“It’s just what we need”

EuroSavant is taking a few days off to head to sunny Barcelona, Spain. I expect to resume posting this upcoming Thursday, 15 May 2003, by around 12:00 noon UTC (that’s 8:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 7:00 AM Central Daylight Time, etc.). So all e-mail correspondents need to reckon with possible delays in my response.

I’m taking along with me as food for serious thought an article from the on-line edition of the Hamburg weekly Die Zeit, Wir haben’s gerate nötig (“It’s just what we need”), by Richard Herzinger, which I would recommend to all of you who can read German and are interested in Germany’s current place in the post-War in Iraq world.

Right in line with what has been the subject of many of my last posts, Herzinger is writing primarily with reference to German-Polish relations. “The condescension with which at least part of the German public treats Poland’s ambitions” – what he later even terms “Poland-bashing” – “is disgusting,” he declares. Out of an attitude that Poland is showing the naïvité of a “parvenu” to the international political scene, comes a picture of America “seducing” more innocent, less-intelligent nations, among which Poland – nations which, when it comes right down to it, should just be expected to shut up and listen as die großartigen Kulturvölker – “the magnificent peoples of culture” – Germany and France decide international policy.

In reality, Herzinger points out, it is Germany (to name at least one) which has diminished itself recently in international affairs, precisely by overestimating itself and the power of the French UN veto-wielder to stop American intervention in Iraq by offering a realistic alternative solution to the problem presented by Saddam Hussein. Now, “[w]hile the German Chancellor racks his brains trying to think of how he can speak with the American president again without losing face, the Poles are engaged in the full range of their capability in the great Mission of stabilizing Iraq.” It’s likely, Herzinger ventures to say, that sooner or later German soldiers will also find themselves contributing in Iraq – that is, following the same path that Poland was quick enough to blaze long before Germany. Chancellor Schröder’s visit to Breslau/Wroclaw, to meet with Presidents Kwasniewski and Chirac under the framework of the “Weimar Triangle,” should be the occasion for showing a little respect for what Poland is doing, not contempt. (In reality, that “Weimar Triangle” summit already happened – Die Zeit is of course a weekly paper. I’ll see if I can find interesting reports on what happened in any of the respective presses of the nations involved.)

At little German breast-beating – and in the august pages of Die Zeit, no less!

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