Tag Archive 'Germany'

Frank Miller’s Geostrategic Theory

Frank Lovece sat down with Frank Miller for Newsday to discuss his upcoming film The Spirit. Toward the end of it Lovece asked Miller about remarks he’d made in 2007 in support of the Iraq War, and offered him an opportunity to clarify/retract. Miller was unapologetic:

Miller: When the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor, we didn’t just declare war on Japan, we declared war on Germany. It was an international fascist effort. And so when I said that the attack on Iraq made sense, it was the same way we had to attack not just Afghanistan. Instead we had to attack the center of Islamofascism.


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NATO Protection only for Perfection?

Alex Harrowell reminds us that NATO wasn’t always so timorous about conflict risk exposure:

[I]f we assume that Georgia, and specifically Mikhail Saakashvili’s version of it, wasn’t sufficiently responsible (adult, civilised, possibly even white?) to play, how do we explain that Germany got to join in 1955, when a whole great chunk of it was in the other side’s hands? Or Turkey and Greece, who despite being profoundly NATO-integrated regularly use their NATO-standard air defence infrastructure to play cowboys and Indians over the Aegean? One of the reasons for extending membership of NATO, and the EU, has been to reach out first; that it’s better to offer membership, and hope the requirements shape some country’s thinking, than to wait forever for perfection. If this was good enough for Germany, surely it can be good enough for Georgia.
(Fistful of Euros)

A fine and troubling point. If the division of Germany between 1945 and 1955 wasn’t an unresolved ideological version of a “frozen conflict” at perpetual flashpoint risk, then do tell me what it was.

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Achieving International Opposition

James Traub has written a magnificent survey of the events leading up to the current war in Georgia, and the personal contest between Mikheil Saakashvili and Putin.


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McCain Speaks to Europe

John McCain
photo: Chris Dunn

Spiegel has a typically aggressive (and aggressively European) interview with John McCain today. In many ways it’s an interesting yet disappointing exercise, due to its focus on the perceived past sins of the Bush administration. While much ground is covered, a little too often Spiegel essentially asks “Bush did XYZ, which is bad. How will you differ?” That comes at the expense of examining many questions about the future Atlantic partnership.

However, the responses are interesting…particularly in tone. McCain gives Europe answers that in many ways will not conform to their desires in practical terms. But in a way, may be answers which seem more palatable to them. After all, the European adoration of international negotiation, consultative diplomacy and multilateral consent for its own sake, is on a certain popular level a superficial partiality for words and handshakes. One that by nature is always highly susceptible to the rephrasing of any given position to achieve acquiescence.

A few key responses from McCain:


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Fighting the Death of Germany

You Are Germany

75% of Germans believe that their society is hostile to children. That’s a toxic attitude to combine with an appalling 1.3 children-per-woman fertility rate. Well below the replacement rate, the country is literally dying out over time. To attack the problem, a consortium of German advertising agencies and media firms have launched a €30 million campaign Du bist Deutschland (”You Are Germany”), to try to promote tolerance for children: Video report. What is one to think of a country that hates its own future, and has to be pleaded with to tolerate the only instrument for the perpetuation of its cultural patrimony?

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The Scale of the American Economy

The GDP of Japan, Germany, China and the United Kingdom expressed as US Gross State Product regions on a map of the United States
Click to enlarge

I thought the map Lance posted from the other day (originally from Strange Maps), which expressed the GDP of foreign countries as US states, based on their approximate equivalent GSP, was a pretty interesting visualization. However, I got to thinking what the same exercise might produce if the big boys were projected onto US geography. If you take the top five national economies in the world minus the US (Japan, PRC, Germany, UK), they easily fit into four macro GSP regions in the contiguous United States. I threw together the quick little map above from the data.

Incredibly, once you’ve applied the big four to the map, you will find that you still have around 800 billion dollars left to play with (including Alaska and Hawaii, which are not depicted). Underneath each country I included (in parentheses) how much additional money in US dollars you would have to add to the economies of each economic superpower to make them genuinely equal the collective GSP of each US region.

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Gay and Grey

Europe’s first gay nursing home has opened in Berlin. The separatist initiative apparently has some appeal: “I wouldn’t like to be in a heterosexual environment all the time,” one applicant says.

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Germany in the Black…for Now

Germany has finally balanced its budget after 38 years of failure. The cause is an export driven 2006-2007 boom. What constitutes an economic boom in Germany these days? 2.5% annual GDP growth. Quite a decline by the standard of West German booms. One wonders whether Thatcher’s concerns about the economic impact of a reunified Germany were misplaced, at least for our lifetimes. And things are regressing in 2008, with the government publicly expecting 2% growth and a return to federal deficit spending.

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“Apparently, in France, demand curves do not slope downwards”

Megan McArdle comments on a piece in The Economist regarding the appalling state of economics education in France and Germany:

When the 35 hour work week was proposed, I was talking to someone in the French consulate who did economics and trade. “Aren’t you worried that this will raise employer’s costs and lead to business failures or higher unemployment?” I asked.

“That’s just Anglo-saxon economics” was his rather stunning reply.

Text books

The Economist article quotes (but mis-links) another article by Stefan Theil in Foreign Policy, which examined how French and German children are being misinformed:

Millions of children are being raised on prejudice and disinformation. Educated in schools that teach a skewed ideology, they are exposed to a dogma that runs counter to core beliefs shared by many other Western countries. They study from textbooks filled with a doctrine of dissent, which they learn to recite as they prepare to attend many of the better universities in the world. Extracting these children from the jaws of bias could mean the difference between world prosperity and menacing global rifts. And doing so will not be easy. But not because these children are found in the madrasas of Pakistan or the state-controlled schools of Saudi Arabia. They are not. Rather, they live in two of the world’s great democracies—France and Germany….

Just as schools teach a historical narrative, they also pass on “truths” about capitalism, the welfare state, and other economic principles that a society considers self-evident. In both France and Germany, for instance, schools have helped ingrain a serious aversion to capitalism. In one 2005 poll, just 36 percent of French citizens said they supported the free-enterprise system, the only one of 22 countries polled that showed minority support for this cornerstone of global commerce. In Germany, meanwhile, support for socialist ideals is running at all-time highs—47 percent in 2007 versus 36 percent in 1991.

Theil goes on to quote some German and French textbooks that contain jaw-dropping in accuracies and propaganda, such as the following from a French economics text:

“Economic growth imposes a hectic form of life, producing overwork, stress, nervous depression, cardiovascular disease and, according to some, even the development of cancer,” asserts the three-volume Histoire du XXe siècle, a set of texts memorized by countless French high school students as they prepare for entrance exams to Sciences Po and other prestigious French universities. The past 20 years have “doubled wealth, doubled unemployment, poverty, and exclusion, whose ill effects constitute the background for a profound social malaise,” the text continues. Because the 21st century begins with “an awareness of the limits to growth and the risks posed to humanity [by economic growth],” any future prosperity “depends on the regulation of capitalism on a planetary scale.” Capitalism itself is described at various points in the text as “brutal,” “savage,” “neoliberal,” and “American.” This agitprop was published in 2005, not in 1972….

Only one third of the course is about companies and markets, and even those bits include extensive sections on unions, government economic policy, the limits of markets, and the dangers of growth. The overall message is that economic activity has countless undesirable effects from which citizens must be protected.

No wonder, then, that the French default attitude is to be suspicious of market forces and private entrepreneurship, not to mention any policies that would strengthen them. Start-ups, Histoire du XXe siècle tells its students, are “audacious enterprises” with “ill-defined prospects.” Then it links entrepreneurs with the tech bubble, the Nasdaq crash, and mass layoffs across the economy. (Think “creative destruction” without the “creative.”)

Indeed, it shouldn’t be any wonder. If all one ever hears about “the market” and “privatisation” is that they are malevolent forces from which people need protection, how is it possible to comprehend the concept that people working to better their own lives, and incidentally the lives of those around them, comprise “the market”? Ideas such as the invisible hand in wealth creation providing opportunity and benefit for all must surely come across as about as realistic as the Tooth Fairy leaving money for your used teeth sounds to a twelve year old.

Germany’s students are not faring any better with their economics education:

Germans teach their young people a similar economic narrative, with a slightly different emphasis. The focus is on instilling the corporatist and collectivist traditions of the German system. Although each of Germany’s 16 states sets its own education requirements, nearly all teach through the lens of workplace conflict between employer and employee, the central battle being over wages and work rules. If there’s one unifying characteristic of German textbooks, it’s the tremendous emphasis on group interests, the traditional social-democratic division of the universe into capital and labor, employer and employee, boss and worker. Textbooks teach the minutiae of employer-employee relations, workplace conflict, collective bargaining, unions, strikes, and worker protection. Even a cursory look at the country’s textbooks shows that many are written from the perspective of a future employee with a union contract. Bosses and company owners show up in caricatures and illustrations as idle, cigar-smoking plutocrats, sometimes linked to child labor, Internet fraud, cell-phone addiction, alcoholism, and, of course, undeserved layoffs. The successful, modern entrepreneur is virtually nowhere to be found.

German students will be well-versed in many subjects upon graduation; one topic they will know particularly well is their rights as welfare recipients. One 10th-grade social studies text titled FAKT has a chapter on “What to do against unemployment.” Instead of describing how companies might create jobs, the section explains how those without jobs can organize into self-help groups and join weekly anti-reform protests “in the tradition of the East German Monday demonstrations” (which in 1989 helped topple the communist dictatorship). The not-so-subtle subtext? Jobs are a right to be demanded from the government. The same chapter also details various welfare programs, explains how employers use the threat of layoffs as a tactic to cut pay, and concludes with a long excerpt from the platform of the German Union Federation, including the 30-hour work week, retirement at age 60, and redistribution of the work pie by splitting full-time into part-time jobs. No market alternative is taught. When fakt presents the reasons for unemployment, it blames computers and robots. In fact, this is a recurring theme in German textbooks—the Internet will turn workers into “anonymous code” and kill off interpersonal communication.

In short, it sounds as if Germany is teaching its students how to negotiate its sclerotic bureaucracy rather than anything of historic or scientific value. As The Economist comments:

We rightly deplore the politicisation of the curriculum when it comes to “intelligent design” crackpottery. We should deplore politicised psuedoscience all the more when it so directly threatens the material well-being of a country’s people. If this is all as Mr Theil says it is, then the Germans and French really ought to be ashamed by the failure of their educational system to teach anything remotely approximating decent social science. These texts sounds so profoundly ignorant that, again, I truly hope that Mr Theil is overselling their importance.

Indeed. RTWT.

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Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

Echoing a wonderful discussion we had in the fall of 2006 on the nature of Fascism (see here, here and here) Jonah Goldberg writes a book which bristles at the use of the term by the contemporary left. I would really be interested in picking that discussion back up. So anybody interested, please read the previous discussions and tell me what you think. In the meantime, here is the description from Amazon:

Book Description
“Fascists,” “Brownshirts,” “jackbooted stormtroopers”—such are the insults typically hurled at conservatives by their liberal opponents. Calling someone a fascist is the fastest way to shut them up, defining their views as beyond the political pale. But who are the real fascists in our midst?

Liberal Fascism offers a startling new perspective on the theories and practices that define fascist politics. Replacing conveniently manufactured myths with surprising and enlightening research, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that the original fascists were really on the left, and that liberals from Woodrow Wilson to FDR to Hillary Clinton have advocated policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler’s National Socialism and Mussolini’s Fascism.

Contrary to what most people think, the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term “National socialism”). They believed in free health care and guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged the church from public policy, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. The Nazis declared war on smoking, supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control. They loathed the free market, provided generous pensions for the elderly, and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities—where campus speech codes were all the rage. The Nazis led the world in organic farming and alternative medicine. Hitler was a strict vegetarian, and Himmler was an animal rights activist.

Do these striking parallels mean that today’s liberals are genocidal maniacs, intent on conquering the world and imposing a new racial order? Not at all. Yet it is hard to deny that modern progressivism and classical fascism shared the same intellectual roots. We often forget, for example, that Mussolini and Hitler had many admirers in the United States. W.E.B. Du Bois was inspired by Hitler’s Germany, and Irving Berlin praised Mussolini in song. Many fascist tenets were espoused by American progressives like John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson, and FDR incorporated fascist policies in the New Deal.

Fascism was an international movement that appeared in different forms in different countries, depending on the vagaries of national culture and temperament. In Germany, fascism appeared as genocidal racist nationalism. In America, it took a “friendlier,” more liberal form. The modern heirs of this “friendly fascist” tradition include the New York Times, the Democratic Party, the Ivy League professoriate, and the liberals of Hollywood. The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.

These assertions may sound strange to modern ears, but that is because we have forgotten what fascism is. In this angry, funny, smart, contentious book, Jonah Goldberg turns our preconceptions inside out and shows us the true meaning of Liberal Fascism.


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