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Isolationism on the rise

John B. Judis, a senior editor at The New Republic and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes about the growth of isolationist sentiment:

Since 1964, polls--first Gallup, then Pew--have been asking Americans whether the "United States should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own." An affirmative answer is a good indication of isolationist sentiment and hostility to both liberal internationalism and neoconservatism. In 1964, for instance, Gallup found only 18 percent of Americans agreed, while 70 percent disagreed, with this statement. The number began to rise soon afterwards; by June 1995, with the end of Cold War and the Republican capture of Congress, it had risen to 41 percent.
In September 2001, as Americans learned the hard way of our connection to the rest of the world, the number fell to 30 percent. Americans once more saw themselves as having global responsibilities. But according to the current Pew poll, it has now risen to an all-time high of 42 percent. That represents a sharp shift, and according to the Pew numbers, most of it took place in the last year, as Americans have become thoroughly disillusioned with the Iraq war. As might be expected, the public is also increasingly hostile to international institutions. Since 2002 the percentage of Americans believing that the United States "should cooperate fully with the United Nations" has fallen from 67 to 54 percent, and the proportion wanting the United States to go its "own way in international matters ... whether countries agree or not" has risen from 25 to 32 percent.

Perhaps harsh criticism from abroad contributes to these isolationist sentiments as well.  Large parts of the world are either concerned about US interventions or about US isolationism, it seems. The article points out that President Chirac was complaining in 1995 that the post of world leader was "vacant." As always, finding the right balance is the key to everything.

Comparing the United States and Germany

In August, the Atlantic Review linked to a US Fulbrighter's list The Best of Both Worlds: What Germany and the United States could learn from each other. Since these comparisions are very popular on both sites of the Atlantic, here is now an interesting and very detailed Comparision of Germany and the United States from Axel Boldt, a German college teacher with a Ph.D. in Math from the University of California, who has been living in the US since 1992.

He compares the US and Germany in regard to these topics: Democracy, Freedom, Nationalism, Technology, Television and the Media, Bureaucracy, Communism and Socialism, Unions, The World of Work, Legal System, Privacy and Access to Information, Educational System, Health, Mobility, Diversity, Discrimination, The Rich, Canada and the Netherlands, Environmental Sensitivity, Charity, Mentalities, Violence and Aggression, Influence of Religion, Selective enforcement of laws, Dress Code, and Annoying Customs.

He points out: "Since I started this page several years ago, I repeatedly noticed that the differences between America and Germany are getting smaller, a result of Germany moving in America's direction." His comments software does not work properly, so please, leave any comment, you might have, here. Click on "Comments" below.

Europe vs America

British historian Tony Judt calls the US a third world country and speaks about the failure of Europe's political class. Fellow Fulbrighter Wiltrud Hammelstein recommends an interview with him about the European and American model in the German paper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Tony Judt wrote the review "Europe vs. America" for the New York Review of Books.

Have you heard of the German Christmas Pickle tradition? "A very old Christmas eve tradition in Germany was to hide a pickle deep in the branches of the family Christmas Tree." It seems to be a popular myth in the US. Dr. Dean wants to see more of it in Germany. Unfortunately most myths about the US are not as nice and funny.

The holiday season is considered to be a time for reflection & reconciliation and is often used to help those in need.  One of the many peoples who are in desperate need this holiday season are the victims of the Pakistani earthquake. Most of the tents given to the survivors in October are not designed for winter conditions.  The Atlantic Review published the appeals by three Pakistani Fulbrighters for more aid.

UPDATE 12/17/2005: The people of Darfur require much more help as well. To increase international awareness in this holiday season, Catez Stevens from New Zealand has organized SPOTLIGHT ON DARFUR 3: Christmas Edition. She invited all bloggers to submit their best posts about Darfur and then she picked ten of them. (We applied the same concept to our carnival of US-German relations.)

Welcome to all new readers

Thank you very much for checking out this site, which is run by three German Fulbright Alumni. For more info about the Atlantic Review check out the About Us page.


We hope you enjoyed the Carnival of US-German Relations, which we have organized together with GM's Corner.
We appreciate very much the links to the carnival from InstapunditEurophobia, Moderate Voice, and from every other kind blogger. A big thank you also to all participating bloggers, who made the first of our quarterly carnivals such a big success.


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Carnival of German American Relations

Sixty-Four years ago today, Germany declared war on the United States. To reflect on the evolution of US-German relations and the current state of our alliance, GM's Corner and the Atlantic Review are hosting a blog carnival. Many Germans have had a high regard for the US for its support for (West-)Germany, civil liberties and the rule of law, its thoughtful political debates and critical press, and the establishment of international organizations. Many German friends of the US have felt increasingly estranged in the last couple of years due to restrictions on civil liberties and the rule of law in the US, an uncritical media during the run up to the Iraq war, and the perception of increasing unilateralism and of a bellicose foreign policy rhetoric of some politicians. Others just seized the chance to express their anti-Americanism more openly.

Many Americans have the impression that Germans are ungrateful, unsupportive, hypocritical and don't understand how the world has changed on 9/11 and that the war on terror requires new methods and thinking. The disagreements, however, are not primarily between Americans and Germans, but between liberals and conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic, and even within those political tents. Thus many liberal Americans and Germans argue that giving up moral values in the war on terrorism is surrender and does not defeat terrorists, but helps them to get more recruits.

The leading German weekly DIE ZEIT now calls the United States a "Torture State." The editor Michael Naumann even writes that legal executions could be considered torture. The Wall Street Journal hits back:

One of Europe's moral conceits is to fret constantly about the looming outbreak of fascism in America, even though it is on the Continent itself where the dictators seem to pop up every couple of decades. (...) More dangerous for the longer term, the Continent's preening anti-Americanism has also been duly noted on this side of the Atlantic. Europeans should worry that their moral hauteur may well be repaid by American popular opinion the next time they call on the Yanks to put down one of their homegrown fascists.

While these two venerable papers trade shrill insults and hurtful, exaggerated accusations, the 21 participants of our Blog Carnival have written critical, but much more respectful and thoughtful opinion pieces on a wide range of topics on our transatlantic partnership. Please continue to read here what they have to say:

Continue reading "Carnival of German American Relations"

Blog Carnival on Sunday

We have already received many great submissions for our Blog Carnival on US-German relations. You still got a few more hours till Saturday afternoon to submit your favorite blog post.


Welcome to all new readers! Thank you for visiting the Atlantic Review. Check out our categories: Fulbright, Transatlantic Relations, US Domestic and Cultural Issues, US Foreign Policy.

Some of our most recent posts are about German business ties with Sudan, the third post-war generation, the Guantanamo detainee from Germany and the struggle for the rule of law, the media coverage of Iraq and Kosovo, and a pretty extensive look at the US-Saudi relationship: Oil supply at the expense of US security and moral values.

Bill Clinton and Senator Fulbright on arrogance and freedom

In his autobiography My Life, Bill Clinton wrote about Senator Fulbrights's book "The Arrogance of Power" (1966) ( (Deutsches

Fulbright's essential argument was that great nations get into trouble and can go into long-term decline when they are "arrogant" in the use of their power, trying to do things they shouldn't do in places they shouldn't be. He was suspicious of any foreign policy rooted in missionary zeal, which he felt would cause us to drift into commitments "which though generous and benevolent in content, are so far reaching as to exceed even America's great capacitities." He also thought that when we brought our power to bear in the service of an abstract concept, like anti-communism, without understanding local history, culture, and politics we could do more harm than good.

Joe Kristensen, president of the Fulbright Alumni e.V., has compiled several quotes from The Arrogance of Power. One of them is:

Freedom of thought and discussion gives a democracy two concrete advantages over a dictatorship in the making of foreign policy: it diminishes the danger of an irretrievable mistake and it introduces ideas and opportunities that otherwise would not come to light. (...) In addition to its usefulness of redeeming error and introducing new ideas, free and open criticism has a third, more abstract but no less important function in a democracy: it is therapy and catharsis for those who are troubled by something their country is doing; it helps to reassert traditional values, to clear the air when it is full of tension and mistrust. There are times in public life as in private life when one must protest, note solely of even primarily because ones's protest will be politic or materilally productive, but because one's sense of decency is offended, because one is fed up with political craft and public images, or simply because something goes against the grain.

Joe has recommended this book and provided more quotes in the October 2003 issue of the Atlantic Review.

Europe's Moral Outrage

(UDPATE 12/06/2005 at the end)

The Wall Street Journal argues today that Europe cares about human rights only when it can criticize the United States. The Review & Outlook piece describes Europe's "moral outrage" over alleged CIA prisons and secret flights of terror suspects as "deafening," and opines:

If Europe were seriously concerned about morality. Europe would no longer be Iran's No. 1 trading partner, and its companies wouldn't be able to attend trade fairs in Sudan anymore. Unlike American companies--recently defamed in Germany as "(blood) suckers" and "locusts" by the former government--European firms are quite busy in Sudan. The chamber of commerce and industry in Stuttgart has enthused over what great opportunities Sudan's oil resources offer to German companies. Lest people think they are doing something morally reprehensible, the salesmen from Stuttgart prefer to describe the massacres of black Africans in Darfur as "political disturbances." The German economics ministry, which sponsored the German pavilion at last February's trade fair in Sudan, will also support next February's event, the chamber of commerce assures its members.

Continue reading "Europe's Moral Outrage"