Dienstag, März 29, 2005

Germans still don´t get it

Germans have yet to wake up from their socialist dream. According to a recent poll only one third of germany´s unemployed would be willing to move to another place in order to get a new job. Also, a majority of unemployed wouldn´t take a new job if their daily way to work was too long. Only half of them say they are intensively looking for a new job.

What´s the rest of them doing? Probably too busy watching TV, playing Playstation and complaining about why no one does anything against the high unemployment rate in germany.

So, what´s to do? It´s easy. Cut social benefits and spread a little "soziale Kaelte" (social frostiness) in order to get them off their lazy asses. But unfortunately, that´s not possible, because germans don´t want "amerikanische Verhältnisse" (american circumstances), i.e. real capitalism. And our cowardly politicians are certainly not going to risk loosing votes by confronting their electorate with reality.

Sonntag, März 27, 2005

Are Koreans going crazy?

And I don´t mean North Koreans this time. According to this piece at One Free Korea, the "Streets of Seoul are no longer safe for foreigners".

Funny how leftist western politicians often try to make you think that we in the west had a monopoly on xenophobia, while xenophobia and racism sadly are quite common all over the world. Take, for example, China. While, as a white westerner, you are actually treated very well, black people are scorned by many chinese.

And, in other other parts of the world, muslims also once again show their intolerance:
According to this article in the New York Times, Muslims are outraged about a Pakistani acteress kissing a Hindu in a movie. Don´t these people have anything better to do?

Montag, März 21, 2005

Two Years Later

A great post from Ace of Spades HQ on the occasion of the second anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War.

Samstag, März 19, 2005

Carsten Schmiester for Reichspropagandaminister











Carsten Schmiester is one of the leading anti-american propagandists in the german media. He works for the publicly funded Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) and publishes about 1-2 extremely biased articles per week on tagesschau.de.
So, here is another piece of his outstanding propaganda work. Goebbels would be proud of him:

"Bush continues to sound "the trumpet of freedom"

Two years ago the USA went to war with Iraq. Today they are still fighting.
For freedom, as US-President Bush says. That is why the sacrifices, the many dead and wounded US-soldiers, were not made in vain, thinks the president. Not everyone is as convinced as he is."


[Of course not everyone is as convinced as he is. If you are an anti-american, socialist propagandist, you probably don´t believe in sacrificing anything for the spread of freedom and prosperity. And there will always be enough idiots to support your views. But that doesn´t make them right.]

"More than 1500 dead and over 11.000 wounded US-soldiers in Iraq. It´s also these numbers that cause - two years after the start of the war - a change of the opinion picture in the US. Opinion polls show that today 53 percent of those questioned speak out against the war, two years ago it was only 27 percent. The fraction of those in favor of the war shrunk from 70% to 45%. America has doubts about the war - only President George W. Bush hasn´t. "

[Yes, only president Bush AND the 45% of americans which, according to the poll Schmiester mentions, are in favor of the war in Iraq. But what´s 45% of americans? If you were against the war in the first place, like Schmiester, this amounts to nothing.]

"He still obliviously praises the achievements of his country: "The insecurity and the sorrows of the last few years were not without avail. Millions have been liberated, millions will follow." The president adds pugnaciously: "The trumpet of freedom has been sounded, and that trumpet never calls defeat"."

[What he does here is simple: Buy using the german word "unbeirrt" (obliviously) he asserts that Bush is a stubborn warmonger who won´t listen to any voice of reason, and still praises his country, although we all know that the Iraq war was an utter failure and that, of course, there is no reason to praise the US. He knows exactly what kind of reaction he will get from his readers: "Damn stubborn yankee! How dare he call his wars acts of liberation! Thousands of civilians were killed only for the oil interests of the U.S."]

"Neoconservative Politics
So "Freedom Trumpeter" Bush still sounds the attack, although more quietly. Not only politcal reason lead him to his change of course in the Iran question. That america suddenly supports negotiations with Iran about the Iranian nuclear program, is also due to the fact that Bush lacks the money and the soldiers for a new war. But this doesn´t chance his aim of also helping democracy to a break through in Iran, just like in Iraq, in Libanon, and at best also in Syria. That is still the core of neoconservative US-Anti terror policy. "

[So, in this paragraph, Schmiester first tries to mock President Bush by calling him "Freedom Trumpeter", afterwards he alludes that only the european position of engagement towards Iran was right all along. As if there was no rational argument for a hardline approach. Then he shows, that anti-american Journalists like him will never be satisfied with anything the U.S.-administration does, even if Bush does exactly what they have always demanded from him: Now that Bush has changed his stance on Iran, it is interpreted as if he did this only because he had no other choice. Because due to his flawed decisions in the past, he has run out of money for new wars, and as no one wants to join the US-army anymore, he is also running out of soldiers. While the last part (about spreading democracy) doesn´t sound all that bad, it actually hides the assertion that Bush "just like in Iraq" wants to spread democracy by violent means, which is not true. But this is how Schmiester wants to convey it, and this is how the average reader will understand it. They will think once again: "Damn Bush, always wants to meddle in the affairs of other countries. Why can´t he just let them live how they want to live."]

"Split Echo
Scientiest Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University has his doubts with this policy. He recognizes progress in some countries, but he doesn´t see any reason to laud Bush for this. "If anyone derserves praise, then it´s the Iraqis, who have forced Bush to do the right thing", he thinks, and adds another example: "In the case of palestina, the USA did nothing, to foster progress. The palestinians did that themselves"."

[Great choice of an interview partner. Rashid Khalidi, according to Daniel Pipes, also called Israel a "racist" state with an "apartheid system" and argued that America had been "brainwashed" by Israel. I guess, Mr. Schmiester was very surprised about Khalidis negative assessment of U.S. policy in the middle east. And what did the palestinians actually do to foster progress themselves?]

"Other experts see the issue more positive and are thankful to the american government. Like Professor Fuad Ajama of John Hopkins University. "The bush-administration had the heart to venture into uncertain terrain. Still, doubts remain, but america today trusts democracy more than it did in the past"."

[What a great attempt at pretending balanced reporting! He finally brings himself to interview someone who has a more pro-bush stance and all he quotes from him is this: "doubts remain", "america trusts democracy"???]

"Struggling against a lack of credibility

The future of Iraq remains uncertain. Only one thing is for sure, that american soldiers will have to stay for a long time in order to fight the approximately 50.000 rebels. They have to hold out in the struggle for freedom as well as - since the torture scandal in the Abu Ghraib prison - in their struggle against their own incredibility. "

[Well, they wouldn´t have to, if people like Schmiester wouldn´t keep working night and day in order to damage the image of the U.S. and their soldiers. People like Schmiester are guilty of inciting anti-american hatred. By refusing to call the terrorists in Iraq Terrorists ("50000 rebels") they help them. And that is exactly what Schmiester has in mind. He doesn´t care about the people in Iraq. He´s only interested in harming the U.S.]

"Reminder from the Cold War

The critical public radio "NPR" has rebroadcastet an interview with the recently deceased US-Diplomat George F. Kennan. As a monition. A reporter had asked the originator of the "containment policy" against the former Sowjet Union for the best way to spread to democracy. The answer seems very up-to-date, even today. "It´s one thing when we show, what is possible if you have a democracy. It´s something completely different, if we arouse the impression, that we think of ourselves as superior and demand that others have to learn to be like us". "

[Well, I think we´ve shown the world long enough how democracy works, and what can be achieved by following democratic and capitalist ideals. Unfortunately, that doesn´t seem to have worked. Now it´s time to apply more concrete measures.]

I cannot understand how our public broadcasters can keep people like Schmiester. What he does has nothing to do with journalism. I haven´t read any article from him that was not anti-american or anti-bush. The only thing he does is trying to spread anti-americanism. And the worst thing is, that I actually pay this guy because he works for a public broadcaster!

Freitag, März 18, 2005

Mood Swing?

Here´s the transcript of the chat with ARD-correspondents Tom Buhrow and Jörg Armbruster. Much of what they said was quite encouraging. Maybe I´m too enthusiastic, but I think we are witnessing some kind of mood-change in the german journalistic elite. At least they begin to realize that the U.S. administration is serious about its democratization attempts in the middle east, and that it´s not all about oil. I got the feeling that they are at the same time surprised and impressed by this. Of course, they are still very critic of the Bush administration in general. Some quotes:

Armbruster: "Unfortunately, the americans have made almost every possible mistake in their attempt to create something like a democratic state structure [in Iraq]. I am still sceptic, but I won´t rule out anymore, that in the end there will be something like a new democracy. Even though it will at first not have much to do with our understanding of democracy."

[The next quote shows that they really start to understand what the foreign policy of the Bush administration is about. That´s not something ordinary for the german media.]

Buhrow: "In the view of President Bush his policy in the middle east is two sided: On the one hand he´s concerned about the security of the U.S. and its allies (which we also belong to). He believes, that one cannot fight terrorism by fighting particular groups, but only if you bring the people in the region freedom and hope. Then - so his calculation - the breeding ground for terrorism would dry out. The second aspect is the following: He really believes in the mission of spreading democracy and in the constructive power of democracy."

Armbruster: "The Iraqis want democracy, but they have no experience. They still have to learn, just as we have learned after World War 2"

Armbruster: I don´t think it was the elections in Iraq. Therefor Iraq is perceived too much as a scaring example. Much more important is, what is happening in Libanon at the moment. The opposition managed to force the government to resign. This is egregious in the middle east."

[This last quote is quite revealing. It shows the reluctance to give the Bush-administration any credit for any possible democratization processes in the region outside of Iraq.]

Mittwoch, März 16, 2005

Meet the press

On thursday at 15:00 CET ARD-foreign correspondents Tom Buhrow (Washington) and Jörg Armbruster (Cairo) will be answering questions during a live chat-session on the ARD-Homepage. The topic will be the future of Iraq and democratization in the middle east in general.

Those are the people providing germans with their view of the U.S. and the middle east. Will be a good opportunity to ask them some interesting questions...

The Flat-Tax revolution

Today´s good news come from Poland, where the government decided to implement a flat-tax system. The Czech government might follow this example soon. So the idea that this system could even spread to western europe one day, is not so far-fetched anymore.

The basic idea behind the flat-tax is, that by lowering the tax-rate to a single unified low rate and abolishing all tax exemptions, the state´s tax-revenues will actually rise. This is due to the fact a low tax rate will probably result in higher economic growth. On the other hand there are fewer incentives and possibilities for tax-evasion.

The system is explained in more detail in this paper published by the Adam Smith Institute.
The countries that have already introduced a flat tax include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, Georgia, and - to some extend - Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.

The economist also discusses this issue and reaches a quite optimistic conclusion. Open markets in the European Union might encourage a competition for the best economic and fiscal system:

"So far, the preferred response of the Germans and French is to press for an EU-wide ban on “fiscal dumping” and to push the EU towards tax harmonisation. The trouble is that EU decisions on tax are taken by unanimity—and there is no way that the Slovaks and others are going to surrender their freedom to set their own taxes. So some in western Europe are beginning to think of copying the flat-taxers, rather than fulminating against them. Gerrit Zalm, the Dutch finance minister, has said that his Liberal Party is considering a flat tax for the Netherlands, albeit at the high rate of over 30%. More surprisingly, advisers to left-of-centre governments in Spain and Germany have also done serious feasibility studies on flat taxes. If old Europe cannot beat the flat-taxers of new Europe, it may have to join them."

Meanwhile Craig of the National Exam makes the case for a Consumption tax system. But, as a german, I may be a bit biased against the "Mehrwertsteuer", because I already have to pay it everyday...

Samstag, März 12, 2005

Is North Korea executing refugees?

According to AlertNet North Korea has executed 70 refugees who where caught in China and handed over to the North. The Article is based on a statement by a South Korean group that helps refugees and should therefore be taken with some caution.
But, on the other hand, there is no reason to believe that people who are caught fleeing the "Workers Paradise" would not be rigorously punished by the regime. The least they can probably expect is to end up in one of North Koreas notorious Prison Camps.
I already wrote something about this issue some time ago. You can read it here.

Update:
You can download a wave-file of an interesting speech by David Hawk, who wrote the report on North Korean prison camps for the U.S. committee for human rights in North Korea. Hawk bases his report mostly on interviews with North Korean refugees who have made it to South Korea after an escape that often lead them through half of asia.

Donnerstag, März 10, 2005

Today´s dose of anti-americanism

Provided by the Asia Times.
They have many good articles about Asia. But when it comes to the USA they seem to go nuts, allowing crazy leftists to use their paper as an anti-U.S. propaganda outlet. (I recently mentioned their disgusting editorial cartoons). So, today I came across the following article, from which I will quote some "highlights":

F. William Engdahl: "The Oil factor in Bush´s ´war on tyranny´"

"The use of tyranny as justification for US military intervention marks a dramatic new step in Washington's quest for global domination. "Washington", of course, today is shorthand for the policy domination by a private group of military and energy conglomerates, from Halliburton to McDonnell Douglas, from Bechtel to ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, not unlike that foreseen in president Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 speech warning of excessive control of government by a military-industrial complex. "

After this fantastic start Engdahl goes on specualting about possible future targets of us military intervention and comes up with a list of several countries. Among them: Iran, Syria, Sudan, Algeria, Yemen, Malaysia, Somalia, Cuba, Myanmar, Belarus, Zimbabwe. Of course, those countries being potential targets has nothing to do with the fact that they are dictatorships.

"What is striking is just how directly this list of US "emerging target" countries, "outposts of tyranny", maps on to the strategic goal of total global energy control, which is clearly the central strategic focus of the Bush-Cheney administration."

Well, if you are in the mood for some anti-american conspiracy theories, read the whole article. It´s full of such gems. The problem with such theories is the fact that they contain a bit of truth and are therefore very appealing to many people. Of course, U.S. foreign policy is also guided by the aim of achieving energy security. But that is only one of several factors influencing U.S. foreign policy. The same with the often cited military-industrial complex. It may have some influence, but it is certainly not some kind of secret shadow government setting the agenda for the White House, as people like Engdahl like to claim.
Sadly, I would estimate that his view is common among a majority of germans today.

Montag, März 07, 2005

Irresponsible

I will never understand how governments can even consider to pay terrorists in order to free hostages.

I haven´t understood it, when germany´s government paid ransom for the release of 14 german hostages held by terrorists in Algeria in 2003 and I don´t understand it now.
According to the "The Australian" the captors of Guilianna Sgrenna were paid about 6-8 Million Euros to free their hostage.

That´s 6-8 million Euros that these people can buy new weapons with in order to kill american (but also italian) soldiers or capture new hostages.

I guess, it´s all about politicians who want to pose as great liberators. Unfortunately all they do is create new incentives for terrorists to continue their lucrative hostage business and thereby put other people in danger. That´s probably the most despicable and irresponsible behaviour from a politician one can imagine.

Sonntag, März 06, 2005

Predictable media reactions

Did anyone really doubt that the incident that lead to the death of one italian secret service agent and the injury of Guiliana Sgrena would be interpreted as a delibarate assassination attempt by the US-Army?

This from Spiegel-Online (in german): "Zeit"-Chief Editor doubts US-Assertion"
"Sgrena herself writes that during the incident she remebered the words of her captors who cautioned her to be careful "because the americans don´t want you to return".

Why wouldn´t they want her to return? After all, an anti-american journalist who is captured by those who she always tried to depict as "resistance-fighters" could be used just great for the american "propaganda".

The real explanation for this incident is probably much more simple:
There is a huge number of young soldiers on the streets of Iraq who are simply affraid of being blown up by a carbomb, because still everyday terrorists try to kill them, although even the stupidest Iraqi should have realized by now that those soldiers are also there to bring democracy, stability and prosperity to the country.

This documentary on PBS gives a little insight into the daily job of soldiers in Iraq. It also shows the situation on Iraqi streets, which may help to understand how such incidents can happen. (found via calivalleygirl)

Update: Now Sgrenas boyfriend tells the press that she was targeted by the US-Army because of some "information" she held, that the US didn´t want to become public. Well, I guess then the best way to prove their allegations would be to publish this information... I wonder when this will happen.

Meanwhile, Fakten und Fiktionen wonders why the US-Army, instead of making sure she was dead, drives her to a military hospital and treats her. That is not exactly "standard procedure" if you want to kill someone...

Mittwoch, März 02, 2005

Germany´s energy security

A nice quote form today´s New York Times:

"[Russia] is pursuing a model of corrupt, state-managed capitalism, economists and political analysts say, that is inimical to democracy and could condemn its economy to perpetual third world status"

It´s becoming more and more obvious: Russia seems to be leaving the path of democracy and free market-economy.
For Europeans, and especially Germans, this should be a major source of concern. Under Germany´s red-green government the foundation for greater dependency on russian energy-imports has been laid. This is in part due to the ideologically motivated phasing out of nuclear energy. Though heavily subsidized by the state, renewable energy sources will not be able to compensate for the loss of atomic energy given todays rate of energy consumption, let alone the predicted rise in energy demand.

Today germany imports around 35% of its natural gas and 29% of its crude oil from Russia. According to some analysts this number could rise above 50% in the future. This may in part explain why the german government is often inclined to turn a blind eye on russia´s deficits in the area of democracy.

Unfortunately, energy security still doesn´t seem to be a big topic among germany´s politicians or the general public. I recently heard a speech by an expert who councels the german parliament on energy issues. He said that especially parliamentarians of the green party don´t like the term "Energy Security". This is probably because in their eyes anything concerning the securtiy of germany has a bad nationalist taste to it. They seem to be more inclined to think about how to plaster the landscape with more wind powerplants and dream about putting solar cells on every house in germany. This will, of course, not solve our energy problems. But the greens never concern themselves much with reality.

The US seems to be taking energy security more seriously. They are using an enormous amount of ressources to stabilize the middle east, not least because it is the most important source of energy supply for America and (even more) for its asian and european allies. Instead of criticizing them ("Blood for oil") we should have a big public debate about how we want to meet our future energy demand in germany and what we can do to secure, stabilize and democratize the regions we chooe to depend on.