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Shame on us: Germany Boosts Arms Sales to Mideast

"Germany has become a key arms supplier in the Middle East despite stringent export controls that have inhibited weapons sales in the past," writes UPI (via SeidlersSiPo) in a good summary of recent sales. In the current conflict in Libya, weapons manufactured by German defense companies are being used by both sides:

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces use tank transporters built by Mercedes Benz, German-made electronic jamming systems and Milan-3 surface-to-air missiles made by the French-German MBDA company. NATO forces employ the twin-engined Eurofighters for their air campaign against Gadhafi's beleaguered regime.

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A Check for Osama

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is right this time (via: Andrew Sullivan):

None of us would write a check to Osama bin Laden, slip it in a Hallmark card and send it off to him. But that's what we're doing every time we pull into a gas station.

The same is true for Europe, which is even more dependent on oil from the Middle East than the United States. Related posts in the Atlantic Review: The US-Saudi Relationship: Oil Supply at the Expense of US Security and Moral Values and Chicago Tribune: "Germany says 9/11 hijackers called Syria, Saudi Arabia"

SuperFrenchie presents the picture that says all about President Bush's latest Middle East tour. I am not aware of any European head of government having kissed Saudi princes. Bush does not just kiss the Saudis in their own country as a gesture to cultural customs, but even kisses the Saudis, when they visit him in the US. He also holds hands with them. And yet, Europeans are supposed to be the softy weasels from Venus that do anything to get cheap oil.

More Americans Believe that Saddam Was Directly Involved in 9/11

The Raw Story
A new Newsweek poll out this weekend exposed "gaps" in America's knowledge of history and current events. Perhaps most alarmingly, 41% of Americans answered 'Yes' to the question "Do you think Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was directly involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001?" That total is actually up 5 points since September 2004. Further, a majority of people couldn't identify Saudia Arabia as the country of origin of most of the 9/11 hijackers, even given the question in multiple choice format. 20% answered Iraq, while 14% believed the hijackers came from Iran.
Full numbers at Newsweek. The results of this Princeton Survey Research Associates International poll are based on telephone interviews with 1,001 adults, 18 and older, conducted June 18-19, 2007.  "Results are weighted so that the sample demographics match Census Current Population Survey parameters for gender, age, education, race, region, and population density.  The overall margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points."

Personal comment: I have seen these polls for quite a while now, but I still find them shocking. Likewise, many Americans are shocked when they learn about polls that say 45% of Germans consider U.S. more dangerous than Iran. Perhaps bloggers complaining about Anti-Americanism/Anti-Europeanism need to be more concerned about their fellow citizens' political views than with the political views across the Atlantic or at least notice how common ignorant perceptions are.
Still, I am wondering whether in the next few months even more Americans will believe that Iran was responsible for 9/11.

Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism

Two months ago, the burning of an American flag along with a copy Anne Frank's diary (, has sent shockwaves across Germany. From the European Jewish Press:
More than 100 villagers had gathered on June 24 to celebrate the summer solstice in Pretzien, a village south of Magdeburg in the east German state of Saxony-Anhalt, with a dance and a bonfire. (...) According to the 'Tagesspiegel' newspaper, three local far-right extremists present in the crowd, aged 24, 27 and 28, threw both a US flag and 'Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl' onto the pyre with one man saying: "I commit Anne Frank to the fire." The scene was evocative of the infamous bonfires organised by the Nazis in 1933 in Berlin and across Germany to rid the Third Reich of "degenerate books".
This book burning was a singular incident in modern Germany and should not be used for exaggerations. Though in general there are strong links between Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism, argues U.S. Fulbright Alumnus Andrei S. Markovits, a political science professor at Ann Arbor and expert on German politics and European culture and soccer, in his book Amerika, dich haßt sich's besser. Antiamerikanismus und Antisemitismus in Europa ( The book cover shows a graffiti claiming that Presidential Candidate "Kerry is a Jew too." The book was published in October 2004 and is only available in German, but Dialog International has written a review in English.

Besides, two English working papers by Prof. Markovits can be downloaded as PDF files: "Twin brothers": European Anti-Semitism and Anti-Americanism and European Anti-Americanism (and Anti-Semitism): Ever Present Though Always Denied. I have read one of the working papers about a year ago and found his historical analysis and many arguments convincing, but some arguments about the strong ties between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Americanism not so much. Now, after the burning of the Anne Frank Diary along with the American flag, I will need to re-read the working paper or wait for Prof. Markovits' upcoming book Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America (,, which will be available in the U.S. on December 15, 2006 and in Germany in February 2006. Prof. Markovits described his earlier book Amerika, dich haßt sich's besser as the basis for the upcoming book.
Following is a snyopsis of Uncouth Nation:
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Experts: U.S. is not winning the war on terror

Foreign Policy Magazine has asked more than 100 of America's top foreign-policy experts.
A bipartisan majority (84 percent) of the index's experts say the United States is not winning the war on terror. Eighty-six percent of the index’s experts see a world today that is growing more dangerous for Americans. Overall, they agree that the U.S. government is falling short in its homeland security efforts. (...) “Foreign-policy experts have never been in so much agreement about an administration’s performance abroad,” says Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and an index participant. “The reason is that it’s clear to nearly all that Bush and his team have had a totally unrealistic view of what they can accomplish with military force and threats of force.” (...) The experts also said that recent reforms of the national security apparatus have done little to make Americans safer. (...)
Eighty-one percent, for instance, believe the detention of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, negatively affects the war on terror. The index’s experts also disapprove of how America is handling its relations with European allies, how it is confronting threatening regimes in North Korea and Iran, how it is controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and its dealings with failing states, to name just a few. “We are losing the war on terror because we are treating the symptoms and not the cause,” says index participant Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. (...)
Since Germany is often criticized for its relatively small defense budget, this might be interesting:
To win the battle of ideas, the experts say, America must place a much higher emphasis on its nonmilitary tools. More than two thirds say that U.S. policymakers must strengthen the United Nations and other multilateral institutions. At the same time, the experts indicate that the U.S. government must think more creatively about threats. Asked what presents the single greatest danger to U.S. national security, nearly half said loose nukes and other weapons of mass destruction, while just one third said al Qaeda and terrorism, and a mere 4 percent said Iran.
The section on With Friends Like These:
Asked to name the country that has produced the largest number of global terrorists, the index’s foreign-policy experts pointed to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan—three of America’s marquee allies in the Muslim world.

Looking at Success in the Middle East and Worrying about US Isolationism

Writing for the National Review Online, Victor Davis Hanson discusses whether the seven states in the Greater Middle East have become more or less of a threat since 9/11. He concludes that the situation is messier, but better than before:
Few argue that Afghanistan or Iraq is worse off than when under the Taliban or Saddam. Nor is Syria in a stronger position. Despite their respective nuclear and petroleum deterrence, both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are ever more sensitive to the dangers of Islamic radicalism. Libya no longer poses the threat of using WMD against its neighbors and is less likely to fund international terror. Iran is the wild card - closer to success in obtaining the bomb, but closer as well to becoming isolated by international pressure and the events that it cannot quite control across the border in Iraq.
Hanson worries about increasing isolationism due to the Bush administration's "unpopular work of trying to restore hope to the Middle East", while "the aloof Europeans pose as the moderate alternative":
A new strain of what we might call punitive isolationism is back ("more rubble, less trouble"), in which we should simply unleash bombers when evidence is produced of complicity in attacks against Americans, but under no circumstance put a single soldier on the ground to "help" such people who are "incapable" of liberal civilized society.
The hard Right is candid in its pessimistic dismissal of American idealism and worries that a new muscular Wilsonianism will lose the ascendant Republican majority and betray conservative values. The Left buys into the neo-isolationism since it means less of an "imperial" footprint abroad and more funds released for entitlements at home - as well as a way of tarring George Bush and regaining Congress.
A Pew and Council on Foreign Relations survey from November 2005 "finds a striking revival of isolationist sentiment among the general public":
Fully 42 percent of Americans say the United States should "mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own." That represents a sharp increase since 2002 (30 percent), and is on par with the percentage expressing that view during the mid-1970s, following the Vietnam War, and in the 1990s, after the Cold War ended.

Chicago Tribune: "Germany says 9/11 hijackers called Syria, Saudi Arabia"

John Crewdson, senior correspondent of the respectable Chicago Tribune, claims to have obtained a "classified report from the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel":
According to the report, 206 international telephone calls were known to have been made by the leaders of the hijacking plot after they arrived in the United States -- including 29 to Germany, 32 to Saudi Arabia and 66 to Syria. The calls to Germany are not especially surprising because the plot's organizers, Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, who moved to Florida to learn to fly passenger jets, had been university students in the northern German city of Hamburg when they were recruited by Al Qaeda. More than four years later, however, the hijackers' connections to Saudi Arabia and Syria are far from fully explained. (...) The German report submitted last week notes that in the days after Sept. 11, Syria and its intelligence service offered their cooperation to the U.S. and West European nations, "comprehensively and without any reservation."
The Chicago Tribune published this article on March 8th, but the story was not picked up since then in either the German or the US media to the best of my and Marc's knowledge, who first recommend the article on his American Future. John Crewdson emailed me that he does not know why this is the case either.
Although 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, this fact seems to be not that much known in the US public and there have not been significant negative consequences for this non-democratic, oppressive, illiberal country, which ranked fourth (after Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela) as a source of total U.S. oil imports in 2005. The conservative media and some members of the Bush administration have not been very critical of Saudi Arabia, while spreading misinformation and unsubstantiated speculations on Iraq. Consequently the PIPA opinion poll concluded in 2004:
A large majority of Bush supporters believes that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda and that clear evidence of this support has been found. A large majority believes that most experts also have this view, and a substantial majority believe that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Large majorities of Kerry supporters believe the opposite on all these points.
Related: The US-Saudi relationship: Oil supply at the expense of US security and moral values.

The Chicago Tribune puts the phone calls to Syria in the context of Germany's alleged involvement in CIA renditions:
The report's disclosure that senior officials in the government of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder traveled to Syria to participate in the questioning of Zammar is likely to raise further questions within the parliament over Germany's involvement in the CIA's forced relocation of terrorist suspects to countries like Syria, where many say they have been tortured.

"America is addicted to oil"

At his State of the Union Address, President Bush promised "to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025", because "America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world." Most experts and the NYT are skeptical:
President Richard M. Nixon promised in 1971 to make the United States self-sufficient in energy by 1980. President Jimmy Carter promised in 1979 that the nation would "never again use more foreign oil than we did in 1977." And Mr. Bush has called in each of his past four State of the Union addresses for a reduction in the dependence on foreign oil. Despite those promises in the past 35 years, United States dependence on oil imports is at a record level.
The good news is that OPEC got concerned by the president's speech. The US imports most of its oil from Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. The European Union, however, is much more dependent on Middle East oil than the US is. A longer piece on energy dependence will be published in the Atlantic Review in the next few weeks. (Help is appreciated.)
President Bush also warned against the "false comfort of isolationism" and stressed his commitment to Iraq. Edit Copy has excellent press coverage of the State of the Union Address.