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US, France and Germany: Divisions and Lack of Professionalism Everywhere

We all need more team spirit. Obama's Afghanistan team is in disarray. Their egos seem to be as bloated as the ego's in the French soccer team.

While President Obama is angry with McChrystal's frank comments and perhaps insubordination, President Sarkozy is reportedly furious over the national team's behaviour inside and outside the soccer stadiums. It was not really a "team." He even cleared his schedule for a one hour meeting with the captain on the day of a general labor strike. That shows how important the soccer team is for France as a symbol of national integration and unity.

Germany's coalition government has been in disarray for months as well with some calling each other "wild pigs" and "gherkin troops" (rank amateurs). (There are also rumors that one cabinet member called the defense minister "rumpelstiltskin.") Though, thanks to the national soccer team's victory over Ghana today, Merkel's government won't collapse yet. ;-)

If Germany had failed to make it into the round of sixteen for the first time in history, it would have been a national fiasco. Let's do not forget that the German coach is not called "Trainer der Nationalmannschaft," but goes by the official sounding name "Bundestrainer," just like the top government titles "Bundeskanzler," "Bundespräsident" etc.

On Sunday, we will play against England. One British fan said on TV that the world cup was invented for England and Germany to play against each other. Good point. Still, it is regrettable (but not at all surprising) that the British tabloid The Sun uses military language to describe the upcoming match. Come on, guys. It's just soccer. The real war is in Afghanistan.

Thus, it is of course ridiculous for me to compare Obama's Afghanistan troubles with Sarkozy's soccer problem.

Obama's problem goes beyond General McChrystal. In fact, his quotes in the Rolling Stone article are quite harmless. Rather the general was apparently let down by his closed aides, who idolized their boss and were stupid enough to make unprofessional comments in front of a reporter.

What is worse is that the article is just the latest reminder of the many internal conflicts in Obama's Afghanistan "team". McChrystal was fired after just 14 months. Before him, Obama had fired McKiernan. And apparently US Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry does not get along with both McChrystal and Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Jones and Clinton , writes the NY Times:

In one episode that dramatized the building animosities, General Jones, the national security adviser, wrote to Ambassador Eikenberry in February, sympathizing with his complaints about a visit Mr. Holbrooke had recently made to Afghanistan. In the note, which went out over channels that were not secure, officials said, General Jones soothed the ambassador by suggesting that Mr. Holbrooke would soon be removed from his job. The Jones note prompted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to complain to Mr. Obama, and her support for Mr. Holbrooke has kept him in his job.

Such highschool drama is unbelievable for a superpower at war.

Endnote: Jon Stewart used to criticize President Bush for playing golf, when the Iraq war was going south. Now he is complaining about Obama playing golf, while the Gulf crisis lasts and the Afghanistan war gets even more violent. Interesting that even America's left is getting increasingly frustrated with Obama. Pretty fair and balanced.


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Joerg Wolf on :

Oh, and of course, congratulations to the awesome performance of the US soccer team. I am glad you made it into the round of sixteen.

Pat Patterson on :

Calling published comments that are not only in violation of the UCMJ but Gen McChrystal also managed to violate his oath. He is to report directly to his senior officers and they to the President. He does have to defend the Constitution but unlike Turkey his actions are only at the behest of the CinC. I was just as unhappy when active duty personnel criticised GWB. And since we are now on that subject it should be noted that Bush was criticized for playing golf and stopped soon after 9/11. Also Pres Obama in his first 7 months has played more rounds of gold then Bush did in eight years.

Zyme on :

I came across this comment from an Englishman on the Telegraph site: "This WC has turned out like ww2! The french surrendered early, US arrive last min and we're left to fight the germans!" :D

Marie Claude on : but they were the first to leave the ground then

Pat Patterson on :

And Churchill ordered the Royal Navy to return and take off the beach the remnants of the French rear guard. But I doubt that MC has any interest in that other than the usual childish anti-everybody antics.

Marie Claude on :

I wonder who's taking the childish nitpicking here ? check if UK was caring for France's fate of course we should agree to not agree with you as usual

Zyme on :

Oh dear what a match - I felt the pain with the brave Americans. Especially when you see what it meant for the soccer fans over the pond. Still the US boys courageously provided a tense match and lost in style.

Marie Claude on :

the players of UK football team, like Germany's, play in national clubs, but UK's are are a bit "worn out" and trained by Italians coaches, we saw the result of Italy, a bit like France's. While Germany bet on new recrues, that still have "hunger", our's, Italy's, Spain's, to a lesser point UK's are "prima-donnas". In France 2/3 of the team were/are playing in foreign clubs, mostly in UK and Spain, one in Munich. They also are born in our suburbs, that don't cultivate the patriotic fiber, naturally not untertained in foreign clubs, so that made it more difficult for getting a cohesive team, they were already rebels from their origin, (and also prima-donnas in their foreign clubs) There is a quarrel in France, wether the political instances have to handle the problem, or leave it to the soccer federation. Though at the origin, the problem is political, it hooks to our immigrants community behaviour first, second, to a old-fashion federation, that still is on the "amateurs" rules and clientelism. Now Laurent Blanc (captain of the french team in 1998), also the successful Bordeaux and Marseille coach, is going to handle the France team training and selection. Because of the late debacle, he is going to asssert his choices. From now he called for a new and professional director from Lyon to manage the French team, as far as means, advertisings... wages. So, be careful for the euro cup and the next world cup ! Besides the francophone and African teams could be labelled as "France bis", Ghana has 2 players from Rennes club, also the captain of the American team plays there too

David on :

Congratulations to the German team for the huge victory over England. The team played brilliantly, but I am particularly impressed by Mesut Oezil in the tournament thus far. Will his success result in further acceptance of the Turkish minority in Germany?

Joerg Wolf on :

Yes, I think Mesut Oezil's impressive performance has a positive impact. Many people now realize that Germany is indeed a very diverse country and this has contributed to not only successful, but also beautiful, light and creative soccer. Though, quite a few folks regret that most players with some immigrant background do not sing the national hymn: (in German) Still, the state of integration is better than anecdotes and hyped media accounts of wrongdoings suggest. From a recent survey: "The native and immigrant populations are, in general, satisfied with the developments in integration policy over the last years, and look towards the future of integration and integration policy with cautious optimism. 50 per cent of all respondents maintain that integration policy has improved the degree of integration in the last years. Nearly as many expect further improvements in the future, while only 10 to 15 per cent of respondents anticipate that future integration policies will deteriorate integration. b) The native and immigrant populations have a shared pragmatic and hands-on approach to integration, and, on the one hand, refrain from demanding cultural assimilation, and from insisting on exclusive cultural privileges, on the other."

Zyme on :

Now that the heat of battle is gone, I still must say - what a match! It is probably easy to guess, but everyone's phrase to sum it up here is "Revenge for Wembley!" ;) I would not have guessed such an outcome, as both teams were rather disappointing before knockout stage. But unlike my compatriots who are now highly confident for the next matches, this match has made me very concerned. The youth of the German team is both its biggest strenght (fast and agile) and biggest weakness, as the team seems to be unable to handle the opponent scoring. And England didn't score 1:0, it was simply 2:1 for Germany and everything felt totally scary on the German side. If this does not change, one may as well switch off the match once an opponent scores the first goal, as the players seem to be unable to recover from it - so there is not much hope against argentine :/ As regards turkish minority, I had a fascinating discussion with a female colleague with turkish origin on an important fact: Whether or not she would give her children (once she has some) German first names. I think the behaviour in this question is critical when it comes to assimiliation in the society. Maybe a survey among minorities would reveal interesting results. She wanted to give them names that are used both in Turkish and German culture, which is very diplomatic. The main reason for giving them German sounding names though was that she doesn't want her children to face too many problems ;)

Joe Noory on :

Maybe offering those children a chance at German citizenship first might be a good place to start.

Zyme on :

Well quite a number of the elder immigrants already have citizenship, which means their children also do have it. That is almost no problem for them anymore.

David on :

"Whether or not she would give her children (once she has some) German first names. I think the behaviour in this question is critical when it comes to assimiliation in the society." Oh come on! If Americans can elect someone with the name Barack Obama as president, surely Germans can accept people named Mesut or Hülya.

Zyme on :

:D This is not America David. Those with foreign sounding names will face a myriad of problems during schooltime, and even more so when looking for a job. Who is going to employ you when your name already sounds suspicious? As an employer, you are always on the safe side when employing somebody with a German name, as it minimalizes the chance of a cultural clash. After all, who likes to have an employee who then insists on 5 prayers a day or something like that.

Joerg Wolf on :

Yep, this is not America. Germans are much more conservative than Americans in this regard. I think there was also a study concluding that German teachers discriminate students with the name Kevin and Cindy etc, since those (American sounding?) names are associated with unemployed parents. And our teachers are said to be center-left or even "progressive." Yeah, names are important. Our defense minister's popularity probably has something to do with his aristocratic name.

Zyme on :

Kevin for sure, but the worst of all is - Justin ! Giving your son this name makes sure that the maximum possible amount of his talent will be ignored during schooltime :D Well parents these days at least CAN know better than to do that. But I pity those Eastern Germans in their 20s and 30s whose parents found American rockstars and actors so cool and so revolutionary towards the Eastern German regime that they awarded their children with the same first names. Hence all those Cindies, Kevins, Mandies and Ringos. Poor lads! Not so sure whether Guttenberg is popular because of his name though. Ernst August of Hannover proves that attitude and acting of the actual persons is probably more important than aristocratic names ;)

Kevin Sampson on :

Well, that explains a few things.

Joerg Wolf on :

;-) Here's more info about the study from 2009: [quote]The name Kevin was perceived as being linked to especially poor behaviour and performance, with one study participant even writing that, “Kevin is not a name – it’s a diagnosis!” (...) The study reveals that the names traditional names such as Charlotte, Sophie, Marie, Hannah, Alexander, Maximilian, Simon, Lukas and Jakob are consistently linked to strong performance and good behaviour. Non-traditional names such as Chantal, Mandy, Angelina, Kevin, Justin and Maurice, on the other hand, are associated with weak performance and bad behaviour.[/quote] [url][/url]

David on :

"Germans are much more conservative than Americans in this regard." In this case the correct word is "spießig".

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