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Hey Pamela, very much looking forward to your "dealing" with nail75. Always nice to read your comments. I see two reasons for the release of the terror suspects. First, as blue pointed out, there are legal reasons for this. I agree with him, the flight risk might be more of an issue than the authorities think. On the other hand, and this is the second reason for them being released, I do think the authorities will keep a very close watch on the supects. I could imagine they are trying to gather more intel on whether there are more people involved in this whole plot. Regarding nail75's comments on the perception of a terrorist threat and the reality of such a threat: I think the task at hand will be a very difficult one for every state faced by such a threat. The balance between safety and risks that you are willing to take on the one hand and the democratic rights and freedom of each citizen of the state on the other hand is a very delicate issue. Too much restraints of freedom and rights and people will rightfully ask whether the state they live in is the sort of democratic state they want to live in. Not enough safety and too frequent terrorist attacks and people again will rightfully ask whether their state can provide them with the security they need. In my opinion Germany has handled the last terrorist threat it faced, namely the left wing terror by the Red Army Faction in the 70ies througout the 80ies to early 90ies quite well. I know there unfortunately were enough victims to suggest otherwise, but the size of the threat should be taken into consideration. I don't have any numbers, but especially in light of the still prevalent influence of the so called 68ers (people that took part in the student riots/protests following the year of 1968) one could argue that the base of supporters and sympathizers was far larger and wider spread across society (at least inside the of germany) than it is at the moment with the islamist threat. Helmut Schmidt, the German chancellor at the height of the threat in the late 70ies, to this day argues that had he given in to the terrorist demands it could well have done really bad damage to the German state at its core. Although this shows that taking a hard stance on terrorism including measures like (racial) profiling, wiretapping ect. will help in the fight against terrorism it will only take you so far. I live in the city of Bonn (the former capital of Germany) and from what older friends have told me the reactions to this threat were very extreme in some cases. In the fall of 77 many parts of Bonn almost resembled a warzone with tanks standing in front of official buildings. All across Germany highway exits were lined with roadblocks with policemen holding machine guns. One friend of mine was cycling and got caught in a tram's rails and fell down. There was a politician with his police escort behind her and she immediately stared down five machine guns because they thought this was a diversion maneuver for an attack (which was the way that the actual attacks mostly were carried out). But then again, all those (in my opinion) quite strong measures to combat the terrorist threat were not able to prevent most of the assasinations of the 80ies and 90ies. In fact, only as recently as 2002 or 2003 were the police able to tie an already killed terrorist to an assasination via a genetic fingerprint. In the end it was the lack of support for their issues from society that got the RAF to give up. Now, in no way do I think that the two cases are similar enough to assume that the Islamists will simply give up if we just play nice with them. But I do argue that it will take much more than just law enforcement, wire tapping, racial profiling etc. to counter this threat. And yes, this does include the possibility of bringing democracy and freedom to the middle eastern states, probably and unfortunately by means of war or other force.
Toggle Commented Nov 21, 2006 on But why Germany? at Davids Medienkritik
The hideous article aside (the Spiegel one, not yours) I can't help but feel that a lot of energy in the current Liberal vs. Neocon argument (I will call it that for simplification, might as well go with war/anti-war etc.) gets wasted by way too much finger pointing. "See, if you hadn't done that and if you had done that,...and now take a look at the mess we're in...." and the hard to resist "See, I told you so". In my view we should start looking forward and simply accept the fact that both sides had their fair share of misdoings in the past. Mostly because it was simply in their, or their voters', in the economies', or their supporter's best interest at the time. Clinton failed miserably in the 90s in acknowledging the threat of Islamic Terrorism and doing something about it. Reagan as well as Carter before him and Bush sen. after him had their little adventures. Arming the Mujahideen, the whole Iran-Contra deal come to mind. And this is where I think we should start looking at those mistakes and finally learn something from them. You correctly point out that no one in their right mind would want to go back to a "Unser Hurensohn" ("Our son of a bitch") policy. So I guess we should start thinking about a different way of setting things in order. Because at the moment I don't see either the Liberals or the Neocons as having any concepts that don't involve some sort of a "Our son of a bitch" element. Uzbekistan plays (or played) a more or less important role in the fight against the Taliban. The Germans (or maybe Europe as a whole) are/is in bed with Russia and China for gas supplies and econimic reasons respectively. China plays a major factor in the rest of the world's inability to interfere in Sudan/Darfur. But are we really willing to pay three times the price for our iPods because we are not able to manufacture them in China any longer due to some political quarry? (oversimplified I admit, but I hope you get what I'm aiming at) Herein lies the true challenge ahead of us. Finding a way to balance our own interests with our ideals about freedom and wellbeing worldwide. I think the core values that both sides are trying to pursue are not that far from each other. Again, I will refrain from finger pointing because both sides have at numerous times abandoned those values in order to pursue different goals or interests. I hope this wasn't too off topic, but the discussed article in question is so badly done that I didn't really see the need to just post a comment of affirmation. Although I will admit that I do enjoy to read Fukuyama from time to time. He might be an opportunist but at least he openly admits that he was wrong to a certain degree.
This is indeed an interesting situation that is now arising: Will the German media use the same rhetoric as in regards to the Abu Ghraib situation (i.e. like David already pointed out talk about "Germans" or "Germany" committing those crimes) or will they try to present this as an isolated event? From what I have read up to now and in light of the whole Kurnaz situation I find this not so likely anymore. Even Spiegel in their article about the freedom of press pointed out that the Government is too desperately trying to keep a lot of things under cover. So I guess there's hope that the mass media will at least to a certain degree focus more on the shit thats going on in our own government (be it the former SPD/DieGrünen or the current SPD/CDU one). This especially in light of the shameless biography of our former chancelor.
Toggle Commented Oct 25, 2006 on Germany's Abu Ghraib? at Davids Medienkritik
This is definitely a really bad article. Not that I had expected otherwise from Der Stern. On the other hand I would have hardly noticed without this blog cause I see Der Stern together with Spiegel and Focus not in a remote way as examples of serious journalism (which seems to be hard to come by nowadays anywhere in the world anyways). As I am German and have not yet given up hope completely for the Germans, Europeans and the media here as well I would like to point out that from what I've read up to now there seems to be some uncommon consensus on the condemnation of NK, politically as well as in the media. Even on Spiegel Online I could up to now not find anything as bad as the article above. On there is a quite uncommon lack of negativity towards Bush which seems to have been replaced by a diversity of reports about Russia and NK. A commentary on Sueddeutsche points out that this problem will only be solved with help from the US and only sees hope in a common hard stance by China and the US towards NK. Signs of hope? Success of this blog? Or just coincidence? Probably the German saying "Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt" (Hope dies last) is a good way to describe my feelings towards the situation.
@RayD "As far as SPIEGEL being "right" about Iraq. If you look at Saddam Hussein's history leading up to 2003 and talk to his victims (something SPIEGEL has done very little of) it is not at all clear that they were "right."" I certainly hope you did not think I would argue that Der Spiegel is right about Iraq. Maybe my formulation was not clear. In my opinion they themselves think they are right about Iraq and thus in their own conviction it makes perfect sense for them to blurt out "See, we told you so". I do agree, however, that this is in no way a sign of good journalism and it does actually hurt the cause of those who would very much like to take part for example in the discussion about torture that you mentioned. @WhatDoIKnow "Der SPIEGEL is about as "fair and balanced" as FoxNews is, just on the other side of the table. Is this sentence deep analysis, is it wisdom, or is it... crap?" And then to quote myself: "I agree with Mentar, Spiegel is a bad example for polemic journalism as well as probably fox news or some other media on the "right" are." After reading your comment and actually giving this some deeper thoughts I will have to retract this statement. Given the current and on this blog well documented state of the german media I do regularly look for new input from sources that don't tell me what I already know but instead offer different views that are necessary for me to form my own opinon. I will most often find those on a variety of American news outlets such as for example FoxNews. As I purposely search for opinions that will be contrary to mine in certain aspects I must admit that my subjectivity misled me in so far as I overlooked the many articles that actually do state views that I share. But then I guess this is a human mistake to make, so please forgive me.
I agree with Mentar, Spiegel is a bad example for polemic journalism as well as probably fox news or some other media on the "right" are. The point to me seems, as you Ray correctly mentioned, that everyone with certain interests - in the case of spiegel those being their success as a magazine - will leave out anything that might harm those interests. I don't expect to read a lenghty article about the possible dangers to our (western) legal and moral values posed by the so called "torture bill" on this blog as well as I don't expect to read an article about the benefits of a successful democratization of Iraq in spiegel or any other of the so called left german media magazines (or any other german news media probably). For me as a reader the simple fact that I am able to get both sides presented to me and being able to form my own opinion and even comment on it here in this blog is more than enough. There is a lot of misinformation on both sides and I certainly don't expect anyone with an agenda to point out their own faults to me. Two more things from your article I would like to comment on. First you state "And allow us to remind our friends at "Der Spiegel" of something else they may have forgotten: American defeat in Iraq would represent a catastrophe for the millions of people of Iraq and possibly for the wider Middle East". Very correct. But besides the point that Spiegel is trying to make. As they were against the war from the beginning and as they are obviously bent on proving a point here you can't really blame them for saying "See, I told you so". I doubt that this is a good statement to make at the moment and I also doubt that this kind of statement will help in any way to improve the situation for the people suffering. But from their point of things it makes as much sense to say something like this as it will make for the supporters of the war on Iraq in let's say 10-15 years when we hopefully will have a stable democratic islamic Iraq to say "See, I told you so". Then you wrote "Saddam's atrocities have received only a tiny fraction of the coverage that Abu-Ghraib and Guantanamo have received". I agree that there is not nearly enough attention paid to the various atrocities going on in the world at the moment. Darfur being just one of them that so confidently is being ignored because there's two big players who have interests in Sudan and no one's daring to go against them, not even the US. But from my point of view I see a big difference between someone that is fighting in the name of democracy and human rights on the one hand and someone who says human rights are an invention of the west in order to enslave islam on the other hand. If the latter goes on a killing and torturing spree I hardly expected them to do otherwise, if any western government does so I am not really surprised that this creates a bit more of a "hooplah". What I agree with a 100% is your underlying argument (at least what I read into it) that the media should put much more focus on the suffering of those people, regardless of who is the so called evil-doer. For the people in Darfur or the inmates of Abu-Graib or the people in Iraq being hurt by terrorists it doesn't really make a difference who's behind it as long as the suffering stops. But I guess that in (international) politics this is just wishful thinking as, again, there's just too damn many people with an agenda.