Saturday, May 21, 2011

Germany and US on Osama killing

The first thing I thought when I heard the news about Osama's killing was, "Is that legal?"

It's apparently not a question that a lot of Americans are concerned about, though it was pretty much the first thing discussed over here. German Chancellor Angela Merkel commented in wag-the-dog fashion that she was "pleased that Osama was killed," which drew a lot of criticism from within her party (which calls itself Christian) as to whether anyone can be pleased about a killing.

Now that the initial excitement in the US has died down a bit, the voices asking tough questions are moving into the foreground – such as Harpers, where John R MacArthur wrote this week of

the unseemly displays of patriotic fist-pumping by Americans who feel themselves superior to chanting Islamic radicals

Those were indeed interesting images (and MacArthur asks a lot of other tough questions, so it's worth reading in full). It's hard to understand why Americans don't realize how these images are seen around the world. Over here in Germany, it was a mixture of head-shaking and indifference, but – aside from politicians, whom diplomacy prevents from voicing criticism – few were pleased, much less dancing in the street. And Germany is a close American ally; I wonder how those images of Americans dancing in the street were seen in places like Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.

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