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Senator J. William Fulbright

"…the most valuable public servant, like the true patriot, is one who gives a higher loyalty to his country’s ideals than to its current policy and who therefore is willing to criticize as well as to comply."

War against Iran? Populism against the US?

When President Bush mentioned military action as the last option to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Chancellor Schroeder quickly seized the opportunity to win voters by positioning himself in opposition to the US president. Schroeder received big applause, when he asked the US to put the military option off the table in a speech that officially started his election campaign.

Is Schroeder an anti-American populist, who cares more about his reelection than the proliferation of nuclear weapons and transatlantic relations?

Or is he a responsible politician, who opposes a dangerous US warpath?
How likely is a US war against Iran?


The following review of newspaper articles gives some answers:

Continue reading "War against Iran? Populism against the US?"

Bush administration seems to give up original plans for democracy, freedom and security in Iraq

According to Robin Wright and Ellen Knickmeyer, writing in The Washington Post, senior administration officials admit that their plans for Iraq were unrealistic

The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad. The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning." (...)

And women's rights will not be as firmly entrenched as Washington has tried to insist, U.S. officials and Iraq analysts say. "We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic," said another U.S. official familiar with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. (...)

Washington now does not expect to fully defeat the insurgency before departing, but instead to diminish it, officials and analysts said. There is also growing talk of turning over security responsibilities to the Iraqi forces even if they are not fully up to original U.S. expectations, in part because they have local legitimacy that U.S. troops often do not.

Perhaps these officals are not completely giving up on Iraqi democracy, freedom and security, but just try to lower expectations in order to present the Iraq project as a success, when the US leaves.

The Economist survey of America's dynamism

The new Economist survey of America looks at the current state of what Americans always had in common and what made US society successful in the past, namely mobility, immigration, equality of opportunity, and civic associations:

Voluntary associations are reviving, though only after a long period of decline. But disturbingly, there are signs that social mobility is dwindling. The political system, for its part, is adding to social rigidities instead of counteracting them. The problem is not that America has become less dynamic. Its society continues to grow and change as fast as ever. But traditionally the country has been seen as a melting pot, which after much stirring produces greater integration. Now some of that activity may be causing separation.

The Economist concludes, however, that

America, with its extraordinary resilience and dynamism, has survived plenty of conflict in the past. Indeed, its very dynamism creates both conflict and the strength needed to overcome it.

US Fulbright grantee compares Germany and the US

Ada experiences a reverse culture shock upon her return to Michigan after being a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in Germany, but she is also glad about "No more dodging the Neo-Nazi morons in front of the school!"
She has made an insightful list
"highlighting the best of both worlds: what Germany and the United States could learn from each other."

The American Dream, blue-collar hearts and minds and Christian values

Fulbright Alumna Arlie Hochschild, a professor of sociology at The University of California, Berkeley, compares the (non-)reaction of the American public towards socially unjust budget policies with a chauffeur who is driving his wealthy boss around in a limousine, watches him get out of the car, steal a loaf of bread from a homeless mother and her two children, and get back into his luxury vehicle. The chauffeur feels real qualms about leaving behind an even poorer family and a baffled crowd of sidewalk witnesses, but drives on nonetheless.
You can read Prof. Hochschild's article in the liberal journal Mother Jones. If you want to read some quotes first that explain the dilemma, describe the role of the American Dream, the successful conservative stratgey to win blue-collar hearts and minds, and the change of Christian values, then continue to read here:

Continue reading "The American Dream, blue-collar hearts and minds and Christian values"

Europe could learn from America how to succesfully integrate immigrants

In der konservativen Tageszeitung Die Welt denkt Irshad Manji, die bekannte, aus Uganda stammende kanadische Journalistin und Buchautorin, über die nach wie vor völlig unterschiedlichen Mentalitäten der Europäer respektive der Amerikaner gegenüber ihren Immigranten nach. Den US-Amerikanern gelinge eine Integration durch simplen Wettbewerb um persönlichen Wohlstand, während die Europäer durch ihre starre Haltung junge muslimische Arbeitnehmer geradewegs in die Arme von Fundamentalisten treiben.

So unglaublich es klingt in den Zeiten des "Patriot Act" und von Guantánamo Bay, eine ganze Menge von Moslems in Westeuropa haben mir gesagt, die Vereinigten Staaten hätten eine geniale Fähigkeit zur Integration, und zwar wegen ihres Umgangs mit Statusfragen. Wenn die Frage lautet: Kannst du Status erwerben, statt nur hineingeboren zu werden - dann lautet die Antwort in Amerika immer noch ja. (...) Was einen zum echten Amerikaner macht, ist nicht so sehr die Hautfarbe oder der Glaube, sondern die Bereitschaft zu konkurrieren. (..) Im Gegensatz dazu stechen in Westeuropa Herkunft und Hierarchie den Ehrgeiz als Ansporn immer noch aus. Deine Vergangenheit zählt immer noch mehr als deine Zukunft. Kein Wunder, daß zahllose moslemische Arbeitnehmer, die seit zwei oder drei Generationen in Europa leben, immer noch als Immigranten bezeichnet werden, auch wenn sie reguläre Staatsbürger sind. Dieser Unterschied zwischen Europa und Amerika ist es, der die Wahrnehmung von Immigrantengemeinden beeinflußt, die sich fragen, ob sie wohl jemals gut genug sein werden für ihre Gastländer. Das wiederum hat einen Einfluß darauf, wie sehr (oder wie wenig) sie sich an ihren jeweiligen Orten überhaupt um Integration bemühen.

Weitere interessante Artikel der Autorin, die für einen aufgeklärten Islam eintritt, sind im Die Welt-Archiv online verfügbar.

"EU counterterrorism policies fail"

In einem Taz-Kommentar wirft Thilo Bode den Europäern nicht nur Versagen vor, sondern auch die Förderung von Terrorismus aufgrund der Unterstützung von autoritären Regimen in Nordafrika mit Waffen und Entwicklungshilfe. Da Terroranschläge mit polizei- und geheimdienstlichen Mitteln nicht zu verhindern seien, wäre es

unabdingbar, nicht nur ständig über schärfere, offensichtlich wirkungslose Sicherheitsmaßnahmen, sondern endlich auch über langfristige, zivile Strategien gegen den Terror nachzudenken. (...) Demzufolge ist die von den USA verfolgte 'Broader Middle East Initiative', die die arabische Welt durch den 'Export von Demokratie' entwickeln will, durchaus folgerichtig.

Die so beliebte Kritik an den USA, dass sie nur für die Demokratisierung von US-kritischen Regimen eintreten, aber gute Geschäftsbeziehungen mit US-freundlichen Despoten pflegen würden, bezeichnet Bode als "scheinheilig", da Deutschland und die anderen EU Staaten sich gegenüber ihren nordafrikanischen Verbündeten genauso verhielten.