German state-run TV last night ran the Maybrit Illner chat forum show. The chief topic was Syria and it's deterioration. At least they avoided an entire hour on the refugee topic and avoided dragging on pro and anti- asylum talkers.
It was an interesting line-up of experts. The German defense minister was there.....Ursula von der Leyen. She gave a good defense of the German military position. Oskar Lafontaine, the far-left semi-retired political figure was there to give the anti-US blame. And Illner surprised the public by having US Army General Ben Hodges (from the Wiesbaden headquarters) there to speak on the American position.
I have to admit....the general gave a clear and defined answer to each question. It may not have been what the moderator was hoping or what some Germans wanted to hear, but he did well in the chat forum. It's rare that American military officials get invited onto German chat forums. Part of that rarity is probably some fear that the generals might say something off-the-cuff and shock Germans with blunt talk (the Patton syndrome). I'd also say that most US military generals aren't into debates or presenting a discussion topic in two minutes of open dialog. Let's be honest....military strategy and competence tend to outrank debate skills.
Everybody and their brother has some belief about where and when the Syria mess occurred, and I'd say in the past month.....this has been charged up on state-run news as a major theme. You can pick from five or six occasions or time-periods.....of which the US might have been responsible for two of the potential creation periods. The necessity to ID the creation and who did what? I guess it makes some people feel better. Frankly, it's like going back and asking why the 1972 Miami Dolphins were the greatest football team of all time, and assigning blame to this event in the right fashion. Yeah, it's a worthless debate.
How many Germans watch Maybrit's show? This is hard to say. It'll come on later in the evening, and the bulk of German society would prefer entertainment rather than political chat. If you lined up a hundred folks from ages 15 to 25....I doubt if you had more than six of them watching the show. I'd go and take fair estimate that roughly between one million and two million Germans watched the forum....with half of them falling asleep before the end of the show.