NATO has been in Kosovo for seven years and still cannot withdraw anytime soon. A new round of negotiations between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians about the future status of Kosovo have just failed, writes the EU Observer. For a comparison with Iraq, see the Atlantic Review's previous post: Double standards in media coverage of Iraq and Kosovo
German Major General Roland Kather will take over control of the NATO troops in Kosovo in September, reports Deutsche Welle (In English). With 2855 soldiers serving in Kosovo, KFOR is the largest Bundeswehr deployment, followed by ISAF (Afghanistan) with 2840 soldiers.
Foreign Policy Magazine has asked more than 100 of America's top foreign-policy experts.
A bipartisan majority (84 percent) of the index's experts say the United States is not winning the war on terror. Eighty-six percent of the index’s experts see a world today that is growing more dangerous for Americans. Overall, they agree that the U.S. government is falling short in its homeland security efforts. (...) “Foreign-policy experts have never been in so much agreement about an administration’s performance abroad,” says Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and an index participant. “The reason is that it’s clear to nearly all that Bush and his team have had a totally unrealistic view of what they can accomplish with military force and threats of force.” (...) The experts also said that recent reforms of the national security apparatus have done little to make Americans safer. (...) Eighty-one percent, for instance, believe the detention of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, negatively affects the war on terror. The index’s experts also disapprove of how America is handling its relations with European allies, how it is confronting threatening regimes in North Korea and Iran, how it is controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and its dealings with failing states, to name just a few. “We are losing the war on terror because we are treating the symptoms and not the cause,” says index participant Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. (...)
To win the battle of ideas, the experts say, America must place a much higher emphasis on its nonmilitary tools. More than two thirds say that U.S. policymakers must strengthen the United Nations and other multilateral institutions. At the same time, the experts indicate that the U.S. government must think more creatively about threats. Asked what presents the single greatest danger to U.S. national security, nearly half said loose nukes and other weapons of mass destruction, while just one third said al Qaeda and terrorism, and a mere 4 percent said Iran.
Asked to name the country that has produced the largest number of global terrorists, the index’s foreign-policy experts pointed to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan—three of America’s marquee allies in the Muslim world.
Bruce Stokes, journalism fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, has written a feature article about Germany's economy for the National Review. He considers economic growth in Germany to be important for the United States:
Washington knows that Americans also need a successful German economy. As the largest European economy, Germany can be, and has been, the economic engine that leads all of Europe into faster growth rates and thus bolsters U.S. exports. Except for Germany's disagreement with the United States on Iraq, Berlin has been a reliable partner in Washington's European and global foreign-policy initiatives. And, looking forward, "Germany is the only dependable U.S. partner for the next 15 years," asserted Deutsche Bank's Walter. But the growing divergence in economic performance between Europe and the United States is rapidly eroding the economic conditions that have nurtured trans-Atlantic political relations and fostered U.S.-European joint leadership of the world economy.
The American Institute of Contemporary German Studies provides Bruce Stokes' in-depth article about many problems of Germany's economy as a pdf file. While Stokes argues that Germany's labor and economic reforms, although significant, have so far delivered only meager returns and that more needs to be done to remedy this situation, the Energy Banker Jérôme Guillet (European Tribune) is skeptical whether more of the same sort of reforms will help. The historian Tony Judt argues in The Globalist:
If anything, the rush of many contemporary commentators and public figures, particularly in the United States, to ignore the political origins of the welfare state reflects poorly on their understanding of Europe's difficult past. (...) The liberal welfare states of Europe were not built as a vision of a utopian future. They were built [after WWII] as a barrier to Europe's 20th century -- as it had just been experienced. In this context, bear in mind that most of the men who built the welfare states in Europe were not young social democrats. Most of the people actually implementing this program after 1945 in Western Europe were Christian Democrats — or liberals rather than socialists of any kind.
Is the US system better? After a decrease of poverty in the late 90s, "the number of Americans living in poverty has risen each year Bush has been president, increasing to 37 million in 2004 from 31.6 million in 2000. Overall, 12.7 percent of the nation's population lives in poverty, which for a family of four means an income less than $20,000 a year." writes the Washington Post. Is poverty more accepted in the US? According to the same article in the Post, "poverty forced its way to the top of President Bush's agenda in the confusing days after Hurricane Katrina," but:
As it happened, poverty's turn in the presidential limelight was brief. Bush has talked little about the issue since the immediate crisis passed, while pursuing policies that his liberal critics say will hurt the poor. He has publicly mentioned domestic poverty six times since giving back-to-back speeches on the issue in September. Domestic poverty did not come up in his State of the Union address in January, and his most recent budget included no new initiatives directed at the poor. (...) "The Bush administration has shown a total lack of leadership on this issue," said former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, who has made a new war on poverty his signature issue as he travels the country in preparation for an expected 2008 presidential bid. [HT: Edit Copy]
Nick Timiraos writes in the Wall Street Journal (free access) about the Sudan divestment campaign led by students at several U.S. universities. One of their main targets is Siemens of Germany:
The divestment campaigns aim at putting pressure on Sudan's Khartoum regime, which the United Nations says has sponsored militias in the Darfur region, where more than 200,000 have died. The U.S. has referred to the violence as genocide. Students hope that as companies' share prices drop in response to sales of their stock, those firms will either push Sudan's government to end violence or decide to leave the country altogether. At least five states in the U.S., including Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon, have passed legislation requiring state pension funds to divest themselves of Sudan-related holdings. New Jersey sold $2.6 billion worth -- or 3.4% of its $75.3 billion in total assets -- in 17 companies.
This year we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Fulbright Exchange Program. The Fulbrighter Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani and his partner Omer Idrees have just published "Experiencing America: Through the Eyes of Visiting Fulbright Scholars: Stories of Foreign Fulbrighters in the United States" which contains essays of Fulbright grantees from around the world. Eric S. Howard, Executive Director of the Fulbright Academy of Science & Technology has written the introduction. The foreword was written by Harriet Mayor Fulbright, the President of the J. William & Harriet Fulbright Center, a non-profit organization which serves to advance the work of Ms. Fulbright’s late husband, Senator J. William Fulbright, and to continue her own lifework; more at her website. The book includes the following essays: "New York - The Big Apple Seen From its Very Core" by Alessandra Seggi (Italy), "From Makerere to Stanford: The Experience of a Fulbright Scholar" by Winnie Tarinyeba (Uganda), "Five Definitions of America - My Fulbright Journey" by Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani (Pakistan), "From 'Criminal' to Fulbrighter: In the Land of Spartans" by Raymund Espinosa Narag (Philippines), "It’s Fun to Live Your Dream" by Marina Lukanina (Russia), "The Odyssey of a Fulbrighter" by Louis-Marie Ngamassi Tchouakeu (Cameroon), "Fulbright Experience of Love, Selfunderstanding and Selfemancipation" by Lynette J. Chua (Malaysia), "Get back to where you now belong" by Katja Ziehmayer (Austria) and "My Second Life" by Anouk Bachman (Netherlands).
Continue reading "Experiencing America: New Book by Fulbrighters"
President Bush visited Chancellor Merkel on her home turf in the northeast of Germany prior to attending the G8-Summit in Russia. It was the president's first trip to Germany since Merkel has taken office and his third visit to Germany as president. Merkel has been to Washington twice since taking over as chancellor in November 2005. Apparently a number of issues were discussed, like Iran, Lebanon, Russia and Murat Kurnaz, the Guantanamo detainee from Germany. The press focused on the wild boar barbeque as the highlight of the Bush-Merkel "lovefest" aka "politische Liebeserklärungen". The BBQ is considered a gesture to President Bush, who considers personal relations as extremely important. In return, President Bush again praised Chancellor Merkel's leadership. He also credited Merkel for convincing him to join the negotiations about Iran's nuclear program.
At least one American TV station exaggerated the anti-Bush protests: "Around 5,000 protesters did their best to interrupt the outdoor meeting and meal." However, that was the number of expected protestors. In fact, only a small group of some 600-1000 demonstrators took to the streets far away from the Merkel-Bush meeting. The loudest protest President Bush heard were the cries of a baby he picked up, as this ABC affiliate reported as well.
Several western nations have asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to mediate in the Middle East conflict, weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday. The United States asked Merkel to speak to Israeli officials and she told them Lebanon was in a fragile state and should not be destabilised, the magazine said, in a preview of its latest weekly edition. (...) Germany has acted as a mediator between Israel and Lebanon-based guerrilla group Hizbollah in the past. Steinmeier said he had been in intensive talks in recent days with officials in the region, including the foreign ministers of Israel, Egypt and Syria.
It is often claimed that the German media is biased and focuses on negative stories about the U.S. In recent months, however, there have been many articles in Germany praising the successful integration of immigrants in the United States, while pointing out that Germany and Europe in general have often failed to integrate the first, second and third generation of immigrants. Many newspapers argue that Germans should take Americans as role models not only regarding the integration of immigrants, but also in terms of philanthropy. Bill Gates' decision to spend more time for his foundation, and Warren Buffett's decision to donate 30 billion dollars to the Gates Foundation have been big news in the German media. The weekly Die Zeit chose the headline "Philanthropische Republik Amerika", i.e. calling the United States "philanthropic Republic." This article wasn't buried deep inside the weekly, but highlighted next to a graphic on the front page: "Role Model America: To Endow - The Good Side of Capitalism." Related posts in the Atlantic Review: Americans donate and volunteer a lot for good causes abroad and Immigration and Naturalization Reform in the U.S. and Germany.
Endnote: Some German papers have even praised President Bush's new environmental policy, like Der Tagesspiegel's feature about the biggest maritime national park and the plans for emission free power stations. Some German media outlet will probably write about the latest Newsweek cover story as well: "Going Green: With windmills, low-energy homes, new forms of recycling and fuel-efficient cars, Americans are taking conservation into their own hands." The Atlantic Review likes to recommend to our German readers articles about the U.S. that help to reduce stereotypes about Americans and improve the US image. The Atlantic Review also points out to our American readers that the German press coverage of the United States is not as negative as many Americans believe it is.
According to a PEW Research Center poll from 2004, a larger share of Americans than Germans, French and others agrees with the statement "Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior"; as shown in the right table from PEW. Of course, the overwhelming majority of Americans are not condescending, but some press coverage gives this impression: Billions of people around the world and millions of Americans enjoy soccer, but several U.S. media outlets don't understand the fun of the game (that's okay and fine!) and turn their lack of understanding into condescension (that's not nice). The neoconservative Weekly Standard:
Soccer is the perfect game for the post-modern world. It's the quintessential expression of the nihilism that prevails in many cultures, which doubtlessly accounts for its wild popularity in Europe.
That's just a brief quote, read the entire piece. This could be satire, but it could also be serious. You never know with the Weekly Standard. More at The New Republic, Dingnan, World Cup Blog and Dialog International. (Perhaps Claire Berlinski is also just joking, when she said "Europeans are lazy, unwilling to fight for anything and willing to surrender to anyone; they are fascinated by decadence." However, her Euro-bashing isn't related to soccer, but to her new book "Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too", which is pretty popular at Amazon.com, Amazon.de.) The American Thinker explains why soccer is not as popular in the U.S. as in most parts of the world:
My theory is that Americans have neither the belief system nor the temperment for such a sisyphean sport as soccer. We are a society of doers, achievers, and builders. Our country is dynamic, constantly growing, and becoming ever bigger, richer, and stronger. (...) I think it reflects the static, crimped, and defeatest attitudes held by so many of the other peoples on earth.