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Germany

Germany, Welcome To The New Normal

The success of the far-right Alternative for Germany party in the election is history’s revenge against the idea that Germans had to be a model for the rest of the world.

A new day above Berlin
A new day above Berlin
Henryk M. Broder

BERLIN — The Netherlands has Geert Wilders and France has Marine Le Pen. Austria has its Freedom Party, Belgium has Vlaams Belang and Britain has the UKIP. Further north are the Danish People's Party, the Swedish Democrats, the True Finns and Norway"s Progress Party; down south are Italy's Northern League and Five Star Movement and the Golden Dawn in Greece. Only Germany, a not entirely unimportant country in Europe, has not seen a populist right-wing movement or party in a very long time.

And how proud of this we always were! Because unlike the other Europeans, we had learned from our history, renounced nationalism and declared "Europe" our homeland. Even the German national soccer team adopted an international moniker in 2016, calling itself "Die Mannschaft," or "The Team," without any mention of the disturbing word "German" in the name.

Before that we already sacrificed the deutschmark on the altar of European integration. We slid from one extreme to another. Instead of "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles," or "Germany, Germany above all," as in the German national anthem, it is now "Germany for all!" The latest act of national reparation has been the "welcome culture." Because we are colorful, tolerant and cosmopolitan, and that's how we'd like to stay — if only it weren't for the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) winning some 13% of Sunday's vote.

Why do they always point their fingers at us?

But isn't the AfD also a sign of normalization? Didn't we always want to be "normal," like the others? Don't other nations also have dark chapters in their history? The Americans, the British, the Dutch, the Belgians, the French? Why do they always point their fingers at us?

Seen this way, AfD is a blessing, not a curse. Now we can say: We don't only want to be like you, we are like you! We freeze in the cold, we sweat in the heat; we worry during the day and have nightmares at night. If you prick us, we bleed, you tickle us and we laugh; if you poison us we die and if you offend us ... well, we take revenge.

The AfD then can be seen as history's revenge against that idea that we need to somehow be better, a model for other nations. Quickly, just save the world, tell everyone where climate change has been going all along, give lessons in democracy to the Americans. Since Sunday's election, we now have to deal with ourselves again. Welcome to the new Germany.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

When Did Putin "Turn" Evil? That's Exactly The Wrong Question

Look back over the past two decades, and you'll see Vladimir Putin has always been the man revealed by the Ukraine invasion, an evil and sinister dictator. The Russian leader just managed to mask it, especially because so many chose to see him as a typically corrupt and greedy strongman who could be bribed or reasoned with.

Putin arrives for a ceremony to accept credentials from 24 foreign ambassadors at the Grand Kremlin Palace on Sept. 20.

Sergiy Gromenko*

-OpEd-

KYIV — The world knows that Vladimir Putin has power, money and mistresses. So why, ask some, wasn't that enough for him? Why did he have to go start another war?

At its heart, this is the wrong question to ask. For Putin, military expansion is not an adrenaline rush to feed into his existing life of luxury. On the contrary, the shedding of blood for the sake of holding power is his modus operandi, while the fruits of greed and corruption like the Putin Palace in Gelendzhik are more like a welcome bonus.

In the last year, we have kept hearing rhetorical questions like “why did Putin start this war at all, didn't he have enough of his own land?” or “he already has Gelendzhik to enjoy, why fight?” This line of thinking has resurfaced after missile strikes on Ukrainian power grids and dams, which was regarded by many as a simple demonstration of terrorism. Such acts are a manifestation of weakness, some ask, so is Putin ready to show himself weak?

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However, you will not arrive at the correct answer if the questions themselves are asked incorrectly. For decades, analysts in Russia, Ukraine, and the West have been under an illusion about the nature of the Russian president's personal dictatorship.

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