The Germans, it seems, can dish it out, but not take it.
“HEIDELBERG, Germany — The German military has pulled out of the U.S. Army’s annual Land Combat Expo, protesting an opinion piece written by a controversial retired U.S. officer slated to be a guest speaker at next week’s event.”
The ‘controversial retired US officer’? None other than Ralph Peters. I’m not always a fan of his viewpoints, and the Germans are quite entitled to do this (this isn’t ‘censorship’ ) but it does seem like an overreaction.
The ‘censorship’ claim aside, it’s difficult not to agree with the gist of Peters’ response:
Called for comment at home in northern Virginia, Peters said, “It’s perfectly all right for the Germans to call President Bush a Nazi, it’s perfectly all right for the Germans to criticize everything about America, to lionize Michael Moore and treat our soldiers as second-class human beings … but they want to try and censor the American media.”
Peters said the German decision was disappointing but not surprising.
“I think the fact that they’re pulling out is the best imaginable indicator of how weak our alliance is, how meaningless Germany’s contribution is,” said Peters. “If they pull out because they can’t stand one 800-word opinion piece in an American newspaper, how could we possibly expect them to stand by us in a violent crisis?”
Reading this, it’s difficult not to think that at least a partial explanation of the current transatlantic tensions is that, in some ways for the first time, Americans are arguing back against constant European criticism. Thanks in part to the Internet, more and more Europeans are becoming uncomfortably aware of that fact – and it’s not something they like.