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NATO Solidarity: Atlantic Community is a Vision, not yet a Reality

The Pew Research Center's transatlantic survey indicates a high degree of security complacency and a lack of solidarity across NATO member publics. Evidently, the Atlantic Community is still a distant future, with this vision being marred by an absence of real unity. We must encourage more policy dialogue between citizens throughout Europe and across the Atlantic and thereby create empathy and a shared identity.

Many in the European publics, especially the Germans, take US support for granted, feel comfortable as security free-riders, and don't seem to understand NATO's concept of collective defense. From the Pew Research Center:

Americans and Canadians are the only publics where more than half think their country should use military action if Russia attacks a fellow NATO member (56% and 53%, respectively). Germans (58%) are the most likely to say their country should not. All NATO member publics are more likely to think the United States will come to an ally's defense (median of 68%) than to be willing to do so themselves. (…) Poles stand out as less certain that the U.S. would come to an ally's aid (49% would, 31% would not).

This is quite troubling and disconcerting as only a friend in need is a friend indeed. But, according to this poll, we are not even „fair weather friends", as we oppose solidarity already, before a NATO ally has even been attacked. Coming to each other's defense is the most basic principle of a friendship or partnership. Failing to do so is obviously infinitely worse than a disagreement about out-of-area missions or specific strategies.

Continue reading "NATO Solidarity: Atlantic Community is a Vision, not yet a Reality"

Britain and the World Love Germany

What a pleasant surprise! Germany is more widely seen as "having a mainly positive influence" in the world than any other country, according to the BBC World Service's Country Ratings Poll. I doubt, however, whether poll participants really meant Germany's foreign policy.

A three-point increase in Germany's average rating returned it to the top of the BBC list, displacing Japan, which saw its positive ratings drop from 58% to 51%, and fell from first to fourth place overall. (...)

In Spain, the recipient of a bailout with tight German strings attached, 68% said they felt Germany had "a mainly positive influence in the world".

In Britain, it was even higher at 78%. In France 81% - the poll indicates that four in every five French people look over the border with approval!

Only Greece maintains its Germanophobia, with 52% giving a negative rating.

Will the poll matter? It might well. It may confirm German ministers in their belief that tough love is true friendship.

Re the last sentence: I doubt that people consider tough love in the euro-crisis as a true friendship.

Continue reading "Britain and the World Love Germany"

Kos Poll: Americans love France and Europe

The left-wing US blog Daily Kos has let Research 2000 do a poll on some of the purported 'boogeymen' of the right, including France and Europe. It turns out that France and Europe are almost universally loved by Americans. France has a 66 to 26 favourability rating, and for Europe the rating is 63 to 29. Favourable opinions of France and Europe exist across ethnic groups and party lines, but there is some regional difference: southerners have an evenly split opinion of both France and Europe.

This is quite a dramatic shift in opinion among the American population from four years ago, when the (more conservative) pollster Rasmussen reported that 57% of Americans held an unfavourable opinion of France.

Opinions of France have probably improved as a result of the improved political relationship that started with the election of Sarkozy, and were reinforced by the election of Obama. At the same time, they might deteriorate again if there is another major diplomatic disagreement between the two countries. Right now, the French and Americans have important reasons to stick together as they are both threatened with 'revenge' by Somali pirates...

Five Reasons Obama would not be Elected in Europe

Denis Boyles argues in the National Review that while the vast majority of Europeans are hoping Obama will be elected President of the United States today, he would not have a chance of success were he running to lead any European country. Boyles offers five reasons why:

1. “His tax policies are frightening,” in that they are too far left for Europe.
2. “His views on abortion are way too extreme for Europeans.”
3. “His lack of experience means trouble.”
4. “He’s in love with failed ideas.” Boyles calls Obama a “socialist romantic”, compares his policies to the EU Constitution, and then argues that the dream of Obama and all liberals is to have kids raised by the state – the first argument makes no sense and the second argument is simply not true.
5. “His name, incidentally, is Barack Hussein Obama. Sorry to save this for last, but the sad fact is a politician with Obama’s racial and ethnic background wouldn’t stand a chance in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, or anywhere else in the European Union no matter how charming his speeches were.”

Continue reading "Five Reasons Obama would not be Elected in Europe"

Understanding John McCain's Appeal to US Voters

The Economist has a good cover story about John McCain and explains quite well why Americans might elect him as president. It is a good summary for the average reader, who is not a news junkie.

Such an analysis is missing in the commentary of a Washington correspondent with the German public broadcaster ARD: Anna Engelke fails to understand McCain's appeal. Instead she makes a list of problems for McCain (his age, the bad shape of US economy, high debts and deficit, two wars) and concludes that a skilled politician like Barack Obama has to lead in the polls, if you take a "sober look at it."

She mentions only two reasons why Obama does not have a strong lead in the polls: It might be partly due to his inexperience, but it is primarily due to his black skin. Engelke opines that Obama would win this election "with the utmost probability," if he were white.

Continue reading "Understanding John McCain's Appeal to US Voters"

Europeans Tend to See Germany as "Leader" of Europe

Harris Interactive:

Majorities of the public in France (68%), Spain (57%) and Germany (57%), as well as 39 percent of Italians and 35 percent of British adults consider Germany to be the "leader" of Europe. Of these European countries, Germany is considered the leader by all five. In the United States, almost two-thirds (63%) of Americans lean more towards the country they believe to be their closest partner, Great Britain, as the leader of Europe today.

I learned about this poll in the US Embassy's InfoAlert, which recommends many other interesting articles from the last two months as well, especially regarding the future of NATO.

A European View of the US Election Campaign

Ulf Gartzke, a visiting scholar at the BMW Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, writes that many Europeans are captivated by and invested in the outcome of the US presidential election campaign:

In electing a young black politician with a Muslim father, Americans would do something that is pretty much unthinkable in any country in Europe, where politics are traditionally dominated by a white old boy's club (notable exceptions like German chancellor Angela Merkel notwithstanding). In this context, however, Europeans must not forget that Obama (despite having a very Europe-savvy foreign policy team) is not known to be an Atlanticist. Senator Clinton, for her part, has many European admirers dating back to her time in the White House with Bill, who remains a very popular figure in Europe.

According to Gartzke, McCain would be good for Europe as well: Continue reading "A European View of the US Election Campaign"

Double Standards and the Popularity of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

Davids Medienkritik is concerned about the popularity of conspiracy theories in Germany, while ignoring their popularity in the US. Ray Drake accuses the German TV station ZDF of "fuelling the conspiracy underworld" because of the results of a totally unscientific poll on the ZDF website:

The results (with over 6,000 votes registered) indicate that 65% - or nearly two-thirds - of ZDF participants blame either George W. Bush (26%), US authorities (24%) or the nebulous and ever sinister arms lobby (15%) for 9/11. By comparison, only 27% selected Osama Bin Laden as the culprit and 9% said they didn't know.

The blog author and many of his readers make a huge fuss about it in the comment section, but Fuchur has good counter-arguments. Unfortunately, his comment did not stop other blogs from spreading Davids Medienkritik's message. Vodkapundit for instance concludes "German state media: Proud sponsor of 'Truther' nonsense." And Moonbattery has learned from the Medienkritik post that the ZDF documentary "suggests that the American government was actually behind the Muslim atrocities"

One American reader informed me about the poll via email and added "With friends like this, who needs Bin-Laden?...." Thank you very much! You are a real friend.

Why are these Americans (not all Americans) sooo harsh with Germany? Don't they know that CNN had a similar totally unscientific poll. For some reason America's "Most Trusted Name in News" interviewed the actor Charlie Sheen about 9/11 and then ran an online poll asking "Do you agree with Charlie Sheen that the U.S. government covered up the real events of the 9/11 attacks?" 83% of 54.000 participants answered "Yes." Conspiracy theories are at least as popular in the United States as they are in Germany.

Davids Medienkritik is popular among (neo)conservative Republican supporters. Their main concern is not Anti-Americanism, but rather criticism of conservatives. What they consider Anti-Americanism is often just leftist ideology, which is as popular in Germany as it is in the US. Therefore they do not take into consideration, that leftist conspiracy theories are at least as important in the US as in Germany. Having said that, of course there is a lot of Anti-Americanism in Germany. And Medienkritik sometimes exposes that some German media outlets stereotype Americans as obese or stupid etc.

Davids Medienkritik often calls for more diversity of opinions in the German media, but that according to another comment by Fuchur

To give room to these opinions [=conspiracy theories], too. Besides, how is one supposed to deal with these conspiracy theories? I don't think that ignoring them solves the problem; that's just what these people claim: The media won't talk about this, they're hiding the truth, yaddayadda. It's certainly not wrong to address these things - at least once in six years.