U.S. Reputation Suffering in Germany
| Germans view Americans with an increasingly negative opinion, according to recent German and U.S.-based studies. One comprehensive poll conducted by Washington-based Pew Research indicates a significant drop in global opinion of the United States, from Middle Eastern countries to long-standing allies.|
In Germany, positive opinions toward America as a nation have dropped to 30 percent, according to Pew’s Global Attitudes Project. The figure represents the lowest approval rating of any European nation surveyed.
According to Pew senior researcher Richard Wike, a U.S. State Department poll at the start of the decade found that 78 percent of Germans viewed the U.S. in a positive light.
Berlin’s Forsa Institute found this spring that 48 percent of Germans think the United States is “more dangerous for world peace than Iran.”
Many attribute the attitude of Germans toward Americans to the unpopular presence of the U.S. Army in Iraq. The U.S.-led offensive was a subject of sharp criticism in Germany surrounding the 2003 invasion, when Chancellor Gerhard Schröder spoke out against President George Bush and refused to endorse the effort.
“The emotions surrounding it were understandable since it was the first time that the Germans said ‘no,’” Wolfgang Tönnesmann, a political scientist at the Atlantic Academy, said of Schröder’s refusal to send German soldiers to Iraq and the hostile public attitude in Germany. “[P]eople with anti-American attitudes felt justified. Others with less well-formed attitudes were drawn to that position. Life at the stammtisch [pub table] became a lot easier when you voiced critical opinions on the U.S.”
“[S]ince the beginning of the war in Iraq, the image of the U.S. as a power that has no qualms about military interventions and which sees itself as the world police has grown,” Manfred Güllner, head of the Forsa Institute, said.
Few Germans favor a strong American foreign policy.
“Germans don’t need American protection anymore (or so they believe),” Alexander Höse, a University of Cologne foreign policy analyst, said. “America is now just seen as the 300-pound gorilla throwing its weight around; nobody likes that.”
But German resentment toward the United States runs much deeper than the politics surrounding the war in Iraq. Güllner says low opinion of the U.S. is connected with the war, but other analysts say criticism of the war is simply the expression of a profound latent antipathy engrained in the German mindset.
“There has always been anti-Americanism in Germany on both the Left and in particular the Right, and some people who have disliked the U.S. all along now feel vindicated,” Tönnesmann said of the Iraq war.
Andrei Markovits, a University of Michigan professor of Comparative Politics and German Studies, says German anti-Americanism is blatant, not latent. “It is a conflicting emotion that is hard to define, a deep-seated resentment on the part of Germans and Europeans toward America,” he said. Markovits, the author of Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America, added that anti-Americanism is practically a sport among intellectual elites in Germany.
“Europeans don’t like the U.S. because it’s big, brash, uncouth, vulgar, yet quick,” he said. “Then, when it becomes powerful and intervenes in Europe like it did throughout the 20th century, which was to many Europeans’ benefit, they don’t like it.”
With deep-seated German dislike of the U.S. actuating with the crisis in Iraq, Americans in Europe are facing prejudices and hostility, according to Deutsche Welle.
“Americans have a difficult time here right now,” Tönnesmann said. “Students in particular get a lot of questions about what their government is doing, and they have to justify themselves, and occasionally Germans show their disrespect or dislike.”
Based on biblical prophecy, we expect to see a “lover” relationship between the U.S. and Germany—particularly in their leaders—to deepen in the time ahead. However, the antipathy of an increasing number of Germans will not go away. Look for German dislike of the U.S. to increase in coming years, and, eventually, for a strong leader to marshal this engrained sentiment into a new and yet frighteningly familiar form of deadly German nationalism. Read Germany and the Holy Roman Empire for more on Germany’s historical roots and its fearsome future with the United States.
Friday, August 10, 2007
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