiculed the inspectors, but we are not afraid of saying that we think the process was futile given the regimes efforts to undermind it. Inspections only work if both parties have a serious commitment to them. Iraq, well Saddam, clearly had no interest in their success, only in the appearance of compliance.

Here in Germany, we hold our President and our Constitution Court in great esteem.

Glad you like it. Maybe in a couple hundred years once you’ve had a successful, democratic government for as long as the US has now we’ll be more interested in hearing your comments and criticisms of our system of ruling ourselves.

Ever since being fooled by the guy with the comic-book moustache, we have a deep distrust against anyone who de-humanizes his political enemy with such adjectives as “evil”. That sounds religious, and when religion mingles with politics we get very, very alarmed.

Yet Saddam’s regime doesn’t seem to bother you at all… You’re horrified by Bush who reminds you of Hitler, but Saddam and his cartoonish mustache, khaki fatigues, secret police and neofacist regime doesn’t phase you one bit… Who’s the isolationist now? If that wasn’t enough he’s got the government-religion thing going for him too, they call Iraqi casualties in this conflict martyrs, he builds mosques and names them after himself, calls for Jihad against America, has a giant copy of the Qoran made written in the blood of his citizens… Based on your comments, I’d think you’d be all over this war. I’m sorry you’re so very frightened of the word “Evil”, but that’s your problem. Is it not an accurate description of this man and his actions both in the past and present? Maybe moral absolutes scare Germans so much 'cause they remember being caught on the wrong side of one. Going with plausible deniability these days it would seem. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Some things are simply wrong. Some men are genuinely evil.

But the sad fact is, we still don’t know why many people in Iraq have to die now.

Well, since you’ve been refusing to listen I’ll tell you one more time, as simply as I can. Because the status quo meant people were going to die at the hands of Saddam’s regime for as long as his regime lives on. Maybe the countless Iraqi dead don’t bother you when Saddam kills them, but they bother me, and they bother my country. Given your complete indifference to the lives of the Iraqis in the past, imagine our surprise at the shock and outrage you now exhibit…

Who gave you the right to speak for all Americans, now?

I’m amazed you can’t see the irony of this statement. It more than equally applies to any Americans claiming they’re out to save Iraqis, when Saddam was every much a dictator when he was America’s ally as he is now.

Since we’re playing tag team…

Talk about your one track minds. Can’t you wrap your brain around the possibility that this war is about a great many concerns? WMD are one aspect, terrorism another, the oppression of the populous another, the humanitarian concerns another, the hope that democracy can spread in the region if given half a chance is another. I don’t see anyone denying that ideology is a huge part of that, we aren’t being dishonest. But frankly we apparently don’t share the same ideology and the world at large (and most loudly western Europe) that they wanted specific reasons, so we obliged. I don’t think we ridiculed the inspectors, but we are not afraid of saying that we think the process was futile given the regimes efforts to undermind it. Inspections only work if both parties have a serious commitment to them. Iraq, well Saddam, clearly had no interest in their success, only in the appearance of compliance.[/quote]

Think about this ‘they wanted specific reasons so we obliged’ and ‘we aren’t being dishonest’. Whenever I get into serious discussions with serious people about the root causes of this war I always end up with arguments like the articles that have started this thread. There is a big picture at work here and it’s one developed by the neocons, especially Wolfowitz and Perle, just after the gulf war. They want a unilateralist U.S. that’s free to militarily impose its will on states we don’t like whether they are directly threatening us or potentially threatening us. Back then they were already talking about coalitions of the willing and disregarding the importance of traditional networks and global structures. Why? Because they were ‘ineffective’. Ineffective at what, precisely? Ineffective tools for working our will on the world.

We couldn’t even conclusively prove there are WMD to the world community in Iraq. There are plenty of places we could intervene that are also ruled by dictators. The neocons have always wanted to keep this war going - they wrote a letter to Clinton demanding a war as well. How is it they got into positions of power in the Bush administration (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and others)? I couldn’t tell you, it’s clear his father didn’t trust these guys very much. However they came into prominence after 9/11 they suddenly had a disoriented and combattative president trying to figure out what to do. Almost immediately, according to everything I’ve read, they started in about Iraq and the new unilateralist American strategic plans. Bush went for it. Suddenly a terrorist attack spiraled into an axis of evil.

We can’t come up with the cash to secure our own vulnerable sites much less those in Russia but we’re going to have enough cash to conquer and rebuild Iraq. I guess all those oil wells we’ve saved will come in handy. Say, if we do keep on fighting for democracy in the middle east, and paralizing the oil supplies, that Iraqi oil will sure come in handy. Why Iraq? Because it’s been part of the neocon plan for some time but, personally, I think it has to do with the fact Iraq is the only Arab nation we had anything like an internationally recognised causus belli on - thanks to the U.N. resolutions and Gulf War ceasefire. If the neocons had their way we’d never have gone back to ask for another - we’d just have done it.

[quote] Here in Germany, we hold our President and our Constitution Court in great esteem.

Glad you like it. Maybe in a couple hundred years once you’ve had a successful, democratic government for as long as the US has now we’ll be more interested in hearing your comments and criticisms of our system of ruling ourselves.[/quote]

That’s brilliant. Ever considered a career in diplomacy?

[quote]Ever since being fooled by the guy with the comic-book moustache, we have a deep distrust against anyone who de-humanizes his political enemy with such adjectives as “evil”. That sounds religious, and when religion mingles with politics we get very, very alarmed.

Yet Saddam’s regime doesn’t seem to bother you at all… You’re horrified by Bush who reminds you of Hitler, but Saddam and his cartoonish mustache, khaki fatigues, secret police and neofacist regime doesn’t phase you one bit… Who’s the isolationist now? If that wasn’t enough he’s got the government-religion thing going for him too, they call Iraqi casualties in this conflict martyrs, he builds mosques and names them after himself, calls for Jihad against America, has a giant copy of the Qoran made written in the blood of his citizens… Based on your comments, I’d think you’d be all over this war. I’m sorry you’re so very frightened of the word “Evil”, but that’s your problem. Is it not an accurate description of this man and his actions both in the past and present? Maybe moral absolutes scare Germans so much 'cause they remember being caught on the wrong side of one. Going with plausible deniability these days it would seem. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Some things are simply wrong. Some men are genuinely evil.[/quote]

Look, Europeans understand one thing that the Americans don’t - the Islamic world is really an Islamic world. Many of the national divisions laid down over the middle east are entirely artificial and laid down by the colonial powers, resented to this day, back after WWI. The religion itself stresses the familial bond between followers. I agree, this seems more observed in the breach by many countries, but it’s similiar to the idea that I can punch my brother but if the kid from down the street does we’re going to have a brawl. This shared past of humiliation from colonization, the ‘betrayal’ (in their minds - it’s their psychology we’re talking about) that created Israel and the current oppression these people face from many governments in the region of which we support the vast majority (including Saddam for a very formative period) all contribute to a sense that outsiders are out to get them and their own government propoganda, as well as Saudi and Iranian sponsored religious extremism, focuses these old wounds into fresh memories against the USA in particular. There is an eductated middle class that might sympathize with us but we’ve contributed, by neglect or subsidy, to the oppression for so long that even they mistrust us. So when we talk about going after Saddam we’re talking about going after one bastard in a sea of resentful people ruled by bastards. And that sea of people wasn’t thrilled about us to start with. You get where Europeans, who still feel intensely guilty about their colonial epochs might be more squeamish about acting than we are? You’re right - in certain cases it’s clear commerical interests have some factor in French and German behavior as well but, face it, the French and German publics have no stake in how a given oil or tech company does and they’re still hugely against the war. In this sense German and French leadership more accurately reflects, what a democratic idea, the will of their people (not to mention the rest of the world) more than anything else.

[quote]But the sad fact is, we still don’t know why many people in Iraq have to die now.

Well, since you’ve been refusing to listen I’ll tell you one more time, as simply as I can. Because the status quo meant people were going to die at the hands of Saddam’s regime for as long as his regime lives on. Maybe the countless Iraqi dead don’t bother you when Saddam kills them, but they bother me, and they bother my country. Given your complete indifference to the lives of the Iraqis in the past, imagine our surprise at the shock and outrage you now exhibit…[/quote]

You’ve got to know better than this. I agree with the guest who pointed out our deliberate aversion of the eyes as we shook hands with Saddam after his gassing of the Kurds. And by ‘our’ I mean Rumsfeld - you’ve seen the picture, don’t look surprised. I’ve read testimony by then Haliburton CEO Cheney complaining about sanctions against Iran because ‘sometimes the resources we need aren’t where we’d like them to be but why hurt American business’? His company, through Kellogg, Brown and Root, had already had a hand in reconstructing Kuwait’s oil fields and through a European subsidiary Iraq’s oil fields. I won’t even get into our failure to protect the Shi’ites and Kurds when they revolted in 1991.

Argh, how dare you take sides with Derbyshire. If you are German, that’s highly unpatriotic. ;)

Could we agree that we as a society are leftist from an American perspective, and that the media only reflects that?

I mean, how can you agree with a sentence like this:

It is not surprising that the ordinary people of these countries, bathed as they are in this flood of lies from morning till night, are suspicious of us.

Yes, some of his observations of cultural differences are correct, but he draws the wrong conclusions. He makes it sound as if some uninformed idiots were being brainwashed by a leftist elite. However, all this is majority consensus, or at least it has been. The spirit of our constitution is that unconditional freedom is dangerous, that property is an obligation and that human (not German, not American) dignity is inviolable. All of these were lessons learned from the Nazi disaster, and conscious decisions our “founding fathers” took. It’s foolish of Derbyshire to blame it on communist propaganda.

This powerless ranting figurehead…

Sigh, if that is how you view him… In my opinion he stops being a party soldier once he is elected and functions as our collective conscience. What other politician could speak about moral values without blushing? And if power is all you respect, you must be a rightist. ;)

politicians or intellectuals tell them that “the debate is simply over”, and then obediently shut up like Europeans do

I don’t feel particularly obedient. The debate was long and good, but the majority has made its decision. Isn’t that how democracy works?

Oh no, wait, if you can’t get a majority, you declare the voting body “irrelevant” and just ignore it, right? ;)

Maybe you missed European mainstream “antifascism” which routinely uses this and stronger invectives against anyone slightly to the right of the center.

Huh? Bush used “evil” in a clearly religious meaning while justifying a political, military action. That’s the taboo.

Quite basically, the Germans of 2003 can’t stand even thinking of anything military without it being cuddled in soft, caring, Clintonesque rhetorics.

Oh, I do think they agree with good old homeland defence. You know, that kind of thing we are drafting our troops for. If the Germans think that the current international interventionism is folly, I can’t help but agree.

the EU bullied Austria’s democratically elected Jörg Haider into not joining the government, and even then harrassed the country with a hate campaign in the media and diplomatic isolation. Sovereignity of states, eh?

I should have said sovereignity of borders. Go ahead and badmouth Saddam. But as long as he respects the borders, don’t invade. By the way, I agree that the bullying of Haider was very silly and undemocratic. But it just doesn’t compare to starting a war.

Europe has become largely atheist by now and strongly resents traditional Christianity

I know, and it makes me sad. Guess that’s what happens when you make money your idol. But what is “traditional” Christianity? Looking at America, I see countless denominations who can’t agree on any common liturgy. Some of them border on heresy. At least our Christianity has kept its unity, although it has watered itself down to some kind of harmless, enlightened humanism. It doesn’t inspire anyone anymore, but at least it doesn’t hurt either.

You just made Derbyshire’s point, although you apparently didn’t notice. You may be unaware that the abortion debate in America continues to rage, and that’s precisely because Americans don’t let their media or politicians or intellectuals tell them that “the debate is simply over”, and then obediently shut up like Europeans do. That’s one thing that I honestly find impressive about America.

Hmm. Can you suggest examples of issues where German society is split, but “the debate is simply over”? On abortion, specifically the big difference seems to be that Europe is way more comfortable with it than we are.