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Are the revolting ret. generals feeling guilty?

Richard Holbrooke considers the motives of the growing number of recently retired generals, who call for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The former ambassador to Germany and to the UN and founder of the American Academy in Berlin writes in the Washington Post:
These generals are not newly minted doves or covert Democrats. (In fact, one of the main reasons this public explosion did not happen earlier was probably concern by the generals that they would seem to be taking sides in domestic politics.) They are career men, each with more than 30 years in service, who swore after Vietnam that, as Colin Powell wrote in his memoirs, "when our turn came to call the shots, we would not quietly acquiesce in half-hearted warfare for half-baked reasons." Yet, as [Retired Marine Lt. Gen.] Newbold admits, it happened again. In the public comments of the retired generals one can hear a faint sense of guilt that, having been taught as young officers that the Vietnam-era generals failed to stand up to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson, they did the same thing.
Holbrooke assumes:
The retired generals -- six so far, with more likely to come -- surely are speaking for many of their former colleagues, friends and subordinates who are still inside. In the tight world of senior active and retired generals, there is constant private dialogue. Recent retirees stay in close touch with old friends, who were often their subordinates; they help each other, they know what is going on and a conventional wisdom is formed.
Secretary Rumsfeld pointed out that the number of generals calling for his resignation is insignificant compared to the thousands of active and retired generals.
Following are excerpts of Ret. Gen. Newbold's strong criticism and Sec Rumsfeld's account of the success in Iraq:
Continue reading "Are the revolting ret. generals feeling guilty?"

UPDATE: Who's failing? America or Neoconservatism?

Francis Fukuyama used to be one of the leading Neocons who promoted regime change in Iraq as early as 1998. Now the Johns Hopkins professor distances himself from other Neocons in his latest book: America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. To better sell his book in Germany, the publisher decided to use a more gloomy title: Scheitert Amerika? Supermacht am Scheideweg, which means "Is America Failing? Superpower at the Crossroads." While the US cover has a plain black background, the German cover depicts U.S. soldiers covered in dust and protecting themselves, primarily their ears. Thus for the German audience the book is advertised as being not about power, democracy and the neoconservative legacy, but whether America fails. Neoconservatism had a strong and negative influence on U.S. policy, but America obviously is much more than Neoconservatism or even the Iraq war.
Jeffrey Gedmin, director of the Aspen Institute Berlin, reviewed Fukuyama's book in the German Tagesspiegel and made similar arguments on the different titles and covers. He is concerned that talkshow pundits will use Fukuyama's book to argue their cases, without having read his book past the first page.
Our related post: Conservative experts critical of Democratic Peace Theory.
Likewise, Newsweek appealed differently to the U.S. and the international audience.  After President Bush's second inaugural address, Newsweek's international edition included a good essay critical of U.S. foreign policy by Princeton's Andrew Moravcsik, which was excluded from the domestic edition although the real audience was not the readership abroad, but Americans at home: Dream On America.

UPDATE: Our reader David, who blogs at Dialog International, asked Professor Fukuyama to comment on the German title of his book and received this response from him:

I was taken by surprise by this title--they gave me a copy of the translation, but not that.  I agree that they're trying to play to current German anti-Americanism but it's unfortunately too late for me to do anything about it.

President Bush's chief of staff is an alumnus of the American Council on Germany

The German Tagesspiegel reports that the chiefs of staff of both President Bush and Chancellor Merkel are Alumni of the American Council on Germany (ACG). The author assumes this connection will help to plan Angela Merkel's next trip to the U.S. in May. The American Council on Germany (ACG) describes itself as
an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which promotes dialogue among leaders from business, government, and the media in the United States and Europe. The ACG strengthens transatlantic understanding and coordinates policy initiatives on key issues in the post-September 11 world.
President Bush's new chief of staff Joshua Bolten participated in the ACG's Young Leaders Program in 1988. Chancellor Merkel's Kanzleramtsminister Thomas de Maiziere participated a year later. The American Council on Germany's Young Leaders Program "reaches out to the next generation of decision-makers and opinion leaders by organizing conferences to familiarize them with key transatlantic issues and to enable them to establish a network of contacts across the Atlantic." Chiefs of staff are considered to be among the most powerful politicians behind the scenes and the closest confidants of the heads of government. Let's see if the Alumni connection makes a difference in promoting German-American cooperation and finding compromises on important international issues. Moreover, Mr. Bolten is a proud owner of a German BMW motorbike. He told Tagesspiegel that his BMW K75 is still in good shape after 12 years. He said that he usually promotes American products, but he appreciates this piece of  the German quality work (Wertarbeit).
Endnote:  In November 2003, when the Atlantic Review was not online, but only emailed to two Fulbright mailing lists, we recommended an Economist Survey about America which claimed that President Bush's team has less ties to Europe than previous administrations:
Related to this is a certain disdain for "old Europe" which goes beyond frustrations over policy. By education and background, this is an administration less influenced than usual by those bastions of transatlanticism, Ivy League universities. One-third of President Bush senior's first cabinet secretaries, and half of President Clinton's, had Ivy League degrees. But in the current cabinet the share is down to a quarter. For most members of this administration, who are mainly from the heartland and the American west (Texas especially), Europe seems far away. They have not studied there. They do not follow German novels or French films. Indeed, for many of them, Europe is in some ways unserious. Its armies are a joke. Its people work short hours. They wear sandals and make chocolate.

Poll: 45 Per Cent of Germans consider U.S. more dangerous than Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised to send US-$ 50 million to the HAMAS government, which called the Tel Aviv attacks "self-defense." On Thursday he added to his many attacks on Israel: "Whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is on the road to being eliminated." His previous anti-Israeli statement apparently were not taken very seriously in Germany. According to a poll last week from the respectable Forsa Institute, 45 % of Germans call the U.S. a "greater threat to world peace" than Iran. 28 % think that Iran is a greater threat. For 16 %, the U.S. and Iran pose identical threats, as Spiegel and Davids Medienkritik report. (Our related post: Anti-Americanism is becoming entrenched, and getting more personal.)
The New York Sun opines:
In Europe, however, far more attention is paid to what the United States might do about Iran's nuclear ambitions than to what Iran is actually doing. Here, it is taken for granted in establishment circles that the real diplomatic imperative now is to stop the Bush administration bombing Iranian nuclear facilities rather than to stop Iran using those facilities to obliterate Israel.
Davids Medienkritik reported last week:
German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (CDU) recently stated that Ahmadinejad is welcome at the World Cup because Germany wants to be "a good host." Schaeuble, who is considered conservative by German standards, said that he would "talk to him about his statements" in the event of a visit and added that "it will not be entirely simple."
However, now after the Iranian president's latest statements, other "Leaders of Germany's Christian Democratic Party say that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be barred from attending World Cup games," reports UPI.
Politically Incorrect
argues that Ahmadinejad should not be allowed to travel to the EU, just like Belarus' dictator Lukashenko, who has already been banned for oppressing his people. Well, i
t wouldn't be a bad idea, if Schäuble would talk tough with Ahmadinejad and if soccer fans from around the world would boo any game Ahmadinejad would attend. Zionistische Organisation Frankfurt encourages soccer fans to wave Israeli flags during Iran's matches.
Believe it or not, Iran was elected as a Vice-Chairman to the UN Disarmament Commission. American Future asks "Would someone please explain to me how the U.S. could vote in favor of Iran?"

Marla Ruzicka: Civilian Victims of War (UPDATE)

One year ago -- April 16, 2005 -- a suicide terrorist murdered Marla Ruzicka in Bagdad, a young woman from California, who was working to get aid to Iraqi civilians accidentally harmed by U.S. military operations. Sarah Holewinsky, the executive director of Marla's NGO Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) writes in the Washington Post:
Congress created the Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund and a similar fund for Afghanistan, with a total to date of $38 million for families and communities of those injured and killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. This program, coupled with our larger humanitarian aid in Iraq (the community action program) is building a post-Saddam Hussein society through small-business loans, education for orphans, new homes for displaced families and other projects. (...)
The brutality of the insurgency has also made it much harder for humanitarian workers such as Marla to help victims of war in most parts of the country. Worse, in some areas insurgents have threatened to kill Iraqis who accept help from Americans. Although experienced military officers have learned that treating civilians well is critical to their mission, the U.S. search for an exit strategy may encourage tactics that put civilians at greater risk -- including more reliance on airstrikes to target insurgents. (...) With increasing airstrikes, U.S. military planners must also do more to assess the risk to civilians before launching attacks, and should include in post-attack reports any available information on civilian casualties. The current lack of data makes the improvement of those procedures difficult. (
HT: David from Dialog International)
CNN video of Marla in Iraq.
Our related posts on Marla's work: Young US humanitarian activist killed in Iraq and Marla Ruzicka, civilian victims and reconciliation.

UPDATE: After the terrorist attacks in London on July 7, 2005 the photo campaign We're not Afraid ("Show the world that we are not afraid of what happened in London, and that the world is a better place without fear.") became an internet phenomenon, followed by Sorry Everybody after the 2004 elections.
Now Marla's NGO started a new photo campaign I care, which is worth participating:

This photo campaign is not about being for or against the war. It is a campaign of compassion. Every day, ordinary women, children, and men are caught in the crossfire. We believe that civilian casualties are the most tragic consequences of war. And each injury, destroyed home, and death should be given the weight it deserves. Please join our campaign and send a loud and clear message to our leaders as well as to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. All over the world... We are watching. We stand in solidarity. We care.

UPDATE II: Obviously we care about civilian casualties in Israel, Palestine and elsewhere as well. The Jerusalem Post writes about the latest terror victims in Israel (via Elder of Ziyon via Israpundit). YNet News has a series of profiles of some of the victims (via Salomonia). More at Crossing the Rubicon2 and A Blog for All.

Is the U.S. strategy of pre-emptive war more accepted now?

Former Sec of State Henry Kissinger -- the most powerful German emigrant in the US government in recent history -- noticed in The International Herald Tribune:
The recent publication of the second Bush administration statement on national strategy passed without the controversy that marked its predecessor in 2002 even though the new statement reiterates the commitment to a strategy of pre-emption in exactly the same words as the last. (...) The 2006 report was received with less hostility because other countries have had more experience now with the emerging new threats - and partly because a more conciliatory American diplomacy has left new scope for consultation.
Continue reading "Is the U.S. strategy of pre-emptive war more accepted now?"

Fulbright Prize for Bill Clinton

The Fulbright Association awarded the Fulbright Prize for International Understanding to Bill Clinton for his "initiatives to counteract poverty, ignorance, and the racial, ethnic, and religious prejudices that are barriers to peace and justice throughout the world," according to the press release (pdf).  The Washington Post wrote about his acceptance speech:
Clinton avoided discussing the current conflict in Iraq or the growing U.S.-Iran tensions, but he argued that Fulbright's approach to the escalating war in Vietnam is an important lesson for present day politicians. "In this interdependent world, we should still have a preference for peace over war," he said. He also reflected on his own decisions when, as commander in chief, he was urged to launch a military strike somewhere in the world.
"I always thought of Senator Fulbright and the terrible quagmire in Vietnam and how many times we sent more soldiers and found ourselves in a hole and kept digging because we didn't want to look like we were weak. So anytime somebody said in my presidency, 'If you don't do this people will think you're weak,' I always asked the same question for eight years: "Can we kill 'em tomorrow?"
"If we can kill 'em tomorrow, then we're not weak, and we might be wise enough to try to find an alternative way," said Clinton.
Last year, Colin L. Powell received the $50,000 cash Fulbright award provided by the Coca-Cola Foundation. Bill Clinton used to work for Senator Fulbright and described him as his mentor in his autobiography My Life. As president Bill Clinton awarded his first Medal of Freedom to Senator Fulbright.
See also our related post on Bill Clinton and Senator Fulbright.

Wash Post Columnist Dana Milbank criticizes Bill Clinton for "gloating" and being late for the award ceremony and other events, but did not connect being late with his
"Can we kill 'em tomorrow?" comment.

Americans donate and volunteer a lot for good causes abroad (Update)

While it is well known that past and present U.S. governments spend much less on foreign aid as a percentage of GDP than most other rich countries do, the enormous amount of private aid is less well known outside the U.S. The State Department  summarizes a new study:
The U.S. private sector donates to international causes at a level nearly four times the amount spent by the U.S. government on official development assistance (ODA), according to a report about to be published by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Prosperity. Called the Index on Global Philanthropy, the report tallies $71 billion in international donations by U.S. private charities, religious organizations, universities, corporations, foundations, and immigrants sending money home for the year of 2004 (the latest year available). That compares to $20 billion in government foreign aid for the same year.  (...)
According to the Hudson Institute, "the tradition of private giving is considerably less developed in Europe than in the U.S."  (...) Close to half of all American adults do volunteer work, according to Independent Sector, a forum for charitable organizations.  The index estimates volunteering for international projects totals 135,000 full-time work hours per year -- worth more than $4 billion.  Web sites like encourage the trend. (...) For information on how U.S. foreign assistance is affecting lives, see Partnership for a Better Life and Global Development and Foreign Aid.

Steven Radelet, who was deputy assistant secretary of the treasury from 2000 to 2002, takes issue with exaggerations of U.S. aid. Writing for Foreign Policy, he argues that several beliefs held by many Americans are wrong, for example the assumption that "America is the most generous country in the world if you include private donations to charities" or that "Americans provide generous economic aid through the remittances foreign workers send home to support their families."
Our related post on US Foreign Aid.
UPDATE: European countries inflate their foreign aid figures as well, opines Oxfam:
Ahead of vital talks next week of EU Foreign Ministers on whether the EU will meet its aid targets, NGOs criticized key EU member states including the UK, France and Germany for inflating their aid figures. NGOs provide evidence that a total of €12.5 billion of headline EU aid in 2005 did not result in additional money for poverty reduction but was spent on debt cancellation, housing refugees and educating foreign students in European universities. (...) While technically permitted under OECD rules, European Union governments' insistence on accounting for this debt cancellation in their ODA figures contravenes the United Nation's 2002 agreement in Monterrey. The agreement calls for debt cancellation to be funded additionally to Official Development Assistance (ODA). [Hat tip: Kosmoblog]