Category: Germany


“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” – Winston Churchill

Relationships matter, now more than ever.

Tact also counts more than ever, even for those not known for gentile diplomacy.

It’s way too easy to obsess about our digital world with instantaneous global communication in mere nanoseconds, which was unthinkable three decades ago.

These “destructive” technologies have forever changed the world (note Facebook and Google privacy concerns).

Even more destructive is the ability to plunge the world into an unthinkable thermonuclear exchange.

And let’s not forget trying to deflect attention from the ubiquitous, addictive smart phone.

Despite all these seismic shifts in the form of digital ones-and-zeroes, personal relationships are more than ever taking center-stage, particularly in the global political arena.

Think of it as “The Art of the Deal” on steroids.

Not So Warm and Fuzzy

What are the most important public relations of all?

The answers are personal public relations and reputation management.

Do Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have the best personal PR, let alone Kim Jong Un?

This question seems almost silly, but the ability and willingness of these gents (and at least one Frau) to establish and maintain fragile bromances and romances in our scary digital world are absolutely vital for our survival.

Consider that Trump and Kim (dubbed by The Donald as “Rocket Man”) were bragging about the capability of their nuclear buttons a few months ago, yet they still may or may not meet in Singapore on June 12.

Despite the low expectations for lasting, meaningful success, the prospect of a Trump-Kim summit is far better than a potential nuclear war.

Arm-in-Arm gehen Francois Mitterrand (l) und Helmut Kohl (r)

When it comes to war and peace, bromances and romances matter. The longest sustained peace in Europe has been maintained by the establishment of The European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, followed by the European Community (EU) in 1993.

If you are scoring at home there has been peace for the most part on the European continent for 73 years and counting. The relationship between the two most influential EU members – Germany and France – has survived and prospered by means of the relationships between Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, and then Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand, and now Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

As the lone woman in this equation (all due respect is afforded to the UK’s Theresa May), Merkel is rightfully regarded as the most powerful woman on earth – a title she did not seek and obviously does not cherish.

Nonetheless, Merkel has proven she is more than a match for some of the most self-absorbed men on this planet including: Trump, Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and to a lesser extent, Marcon.

Merkel’s relationship to Messrs. Trump and Putin are not warm and fuzzy, but she has been an effective foil. She rolled her eyes at Trump and reportedly insists on speaking German to Putin, while Putin speaks Russian to her – even though they are fluent in their respective languages.

Macron has obviously concluded that Trump is the leader of the world’s largest economy and power. Some have scoffed at the bromance between the two, and questioned what Macron has received in return (e.g., US pulled out the Paris accord and the Iran nuclear deal). Keep in mind that Macron has Trump’s ear, and may be Europe’s closest confidant to POTUS.

Trump’s bromance with China’s president Xi, including a visit to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, is a complicated relationship including strategizing about Kim Jong Un’s nagging North Korea and the question of tariffs and intellectual property (IP) protection. A solid, even though conflicted, relationship between the world’s two largest economic and military powers increases – not decreases – the prospect for world peace and maybe even, harmony.

President Donald Trump talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with their wives, first lady Melania Trump and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan as they pose for photographers before dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Time will tell whether Almost DailyBrett is correct on this point; hopefully that is the case.

You Can Take Putin Out of the KGB …

But you can’t take the KGB out of Putin.

Russia’s leader will play games, including inviting his black lab Koni to a 2007 summit with canine-phobic Merkel (see earlier Almost DailyBrett blog on this Machiavellian topic). How will Putin exploit perceived Trump weaknesses? How will Trump counter?

And yet these two leaders appear to enjoy each other’s company, at least in front of the cameras.

Will Trump develop the same kind of rapport with Kim Jong Un?

Kim has already kibitzed with Xi and most recently on both sides of the most heavily fortified and dangerous border with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.  The overriding subject of their historic encounters: the prospect for a summit between Kim and The Donald, regardless of the potential for success.

In our increasingly dangerous world – in which the digital ones and zeroes work for us and hopefully not against us – Almost DailyBrett takes the humble view that talking is far better than fighting.

Bromances and Romances matter.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/33365-tact-is-the-ability-to-tell-someone-to-go-to

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/common-market-founded

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

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“After the United States gobbled up California and half of Mexico, and we (Nazi Germany) were stripped down to nothing, territorial expansion suddenly becomes a crime. It’s been going on for centuries, and it will still go on,” – Hermann Goering at the Nürnberg Trials

The charges at the Nürnberg Trials focused on Nazi Germany’s conspiracy to wage global war, and as a result millions were left dead across devastated Europe, and more than 6 million perished in the Holocaust.

The 1945-1946 Nürnberg judicial proceedings had zero to do with the 19th Century US acquisition of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas following the Mexican War. Goering’s lame attempt at “WhatAboutism?” ultimately failed as a legal tactic.

And while Goering dodged the hangman’s noose via a cyanide tablet, the practice of “WhatAboutism?,” clumsily evading inconvenient subjects with rhetorical deflections, is alive and well in our 21st Century discourse.

If the subject is the #MeToo movement, why do more than a few Democrats say “WhatAbout Donald Trump (e.g., Stormy Daniels)?” and more than a few Republicans chime in with “WhatAbout Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky)?” Neither gent is a paragon of virtue. We all know that.

Isn’t the real subject about sexual harassment/abuse targeting women regardless of the perpetrator’s side of the political divide or profession (i.e., major networks, Hollywood …)?

Shouldn’t we address and endeavor as a civilized society to solve these widespread abuses targeting women? Or should we deflect attention (“What about … ?”) to avoid an uncomfortable subject, and better yet score political points?

Is “WhatAboutism?” the first-and-last recourse of the intellectually vanquished?

Does “WhatAboutism” Say More About The Perpetrator or The Receiver?

“He (Vice President Mike Pence) thinks abortion is murder, which first of all don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it—you know, you’ve got to get that baby out of there.” – Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents Association dinner

“Essentially a reversal of accusation, arguing that an opponent is guilty of an offense just as egregious or worse.” – Merriam-Webster definition of WhatAboutism

Every time, Almost DailyBrett hears a “WhatAboutism?,” a series of stages ensues in this order:

  1. Eyes roll (again); 2. Concludes that a nerve has been hit by the impulsive “WhatAbout?” reaction. 3. Realizes the “WhatAbout?” rejoinder is only intended to deflect attention/change the subject 4. Almost DailyBrett is even more determined than ever to stay on the subject, triggering a second “WhatAbout …?”

You can run Mr. or Ms. “WhatAbout?,” but you can’t hide.

If Hermann Goering can reference the Mexican War, why can’t we raise the “WhatAbout?” question about the Norman Conquest, and maybe even the Romans?

If a decent person with integrity questions Michelle Wolf’s absolutely hilarious abortion/tampon jokes at the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) dinner, does mere dissent instinctively draw a “What About” rejoinder from the defenders of “Oppositional Journalism”?

Hey just think. … Maybe … just maybe … Michelle Wolf’s lame attempt at below-the-belt, bathroom humor (e.g., cruelly directed at White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and others) was totally inappropriate for a black tie dinner of the objective Fourth Estate in Washington, D.C.?.

Instead of deflecting questions about the Wolf’s vile, hate speech with an “WhatAbout?” interrogative, why can’t the responder instead ask whether the WHCA actually vetted the speaker?

Why can’t the receiver of incoming rhetorical arrows actually make a stand, and put up a spirited defense? How about the tried-and-true response from your author’s Sacramento days:

When all else fails: declare victory.  Thinking: (“Yep, we won … And here’s why).

Instead of affixing our rhetorical bayonets and rallying all the ethos, logos and pathos at our disposal, way too many “WhyAboutists” are simply deflecting their responses to some other notorious example (e.g., Mexican War) – many times unrelated —  to return fire.

The “WhatAboutists?” think they are so smug, when in reality they are waving their intellectual white flags.

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hermann_G%C3%B6ring

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/whataboutism-origin-meaning

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/whataboutism-what-about-it/2017/08/17/4d05ed36-82b4-11e7-b359-15a3617c767b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6f53b84cac9f

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-dogs-breakfast-of-a-dinner-1525388174

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/oppositional-journalism/

 

 

 

 

 

“If I had an unattainable ideal, it was leading Europe out of her darkness toward a new age of reason. I have it still.” – George Smiley in John le Carré’s 24th best-selling novel, “A Legacy of Spies”

John le Carré’s net worth is $100 million.

His beautiful house perched over the Atlantic in Cornwall’s Land’s End is stunning.

His earned place as a premiere story-teller in the cultural history/spy genre is assured.

John le Carré (pen name for David John Moore Cornwell) is one of the greatest authors during the last two generations, regardless of category.

He projects ethos having served in Britain’s international Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), stationed in Bonn – “The Little Town in Germany,” and gravitas based on his institutional memory.

His command of die Deutsche Sprache provides him with even greater credibility, when it comes to writing about the Cold War stand-off between the Federal Republic of Germany and the so-called German Democratic Republic.

“To possess another language, Charlemagne tells us, is to possess another soul. German is such a language. Once you have it in your head, you can go there anytime, you can close the door, you have a refuge.” — John le Carré

Jawohl mein Autor!

And after more than five decades of success and praise, there are no signs of closure.

He told Steve Croft of “60 Minutes” that he already is penning his 25th English spy novel. He confessed that he becomes sad and disconsolate when one of his novels is signed, sealed and delivered (Novelist postpartum depression?). Eventually, he is born anew and refreshed when he commences work on another tome.

He still uses his well-worn pen, a pair of scissors and scotch tape to write and revise. Intel’s MPU and Microsoft’s Windows OS are not required, and presumably never will be as far as le Carré is concerned. Why change at this point of his amazing life of writing?

His wife of 46-years, Valerie Eustace, employs the humble PC to convert the le Carré prose and thoughts into binary code. Digital is indeed forever.

Some see life in one’s 80s as an afternoon nap, a cane, a walker, forgetting what day it is, merely running out the clock on life. For le Carré, it seems that his celebrated life is heading for a next chapter.

Looking Back At History; Trying to Make Sense of the Present

“If this is truly the denouement of the mystery of George Smiley and indirectly of Mr le Carré himself, there is something odd about it. It does not have the feel of closure.”The Economist review of John le Carre’s 24th novel, “A Legacy of Spies”

Re-reading and re-watching the novel/movie “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” (1963), no one questioned the urgency of standing up to the USSR just two years after the erection of the evil Berlin Wall. The death of Alec Leamas, played by Richard Burton, and British Communist Liz Gold at the base of the blasted wall, leaves the reader/viewer hoping for a better ending … one that did not come for another generation.

“A Legacy of Spies” questions what was the noble purpose that left Alec Leamas and Liz Gold prostrate in the death strip just a few climbs up the ladder to freedom. These interrogatives are easily posed in the form of a deposition. The answers are not as easy, particularly since the Soviet threat (or at least that version of the Russian menace) went into the history books nearly three decades ago.

The author of Almost DailyBrett has re-read/re-watched le Carré books and movies, learning even more from his command of detail and projection of British thought/culture as the UK has moved on from the Loss of Empire, Cold War to Brexit.

The movies based upon his books … even some that vaguely follow the actual text (e.g., BBC adaptation of the “Night Manager” ) are a further testament to the author. Besides Burton, two James Bonds have even stepped up in leading roles including Sean Connery (e.g., Russia House) and Pierce Brosnan (e.g. The Tailor of Panama).

Le Carré proves that voluminous reading and writing is a profession/hobby/source of joy that we all can enjoy until that final day arrives … Just one more paragraph, please.

More power to you, John le Carré. You’re an inspiration to all of us.

https://www.johnlecarre.com/

https://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21728611-old-masters-john-and-george-puzzle-their-watchers-legacy-spies-john-le-carr-s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4bnUHVhrjI

https://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/authors/john-le-carre-net-worth/

https://www.sis.gov.uk/

 

 

Angela Merkel is not a feminist.

There is no need for her to talk about breaking through any glass ceilings. In her own characteristic quiet and unassuming way, Merkel smashed it 12 years ago, and just did it again for the third time.

For maybe the first time since the end of occupation in 1949 Germany is a quiet, normal and happy nation, an obvious contrast to the Brexit Brits or the Trump-era Americans.

Today she is the thrice re-elected Chancellor of the patriarchal Fatherland, who just happens to be a woman … a great woman.

The soft-spoken Merkel is the most powerful voice in Europe. Some refer to her as the leader of the free world, a designation she does not want and a role that is simply too big for Germany and its 82 million people. The Economist accurately portrays Merkel’s Germany as the “reluctant hegemon.”

Merkel is on track to becoming one of the longest serving and most likely one of the greatest Kanzlers in the history of the Federal Republic of Deutschland (Bundesrepublik). Her only historical rivals are the memories of Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl.

Best of all, there is no need for Merkel to speak in the first-person singular: Ich, Mein, Mich. She prefers to talk about das Land, Deutschland.

Her campaign motto: “A Germany where we live well and gladly.” To Almost DailyBrett, this wordy mantra conjures pleasant memories of “Morning in America.”

Missing The Real Story … Again

Alas, despite Merkel’s historic accomplishments the media seems preoccupied with the initial third-place entrance of the anti-EU, anti-refugee Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) into the legislative Bundestag with about 13 percent of the vote.

With all due respect to the all-knowing and hyperventilating Fourth Estate, that’s not the story. Think of it this way: 87 percent of German voters opted for other parties, while re-electing Angela Merkel.

Maybe Merkel has unintentionally taught the world an answer to unfortunate/systemic misogyny and sexism:

Undoubtedly influenced by her Ph.D in quantum chemistry, Merkel scientifically examines the issue at hand, seeks input from a variety of sources, prepares soundly, and announces a reasoned decision. There is no place for high oratory about glass ceilings in a nation that no longer wants oratory and political symbolism/pageantry. Instead her secret is to get the job done and to do it well.

Indeed, good government is good politics.

Dealing with Germany’s past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), the nation now more than ever seeks order (Ordnung).

Merkel does not rattle the collective cages of the Fatherland’s patriarchy. She has been pejoratively labeled “Mutti,” a German diminutive of “mother.” Merkel wears this soft-sounding invective as a badge, once proclaiming that Germany is in good hands (and care) with her leadership.

Despite being labeled as the leader of the Western world, the center-right chancellor wants to work within the framework of the European Union and NATO. Since the founding of the EU, Europe has enjoyed the longest period of sustained peace in the continent’s history.

In her victory speech — that didn’t sound like a victory speech – Merkel said that she will examine why some Germans voted for the AfD, and explore how her CDU/CSU party can appeal to these poor souls.

The immediate task is the formation of a coalition government, most likely a Jamaica coalition that mirrors the colors of the island nation’s flag: CDU/CSU (black); Free Democrats (yellow) and Die Grünen (naturally … green).

After the coalition building process is done, Merkel will go back to systemically addressing issues at home and throughout Europe in her time-tested consensus building approach. There will be no time to talk and muse about her place in history.

And when it comes time for an assessment about “What Happened” during her tenure, Merkel will gladly leave that task to others.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41376577

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/24/world/europe/germany-election-merkel.html?mcubz=1

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/bundestagswahl-im-sz-liveblog-bundestag-waechst-wohl-um-mindestens-sitze-1.3671253

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/sunday-review/angela-merkel-feminist-germany.html

https://www.economist.com/blogs/kaffeeklatsch/2017/09/next-bundestag

https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21728641-assessing-leader-inscrutable-sphinxes-divas-and-queens-how-angela-merkel-changing

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Merkel

The BMW Museum and BMW World are located directly across from each other at the headquarters of the luxury auto/motorcycle designer/manufacturer in München.

Bayerische Motoren Werke (e.g., Bavarian Motor Works or BMW) adopted the tag, keeping faith with the “Rule of Three”: The Ultimate Driving Machine.

Based upon the company’s expert use of the English language and conceivably the home German Sprache as well, BMW achieved the much desired marketing goal of less is more.

Translated, BMW was able to deliver a compelling message to its target audiences (i.e., customers, media, shareholders, suppliers) using an economy of words. At the same time, each word has purpose with a powerful amplifying adjective to enhance the corporate brand and to drive sales (no pun intended).

And for the most part there is little repetition of words and no clichés (see “solutions”).

Here is how BMW at its museum describes its legendary design and engineering prowess:

 

Let’s breakdown BMW’s 101-word statement by sentence with a focus on carefully selected nouns and powerful modifying adjectives. The Almost DailyBrett (ADB) commentary follows each sentence.

“At BMW, designs are created by people for people.

ADB: The brand is immediately identified. Short, punchy attention-grabbing opening.

“In an inspiring culture of dialogue, a wide variety of disciplines, expertise and experience are combined to become an unrivaled creative force.

ADB: Skillful use of the Rule of Three: disciplines, expertise and experience. Powerful adjectives modifying concluding noun – unrivaled creative force.

“The common goal is to achieve the perfect harmonious development process for designing a vehicle.

ADB: BMW designers and engineers work as a team, using “the perfect harmonious development process … .” All organizations seek out skillful team players.

“The unique feature of this process is the internal design competition.

ADB: The “unique” feature is “competition” in internal design. As Martha would say, creative tension is a ‘Good thing.’

“It ensures the power of innovation is always present.

ADB: “Power” and “Innovation” are two of the most vibrant words in any language

“Only a strong team with a professional approach can successfully complete this demanding competitive stage.

ADB: This statement misses no opportunities to present compelling nouns with enhancing adjectives: Strong before team; Successfully before complete; Demanding and competitive before stage.

“Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection and a passion for every single detail are the key elements in producing a successful design.”

ADB: Rule of Three once again – Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection. Pathos or passion for every single detail. Key modifying elements. Strong verb: producing. Successful before design.

Let’s face it. Marketing in the 21st Century is far too many times subject to clichés or lazy combinations of buzz words.

For example, FedEx shamefully took the overused “Sustainable” and the mind-numbing “Solutions” and came up with … you guessed it … “Sustainable Solutions” for its ad about how the package carrying company’s planes and trucks protect the critters in the forest.

Gag!

How’s that for green washing on steroids?

Less is More

“The way in which information is exchanged so quickly has forever changed the way in which people want to consume information. They demand that things be condensed into 20-second sound bites. With complex problems, this is exceedingly difficult, but to be an effective communicator and leader you need to be able to condense complex items down to the core and be able to do this quickly.” – Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister.

Certainly, BMW is not the only company on the planet that makes the most out of the least number of words. Having said that, BMW is mindful of Prime Minister Blair’s admonition, which is particularly relevant in our microscopic-attention span, texting culture.

 

Here are the nouns that BMW chronologically chose to tell the story: Designs, Culture, Dialogue, Disciplines, Expertise, Experience, Force, Goal, Development Process, Features, Competition, Power, Innovation, Team, Approach, Commitment, Enthusiasm, Perfection, Passion.

Now let’s examine the adjectives – once again in chronological sequence – to amplify the nouns to present BMW’s engineering culture: Inspiring, Unrivaled. Creative, Perfect, Harmonious, Unique, Internal, Strong, Professional, Demanding, Competitive, Successful.

Almost DailyBrett is fired up after reviewing that list.

As an assistant professor of public relations, investor relations and integrated marketing communications, your author knows the bottom line is to tell the story, and to tell it well.

BMW achieved this worthy goal in just 101 skillfully chosen words and bolstered the legendary, iconic brand as well.

Wunderbar!

Are the Germans finally – after all these years — happy?

If they are for the most part smiling about life, doesn’t that mean good news for the incumbent-chancellor-running-for-re-election, Angela Merkel?

Doesn’t good government translate into good politics?

And yet there’s so much for her to fear.

The Governor George Deukmejian Laws of Politics are two-fold: Always run as if you are running behind; and never take anything for granted.

Consider that two years ago, a national F-U movement led to Brexit, and the U.K.’s upcoming departure from the strictures of the EU.

Last year America’s fly-over states pointed their collective middle fingers into the sky, and elected Donald Trump as president.

How are Brexit and Donald Trump working out?

During the past three weeks, the author of Almost DailyBrett has been informally sounding out das Volk on trains, in Bier Gartens, in hotel lobbies (all very unscientific and anecdotal) about their views about the state of their country.

When asked if they are truly happy, they seem a little startled by the sophomoric question from a simple blog author. After devoting more than a few brain cells, they come back to the conclusion that Germany is successful (e.g., low unemployment rate of 3.9 percent).

If James Carville was correct in 1992 that “It’s the economy stupid,” then the prospects are good for Frau Merkel on September 24. As The Economist reported last month, Germany has the largest trade balance in the world at $300 billion.

The nation’s budget is not only balanced, it reflects a surplus. Inflation is low at a microscopic 0.4 percent. Personal savings are high. German engineering is legendary. Alles ist in Ordnung.

Has Germany’s Standard of Living Passed America’s?

When the author of Almost DailyBrett visited divided Germany for the first time 30 years ago, the question of German happiness would seem silly. In fact, one would not even imagine, posing that interrogative.

Sitting on the terrace of the Burg Hotel Auf Schönburg in Oberwesel on the Rhine River, one can easily imagine the DAX equivalent of the Dow Transports are easily going upwards to the right. Passenger and freight ships glide northwards on the Rhine or swim similar to salmon against the currents.

Trains emerge and disappear into tunnels. Passenger cars move along the two shores or just miles away race along the no-speed limit autobahns.

German cities including Berlin, Nürnberg and München are bustling with shoppers in the stores. Spaces in the sidewalk cafes are hard to find. The large beer gardens (e.g., München’s Viktualien Markt) are jammed from happy hour into the night.

The smaller tourist towns (i.e., Heidelberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bacharach) are luring visitors seeking out castles, half-timbered houses, gardens and the white wine fruit of the vineyards.

Virtually everywhere are solar panels, modern windmills and soon electric cars from BMW and Tesla. Recycling is the rage, and clear demarcations lead to largely harmonious co-existence between walkers and bike riders.

Many have ruminated about Germany’s angst about Vergangenheitsbewältigung or dealing with the past, namely the Hitler era between 1933-1945. The Germans have addressed these horrific years by acknowledging responsibility, building monuments to the past (e.g., Holocaust Memorial in Berlin) or “Documentation Centers,” such as the one near the former Nazi parade grounds in Nürnberg or a Bunker Museum in Berlin.

Nothing has been forgotten. Everything has been acknowledged. History is all there in broad daylight. The Reichstag dome is transparent to signal a change in the national approach to governance.

Is It Truly Morning in Germany?

Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1984 under the banner, “Morning in America.”

The message was patriotism, good times, and a promising tomorrow. Reagan won 49 of 50 states that November.

Merkel is courageously embracing the German flag – the black, red and gold tricolor – as she presents her three-term administration for another four years next month. Germans proudly wave their democratic flag in Deutsche Fussballbund games. The message is love of land, not nationalism. Those unfortunate days for the latter are gone, and for good reason.

Will Angela Merkel win in September embracing the flag, and essentially saying it is indeed “Morning in Germany”? Her latest campaign ad reflects that strategy.

Almost DailyBrett was wrong about Brexit and the same about Trump. These undeniable points need to be acknowledged. And yet, there are no strident middle fingers to be seen in today’s Germany.

The collective mood points to the prospect of a smiling Angela Merkel on September 24. If so, Germany will continue to be in Mutti’s sure hands.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/germans-are-learning-to-love-germany-again-and-merkel-takes-note/2017/07/20/28951bbe-68a8-11e7-94ab-5b1f0ff459df_story.html?utm_term=.147da70955c9

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/the-new-german-problem/

http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/ronald-reagan/videos/morning-in-america

https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21724810-country-saves-too-much-and-spends-too-little-why-germanys-current-account-surplus-bad

https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21724801-germany-admired-its-stability-derided-persistent-trade-surpluses-good-and-bad

 

 

It’s not whose army wins, it’s also whose story wins. And we have to think more about narratives and whose narrative is going to be the most effective.” – Harvard Kennedy School Political Science Professor Joseph Nye, 2010 TED Talk

The U.S. ranks No. 1 for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at $18.56 trillion, and holds the top position in The National Brand Index.

When it comes to “hard power,” including its military and its economy, the U.S. has no rivals … at least for the immediate future.

Despite these clear hard-power advantages, the U.S. reportedly spent $670 million for “public diplomacy” in 2014, according to George Washington University professor of political science David Shambaugh.

In contrast, China spends $10 billion annually to project itself as a “soft power.”

China as a soft power? In essence, the answer is affirmative. China recognizes it needs more than the collective power of its 1.37 billion people, its second-ranking $11.39 trillion economy, and its growing military strength. China is trying to promote its distinct culture, its language and market its country as a place to invest and visit.

The aforementioned Professor Nye is widely credited with formulating the notion of “soft power” or projecting what you have in terms of culture, language, business, tourism etc. to those who may want the same.

Some contend as mentioned in the stately The Economist that a totalitarian state (e.g., China) may not effectively exhibit soft power as it may be interpreted as single-party propaganda. And yet China created The Confucius Institute in 2004 to entice the appreciation of its culture, to lure hundreds of thousands to study its difficult language and visit and invest in China.

Is the Politburo in Beijing trying to buy love?

From The Devastation of War, Occupation, Division and the Holocaust

The activities of the Goethe Institut improve Germany’s reputation abroad, enhance the quality of German-language teaching, contribute to the development of the German language, promote German artists worldwide, and attract talented youth and professionals to Germany.” – Tatiana Lanshina, “The Goethe Institute and Soft Power”

Germany experimented twice in “hard power” in the 20th Century … and lost big time, both times.

In 1951, Germany’s public relations (Öffentlichkeitsarbeit) were understandably at an all-time low … most likely the deepest nadir experienced by any country at any time. Interest in German Kultur, Sprache and Land was close to nil.

These facts did not stop Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the German government from creating the Goethe Institut in 1951. The mission of this 350-Euro non-profit organization, drawing the majority of its funds from the German foreign ministry, was to use the forgiveness of time to eventually and systematically regain interest in Das Land in der Mitte (The country in the middle of Europe).

Fast forward to today, Germany is No. 2 in the National Brand Index trailing only the United States. The country’s transformation from an international pariah to revered is nothing less than a public relations miracle (Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder).

The author of Almost DailyBrett has a framed Goethe Institut Zertifikat B1 for German language study in his office at Central Washington University. Is the Goethe Institut solely responsible for Germany’s resurrection? Of course not.

There are many other determinants including the reunification, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Economic Miracle, the Marshall Plan, Made in Germany, four World Cup wins, German business success, Germany’s hegemony in the European Union, the popularity of Angela Merkel and many other factors.

Germany understands more than other nations that hard power is not the answer. China obviously appreciates this fact as well. Ditto France with its Alliance Francaise, Italy with its Societa Dante Alighieri, Great Britain with its British Council, Spain with its Instituto Cervantes and Portugal with its Instituto Camoes.

All of the above brings up the obviously question: Who and what projects “soft power” for the United States? One other question: Are we satisfied with the answers?

Donald Trump, Hollyweird, American Media?

Certainly, the U.S. is nowhere near the lousy image that Germany endured – and still suffers – as a result of the 12 years of Hitler and the Nazis. Nonetheless, the U.S. image at home and abroad is less than ideal regardless of the nation’s military and economic hard-power advantages and the country’s number one ranking in the National Brand Index.

Who sets the tone for the United States of America?

Try traveling abroad and see how many times you are asked about Donald Trump once it becomes known that you reside in the Land of Uncle Sam? Does the intemperate, nocturnal Tweeter-in-Chief send the best of image of the red, white and blue across the fruited plain and across the ponds?

How about Hollyweird and the denizens of the TMZ?

The entertainment industry can’t even deliver the right envelope for its biggest announcement of the year (e.g., Oscar for Best Picture) at its most celebrated venue (e.g., The 2017 Academy Awards). Do we really want to entrust our soft power to this motley crew?

When it comes to our elite media, the American public sold the stock and voted them out of office. According to Gallup, the Woodward & Bernstein media of 1976 enjoyed a 72 percent approval rating. Last year, the same polling firm recorded a 32 percent approval rating for the boys and girls of the Fourth Estate, a 55.5 percent decline in the last 40 years.

If the American public is turned off by our nattering nabobs of negativism, why would those beyond our borders respect their interpretations of American soft power?

Maybe the time has come for a non-profit, soft-power Mark Twain, Will Rogers or some other American literary giant institute to celebrate American culture (e.g., baseball, hot dogs and apple pie), our unique take on the English language, and the USA as a wonderful place for investment and tourism?

Or maybe we can instead just leave the task to Donald Trump, Hollyweird and the failing American elite media?

https://www.economist.com/news/china/21719508-can-money-buy-sort-thing-china-spending-billions-make-world-love-it

http://www.ted.com/talks/joseph_nye_on_global_power_shifts

http://www.demdigest.net/tag/soft-power/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucius_Institute

https://www.goethe.de/en/index.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/25/enemy-of-the-american-people/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx

 

 

“ … The old divide between left and right is growing less important than a new one between open and closed.” – The Economist, March 4, 2017

During the Cold War, the communism vs. capitalism divide was referred to as a contest of wills between “East and West.”

Even today, we use directions to describe the dangerous world of dark-and-foreboding North Korea and the bright lights of cosmopolitan-industrial powerhouse South Korea.

For more than 100 years, there were the Democrats from the left (e.g., Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and Republicans from the right (e.g. Ronald Reagan).

Reagan just turned over in his grave.

Reagan will be forever remembered for his controversial call, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this (Berlin) wall.” The eternally optimistic Republican president embraced neo-liberal open markets, globalization and free enterprise.

In contrast, Reagan’s “Republican” successor Donald J. Trump wants to build a wall. He implores American governments and businesses to his brand of populism, calling for them to “buy American” and “hire American.” There is open talk of “border adjustment taxes,” a taxing concept which would be an anathema to Reagan.

Against this backdrop, guess who is coming to visit The Donald this Tuesday? Frau “Open” (Offen) Angela Merkel, the chancellor of the nearly $300-billion world’s largest account surplus, export-powerhouse Germany.

Making the proceedings even more tender and sensitive is the fact that Americans buy 107 billion Euros worth of German goods each year, while Germans purchase 57 billion of American output per annum.

Translated: Americans consume German cars (e.g., BMW, Mercedes, Audi, VW) and down German beer, while Germans favor their own automotive companies and refuse to drink “dishwater” (e.g., Anheuser Busch products).

Using old thinking, one would conclude that moderate-conservative Christian Democrat Angela Merkel would be to the left of a right-wing Republican president. Instead, we need to recalibrate how we view our divided world with Merkel serving as the neo-liberal (open) and Trump as the isolationist (closed).

Global F.U. Votes?

“Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘fuck you’ ever recorded in human history — and it will feel good.” – Liberal film-maker Michael Moore.

International public relations pros, journalists, pundits and campaign managers need to change their ways of thinking. Left vs. right used to be so simple – oh so simple. Those thoughts are no longer operative as a populist “Human Molotov Cocktail” took over the Republican Party and the White House and dared the party (and Wall Street too) to follow in his protectionist footsteps.

No respectable elite on the Old-World side of the pond saw Brexit coming, until it did. The Midlands overwhelming sent an F-U message to London, Brussels and Berlin. Score a major win for the “closed” crowd.

Surely, the same would not occur in the United States or so we were told our Harvard-heads pundits and pollsters? They missed the F.U. vote with the “Blue Wall” falling in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Looking forward to the next month, France will be making a similar choice between “open” Emmanuel Marcon of the En Marche! Neo-liberal, pro-trade, pro-competition, pro-immigration and pro-EU stances and “closed” Marine LePen of the National Front, who not-so-secretly wants an exit referendum on the EU and the reintroduction of the French franc.

Will France be the third industrial economy F-U vote in a little less than one year?

Undoubtedly, this undeniable trend is on the radar screen of Angela Merkel. Will she enter the White House this week from a position of strength or weakness?

Keep in mind that Almost DailyBrett and many others originally thought she was a shoe-in to be elected for her fourth term as Kanzlerin this coming September. The same thinking applied to the inevitability of Hillary Clinton becoming the first Frau President of the United States.

Merkel’s decision and subsequent pull-back to welcome (e.g., Willkommenskultur) more than 1 million Syrian refugees to Deutschland appears to be a political loser. Her re-election after 12 years in office is anything but secure now as she trails Martin Schulz of the Social Democrat Party, and the (closed) Alternative für Deutschland is gaining strength.

Could France and Germany be the latest in a string of F.U. votes? Will that mean the end of the European Union as we know it? Is this trend the end of traditional left vs. right?

Welcome to a new way of political thinking.

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21717814-why-french-presidential-election-will-have-consequences-far-beyond-its-borders-vote

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/merkel-prepares-for-difficult-visit-with-donald-trump-a-1138244.html

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21716641-not-reasons-donald-trump-thinks-it-germanys-current-account-surplus-problem

http://www.salon.com/2016/10/26/michael-moore-people-will-vote-for-donald-trump-as-a-giant-fk-you-and-hell-win/

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/766256/Angela-Merkel-Martin-Schulz-SDP-CDU-German-election-polls

The dog does not bother you, does she? She’s a friendly dog and I’m sure she will behave herself.” – Russian President Introducing “Koni,” the black lab, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007

“It (Koni) doesn’t eat journalists, after all?” – German Chancellor Angela Merkel

putinmerkelkoni

Even though the canine caper happened 10 years ago, Almost DailyBrett contends that Vladimir Putin’s Machiavellian ploy was clearly intended to intimidate and embarrass Kanzlerin Merkel. And considering the recent seismic shifts in global politics, the incident is more relevant than ever.

The most powerful woman on the planet has a well-documented case of cynophobia. She was attacked by a dog in 1995. She clearly does not relish any contact with man’s best friend, including Putin’s best canine.

During the January 21, 2007 summit with Merkel at his summer residence in Sochi, Putin’s eight-year-old Labrador retriever, Koni, made a cameo appearance during their negotiations. Even though she tried to appear cool, calm and collected, Merkel was clearly uncomfortable and unnerved by the sniffing dog.

When asked about the incident last year by the German periodical Bild, Putin insisted he did not know about Merkel’s fear of dogs.

“I wanted to do something nice for her (Merkel). When I found out that she doesn’t like dogs, of course I apologized.” – Russian President Vladimir Putin

“I understand why he has to do this — to prove he’s a man. He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.” – Kanzlerin Angela Merkel

putinmerkelkoni1

Putin Exploiting Donald Trump’s Weaknesses?

At some point, at some venue, at some pre-determined time, Donald Trump is going to meet Vladimir Putin. Will the Russian leader try to do something “nice” for the new American president?

Russia’s legendary xenophobia, coupled with its record of hacking and espionage, will certainly encourage Putin to seek out and fully exploit Trump’s personal weaknesses.

Who would have thought that a fear of dogs would be a weak point for the chancellor of the fourth largest economy of the world and the de-facto leader of the European Union? Putin obviously knew this fact, and used his Labrador to get inside of Merkel’s head.

If the tenets of military strategy are to capitalize on one’s advantages and exploit the weaknesses of an adversary, then it’s safe to assume that Putin is carefully studying Donald Trump.

trumpputinhorse

In many ways Trump and Putin are similar, but Almost DailyBrett takes issue with any discussion of a “Bromance.” Heck, they have not even met each other.

Having taken care of that silly reference, one can safely conclude they are both demagogic, alpha males with a craving for public attention and reverence. In particular, Trump is known for his thin-skin and is quick to take offense, particularly via Twitter. Will this failing be an opening for Putin to exploit?

At the same time, it is well known the Soviets took note of President Ronald Reagan publicly firing the members of the striking Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) in August, 1981. The president knew he was jeopardizing thousands of vacations and even worse risking the possibility of mid-air collisions in the skies. Putin was a key operative in the Soviet Union’s KGB at the time.

reaganpatco

Reagan was roundly criticized for exhibiting strength, and the same applies to Trump. Putin is becoming aware of Trump’s demonstrations of bravado, while at the same time finding out more about Trump’s weaknesses. Call it “opposition research” or “oppo.”

One “nice” thing that Trump does not need to worry about when he finally meets Putin, “Koni” will not be making a cameo appearance. Alas, Koni lived for 15-years, before finally buying the kennel in 2014.

The new president would be wise to remember what Harry S. Truman once said: “If you need a friend in Washington, D.C., get a dog.”

http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/wladimir-putin/interview-mit-dem-russischen-praesidenten-russland-44091672.bild.html

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/12/europe/putin-merkel-scared-dog/

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/20/world/europe/germany-merkel-profile/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/12094074/Vladimir-Putin-denies-setting-his-dog-on-Angela-Merkel.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/vladimir-putin-says-he-didnt-intend-to-scare-dog-phobic-angela-merkel-when-he-brought-his-labrador-a6805801.html

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/germanys-angela-merkel-afraid-one-thing-its-not-david-cameron-1482159

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynophobia

http://time.com/4139802/time-person-of-the-year-angela-merkel-surprising-facts/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konni_(dog)

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/03/opinion/reagan-vs-patco-the-strike-that-busted-unions.html

 

 

 

 

 

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