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From Der Spiegel

I do not know when the last time I saw a more masterful job of rationalization than occurs in this article from Der Spiegel with the alarming title “War in Europe?”, about the crisis in Ukraine. Here’s a sample:

Prominent German political scientist Herfried Münkler uses his theories of “heroic” and “postheroic” societies to describe the phenomenon. At the recent Petersburg Dialogue in Leipzig — an important forum between Germany and Russia that has brought together representatives of the worlds of politics, culture and business since 2001 — Münkler said this “postheroism” is essentially an expression of prosperity, the German daily Die Tageszeitung reported. Those who have it good don’t want to jeopardize their good fortune.

Münkler argues that, as a rule of thumb, there’s an ideal of “heroism of masculinity” in poorer and less developed counties in which notions of war and defense of the homeland are idealized. In “postheroic” societies, however, which tend to be well-developed and prosperous, war is deemed to be aberrant. According to the newspaper, he argued that Eastern Europe isn’t prosperous enough to discourage young men from this idea of heroism. Indeed, politicians can often profit if they are able to tap these emotions. When it comes to Putin’s policies, he argues, this heroism aspect makes the situation unpredictable. “Dynamics are being toyed with that, at some point, will no longer be controllable,” he said.

which simultaneously portrays Germans, Der Spiegel‘s audience, as high-minded and evolved and “Eastern Europe” as poor, primitive, and aberrant.

Here’s an interesting factoid from the piece: three-quarters of Germans oppose a NATO intervention in Ukraine. Now if we could only persuade three-quarters of Germans to oppose Germany engaging in activities that foment crises that might lead to NATO intervention, it would be progress.

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About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging.

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    which simultaneously portrays Germans, Der Spiegel‘s audience, as high-minded and evolved and “Eastern Europe” as poor, primitive, and aberrant.

    This is a common sentiment in Germany and has been for a very long time. I’m not surprised to see it turn up, even in a publication as ostensibly liberal as Der Spiegel. Old hatreds often die very hard.

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  2. Now if we could only persuade three-quarters of Germans to oppose Germany engaging in activities that foment crises that might lead to NATO intervention, it would be progress.

    Um…. what has Germany been doing that qualifies as “engaging in activities that foment crises that might lead to NATO intervention”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The dance of the seven veils the EU has been engaging in with Ukraine over the last few years certainly qualifies. For practical purposes the EU is Germany. NATO expansion certainly qualifies. If the Germans had opposed it, there would have been no NATO expansion. My recollection is that they’ve been the great champions. Back twenty years ago the Germans encouraged Croatian secession from Yugoslavia. The list goes on.

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  4. Matt Bernius says:

    @Mikey:

    This is a common sentiment in Germany and has been for a very long time.

    Not just German, this is a deeply ingrained belief in Western Europe and the US as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  5. @Dave Schuler:

    If the Germans had opposed it, there would have been no NATO expansion. My recollection is that they’ve been the great champions.

    Merkel Affirms German Stance Against NATO Expansion

    If the US had their way, we’d right now be faced with Russia invading a NATO member. Germany and France are the only reason we haven’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  6. Mu says:

    Sorry Der Spiegel is not a liberal but a left magazine. Unlike the US, Germany does have a liberal scene that is not left but mostly what we’d call fiscal conservatives. The Spiegel has been the social democrats house magazine for 50 years, nothing liberal about its opinions.
    So you’re missing the one really fun discussion in the Spiegel for the moment, about the death of a German exchange student. He learned about the castle doctrine in Montana the hard way, and that’s very upsetting to the enlightened Germans. They interviewed a half dozen other German exchange students that were all up in arms about the gun prevalence in their host families. Somehow the one kid must have missed that lesson. But then, if he’d paid attention to the “thou shall not steal” lesson he’d not been in the situation in the first place.

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  7. Dave Schuler says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If you tthink I’ve been a big fan of U. S. foreign policy for, say, the last 45 years, you’ve been misinterpeting my foreign policy posts.

    BTW, Article 10 of the convention requires unanimous agreement on NATO expansion. In other words, if Germany opposed expansion, there would have been no expansion. Apparently, there’s opposition and then there’s opposition.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. @Dave Schuler:

    That’s great, but you still said Germany was in favor of something they were actually strongly opposed to.

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  9. Dave Schuler says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    See my comment above.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. PD Shaw says:

    @Dave, your first response to Stormy is confusing in that you seem to be focused on Ukraine and thus the issue of expanding NATO into Ukraine.

    I take from your subsequent responses that you are talking about NATO expanding in other places.

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  11. PD Shaw says:

    When people talk about “heroic” societies, I think of NAZI Germany. (Note that heroism is described as both an attribute of a society and in martial terms.) It doesn’t strike me that Germany in the mid to late 30s was poorer or less developed than its peer states.

    Anyway, it just comes across as a self-congratulatory lament that Europe has entered the “End of History” and no longer has the need or capacity for war. The Eloi are quite beautiful; too bad about those morlocks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. Tran says:

    @Dave Schuler: Sorry but I think you have no idea what you are talking about. A quick trip to google would have shown you that Germany vetoed admitting Ukraine and Georgia into NATO when Bush lobbied heavily for it. Instead of “limited” conflicts in the breakaway regions of Georgia and in Ukraine, we would already have a war between NATO and Russia.

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  13. bill says:

    @Tran: good point, but i doubt if russia would have even bothered attacking anything NATO! they’d antagonize, but i can’t see them actually doing what they just did.

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