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Tom Ricks Mistrusts Germany

Today is the 67th anniversary of D-Day. 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy to fight Nazi Germany on June 6, 1944. Steven Spielberg captured this heroic and scary moment very well in Saving Private Ryan.

Today most US experts -- with the notable exception of Tom Ricks -- do not worry about a war with Germany or a return of militarism and Nazi ideology in Berlin. Instead they are concerned that Germany (and many other European countries) demilitarize so much that we are not of use to the US anymore. Wait for the press coverage of Merkel's trip to the US later this week or read Secretary Gates' speech from last year:

The demilitarization of Europe - where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it - has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st.

Tom Ricks, however, has a totally different view of Germany. Mr. Ricks worries about "Germany's resurgence", which apparently will bring back Adolf Hitler. Or why else did he chose this picture of a Nazi rally in Nuremberg (?) for his blog post on Foreign Policy?

Following are few more strange, offensive, and/or stupid remarks from this senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, who is also a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine and a special (!) military correspondent at the Washington Post, who was part of the teams that won two Pulitzer Prizes:

Continue reading "Tom Ricks Mistrusts Germany"

Europeans Are Not Pacifists

Michael Lind of the New America Foundation debunks "the 9 most annoying sky-is-falling clichés in American foreign policy."

First I thought the one about the "pacifist Europeans" is the most boring and stupid of the nine clichés, but then I paused, when I read Lind's reference to Secretary Gates statement on "the demilitarization of Europe." Lind debunks:

The defense spending of major European powers hardly proves them to be doves. As a share of GDP, European military budgets have been roughly even with those of the BRIC countries that are supposed to be the great powers of the future. What really irks Americans who criticize Europe's alleged pacifism has been opposition to the Iraq war or refusal to make greater commitments for the war in Afghanistan. In reality, Europeans are no pacifists; they've simply declined the invitation to play Robin to America's global Batman. European countries spend quite enough to defend themselves -- against real threats.

While we are not pacifists, warmongering is a crime in Germany: The Guardian (HT: Bruce) writes that "a German politician has warned that the CIA informant Curveball could go to jail after telling the Guardian that he lied about Saddam Hussein's bioweapons capability in order to 'liberate' Iraq." And why did the German secret service pay "Curveball £2,500 a month for at least five years after they knew he had lied"?

ENDNOTE: Germany's former foreign minister Joschka Fischer just published his Iraq war memoir "I Am Not Convinced." Just a few weeks after Donald Rumsfeld's memoir. According to another Guardian article, "Fischer accused the former head of the CIA George Tenet of making implausible claims about the handling of the Curveball case by the US."

Obama as Chancellor of Weimar America

What do some conservative US and leftist German politicians have in common? They use the other side of the Atlantic for fear-mongering.

The latest example is Jim DeMint, Republican Senator from South Carolina. According to The Washington Independent he made the following statement, when promoting his book at The National Press Club:

Part of what we're trying to do in "Saving Freedom" is just show that where we are, we're about where Germany was before World War II where they became a social democracy. You still had votes but the votes were just power grabs like you see in Iran, and other places in South America, like Chavez is running down in Venezuela. People become more dependent on the government so that they're easy to manipulate. And they keep voting for more government because that's where their security is.

Aha, I see, Iraq and Afghanistan and the current recession are for the United States what the WWI and the depression were for Germany. And the oldest modern democracy in Washington is still as immature as the Weimar Republic's, started after WWI. So Obama is running Weimar America.

OMG! People, get your guns, Hitler is just around the corner!

Continue reading "Obama as Chancellor of Weimar America"

Soccer is for Losers?

The mission of the American Enterprise Institute's blog is to provide "thoughtful and timely analysis on economic, foreign and social policy and politics." Today, Gary Schmitt wrote an extremely thoughtful analysis on the most important policy issue of the world, which is, of course, soccer, especially since Chancellor Merkel meets with President Obama today.

Not only is Mr. Schmitt bashing soccer, but he also trashes us Europeans by suggesting that we like soccer because the better teams tend to lose:

I can say unquestionably that it is the sport in which the team that dominates loses more often than any other major sport I know of. Or, to put it more bluntly, the team that deserves to win doesn’t. (...) And, in sports, that means excellence should prevail. Of course, the fact that is often not the case when it comes to soccer may be precisely the reason the sport is so popular in the countries of Latin America and Europe.

Michael J.W. Stickings takes issue with Gary Schmitt's analysis as well and describes it as "another example of the right's deluded view of American exceptionalism: Americans are different. They're winners." Indeed, he is not the first conservative who made condescending statements about Europeans for their love of soccer. But, as I pointed out in the post The Superiority of American Culture and Sports, the liberal Huffington Post has published offending rants as well during the last soccer world cup in Germany.

The Scottish journalist Alex Massie comments on Schmitt's article as well: "The Never-Ending Neoconservative War on Soccer". And Matthew Yglesias weighs in as well: Neocons Bemoan USA Soccer Victory

Related articles on Atlantic Review:

State Department Uses the World Cup to Improve U.S. Image
Soccer Diplomacy with Iran?
America is expected to win the Super Bowl

America's Huge Health Care Costs

Americans and Europeans spend the same share of GDP on health care and education. "Properly measured, Mars and Venus spend the same share of income on these tasks," concludes Jacob Funk Kirkegaard from the Peterson Institute for International Economics: "The only meaningful difference between US and European expenditure levels is in private-sector healthcare spending, where the US private sector spends about three times more on healthcare than its European private-sector counterparts." (Read a summary of his paper on

Do Americans get better health care, given that their GDP is bigger than Europe's? Nope, in 2006, the "US performed poorly -placing last, in fact - among the six countries surveyed on six key domains of healthcare: Patient Safety, Effectiveness, Patient-Centeredness, Timeliness, Efficiency and Equity," writes Dialog International.

Related posts on Atlantic Review: "If It's From Europe, Forget It" and Other Comments on Health Care and Europeans are taller than Americans.

Social Welfare in Europe and North America

This is a guest post from Andrew Zvirzdin.  Originally from upstate New York, Andrew is currently pursuing a Master's degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy. He previously studied at Université Libre Bruxelles, University of Rome Tor Vergata, and Brigham Young University. He has worked on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and as an Assistant Editor for Scandinavian Studies. Andrew specializes in political economy, international finance, and EU–US relations.

Andrew ZvirzdinFreedom Fries are out of style, but Europe is still taking a beating this campaign season. Republicans are gleefully using Barack Obama's recent visit to Europe as evidence that he wishes to import European-style welfare states back to the United States “to grab even more of our liberty and destroy our hard-earned livelihood,” as Mike Huckabee recently put it.

Just how evil are European welfare states compared to the United States?

OECD data indicates that the differences may not be as large as we may think. Consider two key indicators:
Continue reading "Social Welfare in Europe and North America"

Anti-American Food

A German store for outdoor supplies sells cheeseburgers in cans. Isn't that an abomination of food and a crime against US culture? (Even worse than drinking French red wine out of a plastic cup.) Or is it a sign of how much Germans love US food: They event want to eat it on hiking trips? It's certainly not environmentally friendly due to the waste of energy for producing the can and the potential trash in nature. One guy at Reddit calls it a sign of the "downfall of humanity."

The stereotype of the fat Americans with their daily diet of fast food is pretty popular in Germany, but more and more Germans are obese themselves. According to a new study, "two thirds of German men and 51 percent of the women carry something called excess fat around with them all the time. This is up from 39 percent of the men and 47 percent of the women determined in a study done 20 years ago," writes Observing Hermann.

Related post in the Atlantic Review from last year: Germans are as fat as Americans and Up-Scaling Junk Food in Europe.

Endnote: Here is some sad fast food advertisement irony.

Europe is Caught in America's Culture Wars

Left-wing and right-wing Americans reduce Europe to Amsterdam, Brussels and the Hague and misunderstand Europe, writes Patrick J. Deneen, associate professor of government at Georgetown University:

In America, it is our liberals who praise the liberties of Europe while overlooking the conservative impulse of its self-restraint. Meanwhile, our conservatives condemn the statism of Europe without understanding that efforts to conserve - to be conservative - require the active support and laws of government in order to combat the tendencies of markets to produce waste and undermine thrift. Americans of both the left and right have lost the ability to perceive a form of liberty that is achieved through restraint.

America's culture warriors ignore the small towns and villages, which Prof. Deneen visited in southern Germany, central Switzerland and western Austria:

The Europeans I have seen are light years ahead of us in energy conservation and will weather the storm of rising energy costs better than we in America. Indeed, the combination of local economies, nearby productive farmland outside every town, viable public transportation and widespread use of alternative energies points to a culture that has never abandoned sustainable communities in the way that America willfully and woefully has done over the past 50 years.

You can also get some sense of why there is resentment toward America even here in a nation that generally has positive regard toward the U.S. Europeans pay higher prices for everything in an effort to use less and to create less waste in order to leave a sustainable world for their children, and whatever "give" there is in the worldwide production of resources is a kind of unintended sacrificial gift that many Europeans are making so that America can continue its energy gluttony.

Read his entire article in the Dallas Morning News (via EU Digest), also recommended by Rod Dreher in his blog Beliefnet: "If you read nothing else on this blog today, read the post to which I'm linking here." Maybe better transatlantic understanding is on its way after all. By the way, Prof Deneen also blogs at What I Saw in America.