Why Germans Are Desperate To Ignore A Dangerous World?

Desperate? I think determined is the better word. Why? Because they can. And this is just what Germans do. It’s never been any different here (not in our lifetimes).

Disneyland

Imagine being born and raised in a place that is cut off from the rest of that yucky world “out there,” just like your parents before you. In an amusement park kind of way, I mean. You know, kind of like Disneyland? Only they call it Deutschland instead.

I spoke about the relative weakness of NATO, about the failures of European foreign policy, about Russia’s use of money and disinformation to divide Europe and the United States. The crowd and the other panelists nodded—and then almost immediately changed the subject. Instead of NATO, the German audience wanted to discuss genetically modified food and chickens washed in chlorinated water.

“When I think of politics I think about my neighborhood, street lights and construction permits.”

What Do You Mean BEFORE World War II?

“Given the horror of the Second World War where the guilt of course strongly lies with Germany and we take responsibility for the terror of National Socialism, we haven’t in Germany had the First World War so much in mind.”

WWI

One indication of Germans’ interest has been the success of the best-seller “The Sleepwalkers” by Australian Christopher Clark…

Experts and critics put the German success of the nearly 900-page title down to the book’s premise that Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire didn’t play any greater role than other countries in starting the war.

“People are delighted,” Historian Gerd Krumeich of Duesseldorf University said, sarcastically. “Among German intellectuals there was the conviction that everything led us to Hitler. Clark liberates us from all that by saying to us ‘you’re not more aggressive than the others’,” he said.

Poll: Four In Five Germans Have No Problem With Germany Being World’s Third Largest Arms Exporter

No, wait. That was four in five Germans would like to see their armed forces take part in fewer military missions abroad. But still.

Arms

Damn. And almost two-thirds think Germany should show caution on foreign affairs. Even more caution than they are already being so overly cautious about already, I mean. Well the Germans certainly have been reckless these past few years, haven’t they?

Calls from abroad for greater German participation showed the respect Germany had won, but could also put Germany under too much pressure.

PS: Speaking of pressure, according to former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer himself, “Russia is striving a major power role. That must not and will not be accepted by Europe.”

Die russische Strategie, verloren gegangenes Territorium zurück zu holen, könne man nur mit Entschlossenheit und Härte begegnen, nicht mit Verständnis. „Ein starkes Europa ist Voraussetzung für Sicherheit“, sagte der Ex-Außenminister.

“Rethinking German Pacifism”

Would the Germany of today help liberate the Germany of 1944? You don’t need to tap Angela Merkel’s phone to find the answer: It’s no.

Peace

Defense-minded politicians in Berlin rail against this picture, arguing that postwar Germany has participated in major military operations. Take Kosovo! Take Afghanistan! Big missions! Don’t be fooled. It is perfectly clear by now that these interventions hardly represent the rule; rather, they are two exceptions from a convenient and holier-than-thou foreign policy attitude, one the Germans have cultivated over the past 70 years.

Jochen Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

We Don’t Do Dirty Work

Yet again (this time not in Mali).

Mali

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle: “The deployment of German combat troops is not an option. And I have to mention just one more point. We Germans are highly involved in Afghanistan, where the French are hardly involved at all.”

The French are not alone in their criticism of Berlin. Political leaders in the US and Britain also find it aggravating that Germany presents itself as a peace-loving power and leaves all the dirty work to the others. Mistrust of Berlin has been especially strong since the German government abstained in the United Nations vote over the Libya intervention two years ago — the only Western country on the Security Council not to support the measure — and refused to provide its NATO allies with military aid. “As is usually the case these days, Germany … is keeping its head down,” wrote the British daily Guardian last week. Westerwelle’s “mealy-mouthed statements leave a bad taste,” commented the newspaper.

“We never explain what we want to achieve, we always talk about how we can stay out of things.”

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