Boston & The German Pseudo-Tabloid

Hold on a minute, now – what is this I see?

Marathon-Tragödie: Nach Boston ist der alte Bush-Sound wieder da



“Marathon tragedy: After Boston the old Bush Sound is there again”! The point Torsten Krauel of Die Welt means here follows directly in his lede:

When US President Obama publicly pronounced [on yesterday’s Boston Marathon double-bombing], many were reminded of his predecessor Bush twelve years ago.

What he is talking about here, apparently, is Obama’s promise “We will find who did this, and we will find out why they did this. Any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.” You see, it sounds just like Bush with the megaphone, standing atop the World Trade Center rubble: “We will find out who destroyed these buildings . . . and they will hear from us soon.”

This is just a terrible article, really surprising coming from what is probably Germany’s most-respected national daily – not at all a “tabloid-quality” paper in its usual incarnation, despite my headline. Where is the well-deserved contempt for George W. Bush that we were used to hearing across-the-board from the European press (with maybe some Polish exceptions)? Where is the recollection that, in fact, the 9/11 attacks came about just over a month after the CIA and FBI had their “hair on fire” over increasing indications that something big was about to happen domestically – but August, 2001 was W’s vacation month, so he couldn’t be bothered to act? No, the only proper Obama-Bush link here would have to be, if any, the bizarre time-reverse one where Bush’s 2001 performance is said to come up short compared to Obama in 2013!

You want a better assessment of George W. Bush’s legacy in reaction to the 9/11 attacks? Conveniently, that’s also available to you today on the NY Times website, although overshadowed of course by the Boston news reports: U.S. Engaged in Torture After 9/11, Review Concludes.

But wait! There’s more! US media outlets have been champing at the bit to come out with ungrounded allegations about who may be responsible – read “Muslim” – but most have managed to control themselves. Not Die Welt, though. Check out what Krauel goes on to add about Obama’s press-appearance: “It was also noticeable that he also seemed to have a rather good inkling who possibly should be brought into consideration as the perpetrator of the crime.” (Yes, the wording here is mealy-mouthed – but I’m translating from the German as accurately as I can.)

Oh really? I’m writing this 12 hours later and the authorities charged with investigating this still don’t have a clue! But Krauel is willing nonetheless to go on and speculate how Obama Administration policy will have to change if (when?) there do turn out to be Islamic terrorist connections. The President had thought he could go down in history as the one who led America out of its War on Terror, but he’ll have to think again. The 2014 Congressional elections are coming up, after all, and if he gets “soft” at all on terrorism, the Republicans will be sure to take advantage.

Yet more: This attack might even influence the ongoing gun-control debate in Congress – blocking the prospects for any meaningful legislation this time, for how could you “disarm” citizens when it’s evident that terrorists are on the loose? And this:

The fact that, twelve years after “9/11”, someone – no matter who – was able transport explosives unnoticed to a large sporting event raises questions that are extremely unpleasant – not only for those responsible in Boston, but also for the security bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security.

Really? How about admitting instead that, in a free society like the US, something like this can never be prevented and so that society would do rather better by simply refusing to be terrorized by such incidents as will inevitably come along? That is, Keep Calm and Carry On!

That’s the thing I really don’t like about this piece: it offers, one after the other, a series of outrageous assertions, each spiced with just enough distortion to appear plausible! Don’t we have Fox “News” for that? Why would Die Welt – normally a good, reliable, middle-of-the-road paper – want to get into that business, in German?

A curious footnote: I just heard on VRT (that’s Flemish radio) that Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram to Obama offering assistance in the matter of the Boston explosions. One really has to assume that the gesture was pro forma, and that it will be filed away as such by the Administration – what sort of help would the Boston authorities need from Russia? Maybe some ex-KGB expertise in taking a bit more ruthless attitude towards searching private residences and rounding up suspects? This is really rich, considering the two countries are fresh from banning about 20 people from each other’s country from travel to the other, all stemming from the Magnitsky affair. (A reminder: Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian auditor and whistle-blower to powerful governmental interests who was beaten to death in jail. Bizarrely, he is now being tried posthumously on various trumped-up charges – in a Russian court, of course.)

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