There weren't quite as many submissions to this quarter's Blog Carnival of US-German Relations, perhaps because after the World Cup Americans turned their attention away from Germany, and in Germany other issues - such as Germany's participation in the Lebanon UNIFIL forces - took center stage. Nevertheless, there were some good blog postings from the "Old Guard" bloggers on transatlantic relations, and some other bloggers are making an appearance here for the first time.
A common topic for many was the five-year anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11. This day obviously carries different meanings for different people. One perspective is presented by erphschwester - a blogger in Germany who offers up daily rants on politics. She expresses a certain sadness that the US has squandered the world's goodwill after the attack by waging an unnecessary war in Iraq which she deems a failure ("eine Niederlage"). America's pain and anger about the 9/11 attack has crystallized into a diffuse fear and hatred of Islam, which has resulted in further tragedy such as the recent bombing of Lebanon. She laments that 9/11 destroyed forever the dream of peace that we had for a brief moment following the collapse of the Soviet East Bloc.
Swiss blogger Manfred Messner (Arlesheim Reloaded) provides a very private account of his shock that day five years ago. His post reminds us that many Europeans had a personal connection with New York City and the Twin Towers - their grief is just as visceral as that of any American. We must also never forget that, of the nearly 3,000 victims of the attack, 500 were citizens of other countries.
One of the foreign victims of 9/11 was the German citizen Christian Adams, who was on the fateful United Flight 93 that was brought down by the passengers to prevent it from hitting the Capitol building in Washington DC. It turns out that Adams was a Fulbright scholar, and so his fate is of special interest to the German Fulbrighters who publish the blog Atlantic Review. Joerg of the Atlantic Review has a great post on how Christian Adams was defamed in the American feature film United 93 - something that nearly every US critic missed in their (generally positive) reviews of the movie. United 93 purports to be a factual depiction of what actually took place on the plane, and passenger Adams is portrayed as a weak coward who is willing to go along with the hijackers' demands. Trouble is, there is absolutely no evidence that Christian Adams behaved in this way. For all we know, he may have been leading the charge into the cockpit. Obviously, the director was playing to the anti-European prejudice of the American moving-going audience, who imagine Americans as action heroes, while Europeans are cowardly appeasers.
The myth of the heroic American also appears in the German blog No Blood for Sauerkraut - a blog that champions the Washington neoconservative view of American military force as the world's salvation. This post also deals with 9/11 - and criticizes Der Spiegel for an article that imagines that world would be a better place if the 9/11 attacks had never occurred. The blog author - Paul13 - seems almost happy that the attacks happened, since they led to the great wars against "Islamofascism" (forget for a moment that Iraq was a secular - ie non-Islamacist - dictatorship). Paul13's views are not shared by the majority of Americans, who now see the Iraq War as a great distraction from the War on Terror. Nor are they shared by the US Intelligence agencies, who now report that the Iraq War has exacerbated the threat of terror globally.
Shifting gears from the cultural capital of the US to the cultural capital of Germany, I'd like to highlight some blog entries that deal with aspects of Berlin, a city which has always been a magnet for cultural creatives. American blogger David Houle sees Berlin as the "city of the future" in his inspirational post, but he is also haunted by the past as he walks around the city. Berliners are a proud and free people, but they suffered perhaps more than any others under terrible regimes that suppressed freedom:
"The years from 1933 to 1989 was when Berlin was under two of the most heinous totalitarian regimes in history. Since 1989 the city has made great efforts to celebrate freedom and to starkly educate all how awful it’s absence can be."
And it was a young, charismatic American president who nourished the dream of freedom in some of the city's darkest days. Blogger Marian Wirth pays tribute to John F. Kennedy and his unforgettable speech in 1963 when he expressed solidarity with all Berliners by proclaiming "Ich bin ein Berliner". That was a time when Germans wanted to learn about America and American values. One place where they could go for this purpose was the Amerika Haus in Berlin. TransatlanTicker blog gives us short history of the Amerika Haus, and how its mission has changed over time. Today, it has fallen on hard times, and not viewed with much favor by many Germans, who look askance at American values. However, this could change next year as the Amerika Haus will no longer function as a propaganda outlet for the US government, but will become a central meeting place for a variety of groups that are dedicated to transatlantic dialogue and understanding.
Blogs will also function as a virtual Amerika Haus where ordinary citizen journalists can meet and exhange viewpoints. Many thanks to all bloggers who submitted posts for this Carnival, and we look forward to future Carnivals of German-American Relations.