To the Editor:

Re “Change Germans Can’t Believe In” (Op-Ed, July 26):

Being German, I have to disagree with Susan Neiman: Change we can believe in.

Although we think that it is out of place for us to support one American candidate more than the other, for we do not have a vote, there is indeed a lot of enthusiasm for Barack Obama here.

We fiercely hope that with him, the trans-Atlantic relationship will evolve into a friendship again. Nevertheless, we try not to be too optimistic, because we are not entirely sure if Americans define the word “friendship” the same way we do.

Friendship implies equality. Ms. Neiman’s statements that President Ronald Reagan’s hosts in Berlin “saw his speech as a tiresome bit of American naïveté” for “they had made their peace with a structure they thought would last forever” makes me think that we are still far from being equal partners.

Germans are becoming more self-confident. We do not want to build our relationship with the United States on a debt of gratitude only. In fact, we might actually take Mr. Obama at his word and use the chance to choose our “own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday.”

Katharina Thalmann
Germersheim, Germany, July 26, 2008

Note from KBJ: Germany will be our equal when it assumes responsibility for its own defense. (Somebody find an Internet site that shows how much Americans spend to defend Germans.)