Here's another little tidbit about Germans: The love atomic war. That is to say, they are scared to death of atomic war and stoke their fear every chance they get.

I remember when the US marched into Afghanistan, a friend of mine was practically white as a ghost: "This could mean atomic war!" he said. It was a puzzling statement. Where was the Taliban going to get atomic weapons? Not to mention allies. The fear is triggered automatically in Germans. Maybe it comes from living for decades with nuclear warheads on their territory pointed at nuclear warheads in East German territory (they're still here, by the way). Or maybe they're just so disappointed that all the dire predictions about the end of the world that the German 68-generation made during the Cold War didn't come materialize, they're hoping the end will come some other way so at least one of their many well-articulated fears will be vindicated.

I took a look at Spiegel Online today, the daily version of Germany's leading (and best) serious weekly news magazine, and was shocked to see the word "war" plastered all over it: "North Korea sees sanctions as declaration of war" (click here). Quite a headline, and I wondered why I hadn’t read it in the American online papers. I searched through New York Times a bit and finally found the story, but with a slightly different headline: "North Korea Warns U.S." (click here).

Not much war in that headline. Was Spiegel imagining things?

I compared the two articles. Indeed, North Korea did say that sanctions would be considered a declaration of war on the part of the US, as both papers report, but the New York Times goes one step further and explains a fact about North Korea diplomacy that some people may not know: "North Korea often issues dire and bellicose statements, and whenever tough sanctions have been proposed has been quick to equate them with an act of war."

That wasn't mentioned in the Spiegel article at all.

Now 82 million Germans are running out bunkering water and toilet paper and thinking: "We were right back in '68!"


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