A cold front across the Atlantic

21st July 2003, Comments 0 comments

A friend from Berlin recently returned from a visit to her home town of Kansas City with tales from what seemed a very different land, but one probably that by now should not surprise a European resident.

A friend from Berlin recently returned from a visit to her home town of Kansas City with tales from what seemed a very different land, but one probably that by now should not surprise a European resident.

On arriving home she found her parents had attached the stars and stripes to the family car, and throughout the day, from most rooms in the house, Fox TV had its reporters and opinion mongers shouting about the War On Terror!!

Fox, in the unlikely event you don't know, is Rupert Murdoch's network, which has found an audience to the right of CNN - an audience that now outnumbers CNN's.

In the Fox style the young American who was captured fighting with the Taliban is not referred to by his name but as "Jihad Johnny".

This wild bombast would seem dangerous in small doses. What it does to a household and a nation continually exposed to it can only be guessed at.

Kansas City is a town in the US mid-west where the chief recreation is to get in the very large family car and drive to the strip mall for shopping - or in the case of my friend to get your hair done.

In common with hairdressers around the world, those of Kansas City like to chat, and the question came up of where the visiting friend lived.

"Berlin."

"Berlin? Aren't you scared...isn't it dangerous?"

Most expats in Europe, in fact anyone living any distance from home, have had this kind of conversation post-11 September.

That was the day 100 million mothers picked up the phone to check on their far-flung young, and they've been calling regularly ever since.

The view that Europe, let alone the Middle East or Asia, is "over there" and as such dangerous is not exclusive to Americans, but they have excelled at it in the past, nervous six months.

The different worldviews held on either side of the Atlantic at a personal level are matched at a political level.

George Bush began his presidency in a flurry of unilateralism. His foreign policy was the same as his domestic policy and all issues were to be judged against a single criterion: "Is this good for America, specifically for the American economy?"

Global warming, trade, bi-lateral relations - everything was to be put in the balance against that single consideration.

That view changed, with everything else, on 11 September. Everything took a back seat to terror and that meant building alliances rather than stressing the primacy of American interests.

The support for the "War on Terror" has been not far short of universal, although in practical terms that often hasn't meant much. Certainly on the battlefield, as Nato leaders have pointed out, the US is today so much in a league of its own that its allies can do little more than applaud as the B-52s, Stealths and Black Hawks scream by.

But whatever the practicalities, there was a brief transatlantic moment when both sides seemed to be speaking with one voice. It didn't last as America started expanding its war beyond Afghanistan and talking of an Axis of Evil.

Now the fleeting harmony is even more distant as President Bush turns his back on the world and looks to the smaller horizons of the West Virginia steel workers - handing out subsidies of up to 30 per cent with a cheery Texan - "Thanks for the votes fellahs, and let's you all get together with me in about three years time."

That massive protectionist gesture sits oddly with all the American words about free trade and it brings with it the prospect of retaliatory measures to block American sales in Europe - and with them a spiral of contracting trade that can mean recession for the world.

Europe and America are different. Grow up in Kansas City and you will breathe in a different worldview than if you grow up in Dresden.

t you don't know, is Rupert Murdoch's network, which has found an audience to the right of CNN - an audience that now outnumbers CNN's.

In the Fox style the young American who was captured fighting with the Taliban is not referred to by his name but as "Jihad Johnny".

This wild bombast would seem dangerous in small doses. What it does to a household and a nation continually exposed to it can only be guessed at.

Kansas City is a town in the US mid-west where the chief recreation is to get in the very large family car and drive to the strip mall for shopping - or in the case of my friend to get your hair done.

In common with hairdressers around the world, those of Kansas City like to chat, and the question came up of where the visiting friend lived.

"Berlin."

"Berlin? Aren't you scared...isn't it dangerous?"

Most expats in Europe, in fact anyone living any distance from home, have had this kind of conversation post-11 September.

That was the day 100 million mothers picked up the phone to check on their far-flung young, and they've been calling regularly ever since.

The view that Europe, let alone the Middle East or Asia, is "over there" and as such dangerous is not exclusive to Americans, but they have excelled at it in the past, nervous six months.

The different worldviews held on either side of the Atlantic at a personal level are matched at a political level.

George Bush began his presidency in a flurry of unilateralism. His foreign policy was the same as his domestic policy and all issues were to be judged against a single criterion: "Is this good for America, specifically for the American economy?"

Global warming, trade, bi-lateral relations - everything was to be put in the balance against that single consideration.

That view changed, with everything else, on 11 September. Everything took a back seat to terror and that meant building alliances rather than stressing the primacy of American interests.

The support for the "War on Terror" has been not far short of universal, although in practical terms that often hasn't meant much. Certainly on the battlefield, as Nato leaders have pointed out, the US is today so much in a league of its own that its allies can do little more than applaud as the B-52s, Stealths and Black Hawks scream by.

But whatever the practicalities, there was a brief transatlantic moment when both sides seemed to be speaking with one voice. It didn't last as America started expanding its war beyond Afghanistan and talking of an Axis of Evil.

Now the fleeting harmony is even more distant as President Bush turns his back on the world and looks to the smaller horizons of the West Virginia steel workers - handing out subsidies of up to 30 per cent with a cheery Texan - "Thanks for the votes fellahs, and let's you all get together with me in about three years time."

That massive protectionist gesture sits oddly with all the American words about free trade and it brings with it the prospect of retaliatory measures to block American sales in Europe - and with them a spiral of contracting trade that can mean recession for the world.

Europe and America are different. Grow up in Kansas City and you will breathe in a different worldview than if you grow up in Dresden.

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A friend from Berlin recently returned from a visit to her home town of Kansas City with tales from what seemed a very different land, but one probably that by now should not surprise a European resident.

On arriving home she found her parents had attached the stars and stripes to the family car, and throughout the day, from most rooms in the house, Fox TV had its reporters and opinion mongers shouting about the War On Terror!!

Fox, in the unlikely event you don't know, is Rupert Murdoch's network, which has found an audience to the right of CNN - an audience that now outnumbers CNN's.

In the Fox style the young American who was captured fighting with the Taliban is not referred to by his name but as "Jihad Johnny".

This wild bombast would seem dangerous in small doses. What it does to a household and a nation continually exposed to it can only be guessed at.

Kansas City is a town in the US mid-west where the chief recreation is to get in the very large family car and drive to the strip mall for shopping - or in the case of my friend to get your hair done.

In common with hairdressers around the world, those of Kansas City like to chat, and the question came up of where the visiting friend lived.

"Berlin."

"Berlin? Aren't you scared...isn't it dangerous?"

Most expats in Europe, in fact anyone living any distance from home, have had this kind of conversation post-11 September.

That was the day 100 million mothers picked up the phone to check on their far-flung young, and they've been calling regularly ever since.

The view that Europe, let alone the Middle East or Asia, is "over there" and as such dangerous is not exclusive to Americans, but they have excelled at it in the past, nervous six months.

The different worldviews held on either side of the Atlantic at a personal level are matched at a political level.

George Bush began his presidency in a flurry of unilateralism. His foreign policy was the same as his domestic policy and all issues were to be judged against a single criterion: "Is this good for America, specifically for the American economy?"

Global warming, trade, bi-lateral relations - everything was to be put in the balance against that single consideration.

That view changed, with everything else, on 11 September. Everything took a back seat to terror and that meant building alliances rather than stressing the primacy of American interests.

The support for the "War on Terror" has been not far short of universal, although in practical terms that often hasn't meant much. Certainly on the battlefield, as Nato leaders have pointed out, the US is today so much in a league of its own that its allies can do little more than applaud as the B-52s, Stealths and Black Hawks scream by.

But whatever the practicalities, there was a brief transatlantic moment when both sides seemed to be speaking with one voice. It didn't last as America started expanding its war beyond Afghanistan and talking of an Axis of Evil.

Now the fleeting harmony is even more distant as President Bush turns his back on the world and looks to the smaller horizons of the West Virginia steel workers - handing out subsidies of up to 30 per cent with a cheery Texan - "Thanks for the votes fellahs, and let's you all get together with me in about three years time."

That massive protectionist gesture sits oddly with all the American words about free trade and it brings with it the prospect of retaliatory measures to block American sales in Europe - and with them a spiral of contracting trade that can mean recession for the world.

Europe and America are different. Grow up in Kansas City and you will breathe in a different worldview than if you grow up in Dresden.

t you don't know, is Rupert Murdoch's network, which has found an audience to the right of CNN - an audience that now outnumbers CNN's.

In the Fox style the young American who was captured fighting with the Taliban is not referred to by his name but as "Jihad Johnny".

This wild bombast would seem dangerous in small doses. What it does to a household and a nation continually exposed to it can only be guessed at.

Kansas City is a town in the US mid-west where the chief recreation is to get in the very large family car and drive to the strip mall for shopping - or in the case of my friend to get your hair done.

In common with hairdressers around the world, those of Kansas City like to chat, and the question came up of where the visiting friend lived.

"Berlin."

"Berlin? Aren't you scared...isn't it dangerous?"

Most expats in Europe, in fact anyone living any distance from home, have had this kind of conversation post-11 September.

That was the day 100 million mothers picked up the phone to check on their far-flung young, and they've been calling regularly ever since.

The view that Europe, let alone the Middle East or Asia, is "over there" and as such dangerous is not exclusive to Americans, but they have excelled at it in the past, nervous six months.

The different worldviews held on either side of the Atlantic at a personal level are matched at a political level.

George Bush began his presidency in a flurry of unilateralism. His foreign policy was the same as his domestic policy and all issues were to be judged against a single criterion: "Is this good for America, specifically for the American economy?"

Global warming, trade, bi-lateral relations - everything was to be put in the balance against that single consideration.

That view changed, with everything else, on 11 September. Everything took a back seat to terror and that meant building alliances rather than stressing the primacy of American interests.

The support for the "War on Terror" has been not far short of universal, although in practical terms that often hasn't meant much. Certainly on the battlefield, as Nato leaders have pointed out, the US is today so much in a league of its own that its allies can do little more than applaud as the B-52s, Stealths and Black Hawks scream by.

But whatever the practicalities, there was a brief transatlantic moment when both sides seemed to be speaking with one voice. It didn't last as America started expanding its war beyond Afghanistan and talking of an Axis of Evil.

Now the fleeting harmony is even more distant as President Bush turns his back on the world and looks to the smaller horizons of the West Virginia steel workers - handing out subsidies of up to 30 per cent with a cheery Texan - "Thanks for the votes fellahs, and let's you all get together with me in about three years time."

That massive protectionist gesture sits oddly with all the American words about free trade and it brings with it the prospect of retaliatory measures to block American sales in Europe - and with them a spiral of contracting trade that can mean recession for the world.

Europe and America are different. Grow up in Kansas City and you will breathe in a different worldview than if you grow up in Dresden.

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