My second-year German class was visited today by the director of international programs at the university in Ludwigsberg, Germany. As I have said before, I try to keep up a bit with what's going on over there, but Germany is a long ways off, and I'm a busy guy, so I'm never sure quite how well my point of view holds up.
So I asked him how perceptions of America are in Germany these days and was somewhat gratified to hear a view similar to my own. He described German feelings toward America as "unrequited love."
Germans have in large part been our fans since World War II because we rebuilt the country, punished the worst of the war criminals and kept the Russians out. After Sept. 11, there was a huge outpouring of German support for America. But in subsequent months, America seemed to want to go its own way, with little regard for allies and bent on a war that didn't make much sense to most of the rest of the world.
But he said German misgivings about America are tied solely to the current administration. Angela Merkel has taken a pragmatic approach to U.S.-German relations. Naturally, he said, Germans are rooting for Obama to win the election. But he said either candidate would be an improvement in German eyes over the Bush administration.