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  • The Double Standards of the Impotent

    Posted by demimasque on July 15th, 2006 (All posts by )

    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.

    In a similar vein, Ray D. of Davids Medienkritik has this to say about the German magazine Spiegel Online:

    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]

     

    43 Responses to “The Double Standards of the Impotent”

    1. kelley bell Says:

      With all due respect, I believe the context of Time Magazines phrase “bled itself white” refers to military and economic resources, not body counts.

    2. Shannon Love Says:

      The really funny thing is that if we did try employ direct military force in the Israeli-Hezbollah war those who think we have bled ourselves dry would be the first to oppose it.

      Ranting rage driven by a realization of impotence, ineffectiveness and failure is the dominant emotion in Left these days. The Left has played no significant role in any of the major developments of the last 20 years and they know it. All they can do is bitch and rage on the sidelines.

      It has made their fantasy driven childish view of the world even more explicit.

    3. Mitch Says:

      It’s astonishing how dedicated to peace Europe has become after exhausting itself in a century of bloodshed.

      “When our vices desert us, we flatter ourselves that we are deserting our vices.” ~Francois Duc de La Rochefoucauld

    4. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Some people at Der Spiegel are virulently anti-American, others less so and yet others are pro-American. Either way, the magazine isn’t known to be very consistent on any issue, except when there’s a chance for muck-raking or dramatization.

      There also isn’t a general contradiction between anti-Americanism and calling on America to fix things. Political cognitive disonance isn’t that unusual under any circumstance. A head of state who gets to meeet the American President gains prestige with his voters, including the more anti-American ones. It was a major problem for Schrder when Bush wouldn’t see him for years, for instance.

      “When our vices desert us, we flatter ourselves that we are deserting our vices.” ~Francois Duc de La Rochefoucauld

      Tell me about it. I remember when Der Spiegel ran 10 page articles on issues like sex with animals.

      Btw, Monsieur le Duc sounds pretty bummed out. I bet the little Duc fell right off.

    5. Jason Says:

      “With all due respect, I believe the context of Time Magazines phrase “bled itself white” refers to military and economic resources, not body counts.”

      Well then it’s even more stupid.

    6. GM Roper Says:

      As a blogger myself and co-founder of the German-American Relations Carnival along with Joerg Wolf of Atlantic Review and a regular reader of David’s Medienkritik I’d have to say that a majority of Germans do indeed feel that Americans are Cowboy warmongers and hate filled radicals out to rule the world. Not all of them of course, but a significant majority do. Of course, feeling that way you would think they would want us to withdraw all US forces from Germany, but what a firestorm that would create.

      Too often, your Robin Williams sketch applies to all of Europe at one time or another.

    7. Mike Says:

      Greetings,

      Ah yes, the Europeans. Those enlightened individuals who want everything done to their concept, by some. one. else.

      The European nations are Done. Kaput. Finis. Fin. They are an impotent power simply clingin to past glory – the only exception may, just may be Great Britian.

      I could care less what any of that continent think. The will learn to live in the world we are shaping.

      regards,

    8. SDN Says:

      Actually, Kelley, Iraq puts us in a perfect strategic / tactical position. US troops on both sides of Iran; US / Israeli troops on both sides of Syria. Now if Bush can just ignore your side one more time….

    9. joe Says:

      Ralf,

      They have held pretty much a constant view of the US foreign policy.

      I believe their take is Germany holds the moral high ground.

    10. Sharon Says:

      Does that make sense to anyone else?

      It makes perfect sense when you interpret the euphemism in calls for US leadership. What they really mean is calls for the US to once again cough up the lions share of any money that might be needed, which, as Mike noted, they will then spend as befits *their* concept.

      Another interpretation might be calls for the US leader to bend to our will and denounce Israels actions, and if he doesnt, we can blame it all on him. Just as we always do.

      It also makes sense the same way that it makes sense for, say, the European tourism industry to hate Americans while loving their money. Oh, but I forgot: *were* the mercenaries.

    11. Bedrock Guy Says:

      Hello from Heidelberg. You’d be surprised at just how much Der Spiegel does indeed represent the majority of what Germans think about America. Discounting it as a Time or Newsweek equivalent would be a mistake in this case. Yes, many in the German military and business leadership, and of course, political circles do not see our country as the source of evil in the world, but for the average German, well…Bush and company and our nation are the source of the world’s problems. Unfortunate, but a fact of life to those of us who live here.

    12. Joel Mackey Says:

      what do the indonesians think? Why arent we getting more reports from thier news magazines! They are more important than the stupid Germans, much less the rest of Europe.

      I think you see my point…

    13. Nahanni Says:

      The Euros want us to clean up the mess they made with their appeasment, encouragement, protection and arming of the Islamofascists.

      Of course they will curse the “American cowboys” while in private breathing a sigh of relief. Unfortunately for them they all have a big problem that we are not going to help them with and that is their large and angry Islamist populations. The Boznification of Europe is well underway and it will be a very long and bloody affair before all is said and done. You know they are already worried when their museum managers are already quietly making plans to move their art treasures out of Europe for safekeeping knowing the “regard” Islamofascists have for works of art. They already have had damage done to some works of art by their Moslem populations.

      Anyway, I will kick back and enjoy watching Europe implode. Got my cold beverage of choice and popcorn at the ready.

    14. jimbo Says:

      Asking the US to “do something” about the Middle East is a euphemism for lean on Israel to give the Palestinians what they want. A lot of people feel that Israel unjustly occupies the territory taken in 1967. They believe the Palestinians would be satisfied if Israel completely withdrew, and that Israel continues the occupation only because of support by US politicians cowed or bought by AIPAC. Sure, it is all rubbish, but that is what media like Der Speigel, Time, and Newsweek promote.

      Why do Germans hate us? For nearly 50 years they lived in America’s shadow. Half of them as humble parolees doing penance for their sins in the first half of the XX cntury, and the other half as hostages to the division of Europe between the US and USSR. They needed the US during the Cold War, and they knew it.

      Now they don’t see how they need the US any longer. They think they can redeem their moral standing by pointing out the evils of the US. The only world problems that impact Germany are global warming and the Middle East, and the US is the bad guy in each case. Kyoto was sold by the media as the solution to global warming, and it was undone by the greedy US. Terrorists proliferate in the Arab world because of US support for Israel’s illegal occupation and its invasion of Iraq. The Germans want to say to the Arabs, “we do not support Israel and we did not support Bush’s invasion of Iraq, please leave us alone.”

    15. Ralf Goergens Says:

      GM,

      As a blogger myself and co-founder of the German-American Relations Carnival along with Joerg Wolf of Atlantic Review and a regular reader of David’s Medienkritik I’d have to say that a majority of Germans do indeed feel that Americans are Cowboy warmongers and hate filled radicals out to rule the world

      you shouldn’t take everything David Kaspar writes as face-value. He often exaggerates a lot. i’ll mail you a couple of links this evening to show you what I mean.

    16. Ralf Goergens Says:

      jimbo:

      The Germans want to say to the Arabs, “we do not support Israel and we did not support Bush’s invasion of Iraq, please leave us alone.”

      Germany supports Isarel on every level.

      For example, we are giving them submarines with nuclear capabilities capabilities at a reduced price.

      See also here.

      Nahanni:

      Anyway, I will kick back and enjoy watching Europe implode. Got my cold beverage of choice and popcorn at the ready.

      There won’t be an European implosion or explosion, sorry. :)

    17. Ralf Goergens Says:

      For example, we are giving them submarines with nuclear capabilities capabilities at a reduced price.

      That’s one ‘capabilities’ too much, of course.

    18. Faith+1 Says:

      Americans could care less what France or Germany or the rest of the so-called enlightened Europeans think. If we wanted European support for something we’d do like Saddam did and just buy the support since so much of it seems to be for sale to the highest bidder.

      Moral high ground? Hah. That’s like claiming to be a “high class hooker” rather than “street whore”–but both sell the same service for money. The only difference is how much.

      Lived in Germany for 4 years. Joined the “German-American Friendship Club” and listened to the anti-American bashing back then. Didn’t take long to figure out the only time my family and I were invited to Club events is when they needed someone to bring ice or supplies from the American commissary on base. I sat in amazement at one meeting where the simultaneously complained about America “occupying” Germany and the closing of Rhein-Mein and withdrawal from Berlin.

      I had some good friends as well, but I have no deep love for Europe even after spending nearly half my life there (was born and raised in Spain and also lived in France).

      I don’t hate Europe by any means. I just don’t find their opinions or political positions relevent.

    19. Jonathan Says:

      I think the problem in Germany may be genetic. One down side of reducing a country’s excess testosterone by cooling most of the bodies which contain it is that the surviving males transmit irrational war aversion, either genetically or attitudinally, to their offspring.

      The Germany we have is the one we created. There have been worse Germanies than this one.

    20. Bob Hawkins Says:

      “With all due respect, I believe the context of Time Magazines phrase “bled itself white” refers to military and economic resources, not body counts.”

      So the people who complain that Americans haven’t been asked to sacrifice for this war — they’re insane?

    21. srp Says:

      Even more relevant than Robin Williams is the speech near the end of Team America, the puppet satire by the South Park boys. It explains, by anatomical analogy, the relative roles of the US, Europe, and the various bad guys better than most treatises in political science journals.

    22. Jon Says:

      “…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.”

      That’s it, right there. That sums up the Left in a nutshell. Angry, spoiled, bratty and naive, we must have heaven on earth now because we will never have it any other way, and they think the only way to do it is to sacrifice personal responsibility. But of course for them nothing else is worth sacrificing for.

    23. Nahanni Says:

      Ralf, honey…

      It has already begun.

      Of course odds are that the Euros will fold up like a house of cards and accept dhimmitude.

      Either way it makes no difference. The Europe that long ago contributed so much to western civilization is dead and Eurabia will spawn out of it’s already decaying corpse.

      So go ahead Ralf, keep telling yourself everything is just fine. I will enjoy the floor show and tell you “I told you so.”. But, by then, it will be too late for Europe.

    24. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Nahanni:

      Ralf, honey…

      Listen Lady, if you call me ‘honey’ you should better follow that up with your phone number. Dinner’s on me.

    25. Ginny Says:

      Ralf, Well, chivalry must not be dead in Germany – which is probably a sign we shouldn’t count it out yet.

    26. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Ralf, Well, chivalry must not be dead in Germany – which is probably a sign we shouldn’t count it out yet.

      :)

    27. joe Says:

      Ralf,

      Just like Germany supports the US on every level.

      You just never give up defending the honor of Germany.

      I would think you would be happy holding the moral high ground

    28. Ralf Goergens Says:

      joe:

      You just never give up defending the honor of Germany.

      I would think you would be happy holding the moral high ground

      I defend my country against unfair attacks and criticism, that’s all. The last thing I want to do is to elevate Germany or myself over any other country or anybody else.

    29. Mitch Says:

      Ease up on Germany, folks. You’re confusing the trend with the actual state of things. They have plenty of resources and a huge economy, a standard of living envied throughout most of the world. Why do you think so many people want to go there? It’s like looking at the Straights of Florida – which way are the rafts going?

      To me, it’s a mistake to assume that all trends continue. Europe has the time and the means to get itself straightened out. They have recognized the problems. The ordinary people have a grasp of what is going on, and the political elite must be called to account.

      Schroeder is gone and Chirac is going. How’s that for a favorable trend?

    30. John Says:

      “I think the problem in Germany may be genetic.”

      Jonathan – didn’t Robert Graves paraphrase Germanicus as saying “the German is either at your feet or at your throat”?

    31. Ken Says:

      “I think the problem in Germany may be genetic. One down side of reducing a country’s excess testosterone by cooling most of the bodies which contain it is that the surviving males transmit irrational war aversion, either genetically or attitudinally, to their offspring. ”

      I sometimes wonder if the same thing happened to France during the Great War…

    32. Mitch Says:

      Anyway, John, the Romans had the utmost respect for the German tribes, seeing as how they had slaughtered three Roman legions.

    33. John Says:

      Mitch – that was the “at your throat” part. A society does not have to be admirable in order to produce an effective and respected military.

      Ken – when I was in the USSR, some of my friends claimed that so many of the best Russians – good, brave people – died on the front lines, that the remaining male stock was enriched in cowards and opportunists. They went on to blaim the malaise of the 60s, 70s, and 80s on the results of that genetic dilution. Some of that may have been a wish to escape the conclusion that there is something wrong at the core of Russian society, but I think that there may be something to that argument in Russia, Germany, and France, stemming from the slaughter in both World Wars. In addition, the drain of smart, capable people emigrating to America hit those countries hard, too. My own German ancestors got the hell out of Dodge in the 1770s and the 1880s, avoiding turmoil in Hesse Kassel and East Prussia. I bear the surname of the Prussians, so I’m not slagging on Germans out of prejudice. I take great pride in the accomplishments of the German people, but I also think that there is something fundamentally wrong with the society of that half of my ancestry, which is why my particular ancestors chose to leave lucrative professions in the Old Country and come over here.

      I sometimes wonder if 20th Century European politics might not have turned out to be much different if the most entrepreneurial members of several generations had not come here. Perhaps not, because the immigrants were also enriched in the criminal classes.

    34. Mitch Says:

      John, you are in good company. All the known descendants of Bach are Americans.

    35. Jonathan Says:

      I sometimes wonder if 20th Century European politics might not have turned out to be much different if the most entrepreneurial members of several generations had not come here.

      I think there is probably something to this theory. At the extreme, look at how Nazi Germany handicapped itself, literally, by persecuting Jews. Even today, in places like France and Canada, a non-trivial proportion of the best people emigrate to countries with less-burdensome business and intellectual environments, notably the USA.

    36. Ralf Goergens Says:

      John,

      that was the “at your throat” part. A society does not have to be admirable in order to produce an effective and respected military.

      So what exactly is wrong with German society in your opinion?

      As to the Great War: I regret very much that it was such a sluaghter, but I regret at least as much that Germany didn`t win.

      I`m working on some posts on that issue.

    37. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Ginny,

      as to chivalry:

      Ralf, Well, chivalry must not be dead in Germany – which is probably a sign we shouldn’t count it out yet.

      I know that you meant it ironically, but I indeed am chivalrous. It`s just that I focus on the droit du seigneur aspect of it :)

      (French definitively has it`s uses sometimes ;)

    38. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Nahanni:

      I hope the lockerroom jargon didn`t put you off, but given that condescending `Ralf honey` it wasn`t disproportionate.

    39. John Says:

      Ralf – Dame Rebecca West expressed my feelings on the failings of Germany society better than I could:

      I got up and went out into the corridor. It was disconcerting to be rushing through the night with this carriageful of unhappy muddlers, who were so nice and so incomprehensible, and apparently doomed to disaster of a kind so special that it was impossible for anybody not of their blood to imagine how it could be averted. Their helplessness was the greater because they had plainly a special talent for obedience. In the routine level of commerce and industry they must have known a success which must have made their failure in all other phases of their being embittering and strange. Now that capitalism was passing into a decadent phase, and many of the grooves along which they had rolled so happily were worn down to nothing, they were broken and beaten, and their ability to choose the broad outlines of their daily lives, to make political decisions, was now less than it had been originally. It was inevitable that the children of such muddlers, who would themselves be muddlers, would support any system which offered them new opportunities for profitable obedience, which would pattern society with new grooves in place of the old, and would never be warned by any instinct of competence and self-preservation if that system was leading to universal disaster. I tried to tell myself that these people in the carriage were not of importance, and were not typical, but I knew that I lied. These were exactly like all Aryan Germans I had ever known; and there were sixty millions of them in the middle of Europe.

      My own observation is that it is the streak of Romanticism mixed with the nearly Roman love of authority and order (that is probably most associated with the Prussians) that is the root of the problem. That makes for a dangerous combination with Nationalism, and ever since 1866 it arises in an ugly form just about every other generation. I think that perhaps the (original) unification of Germany was a mistake, certainly making the Prussian Monarchy into the German one was.

    40. Mitch Says:

      That’s not unique to Germany by any means. Tweak that paragraph a little and you could apply it almost anywhere. In fact, that melancholy and love of order are more commonly part of the stereotype of the Russians. Or was it Argentines? No, wait, it was the Finns.

    41. John Says:

      Mitch – I’m working on a post about that vis a vis the Japanese and Chinese, but I think I’lll include the Germans, too. It’s not a question of finding the traits in any given population, it’s a question of magnitude of each trait, and relative magnitudes of a constellation of traits.

    42. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Tahnks, Mitch! :)

      John,

      Germans are anything but muddlers.

      Besides, this kind of stereotyping and even demonization of other peoples is pretty typical for the British propaganda, for what you quote is nothing but propaganda. One consequence of British propaganda during WW I is the enduring myth of the “German atrocities” in Belgium.

      There are certain non-Western powers that also were comprehensively slandered by the same people, and our perception of these countries is stil colored by this until today.

      I`ll bring all of this up in my series of posts.

    43. John Says:

      Ralf – muddlers in science, art, music? – No, Germans have a lot to be proud of there. Politics and philosophy? From Nietzsche to an awful lot of Kant and Hegel to Marx to Rosa Luxemburg, on to the National Socialists – not so much. You can quibble about the muddler part (depends on which aspect of life you are looking at), but the profitable obediance part? Russians are unprofitably obediant. The Germans and Japanese are profitably obediant, and I think it no coincidence that those two dicatorships found common enemies in both the Anglosphere and the Russians during WWII.

      Dame West was a lot of things, (among them a talented dilettante) but a propagandist she was not.