German Anti-Americanism, the Holocaust, and the Jews

Feb. 15 2019

Toward the end of last year, a star reporter at the prestigious German magazine Der Spiegel was revealed to be a serial fabricator. Over a dozen of his articles turned out to have two things in common: numerous, often obvious, and easily disprovable fictions and an unflattering depiction of the U.S. To Bruce Bawer, the popularity of these articles, and the credulousness of readers and editors, are further evidence of the prevalence in Germany of a species of anti-Americanism—also borne out by polling data—that cannot be entirely separated from attitudes toward Jews:

For Germans, demonizing America is a handy way of dealing with—or, rather, not dealing with—their own history. In 2014, Eric T. Hansen, an American freelance writer based in Berlin, . . . observed that anti-Americanism is not only “socially acceptable in Germany,” but it’s “downright politically incorrect to miss an opportunity” to put America down. He offered a theory: while the loss of World War II had rendered anti-Semitism verboten, “the resulting vacuum was soon filled by anti-Americanism.” I’m not going to argue with that.

Alexander Grau, a German philosopher, [maintained] in a cogent 2014 article [that] while Germans may attribute their anti-American sentiments to their distaste for a given American leader or American policy, “German reservations about the U.S. are older and deeper. The new anti-Americanism is an old anti-Americanism,” founded in 19th-century hostility to mass society, mechanization, and a “ruthless capitalism” associated in the German mind with both America and—ahem—“international financial Jewry.”

How, in Grau’s view, does World War II play into this? West Germans knew America had saved them from Soviet conquest, and were (at first) thankful. But that gratitude eventually curdled into an “anti-American neurosis” that led them, in later years, to express “solidarity with the most obnoxious autocrats in the world,” from Saddam Hussein to Bashar al-Assad, simply because they were America’s enemies.

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More about: anti-Americanism, Anti-Semitism, Germany, Holocaust, World War II

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey