2002 October 06 Sunday
German Anti-Americanism is German Nationalism

In an essay in The Weekly Standard entitled "The Angry Adolescent of Europe: Irresponsibility as the German way" writer Christopher Caldwell examines the motives and effects of the anti-American sentiment expressed by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in the recent German elections. Caldwell finds German nationalism and not Europeanism at the bottom of it:

Schroeder's anti-Americanism was foredoomed to get out of control. Whatever pacifist impulses it may have drawn on, it was primarily an expression of German nationalism. Schroeder likes the position of being Europe's hard guy against the United States: On his first visit to Washington after the election of President Bush, he delivered a harsh letter from the E.U. warning the president that America could not hold itself aloof from the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change. From the United States, Schroeder's actions may appear to be a "European" thing: Jealous of American unity and decisiveness, which they cannot imitate, Europeans have sought to impose their own bickering disunity--their any-crank-has-a-veto system--on us. But that would be wrong. In fact, Schroeder is wallowing in the very worldview that Europe is being constructed to prevent. The campaign was nationalist from the start. Last winter and early spring, Schroeder sought to scapegoat foreign bureaucrats in Brussels for his economic problems. He discarded this strategy only because it didn't work.

What makes it clearest that Schroeder's position involves nationalism rather than Europeanism is that it has panicked France, and sent French politicians of all parties into a rage. For years, the Franco-German relationship--and hence the European Union--was built on an informal agreement: absolute equality in European institutions and a right to consultation on anything the other partner did. In French eyes, Germany has broken this deal three times: First (and probably unavoidably), when Helmut Kohl proposed German unity without seeking President Mitterrand's permission; second, when Schroeder cold-cocked President Jacques Chirac at the E.U.'s Nice summit in 2000, asking (by virtue of the unified Germany's larger population) for surplus representation on European bodies; and third, the present ugliness. Schroeder's use of Iraq to humble America had the side-effect of breaking up Europe's common defense policy. Germany may not be conscious of what a sacrifice George Bush made in asking the United Nations to okay an Iraq threat, but France is. Chirac even views Bush's U.N. speech as a giant diplomatic achievement for Europe, since he and Tony Blair had urged it. Viewed in this light, Schroeder's freelancing divides Europe, leaving the continent weaker, not stronger, against American influence.

Caldwell has written a very nuanced analysis of recent events in German politics and what these events portend for the future. Caldwell expects to see more attempts to blame America as a way to divert attention from continued failures in domestic economic policy. I also expect see a stiffening of French nationalism as one response and ditto for nationalism in other neighbors of Germany. If the French start to feel more competitive with Germany it is quite possible the French leaders will seek friendlier relations with the US in order to increase US pressure on Germany.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 06 02:07 PM  Europe and America

Jens Kr. Kvist said at December 10, 2002 12:41 AM:

This article is clearly written by an american... Do you really have to see every aspect of the world today through stars and stripes?

Martina S. said at January 10, 2003 1:32 PM:

Is it not possible that Germany has an right for an own opinion ? In this case Schroeder spokes for the majority of the German people and you cannot called this "anti-americanism" or "new German nationalism" for me it is the same as Bush said "You're either with us or against us!" and this is completely wrong.

Martina S. said at January 10, 2003 1:41 PM:

Is it not possible that Germany has an right for an own opinion ? In this case Schroeder spokes for the majority of the German people and you cannot called this "Anti-Americanism" or "German nationalism" for me it is the same as Bush said "You're either with us or against us!"
and that is crazy and completely wrong.

Randall Parker said at January 10, 2003 1:56 PM:

Martina, Germans criticise Americans. They have a right to do so. Americans criticise Germans. Americans also have a right to do so. Your attitude appears to be that we don't have a right to criticise you for your opinions or to examine and criticise your motives for why you have your opinions. This is funny in light of the torrents of critcism that flow from various European countries toward America. There's an old saying: "What's good for the goose is good for the gander". Also, another one comes to mind: "Don't dish it out if you can't take it".

I am overwhelmed with a lack of sympathy for your complaints. Do grow up.

EvilForeigner said at January 11, 2003 7:37 AM:

Hehe, this is so funny.

Restating a bit of AP fabricated propaganda at the time, about bigger than usual rifts in Europe because of Schroeder's anti-war stance
(which since then have been handsomely disproved
by factual reality) + the usual envy etc. garbage
constitutes "a very nuanced analysis of recent events in German politics and what these events portend for the future."?

Well, I suppose it's really hard to draw
relevant conclusions from the international coverage produced by US major news media groups, not mainly because they are so biased
(all media is to a varying degree, the BBC
is no exception) but because their kind of
bias is so uniform, massively restricting
the limits of what constitutes acceptable public debate.

More foul European propaganda on the topic
may be found in: "Manufacturing Consent", by European spies, posing as American MIT
professors, Herman and Chomsky.

Randall Parker said at January 11, 2003 12:49 PM:

What Chomsky writes really is propaganda. There is always a small part of each generation of college students who are sufficiently gullible and naive and ideologically predisposed to find what Chomsky writes to be convincing. But even many among those young fools eventually outgrow his absurd interpretations.

If Chomsky is where you look to for your understanding of American media and politics then it is not surprising that you hold such a distorted view of the public debate in America.

As regards "the usual envy", I have a news flash for you: Very few Americans envy European nations. We are annoyed that we have to keep dealing with messes in Europe (eg most recently Bosnia, Kosovo, and Arab terrorist organizing centers in Germany). But most of all we are annoyed at European irresponsibility toward the larger problems of the world. Still hoping you'll all grow up. But not expecting it.

EvilForeigner said at January 12, 2003 6:51 AM:

I file that under "default reply 1a":

basic assumption 1: every fundamental criticism of
the US is propaganda by ill-intentioned fringe lunatics (cf. manifest destiny, god's
own country, McCarthyism etc.)

standard reaction a: in absence of anything to
say [the extremely selective reporting of US
news media not being inside the sphere of acceptable public debate], react with paternalistic lines echoing the
oh so deep and subtle standard of Joe Public.

p.s.: Try to find a random (somewhat intelligent) (Evil)foreigner (from a liberal-democracy, so not Red China) who has just come to the US and ask her/him what he thinks about US international news reporting. Then ask if he/she ever heard about Chomsky. (Well Chomsky could be the Antichrist, so presumably he
can spread his vile thoughts using off-wordly means)

good bye & happy life to you.

Randall Parker said at January 12, 2003 1:51 PM:

Hey, E.F., I have a Chomsky book on my bookshelf. I judged him for myself. I read his articles and watched him on American television (how is it that he's there if our minds are being controlled? It must be some subtle plot). I read critiques by others of what he said. It is really easy in the era of the internet to fact-check propaganda.

As for what foreigners think of US news reporting: Hey, I've already discussed this at length with lots of non-Americans. But why is that necessary? Its easy to go read other news sources from other countries. If you read my blog you will find that I link to news sources from an assortment of countries. So do many other American bloggers. Its easy to read opinions and news reports from around the world. Many of us do. So spare me your attitude about brainwashed Americans. Its all pose and bullshit. You know it and I know it.

All I hear from you is the standard condescending Euro line about how we are less knowledgeable, more brainwashed, and so on. This line has grown stale. Its having no effect upon us. You are wasting your time. The paternalism comes from condescending intellectuals in Europe who sneer about our simplism. But you are shocked that we now find these sorts of comments to be just a bunch of bullshit shovelled by people who know no more than we do.

Martina S. said at January 14, 2003 2:20 PM:

Randall, I disagree, that a few of German polticans made propaganda in an unusual manner before the German election,
especially the comparision of Hitler and Bush !
But on the other hand, there were a lot of reasonable statements, too and for me and the majority of the German public there is a reason to ask for and to discuss this.
I find it`s positive that we have the self-confidence to say "NO" to this war, because in the past we always have to be quiet.
Other European countries criticise America, too. But I heard only from German "Anti-Americanism" and "German Nationalism".
A war with the Iraq brings only a lot of more concentrated hate and dangerous consequences for the region.
The main problem is the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, but who cares ?

Randall Parker said at January 14, 2003 4:00 PM:


Other countries criticise America and, yes, we criticise them back again. You just aren't listening or your German newspapers aren't reporting it when it doesn't concern Germany. You ought to read American conservative intellectuals writing about France in response to what French politicans and intellectuals write about America if you want to read some real vemon.

No, the main problem is not that between the Israelis and Palestinians. Sayyid Qutb didn't decide he hated America because of US support for Israel. He decided he hated it because he lived here for a couple of years and our late 1940s culture offended his Muslim sensibilities. He was a major influence on the Muslim America-haters that came afterward. Similarly, if you go back and read Osama Bin Laden's statements from the mid 1990s you will find that Israel and the Palestinians are rarely mentioned and not important to his thinking. He declared his war on the US because the US had soldiers stationed on Saudi soil and attacked another Muslim country from Saudi Arabia.

I find it ironic that some Europeans put on such airs about how much better they understand the world than Americans do and yet it is clear that those same Europeans do not understand the Middle East. If you want to read some (mostly) American viewpoints on what causes the problems in the Middle East then read my Clash Of Civilizations archive.

Martina S. said at January 15, 2003 2:18 PM:

I find it ironic, that you write, that some Europeans do not understand the Middle East - Americans do that ? - We can see the results !
For me it sounds like "America is the greatest country all over the world".

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians produce concentrated hate and for me it`s the root for the anti-american feelings that many of the Muslims have. And many of them are supporters of Bin Laden`s El Kaida. It`s inhuman what`s going on with the Palestinians.
Bin Laden is from Saudi Arabia (son of a rich family), so it`s clear that he is more confronted with the effects of the US politics in this region.
But he spokes from the inhuman situation of the Palestinians as a reason for his attacks against the USA, too.

France plays always his own role and the US accept this (willy-nilly). French are a pround nation and they dislike any instructions of other nations.

Thanks for your recommendation what I ought to read - I am open minded for all.
Normally, I think we were good informed about foreign states/politics in our newspapers and in German television, too. In American TV you can forget that Europe exists, because there is no information (only CNN).

Randall Parker said at January 15, 2003 3:37 PM:

Martina, I strongly urge you to read Stanley Kurtz on why family structure and culture in the Middle East cause repressive and corruption regimes. You are attributing problems in the Middle East to America when the origins of the problems lie in the practice of cousin marriage, the beliefs in Islam, and other factors that the United States has no control over. There is a strong tendency for America's critics to imagine it to be so omnipotent that it becomes the cause of all events. As a result more penetrating analyses aren't even searched for. You got your answer: Its America's fault. No need to do heavy thinking and heavy learning. Just start bashing. So simple.

If you want to read what educated American opinion makers think then don't watch CNN. You should instead go read the web sites for The Manhattan Institute's City Journal, The American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institute, The National Interest, Foreign Affairs, and other think tanks and policy analysis journals and opinion magazines. If you are not reading these places then you are missing the very large and varied America political debate.

For example, see my link to Fouad Ajami writing in Foreign Affairs.

Doug Draa said at January 17, 2003 12:04 AM:

Hey all.

I just want to add my opinion as an expatriated buckeye who was stationed 6.5 years in Germany and has been here as a civilian for over 12 years. A lot of folks over here love America but hate Bush. But a lot of the so called/ self styled german intelectuals realy do hate America and Americans. You can´t belive how many times I´ve had Germans, Brits and Irish tell me dead seriously that i´m "ok for an american" And then go on and tell me how totaly fucked up we and our cultur are. I´ve allso run into a grat deal of anti-Israeli sentiment over here from both German and brits. Racism is something I know from the States but looking at people over here you get to learn that we haven´t cornered the market by a long shot.
Now I do feel that Bush has no idea how to win friends but that is just a small part of tha cause. sadly though i don´t feel that i´m smart enough to discern the real cause of this anti-american sentiment. And don´t eve´n think the the Iraq problem is the only cause. You just can´t please some people.


dean said at January 19, 2003 12:01 AM:

Hey, if some Germans do hate Americans so what. Germany has a priviliged culture that needs conserving, America has lost its culture to excessive commercialism. Hopefully Germany will never be Americanised. Bush's conservatist policies will never please Schroeder. Here we have a pro market conservatist without a tasteful culture to conserve and a left wing environmentally minded European mindful of Germanies future.

MxPolik said at February 12, 2003 11:50 AM:

Anti-Americanism in Europe has exsisted in Europe before Bush came to power. It has always been there. You call it nationalism, competitive spirit, survival of the fitist. Europeans are resentful toward the US. It's natural that anyone would be resentful toward someone who is strong and powerful. When it comes down to the bottom line, everything is politically motivated for self-interests. Shroeder used his anti-war stance to win the election and it worked. And now he is under the World spotlight, something that German's did not have since the days of World War II. People tend to pad themselves on the back when they stand up to the US. If it makes them feel worthy then good for their egos but ultimately the nothing get's resolved.

True, the US wants war, based on it's on self-interests. However, you can't possibly tell me that France does not have it's own interests in the Middle East. I don't blame them, they are very nationalistic. Those Europeans who hate America should take a closer look at themselves and their hypocricies. Ultimately, friendships will be sacrificed.

JP said at March 22, 2004 8:09 AM:

Hey Martina,

Learn to speak better ENGLISH, and then post!!

Martin Schwarz said at March 22, 2004 8:13 AM:


I strongly urge you to stop being so boxed minded. So leave that little "dorf" of yours and open your eyes wide, and be open minded for the sake of others who are posting on this website.


Nikolai Baas said at May 8, 2004 3:59 AM:

It is true, that some stupid German nationalists hate America still and again(young Neo-Nazis) simply ´cause they´ve lost the war...
It is also true that a majority of Germans hate your President, your war politics and your unbearable arrogance because all they wish is a more peaceful world..
after visiting www.germanystinks.com I quit visiting a local pub, run by a former American soldier, simply because I couldn´t stand the thought of spending money on a f´cking American facist.
But never call me a nationalist, I´m from a family with a long socialist tradition.There is a lot more in this world than Germany AND America, believe it or not.

I´m living in a small town in Germany, but have visited a lot places all over europe, Kanada and Israel...
But don´t worry, I´m never gonna visit you.

Nikolai Baas said at May 8, 2004 5:02 AM:

By the way: I really feel sorry for the more open-minded American people who suffer from the pressure of your fascist media, calling them traitors, ignoring their freedom of speech..
Freedom of speech, one of your basic rights is obviously only for those, who agree, not for those who disagree.

I listen a lot to the AFN (American Forces Network) on the radio, I´m living close to Frankfurt, Germany, where some of their shows for Europe are broadcasted from, and I can tell you, your pro-war and anti-European Propaganda really makes me sick!

Get off my air!!!

Nikolai Baas said at May 8, 2004 5:35 AM:

All patriots are idiots, everywhere!

Nikolai Baas said at May 8, 2004 12:32 PM:

f´ck you!

Kraut in Colorado said at October 28, 2004 1:33 AM:

Any of you who have cared to study 5 minutes about German politics will see that nationalist sentiment is not kosher. Flying the national flag can get one called a fascist, just for doing so. You are assuming they have the same attitude toward Germany that you all have for the United States. Unfortuntaely this is not true.

Problem is that Americans tend to be full of themselves and are shielded from the outside world by their rotten media and enjoy rattling their swords (bought with borrowed money while running a huge deficit) at anyone who does not go with the program.

Instead of worrying about German attitudes, I'd suggset you Americans present here worry about why a president is cutting taxes while increasing spending and think about where this country is headed. I don't know about you, but I see a big brick wall.

Have a nice day :p

Donauschwaben in USA said at October 28, 2004 1:47 AM:

Nikolai : I find it sad that you find patriotism disgusting - I guess it cannot be expected otherwise since Germany, especially, has been drowned in the tear-jerking, shame-filled pacifistic rhetoric of the occupying whore powers, namely the US and UK. Postwar Germany was subjected to intense censorship and forced re-education of the kind that is only beginning in Iraq today. If you should hate the US government it is for that and not some idiotic modern political bickering.

Europeans should ask themselves what kind of sickos would force-feed their occupational radio programs down people's throats for 60 years. Is the US government any better than the Soviet in their treatment of people? I'm not always so sure. Both governments have different forms of censorship and coercion, but ultimately they are still both censoring and coercive.

Love, or patriotism as you put it, in the land of your forefathers is not something to be shunned. There is never anything wrong with loving your nation of origin. What you do with your government is another thing. Propaganda from the Allies is what started that self-loathing attitude in Germany. Love for your origin is something natural to human beings - but it has been abused and warped for political purposes at times.

As you watch the occupation of Iraq keep in mind - they did the same to Germany, only worse. You see the massacres of resisting people in Iraq, remember that in Germany it was Operation Thunderclap, Dresden, Hamburg, The Lindemann Plan. Terror used to subdue people, to get whem to do your bidding, break them down once you've melted their children before their eyes. Then propagandize them heavily, make them economically dependent and of course, make a government to your liking and install those on your payroll to rule them.. That puppet government imposed on Germany is the same one that shusn nationalism and censors speech.

Barry said at May 6, 2005 8:23 AM:

Dayum, sounds like this "Donauschwaben" dude is a full-out unrepentant Nazi. We beat you dude. Let me do the victory dance on your fetid corpse once again to remind you.

bb said at December 23, 2005 1:13 PM:

Despite Germany’s Fascist past, despite the fact that Germany wants to export weapons to Communist China, despite the fact that Germany has turned a blind eye to atrocities in Chechnya, despite the fact that Germany openly allows housing discrimination, despite the fact that German police openly and legally racially profile, despite the fact that Germany has virtually no minority representatives in its national government, despite the fact that Germany has been dependent on the US since World War II for its defense and reunification, despite the fact that Germany has a massive, chronic unemployment problem…over five million out of work and climbing, despite a hopelessly complicated tax system, a declining educational system, despite the fact that Germany has a national ID card and a national registration system far more intrusive on private rights than anything in the Patriot Act, despite the fact that German state television continues to present the situation in Iraq twice as negatively as it was under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and barely draws a distinction between democracy and dictatorship, despite the fact that Germany continues to trade with the world’s most vicious dictators…

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