In a performance on Broadway a few years ago, Robin Williams riffed on French impotence by doing an impression of a suffocatingly snobbish Frenchman deriding all things American. In the middle of this imaginary Frenchman’s tirade, his head snaps around, and he declares, “The Germans are here!” Whereupon this realization, he faces the audience again, stretches out his arms, and says, “We love Americans! Welcome Americans!” Now, Robin Williams is not a fan of George W. Bush by any stretch of the imagination; but that bit always tickled me for the excellent way in which it shows the double standards of a power so seemingly impotent.
According to SPIEGEL, Americans are warmongers, mercenaries, cowboys, Rambos, religious nuts and conceited bungling occupiers who have created a catastrophe-disaster-debacle-quagmire-civil war in the Middle East. And now the same online magazine wants us to believe that the current crisis in the region “calls for US leadership”!? Does that make sense to anyone else? Could it be that the United States really is a positive force in the world and not the summation of vile stereotypes and chronic biases displayed on German newsstands?
And never mind that Europe can do little about the crisis other than look on in bumbling impotence. This is all America’s fault, because Bush is not being decisive enough and has allegedly tied his nation down in Iraq. Mascolo quotes Time magazine’s assertion that America is too weak to act because it has “bled itself white in Iraq.” Bled itself white with fewer US deaths in Iraq than on 9/11 alone? Bled itself white with dozens or even hundreds of times fewer casualties than in previous wars? As an historic reminder to Mr. Mascolo, the United States suffered 81,000 casualties and 19,000 combat deaths in the Battle of the Bulge alone, and the nation was certainly not too weak to finish the task of occupying Germany.
I’m not so naive as to think that all Germans necessarily feel this way. Specifically, though, I find Spiegel Online to be like the child who declares his parents unfair and unjust for disapproving of his rebelliousness, but then turns around and demands a raise in the allowance so he can carry on with that very rebellion.
Hopefully Spiegel Online doesn’t speak for all Germans. I suspect they represent Germans about as well as, say, Newsweek or Time represent all Americans. But certainly, by the very inconsistency of their protestations, they cannot be taken seriously. It would be like saying that the editors at Vanity Fair ought to be given run of the United States.
[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]