Okay, I have always had my suspicions about this Josef Joffe guy at Die Zeit. I think he may even be like a closet American (igitt!) or something. But whatever the hell he is, he has now obviously gone off the deep end. This just has to stop. Somebody might actually start reading this stuff and maybe even begin believing what they read. In the leading article on the front page of this week’s Die Zeit issue (“A Good Beginning”), he writes a few lines about Iraq, for instance, that bring me completely durcheinander (confuse the hell out of me). And this is significant because I’m usually only just slightly confused, you see.

“Iraq: Here one can use a variation of an old peace movement saying – ‘imagine if there were war and nobody came’. The good news can no longer be ignored. The number of civilians murdered there dropped from 3,450 to 650 in 2007. The number of insurgent attacks has dropped more than half, the terrorist bombing attacks have dropped two thirds. The number of Iraqi troops has risen from 320,000 to 430,000, the funds which Bagdad now transfers to the provinces has doubled.

The reason? Certainly the Americans have learned a more intelligent way of waging warfare with the 30,000 additional men now under General Petraeus’ command. Decisive, however, has been the outcome of another war within the war; the one which was waged between the Sunni minority, the former ruling elite, and the liberated Shia majority. In 2006, the year of the worst massacres, the Sunnis bet everything on one card, in 2007 they realized that they could not win this va banque game against their own people. Just at that moment, Patraeus then proved to have high political intelligence by giving responsibility to those who had been Saddam’s outlaws up until then. Not a single Sunni joined the Iraqi army in 2006, 50,000 joined in 2007.“

And on and on and blah, blah, blah. Hello? And it doesn’t just stop there, either. He then goes on to paint a relatively rosy picture of the rest of the world that, well, not even the most optimistic American would dare attempt to do (not these days, anyway). In a nutshell: Israel and the Palestinians are going to make it happen despite Hamas, Iran is actually on the defensive right now, North Korea is a done deal, and China and Russia aren’t ten feet tall after all.

Now I know that this is the end of the year and everything and that it’s time for good cheer and all that, but could it be that the folks up there at Die Zeit were passing around the eggnog a little too early and generously the other day in the office? This kind of positive thinking is unnatural in this part of the world. This kind of optimism goes against everything Germany stands for. It is an insidious enemy that seeks to infiltrate and bring into question some of this country’s staunchly traditional and most highly valued bad attitudes, popularly flawed judgments, well-loved misconceptions, and other cherished dogmatic and dramatic type stuff like that.

Are you off your rocker or something, Herr Joffe? Or are you just doof (dopey)? Somebody is going to punch your lights out if you keep this stuff up. Do us all a favor and get on the next Billigflug and fly down to the Canary Islands for a few weeks like everybody else does here this time of year, only sober up a little while you’re down there (unlike everybody else does this time of year). I expect a slightly more objective look at these issues when you’re back in the office starting mid-January or so, s’il vous plait, February at the latest. You had your little bit of fun, Mr. Big Shot Journalist, now get back to work and give the people what they want. That’s the kind of “A Good Beginning” for 2008 your compatriots deserve. You clown.

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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