Is he still around? Yes, he is: Helmut Schmidt, German Bundeskanzler from 1974 to 1982. Famous for his no-nonsense personality (but, after all, in his youth he was heavily involved in the Wehrmacht throughout the Second World War, including two years serving on the Russian Front), he was in particular the scourge of President Jimmy Carter, who felt the full glare of his teutonic disdain for not being quite as ready to face down the Soviets across the inter-German border in as hard-core a fashion as he. Yes, Ronald Reagan turned out much more to his taste, but alas, he only had about a year-and-a-half to enjoy the Gipper: he lost his majority in the Bundestag on 1 October 1982 and so had to yield his office to Helmut Kohl of the opposition CDU party.
But you could always count on the fact that Helmut Schmidt would land in the private sector on his feet, and in fact from 1983 through today he has been a co-publisher of the well-respected (certainly by this weblog) Hamburg-based opinion weekly Die Zeit. In that capacity – and, really, as among the most éminent of the German intellectual and political éminences grises – it’s only natural that he occasionally grab the podium offered him by his publication to hold forth on some important contemporary development. This time – on a weekend that is just before Super Tuesday, you’ll remember – the German-reading public is treated to a piece by Schmidt titled Liebe Amerikaner (“Dear Americans”), and sub-titled was kann die Welt von euch erwarten? – “what can the world expect from you?” (more…)