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Transatlantic Dialogues in Berlin

"Europe has to lead and America will follow," according to Jeremy Rifkin, author of the recent best-seller The European Dream. How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream. (Original: Amazon.com; Amazon.de; Deutsche Übersetzung: Amazon.de;) Rifkin recently spoke at the House of World Cultures in Berlin as part of the Transatlantic Dialogues series. Find more information on the program and on Rifkin's book as well as an open blog for discussion here.
For a review of The European Dream by Tony Judt see The New York Review of Books.

No Rapid Reaction Force for NATO

International Herald Tribune:
NATO is backing away from establishing a combat force that would be capable of moving rapidly into conflict areas because it lacks the money, the troops and the equipment, officials said Thursday. NATO's decision to rethink the Response Force is a blow for the 26-member alliance, which was seeking a way to alter a cumbersome and reactive organization of the Cold War era to field flexible units capable of being deployed within days to carry out a range of operations, including counter-terrorism. (...)
Tomas Valasek, a defense expert at the Center for European Reform, a research institute in London, said: "NATO has a problem that affects the EU as well. There are simply not enough troops. NATO is asking member states to sign up to the Response Force at a time when more troops are needed for Afghanistan. NATO has hit a ceiling. The Response Force is a luxury member states cannot afford." The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has sent 40,000 soldiers to Afghanistan and 17,000 are still in Kosovo, nine years after the alliance deployed troops to the Serbian province. (...)
De Hoop Scheffer said that 7 of the 26 alliance members were meeting the benchmark of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.
Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
 
"Maybe It's Time for NATO to Die"
Bumper Stickers Slogans: What is the Purpose of NATO?
France Might Rejoin NATO's Military Command

The Anti-Americans and the Manichaean Narcissists

The New York Times starts its review of a documentary about Anti-Americanism with these two sentences: "Do Europeans hate America or love it? Lately the answer might seem a no-brainer."

Why is manichaeism so popular in the US media?  Why are Europeans not allowed to feel something between love and hate?
Why is the US media addressing this "Why do they hate us?" question all the time?
Professors Katzenstein and Keohane wrote in Anti-Americanisms in World Politics: "Perhaps we care [about Anti-Americanism] because we lack self-confidence, because we are uncertain whether to be proud of our role in the world or dismayed by it." Well, uncertainty is pretty universal, but pride is not so important in Europe anymore. I think Europeans don't expect to be loved by other nations. Those nations shall love their own country.

The US media often gives the impression that many Americans want to be loved and admired by others, and that they are disappointed if foreigners are not so impressed by the land of the free and the home of the brave with the shining city upon a hill. The American people, however, are much more relaxed and not at all narcisstic, I believe.

The PBS documentary "The Anti-Americans" presents the usual European characters, if the above mentioned NY Times review is correct: First they show a condescending Brit, then a French woman talking about obese Americans and then those charming Poles, who make country music, wear cowboy hats and wave American flags. It's the usual stereotypes and the typical European dichotomy: The Anti-American Old Europe, and the US loving New Europe. Of course, they don't show one of the many German Western Dance clubs, cowboy fans or country music bands. PBS could have reported that a country band represented Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest, but that does not fit into the prefered characterization of Europeans.

It seems that this documentary about Anti-American stereotypes reinforces stereotypes about Europeans. Isn't that ironic?

Ret. U.S. General Would Accept a Nuclear-Armed Iran

John Abizaid, the retired Army general who headed Central Command for nearly four years, said according to Yahoo! News:

"I believe that we have the power to deter Iran, should it become nuclear," he said, referring to the theory that Iran would not risk a catastrophic retaliatory strike by using a nuclear weapon against the United States. "There are ways to live with a nuclear Iran," Abizaid said in remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank. "Let's face it, we lived with a nuclear Soviet Union, we've lived with a nuclear China, and we're living with (other) nuclear powers as well."
Totally unrelated: Gainesville Sun reports about a shrewed journalism student and the incompetent and brutal security service at the University of Florida. Many US universities are better than German universities, but here students don't get tasered, not even obnoxious self-promoters.

Germany Loves Tom Cruise

"The German Defence Ministry has dropped its concerns about Tom Cruise being a member of Scientology and decided to allow him to shoot scenes inside the Defense Ministry for his film about the plot to assassinate Hitler," writes Spiegel International.

When the Denfence Ministry rejected Tom Cruise's request in June, Time Magazine published an article by Andrew Purvis under the headline "Why Germany Hates Tom Cruise." For the sake of being fair and balance, Time Magazine should now run the headline "Why Germany Loves Tom Cruise."

It would be nice to have some shades of grey rather than this popular question in the US media: "Why do they hate us?" I sometimes get the impression, that whenever a foreigner does not love the US, he is suspected of hating the US.

Regarding the Tom Cruise controversy see Sonja's Atlantic Review article Scientology: Tom Cruise Banned from Filming in Berlin?, incl. the 38 comments from our readers.

McResistance is Futile

"When McDonald's announced plans last May to open a franchise in Berlin's alternative neighborhood of Kreuzberg, some people thought the world was ending. But the streets were quiet for the restaurant's grand opening," despite all the talk about McResistance, writes Spiegel International.

Related post in the Atlantic Review: Up-Scaling Junk Food in Europe

Ambassador Crocker Sees Increased European Support for Iraq

"The US ambassador to Baghdad has said that he has seen a greater recognition from some European countries that they have a stake in the outcome in Iraq," reports Yahoo News. Ryan Crocker referred to the recent visits to Baghdad by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt:

"It seems to me that some major European countries are now taking another look, a new look at Iraq," Crocker said, "and recognising four-and a-half years after the fall of Saddam that they have long-term interests in how things turn out in Iraq." (...) "This expanded European engagement is a very positive thing," Crocker said. (...)
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has expressed an interest in travelling to Iraq.

I think Ambassador Crocker is too optimistic regarding European help.

A video clip with Crocker's statement is posted below the fold. There is some advertisement, but so far all ads were for a good cause. Continue reading "Ambassador Crocker Sees Increased European Support for Iraq"

France Might Rejoin NATO's Military Command

NATO"NATO is ready to discuss bringing France back fully into the fold after signals from Paris that it may reverse its decision 41 years ago to withdraw from the alliance's military structures, officials said Thursday. President Nicolas Sarkozy set the tone with a foreign policy speech last month, in which he said that NATO was no rival to France's ambition of a robust European Union defense capability," reports the International Herald Tribune:

Alliance diplomats note France has just taken the command of the 16,000-strong NATO-led peace force in Kosovo and has in the past played a command role in its larger Afghan peacekeeping operation. France could seek assurances from allies - not just the United States but more Atlanticist countries ranging from Britain to Poland - that efforts to build a proper EU defense capability would not suffer as a result of it rejoining NATO. Concrete steps may have to await publication in March of a wide-ranging "White Book" on French defense sector reform being prepared by a committee under the defense expert Jean-Claude Mallet.

Endnote: NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer discussed the future of operations in Afghanistan with foreign policy experts from all parties in the German parliament:
Atlantic Community: Afghanistan: The Way Ahead