February 28, 2004
Germany's Opinion of America

A recent public opinion poll of German attitudes toward the United States reveals that 71% of Germans consider America's conduct in the world to be "inconsiderate and egotistical". Only 20% of those surveyed agree with the statement that "The USA is the only power that can settle conflicts in trouble spots". At the same time, a spokesman for the ruling Social Democrats says:

I am absolutely certain that the Chancellor will stick to his position that no German soldiers will be going to Iraq
About half of those surveyed have
doubts about the United States'' ability to solve international problems while it still has so many unsolved internal problems
Meanwhile, unemployment in the "sick man of Europe" is upwards of 11% (nearly 20% in the former Communist east). The American unemployment rate, by comparison, is 5.7% and falling, unlike Germany's, which is still rising.

The German government's solution to the unemployment crisis is an online "Virtual Job Market", currently a major scandal for its fabulous cost overruns with allegations of peculation: EU 114.6 million (US $143 million ) and climbing. I don't know how many people are going to find jobs at Virtual Job Market either. The font is so small it's unreadable!

Not that I feel any Schadenfreude for a country that has insoluble internal problems and is also ineffectual on the world stage.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at February 28, 2004 09:00 AM
Comments

A quick poll of some of my friends yields the following about American's opinions of Germans. 100% concluded, WE DON'T CARE. You are irrelevant.

Posted by: Gary B on February 28, 2004 10:27 AM

Doesn't the US undercount its unemployment numbers by a significant amount? Do the Germans use the same type of formulations for their unemplyoyment numbers? With a more accurate method, the US unemployment figure would be ~10%, wouldn't it?

Not trying to be snarky, just wondering if we have an accurate basis for comparison, really.

Posted by: SFRook on February 28, 2004 04:51 PM

Too bad Germany had to start two World Wars. If they had left well enough alone they might not have managed to kill of their best and brightest.

Posted by: Steve on February 29, 2004 06:02 AM

Um, dewd -- you might want to look a little deeper than just "Bad Bad Germany started two world wars." There's a whole lot of responsibility to go around, there.

And I'm still curious what the relative unemployment rate is in Germany vs. the US, when adjusted for the methodology used in the two nations.

Anybody?

Posted by: SFRook on February 29, 2004 10:52 AM

Um, dewd -- you might want to look a little deeper than just "Bad Bad Germany started two world wars." There's a whole lot of responsibility to go around, there.

How about sharing with us your esteemed revision of history regarding any other person's/country's responsibility, other than Germany, for starting WWI and WWII. You've thrown out that blanket statement, so let's hear your specifics.

Posted by: onecent on February 29, 2004 12:07 PM

With a more accurate method, the US unemployment figure would be ~10%, wouldn't it?

As a matter of fact the present 5%+/- unemployment number may not be accurate in reflecting the large number of people that are self-employed since leaving an employer. Those numbers are rapidly growing in our pc based economy.

just wondering if we have an accurate basis for comparison, really. Why "wonder" when you can google that kind of information?

Not trying to be snarky.........You could have fooled me.

Posted by: onecent on February 29, 2004 12:19 PM

Um, dewd -- you might want to look a little deeper than just "Bad Bad Germany started two world wars." There's a whole lot of responsibility to go around, there.

How about sharing with us your esteemed revision of history regarding any other person's/country's responsibility, other than Germany, for starting WWI and WWII. You've thrown out that blanket statement, so let's hear your specifics.

Well, technically, Germany didn't start WWI... the Austro-Hungarian Empire started it when a Serbian anarchist offed their Grand Duke, and everybody kinda sorta piled on from there.

Germany, however, was the big loser, and the French got so snarky with "war reparations" that they actually encouraged the rise of the Nazi party. Not that the Frogs will ever admit it.

Posted by: Steffan on February 29, 2004 05:47 PM

I'm just amazed at Germany's lack of respect for itself to have fought tooth and nail to keep Saddam in power and then whine and snivel about being cut out of U.S funded Iraqi reconstruction later. Any people with integrity would know you pay a price for the stands you take. Unless you are a huge psuedo who wants to talk piously but then reap the rewards later.

Posted by: gavin on February 29, 2004 05:56 PM

Deutsche Volk, Hier Stalingrad!
Amerikanische Volk, dort Zukunft!

Posted by: tot gove on February 29, 2004 06:06 PM

Too bad Germany had to start two World Wars. If they had left well enough alone they might not have managed to kill of their best and brightest.

And those whom they didn't kill came to the U.S.

Posted by: Michael Chaplin on February 29, 2004 06:37 PM

steffan's right about WW1. it was a system of military alliances that resulted in a domino effect that inside of about two weeks had all of Europe at war with one another. and they all wanted it; there were parades in London, Paris, and Berlin. Remember Europe's last big war (the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 {the first time German troops goose-stepped underneath the Arc d'Triomphe} and the German-Austria feud of 1866 aside) was 1815 that resulted in Napoleon Bonaparte's exile to St. Helena. and the French were aching to reclaim the Alsace (which they lost in 1870) and institute punitive reparations on Germany. moreover, France marched troops into the Ruhr Valley in the early 1920's which also helped collapse the already feeble economy and yes, help bring the Nationalsozialistisch Deutsche Arbeiter Partie [NSDAP] to power in 1933.

Posted by: boarwild on February 29, 2004 06:58 PM

Unless you are a huge psuedo who wants to talk piously but then reap the rewards later.

I thought we were discussing Germany, not Canada.

Posted by: Micahel Hiteshew on February 29, 2004 07:13 PM

Uh, sfrook, that stuff about the US undercouting its employment is an urban legend. Try snopes.

There is a figure used called "Jobless Claims" which only counts those seeking assistance, and that figure is a more accurate indicator, and also much lower than typical unemployment figures, which are still done the same way that Germany does there, but some wise cracker tried to blur the lines by claiming that the Jobless Claims figure was a trick to make unemployment seem lower, and of corse only morons then concluded that Unemployment figures were calculated differently.

Germany was an insipid place, they are so similar in race and so nationalistic, that even today that old insipid character is a little visible, though not like in the past, but as far as plenty of blame to go around, you are right, but the US is not to blame, in fact, the US is pretty much the most wonderful hegemon ever. What germany or france would hav done if they had our power is obvious. Look a Germany, S. Korea, France, Japan, and in a few years Iraq as examples of how loving the USA is towards those it has military control over. After a few years these places have or will develop into societies that have no allegiance to us, becuase we let it unfold that way.

Try to learn a bit, our unemployment is quite excellent for such a rich nation with decent work standards. Mexico's is even lower than ours, but the work isnt as good.

Posted by: Dustin on February 29, 2004 07:33 PM

my spelling sucks becuase english is not yet a fluent language for me

Posted by: Dustin on February 29, 2004 07:34 PM

according to the CIA factbook, around 50% of Germany's population works. Around 75% of the U.S pop is employed. However that is based on 2003 numbers. They have the German unemployment rate at 9%.

Posted by: arjuna on February 29, 2004 08:35 PM

Dismissing the Schlieffen Plan as a sort of a pile-on is a, let's say, unique and unconvincing interpretation of 1914 history. German innovations like the Schlieffen Plan - their scheme for a devastating surprise assault on France - are what turned a Balkan squabble, which should have been little bigger than the Balkan wars of circa 1912 (and who's ever even heard of those?), into a world war. So, did Germany start the war? No. Did they elevate it to World War status? Germans have been claiming "no" since 1918, but none too convincingly.

And where did the bizarre notion that snopes is either reliable or authoritative originate?

Posted by: sauer38h on February 29, 2004 08:51 PM

IIRC, the Kaiser DID ask, at one point that fateful August, if it wasn't possible for the German military to only mobilize against the Russians (who were allied to the Serbs).

The German General Staff, whose planning fixated on knocking France out of the war promptly, told him, essentially, that not only was that not possible, but any such plan would doom the German military. This, despite both older war plans that had envisaged precisely such an option, and more importantly, the possibility that such a limited mobilization would NOT have set France or Britain off down the path to war (as sauer38h) notes.

Moreover, Schlieffen's plan required German invasion of Belgium, whose neutrality was guaranteed by the UK. Any prospect of British response was dismissed, most notably w/ the claim that the treaty was "only a piece of paper." This further ensured that the war would expand.

As for WWII, I don't think there is ANY question that, in Europe, the Germans were responsible?

And the German unemployment figure is sufficiently high that even Schroeder has been pushing (modest) economic reform plans. The reality is that Germany does not promote the development of small businesses which, in the US economy, are the main engine of both employment and economic growth.

Posted by: Dean on February 29, 2004 10:18 PM

"And where did the bizarre notion that snopes is either reliable or authoritative originate?"

THANK YOU! I've been wondering the same thing.

Posted by: Jim Thomason on February 29, 2004 10:36 PM

We are in situations similar to ones at the early start of the "great depression". Institutions are trying not to have a repeat. Things are weird because China probably has the closest thing to the role the US had then. The US dollar of course is playing "pound sterling".

Posted by: Ju on March 1, 2004 05:27 AM

The Economist magazine publishes ILO standardized rates of unemployment and gives USA a rate of 5.7% and Germany 10.4% for Dec 03

Subscription only link
http://www.economist.com/markets/indicators/index.cfm?page=Economic%20and%20Financial

Posted by: paul on March 1, 2004 05:55 AM

"Deutsche Volk, Hier Stalingrad!
Amerikanische Volk, dort Zukunft!"

So, pasting that quote into Google's Language Tools feature (on their home page), yields this:

"German people, here Stalingrad! American people, there future!"

Oh please! Not another kraut lecturing us how profound and wise Old Europeans are - compared to Americans - because of their bitter historical experience. Iraq is not Stalingrad now, nor will it be.

Why are Europeans so childishly simplistic? Perhaps they've become so because of the security umbrella that America has provided during the Cold War, in tandem with the cushy social welfare states that have been essentially bankrolled by surplus exports to the American worker-consumer.

In either case, European opinion is so skewed by soft and easy living as not to be trusted anymore.

Posted by: RSN on March 1, 2004 07:58 AM

In fact, the German unemployment numbers understate the real problem, and would look significantly worse if they used our system. They don't count long term unemployed, those not actively looking for work (usually because they realize it's hopeless), some of those on welfare, etc.

Posted by: helian on March 1, 2004 10:03 AM

"their scheme for a devastating surprise assault on France - are what turned a Balkan squabble, which should have been little bigger than the Balkan wars of circa 1912 (and who's ever even heard of those?), into a world war."

No, that's not really true. France was quite intent on attacking someone, and so was Russia. Germany could either abandon its obligations or fight. And Kaiser Wilhelm was a bastard but an honorable one; he wouldn't back down. Really, France and Russia deserve equal blame.

Germany would have won, too, except that Russia mobilized too quickly. The Schlieffen plan counted on Germany declaring war and crushing Russia before she could gather troops together, after marching on France. Problem was, Russia had started mobilizing before the war began. The plan also didn't really anticipate the English joining in as fast as they did (I may be wrong about that detail). Even so, the Germans nearly won. They totally trounced Russia in the East and held a near-stalemate in the west, until the US joined in.

"German people, here Stalingrad! American people, there future!"

I'm not sure whether that's supportive or hateful. Zukunft is usually a good thing to have. He might be saying that Germany had Stalingrad and America has the future.

Posted by: bandit on March 1, 2004 11:56 AM

I stand corrected regarding Germany's culpability in starting WWI. Thanks everyone for the review.

Posted by: onecent on March 1, 2004 01:02 PM

"And where did the bizarre notion that Snopes is either reliable or authoritative originate?"

It's a hell of a lot more authoritative than just saying "I heard something somewhere" which is what SFRook seemed to have to back up his claim that U.S. unemployment is much higher than the 5.6 percent currently reported.

Posted by: Rob Roy on March 1, 2004 06:05 PM

Please, people, get it right! The Schlieffen plan called for the CONTAINMENT of Russian forces in the East while the main attack in the West swept through Belgium and hugged the Channel coast. Von Schlieffen envisioned the the last man on the Prussian right would "brush the Channel with his sleeve".

The essence of the plan called for maximum concentration of force on the Prussian right, not the defeat of the Russians first. It is possible that the plan would hav worked, but, there was indecision and several corps were diverted to the Russian front that were intended to bolster the Western right flank. In the end, the assault ran out of impetus and, due to the shortage of manpower in the West, exposed the Prussian right flank when it bypassed Paris without leaving a masking force there.

Von Schlieffen's dying words were, "Only keep the right strong!". It is very arguable that the plan was frustrated by significant diversions of force to the Russian front and the German left flank. Von Schlieffen would have been very disappointed.

Posted by: Thomas Hazlewood on March 1, 2004 10:47 PM

"Please, people, get it right! The Schlieffen plan called for the CONTAINMENT of Russian forces in the East"

Argh, you are correct. Sadly, Schlieffen's plan was not necessarily workable by the time WWI rolled around. Russia had advanced significantly from when the plan as made.

Posted by: bandit on March 2, 2004 05:25 AM

Steve,Germany did not start ww1,and Gary,if Germany is irrelevant,than you are just as irrelevant.
Also,the stated reason to invade Iraq was WMD,not to remove Saddam,he was in power for 24 years,if the Iraqi people had mattered he would have been removed long ago,but as long as he toed the line or was useful what he did to the Iraqi people did not matter,when he became not useful and was to be removed,then it became political expiedient for the Iraqi people to matter. It was about power and control,not about WMD or the Iraqi people.

Posted by: Doug on March 12, 2004 10:02 PM
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