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Tuesday, 19 February 2019

The Ugly European

Claas Relotius was the darling of the SJW-class in young Germany. For many years his stories captivated the lefty-liberal readers of Der Spiegel with his tales of travels and encounters in America. A Yemeni man tortured at Gitmo, the travels of a death-row groupie, an in-depth piece on the folk of Fergus Falls. Entrancing and engaging tales of American stereotypy. And Der Spiegel enjoyed, up until a year ago, a reputation for truth telling and editorial integrity - qualities I've praised more than once on this blog. There was only one problem. All his stories were bollocks; wholly invented anti-American trash from the bitter recesses of Relotius's own deep hostility and resentment towards the US. Relotius' bile found a welcoming home in Der Spiegel; as The Atlantic commented
Though it is respected abroad as an authoritative news source, Der Spiegel has long peddled crude and sensational anti-Americanism, usually grounded in its brand of knee-jerk German pacifism. Covers over the years have impugned the United States as “The Conceited World Power” (with an image of the White House bestriding the globe), repeated the hoary “Blood for Oil” charge as the rationale for the Iraq War, and, in the run-up to George W. Bush’s reelection campaign, asked, “Will America Be Democratic Again?” When Edward Snowden leaked information detailing U.S. surveillance practices several years ago, Der Spiegel went on a crusade unlike anything in its recent history, railing about U.S. intelligence cooperation with Germany and demanding that Berlin grant Snowden asylum. (The magazine demonstrated none of the same outrage when, two years later, Russia hacked the German parliamentary computer network). Last year, Der Spiegel notoriously featured a cartoon of Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty on its cover. And this May, one of its columnists misappropriated the memory of those who struggled against Nazism by calling for “resistance against America,” quite a demand for a magazine from the country that started World War II.
The magazine has one of the largest and most professional fact-checking departments in Europe, yet Relotius' lies and invention got past all the checks. When he confessed to his editor "I'm sick and I need to get help" you may think, as I do, that the fault was not all on the part of the rogue journo - what about all those smug self-satisfied German readers who lapped it up, who never evinced a single doubt at the crude anti-American lies? They didn't baulk because the articles fed their own anti-American prejudices. As the newly-appointed US Ambassador pointed out

It's not just Germany, but in many of the EU27 that this anti-Americanism has taken hold. And worryingly, not just anti-Americanism; Europe is seeing a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism of a kind not common since the 1930s, also widespread amongst the Left in the UK. Those dangerous passions that cost the European mainland so much blood, so much destruction in the last century are rearing again their ugly heads.

Yet move beyond the heart of Europe and the US, even Trump's US, is held in high regard; Vietnam loves the US just as much as Americans themselves, and the Philippines, South Korea, Poland, Nigeria, Italy, Ghana and Hungary only slightly less so. Spain, Germany and the Netherlands love the US least - along with Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and Serbia. European anti-Americanism is more than just jejune spitefulness but is founded, I believe, in resentment - what Gregorio Marañón termed 'the painful slavery of gratitude'.

Those of us who grew up during the Cold War are generally grateful that the US and NATO stood together against the threat of nuclear annihilation that faced us. However, more intelligent UK attitudes towards our alliance with the US are tinged with caution. Our having to develop the nuclear bomb twice - once for the US and once for ourselves from 1947, taught the UK an important lesson - as did Suez, when the US rightly refused to back this particular piece of Anglo-French stupidity. 'Yo Blair' in his over-tight ball-strangling cord jeans was played like a patsy over Iraq, and Obama showed us what a president with an unfriendly face looks like. Yet the US with our three Commonwealth allies forms the heart of the world's most efficient and secret intelligence gathering and sharing partnership in Five Eyes, and the UK's military capabilities are valued above all other NATO allies.

Under Obama, and continuing under Trump, the US is adjusting to a multi-polar world, one in which the US is not alone in holding superpower advantages. As the US modifies its global sheriff role, refuses to carry the EU free-riders of NATO and even anticipates the Yuan joining the dollar as a global reserve currency, America still exercises the influences of a Normative Power. The values it espouses and the power it projects to secure those norms continues to reach throughout Europe, but the EU may be in the process of cutting its own throat.

Donald Tusk (one of the EU's five unelected 'Presidents') wrote to member nations on the eve of the Malta summit
"The first threat, an external one, is related to the new geopolitical situation in the world and around Europe. An increasingly, let us call it, assertive China, especially on the seas, Russia's aggressive policy towards Ukraine and its neighbours, wars, terror and anarchy in the Middle East and in Africa, with radical Islam playing a major role, as well as worrying declarations by the new American administration all make our future highly unpredictable. For the first time in our history, in an increasingly multipolar external world, so many are becoming openly anti-European, or Eurosceptic at best. Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.

....... But today we must stand up very clearly for our dignity, the dignity of a united Europe - regardless of whether we are talking to Russia, China, the US or Turkey."
I repeat what Tusk ignores - that the US retreat from a 70-year old post war global role is not a Trump initiative; it began under Obama, and will continue under Trump's successor. I can detect a sort of petulant resentment in the tone of many from Brussels that the EU will cease to benefit from devoting its GDP to butter leaving the US to beggar its own development whilst doing the guns.

Couple this high-level stand-offishness and resentment with a growing EU and Left-wing anti-Semitism and with a low-level puerile jealousy prevalent amongst the EU's lumpen atavistics of America's normative character - Yes, the US is a nation that imprisons and executes more of its citizens than Europe finds comfortable, yet remains a shining beacon of freedom, hope and justice for much of the world, and a magnet for the world's poor - and future relations between the EU27 and the US do not look positive. For how much longer can an EU that openly abrogates the role of NATO, openly signals US exclusion from future defence procurement and openly fails to meet even the minimum NATO obligations, continue to rely on US goodwill?

To end, I pose again the question I first asked back in 2017
Which brings me to an interesting footnote - shared Nukes. The US, to help little countries without the bomb to feel included, has distributed 180 B61 air-launched nukes to Turkey, Germany (?), Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. These 'dial-a-yield' devices can be set on loading to yield from 0.3 to 170 kilotons (Hiroshima was 15) and they can be launched from a variety of national NATO aircraft - but need US consent to 'unlock' them. Will Mr Trump now ask for them back?
Spiked carries a piece on another German writer mired in mendacity and facing opprobrium - Robert Menasse, formerly hailed as the Alfred Rosenberg of the European Union


r_writes esq. said...

Considering the general attitude to those that voted to leave the EU from those that are clever enough to run the EU, these people do seem remarkably thick.

Find a good horse to back and then studiously avoid it, seems to be the unfailing policy.

Anonymous said...

Any chance of a piece on Monsanto, Raed?

Anonymous said...

The'll be "d'oh!" then Raed, eh?


Raedwald said...

The Simpsons?

Another fine example of US Normative Power - many thanks!

Anonymous said...

You removed my comments simply because I was correct and you were not, it seems to me.

The ugliness is mainly on the part of POTUS, who consistently insults and slanders his country's historic friends and allies.

You didn't like the egregious example that I gave. Fair enough, it's your blog, but you do yourself no favours as to its perceived balance and objectivity.

Raedwald said...

You're on your final warning. I'd shut up now if I were you.

Jack the dog said...

In the UK at least, anti-Americanism is absolutely fuelled by the BBC and its disgracefully biassed reporting.

Another reason to break it up and sell off the bits to the highest bidder.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the US is a considerable normative power when it comes to cinematographic and other cultural standards.

It is arguably less so in other, probably more important respects, especially amongst people who do not have English as a first language. Most of them, that is.

Raedwald said...

Interesting point. I often wonder what norms are absorbed by the universal global adoption of US GUIs - the concept of 'likes', ratings, rankings that are fundamental to billions of Facebook / google/ instagram / Apple / twitter etc users, concepts that are culturally based - and incorporate values of free and open evaluation, the primacy of personal preference, rights of personal conscience etc that are certainly not of universal primacy - e.g. North Korea, Islamist societies.

Part of the EU's pushback against facebook, google et al is I'm sure founded in a desite to counter this covert normative learned behaviour.

Dave_G said...

I feel that there are two Americas and that opinions vary according to which version is considered - many people having only one thought on the matter and (not ignorance) discarding the other.

There is the free America based on their Constitution, freedoms etc and there is the controlled America where those that dig deeper into the workings understand that a lot of its policies are driven by the MIC and (dare I say it) Deep State motivation.

Conflicts around the globe have been instigated by US (MIC/Deep State) policy - I don't think that is an araguable issue - and the 'it's the Russian' hype is largely US-driven - and unjustified - too. Even the EU was a CIA construct......

Those on the receiving end of US (imperial) policies have good cause to complain but the media has nothing whatsoever to say about the MIC-drive behind them nor about US hegemony and their need to maintain the petro-dollar.

The dollar is dead (dying) and the Yuan may even beat it to the collapse so a joining of the two to create a global currency is laughable.

Trump is trying (but seemingly failing) to create a disconnect of MIC/Deep State which could restore American faith across the globe but as ever it is, and always will be, the money lenders that control events. If there's going to be conflict you can guarantee the banks will start it.

Raedwald said...

Agree that the MIC and its latest re-incarnations - the globalist deep-state - remain as much of a threat in the US as here (indeed our own deep state is using every power it can muster,legitimate and unlawful, to try to scupper Brexit)

I also share your hope that Trump can lead a successful pushback

And forgive my clumsy phrasing - I wasn't suggesting a Yuan-$ merger but a move to there being two rather than one reserve currencies. The EU hoped the second would be the € but that's becoming increasingly remote by the day.

jack ketch said...

Never liked der Spiegel -I always found it to be a bit up its own arsch and I can quite believe they didn't exercise 'due caution', believing the myth of their own reputation for top drawer investigative journalism and fact checking (I believe, even in these internet days, a Spiegel 'bericht' or 'story' is considered by anyone who is anybody to be just shy of 'biblical'.) I always preferred STERN, (Would ya like to buy this used diary off the Fuehrer's own writing desk, honest?), which had , until said diaries, a similar reputation for fact checking plus they had a great cartoon and mildly erotic front covers whenever possible!

The anti-Trump bias of the German MSM is breathtaking in that bias, and newscasters barely conceal their contempt. The reporting of the security conference was appalling in terms of lack of 'balance'.

Oldrightie said...

It is very rare, indeed hardly ever I don't agree with all you post. This post is an excellent one. Not least the recognition of the deep state "swamp" that runs the West of today. The EUSSR and remain lickspittles all part of that swamp. As is your latest, stubborn troll.
Within this post and its more sensible comments I detect a democratic, or in newsspeak, populist rise across the West. Anti deep state and growing by the day. Long may it prosper.

Budgie said...

Any institution which has a strapline that includes "fact-check" I automatically assume to be lying. Another one I use is that anything a Remain says is more true if inverted. It's remarkable how true both are.

Remain claims that the UK is too small, too insignificant, too etc, to be independent are of course risible given that we are the world's 5th, or even 7th, biggest economy. But even if it were true, then the obvious question is why is only the EU empire being considered?

If the UK cannot be independent (though I think we can), then we should have the free choice of which empire to belong to. The USA is the obvious alternative - freer, more democratic, more successful, less parochial, common language and legal systems, etc. When I see Remains advocating our subjugation by the USA I'll accept their sincerity.

Anonymous said...

Didn't get far in life then Budgie, eh?

Cascadian said...

Western Europe has been de-militarising itself for several decades, one only has to look at the appalling state of yUK "armed" forces for confirmation. Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy et al are all unable to protect their borders as witnessed by the gimmegrant invasion. They have taken the peace dividend and squandered it on silly projects such as Airbus, Galileo and a windmill economy, all unnecessary except as make-work projects.

Therefore Raedwalds question as to air-launched nukes is probably moot, non of the EU countries have an air force capable of delivery. Therein lies the childish EU reaction to President Trumps entirely rational statement concerning NATO, if you do not believe funding an adequate defence of your homeland is a priority then why should the USA continue providing funds?

As to whether the nukes are still stored in the EU and Turkey I would expect not, the continent is just too politically and economically unstable and could easily be subject to a series of coups similar to Turkey.

Span Ows said...

'the painful slavery of gratitude'....EXCELLENT phrase; it also describes somewhat that sickly whining left-wing middle class apologists who want nothing more than to bend over backwards to anything that isn't "England" of "Britain", those described so well by George Orwell (albeit a sDevil's Advocate) in the Road to Wigan Pier.

I love the US but not slavishly so, in fact when the Wall came down my first words to my US uncle was 'who'll balance you guys out now?'. Speaking of walls, I love the US more so with Trump and by coincidence I was inspecting part of the southern border only today: 7 Latinos were arrested in front of my eyes, could have been unconnected but the positioning tends to indicate illegals.

Anonymous said...

Do you like anyone among the people of this country apart from ukip-voting white van man and the armed forces, Span?

Span Ows said...

Anonymous, I like almost everyone. I'll be honest and tell you that I am not sure I actually know any white van men; see loads down the pubs etc but among my family, friends and acquaintances I do not know one (there very well maybe one or more).

I am a very pleasant chap so the real question should be the other way around: who is it "I do not like": lily-livered apologists who hate their country and who hate most of the people in it...ah...penny just dropped, you're projecting again.

Anonymous said...

So that's "except for sixteen million Remain voters, most of the young, all our fellow EU citizens here- who would also have voted Remain - all Lib Dem, Green, and Labour voters, all trade union members, all public sector employees, people in the arts and sciences...." on and on it goes.

Are you sure, Span?

Span Ows said...

Sure of what? What are you on about? Your comment makes no sense at all. I didn't mention Remain voters.

HOWEVER, it does suggest that YOU think sixteen million Remain voters, most of the young, all our fellow EU citizens here, all Lib Dem, Green, and Labour voters, all trade union members, all public sector employees, people in the arts and sciences etc could be thought of as lily-livered apologists who hate their country and who hate most of the people in very odd. Or if you didn't mean that then perhaps you could elaborate on why you mentioned them.