March 30, 2007

DER SPIEGEL:

The Germans have believed in many things in the course of their recent history. They’ve believed in colonies in Africa and in the Kaiser. They even believed in the Kaiser when he told them that there would be no more political parties, only soldiers on the front.

Not too long afterwards, they believed that Jews should be placed into ghettos and concentration camps because they were the enemies of the people. Then they believed in the autobahn and that the Third Reich would ultimately be victorious. A few years later, they believed in the Deutsche mark. They believed that the Berlin Wall would be there forever and that their pensions were safe. They believed in recycling as well as in cheap jet travel. They even believed in a German victory at the soccer World Cup.

Now they believe that the United States is a greater threat to world peace than Iran. This was the by-no-means-surprising result of a Forsa opinion poll commissioned by Stern magazine. Young Germans in particular — 57 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds, to be precise — said they considered the United States more dangerous than the religious regime in Iran.

The German political establishment, which will no doubt loudly lament the result of the poll, is largely responsible for this wave of anti-Americanism. For years the country’s foreign ministers fed the Germans the fairy tale of what they called a “critical dialogue” between Europe and Iran. It went something like this: If we are nice to the ayatollahs, cuddle up to them a bit and occasionally wag our fingers at them when they’ve been naughty, they’ll stop condemning their women to death for “unchaste behavior” and they’ll stop building the atom bomb.

That plan failed at some point — an outcome, incidentally, that Washington had long anticipated. Iran continues to work away unhindered on its nuclear program, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reacts to UN demands with an ostentatious show of ignorance. The UN gets upset and drafts a resolution.

Read the whole thing, which also has some interesting thoughts on German anti-Americanism and its dangers.