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Transatlantic Free-Trade Zone as "NATO for the World Economy"

Gabor Steingart makes "an argument for a trans-atlantic free-trade zone" in the English version of Der Spiegel:
The role NATO played in an age of military threat could be played by a trans-Atlantic free-trade zone in today's age of economic confrontation. The two economic zones -- the European Union and the United States (perhaps with the addition of Canada) -- could stem the dwindling of Western market power by joining forces.
"I find the idea fascinating," Chancellor Merkel told the EU committee in Germany's parliament, according to another Spiegel article in early October. The enormously difficult project of creating a Transatlantic Free Trade Area would be her backup plan, should the Doha trade talks ultimately prove untenable.
Related Atlantic Review post: Will Germany Promote the Creation of a Transatlantic Free-Trade Area?

Quick Links: Germany, Iran, American TV, Jacksonian etc

•  "Keen to clear up the accusations raised by former Guantanamo inmate Murat Kurnaz that he was physically abused by elite German soldiers, the German parliament will set up an investigative committee to look at the case."

•  "Germany, France and Britain have put finishing touches on a draft resolution on UN Security Council sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment."

•  German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier suggests the establishment of an independent, shared enrichment plant under IAEA control on an "extraterritorial" plot with a status similar to U.N.'s in New York.

Via: Kosmoblog: Joschka Fischer, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, spoke at the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) in NYC about the state and challenges for the transatlantic relationship, Iran, terrorism etc. Transcript and video availabel at FPA.

•  "New studies in Germany shed light on the twin problems of growing poverty and a deficit in the child-welfare system."

•  The Karnick blog thinks that "the reports of an increasingly tense relationship between the United States and Europe may be a bit exaggerated", because American TV series are very popular in Europe.

•  Bruce Miller has added "a 20th century Jacksonian to the blog title:  Kurt Schumacher, leader of the German Social Democratic Party from 1946 until his death in 1952."

Fulbrighter Runs Marathon for a Good Cause

Australian Fulbrighter Eliza Matthews will be participating in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC on October 29, 2006. You can sponsor her Marathon:
Did you know that more than one million Americans, and 40 million others around the world, are living with HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS? With more than 20 million deaths so far, AIDS is now the leading cause of death among all people aged 15 to 59 worldwide. Regrettably, approximately 1 in every 20 adults in the District of Columbia is living with HIV/AIDS. So, the money I am raising will benefit Whitman-Walker Clinic, the largest provider of HIV/AIDS services in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. The Clinic provides direct medical care, food, housing and other really important AIDS services -- to help keep people alive until there's a cure.
This concept of doing something extraordinary and having others sponsor you by donating for a good cause has been pretty popular in the United States for a long time (how long?), but is not popular at all in Germany. Not yet, at least.
Eliza also has a blog. Recently she wrote about being labeled a "non-resident alien" by the Bank of America, the Patriot Act and trouble with the service provided by the German company T-Mobile in the US.
UPDATE: Due to a terrible infection, Eliza won't run the marathon next Sunday. She ran the Philadelphia half marathon and is still fundraising for the Whitman Walker Clinic whilst building up to a full marathon.

More Fulbright blogs and Fulbright projects.

Financial Times: "US Prophets of Europe's Doom are Half Wrong"

"Europeans of a nervous disposition should probably avoid going into bookshops on their next visit to the US. If they venture inside, they will come across an array of titles with a blood-curdlingly bleak view of their continent’s future." writes Gideon Rachman:
In Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept (Amazon.com, Amazon.de) -- now into its eighth printing -- the American reader is told that by ignoring the threat from radical Islam: "Europe is steadily committing suicide and perhaps all we can do is look on in horror." Tony Blankley, author of The West's Last Chance (Amazon.com, Amazon.de), warns that: "The threat of the radical Islamists taking over Europe is every bit as great to the United States as was the threat of the Nazis taking over Europe in the 1940s." In The Cube and the Cathedral (Amazon.com, Amazon.de), George Weigel, a Catholic conservative, claims that "western Europe is committing a form of demographic suicide". In this he echoes Pat Buchanan, who argued in his best-selling The Death of the West (Amazon.com, Amazon.de) that Europe's population is set to fall to 30 per cent of its current level by 2100, meaning that "the cradle of western civilisation will have become its grave".
Rachman opines:
I suspect that few Europeans would recognise themselves in this distorting mirror held up from the other side of the Atlantic. And yet -- tempting as it was to toss all these books into the bin and go out for a drink in the midst of my doomed civilisation (one might as well enjoy what little time is left) -- it is impossible completely to dismiss the American prophets of European doom. Strip away the hysteria and the hype and they make two serious points.
He describes these points as rising Muslim populations and low fertility rates, but also points out:
Similarly, the American vision of a Muslim takeover of Europe -- creating a new continent called "Eurabia" -- relies on projecting demographic trends to their limit and beyond. Weigel fantasises about a day when "the muezzin summons the faithful to prayer from the central loggia of St Peter's in Rome". Given that just 1.7 per cent of the Italian population is currently Muslim, that seems a long way off. Of the 456m people of the EU, just 15m to 16m are Muslim.
"The American vision"? Surely, most Americans do not share these opinions...? The Financial Times provides his entire review article.
Endnote: Davids Medienkritik approvingly quotes more Islamophobia, but also thankfully presents Dr. Gedmin's great column "If I were Muslim, I'd be offended by the Pope's speech".
Related: Too Much Cookies (German Blog) analyses the Mozart opera controversy. English summary in Dialog International.

Rise in Racist Violence, US Holocaust Museum Goes to Germany

DW World writes about the rise in Neo-Nazi attacks:
Between January and August, some 8,000 offenses perpetrated by right-wing radicals were reported to the BKA -- 20 percent more than the previous year and 50 percent more than in 2004.  While the number of incidents is increasing, the degree of violence is also swelling. In 2006, 325 people had been injured by far-right violence by August, compared to 302 in 2005.  The issue has been catapulted back into public consciousness after the success of the extremist National Democratic Party (NPD) in regional elections in September.
Moreover: "In the professional soccer stadiums, racism has gone underground but is on the rise in the local leagues and in eastern Germany, according to a recent study."
 
"A new exhibition in Dresden -- originally shown at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington -- looks at the pseudo-scientific foundations of racism.", writes Andres Curry in the English version of Spiegel Online. Andrew was a 2005-2006 Fulbright Journalism Fellow and is now a correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor, which recently published his article Where WWII bombs once laid waste, a Dresden gem shines again.

Rieff: Ideology of Exceptionalism is Dangerous to America's National Interest

On Tuesday, President Bush signed into law a bill that critics consider "one of the most un-American in the nation's long history," writes Dan Froomkin for the Washington Post:
The new law vaguely bans torture -- but makes the administration the arbiter of what is torture and what isn't. It allows the president to imprison indefinitely anyone he decides falls under a wide-ranging new definition of unlawful combatant. It suspends the Great Writ of habeas corpus for detainees. It allows coerced testimony at trial. It immunizes retroactively interrogators who may have engaged in torture. Here's what Bush had to say at his signing ceremony in the East Room: "The bill I sign today helps secure this country, and it sends a clear message: This nation is patient and decent and fair, and we will never back down from the threats to our freedom." But that may not be the "clear message" the new law sends most people. Here's the clear message the law sends to the world: America makes its own rules.
And the LA Times points out that "the Justice Department moved immediately to request the dismissal of dozens of lawsuits filed by detainees challenging their incarceration."
 
The new law is relevant to the discussion about American Exceptionalism: Gregory Djerejian suspects in The Belgravia Dispatch that many historians will view the Iraq war as a "vanity" war.
Continue reading "Rieff: Ideology of Exceptionalism is Dangerous to America's National Interest"

Only in Germany: The Captain of Koepenick's Historic Coup

Carl Zuckmeyer: Der Hauptmann von KoepenickOne hundred years ago, on October 16th, 1906, a German impostor named Wilhelm Voigt masqueraded as a Prussian military officer. He had purchased parts of used captain's uniforms from two different shops. In the Berlin district of Koepenick he went to the local army barracks, stopped four grenadiers and a sergeant on their way back to barracks and told them to come with him. Indoctrinated to obey officers without question, they followed. He dismissed the commanding sergeant to report to his superiors and later commandeered 6 more grenadiers from a shooting range. Then he took the soldiers to the Köpenick city hall and told them to cover all exits. He had the town secretary Rosenkranz and mayor Georg Langerhans arrested for suspicions of crooked bookkeeping and confiscated 4000 marks and 70 pfennigs - with a receipt, of course. (Summarized via Wikipedia.) Hat tip: Observing Hermann.
Good background info about Wilhelm Voigt and his coup and the public perception as well as information about the anniversary commemoration at Koepenickia.

Carl Zuckmeyer wrote an outstanding, funny and heart-wrenching play about Wilhelm Voigt, militarism and bureaucracy (Without a job he can't register with the police to get an appartment. And without police registration and an apartment he can't get a job...). The Jewish Journal points out:
Of all the books written on German militarism, "The Captain From Koepenick," by German playwright Carl Zuckmayer, is not only one of the great all-time satires, but penetrates to the heart of the matter more pointedly than a dozen treatises.
The play premiered in 1930 and immediately earned its author a place on the Nazis' enemy list. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Zuckmayer was a marked man, more for his political views than for his mother's descent from an assimilated Jewish family.
Carl Zuckmeyer emigrated to Vermont. Last week David with Dialog International skirted Woodstock, where Zuckmayer
owned and operated a 100-acre farm in the late 1940s.  Of all the exiled Weimar artists, Zuckmayer had a close and unique understanding of ordinary Americans, something he wrote about in his long essay Amerika ist anders.  Early on in his stay in America, Zuckmayer came to the sober realization that there wasn't a huge market in his new country for German plays. He turned to neighbors in Vermont to teach him about milking cows and cultivating the land. He managed to eke out a living  on his farm - a trying time for him and his wife, but ultimately very enriching.  His wife Alice Herdan-Zuckmayer later wrote about this time in a charming memoir Die Farm in den gruenen Bergen. (Amazon.com, Amazon.de)
Only the German Amazon (but not the US Amazon) sells Carl Zuckmeyer's great play Der Hauptmann von Koepenick ("Captain of Kopenick"), and the extremely funny DVD of the movie with Heinz Ruehmann (1956) and the made-for-TV-movie with Harald Juhnke (1977).

News from Germany and German-American Relations

German Politics:
•  The Italian navy handed over to German command the UN naval force tasked with intercepting arms shipments along Lebanon's coastline following Israel's war with the Shiite movement Hezbollah.

•  
German politicians propose internet registry for sex offenders. Sound familiar?

•  
Observing Hermann about a new survey about poverty and underclass in Germany:

• 
A German high court will consider this week the appeal of Mounir el Motassadeq, a man convicted of belonging to a terrorist organization for his involvement with three of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

German-American Relations:
•  The topping-off ceremony for the new U.S. Embassy building in Berlin took place on October 10, 2006, two years after the groundbreaking. The ceremony celebrated the structural completion of the building.

• 
At an event of the American Academy in Berlin, John B. Bellinger III talked about the current legal situation of detainees in Guantánamo. "Trials will be held in the near future."

• 
U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nuland spent a full day in Berlin conducting interviews with German media. In her interview with news channel NTV she explained U.S. policy vis-à-vis Afghanistan and North Korea.