Friday, May 27, 2011

Thanks for the mention!

From Telepolis, where my publishing career started:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Former German Chancellor Schmidt on killing of Osama

Yesterday, Helmut Schmidt – the former German chancellor who is also a frequent contributor to German weekly newspaper Die Zeit – stated that the murder of Osama bin Laden violates international law. He also said that Americans have become used to "not viewing international law as binding for themselves."

I don't know much about international law, but it seems a no-brainer to me that a country cannot assassinate someone. Schmidt makes an interesting comparison with the attempted assassination of Hitler, which he said did not violate international law, but I don't follow his reasoning. First, I'm not sure what the law was before the end of World War II; second, it was not a state, but individual Germans (who wished to take over the state) who attempted to assassinate Hitler.

Whatever the case, the most interesting thing for me remains the drastically different reaction to the killing of Osama in the US and in Germany.

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.