German conservative interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has come out with a bold initiative to provide asylum for thousands of Iraqi Christians forced to leave their homeland in recent years because of religious persecution at the hands of Muslim extremist groups, writes Ulf Gartzke in the The Weekly Standard Blog:
According to the Schaeuble plan, which is backed by the interior ministers of the 16 German states, Iraqi Christians would be allowed to stay in Germany until conditions on the ground in Iraq have improved to the point where they can return home. While the Interior Ministry has not officially come out with any concrete refugees quotas, Berlin insiders believe that Germany could end up accepting anywhere between 5,000 and 7,000 Iraqi Christians per year.
Related post in the Atlantic Review: Small Town in Sweden Accepted More Iraqi Refugees than the Entire United States
The New York Times Blog The Lede (HT: David) describes a press release from Germany's Environment Minister Gabriel (Social Democrats) as "creative":
In a statement released today, Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel described Mr. Bush's speech on Wednesday as disappointing. But the statements harshest words were put in the title of Mr. Gabriel's critique, according to Reuters: "Gabriel Criticizes Bush's Neanderthal Speech. Losership, Not Leadership"
Comparing any unpopular leader to an ancestor of Man is hardly original, though far more expected from the likes of Kim Jong Il of North Korea rather than a government with warm ties to the U.S. Mr. Gabriel's kicker, however, seemed in a league of its own. Losership, Not Leadership? That's a new one, according to Google.
UPDATE: Mr. Gabriel was criticized in March for polluting the atmosphere. He used a government plane to fly back from the Spanish holiday island of Mallorca for a cabinet meeting in Berlin, writes Spiegel International (HT: Bashy).
In April 2006, the Atlantic Review posted Poll: 45% of Germans consider U.S. more dangerous than Iran.
Perceptions have changed. Spiegel International reports:
China has now overtaken the United States as the greatest perceived threat to global stability in the eyes of Europeans, according to the opinion poll commissioned by the Financial Times. The poll, carried out by the Harris agency between March 27 and April 8 and published on Tuesday, found that 35 percent of respondents in the five largest EU states see China as a bigger threat to world stability than any other state.
Moreover, the United States is also doing better in popularity contests: Atlantic Community noted: "For the first time since 2005, the number of people abroad that view the US as a positive force has increased slightly, to 35 percent."
Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
• Europe is a Threat to the United States
• Transatlantic Foreign Policy Attitudes and Threat Perceptions
Since this is the Atlantic Review, we should take a look at the Atlantic itself: The Redbird Reef close to Delaware is a dump site for New York City subway cars. This is not some environmental disaster. The nearly 700 cars are "basically luxury condominiums for fish," says someone from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources according to Dvice.
Is there a metaphor for transatlantic relations in this story?
Having long secured the GOP nomination, John McCain has had plenty of opportunity for tacking back to the centre. It was to be expected that he chose to do precisely that in a recent foreign policy speech. In doing so, he has however angered the conservative wing of his party, as a Cliff Kincaid piece on GOPUSA demonstrates:
[I]f the liberals get beyond their differences with McCain on Iraq, they will not only vote for him but promote his agenda as president. Then, as Rush Limbaugh notes, it may eventually be possible to change the name of the United States of America: "We'll call ourselves New Europe." In the process, true conservatism as a political force will be finished in the U.S. The piece, called 'McCain's Incoherent World Order' reveals yet another split in the Republican party: between sovereignists, or as Steve Clemons disparagingly calls them, 'pugnacious nationalists', and neoconservatives. McCain's politics are a choice for neoconservatism. Although McCain downplayed it in his speech, he still seems eager to go on foreign adventures.
The tragedy of this approach is that it comes from a man who served his country in uniform and risked his life on behalf of the U.S. McCain would have been a natural choice to lead a campaign for restoration of American sovereignty in foreign affairs. He could have been "The American President Americans have been waiting for."
The lesson McCain has drawn from the Bush administration is not that the neoconservative agenda of aggressive democracy promotion is wrong, but rather that the unilateral manner in which this was executed -- through Bush' 'coalition of the willing' and defiance of international law such as the Geneva conventions -- has been both unhelpful and wrong. Principles and pragmatism tend to coincide in McCain's politics. Partially because of that, though, it is difficult to see how he could bridge the gap with liberals with regard to Iraq.
Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
• Neocons and Pragmatists Compete over Influence on McCain
• 40th Anniversary of Senator Fulbright's "Arrogance of Power" Speech
The United States has admitted less than 5,000 Iraqi refugees between April 2003 through the end of March while Sweden has accepted 34,000 since 2003 according to Congressman Alcee Hastings, chairman of the Helsinki Commission, an independent US government agency led by members of Congress.
The International Herald Tribune writes that the commission held a hearing with Anders Lago, the mayor of Sodertalje, Sweden. He said that his small city of about 80,000 was now home to nearly 6,000 Iraqis. "More refugees than the United States and Canada together."
The IHT also points out that "the Bush administration said Thursday it remained optimistic it would meet its goal of admitting 12,000 Iraqi refugees by the end of September."
Related articles in the Atlantic Community by Jan Bittner: Iraqi Refugees: The West Overlooks a Major Crisis and Iraqi Refugees: Open Western Doors to the Most Vulnerable, referring to the Iraqi Christians in particular.
The so-called pragmatists in the Republican party are concerned that Senator McCain "is susceptible to influence from the neoconservatives," write Elizabeth Bumiller and Larry Rother write in the New York Times (HT: Alex).
John McCain has long made his decades of experience in foreign policy and national security the centerpiece of his political identity, but he might not be "as fully formed on foreign policy as his campaign advisers say he is:"
While he speaks authoritatively, he operates too much off the cuff and has not done the deeper homework required of a presidential candidate.
In a trip to the Middle East last month, Mr. McCain made an embarrassing mistake when he said several times that he was concerned that Iran was training Al Qaeda in Iraq. (The United States believes that Iran, a Shiite country, has been training Shiite extremists in Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, a Sunni insurgent group.) He repeated the mistake on Tuesday at hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Related post on Atlantic Community: Why We Should Fear a McCain Presidency
And on Dialog International: John McCain a Danger for Europe
Why is there so much Anti-Americanism? Lewis Black gives one explanation in a Broadway comedy show in 2004:
The most important part of travel, is when you come home. Because, that's when you see your country with new eyes. I was amazed to realize that we're - we're the only country that - that tells the rest of the world, on a nearly constant basis, that we're the greatest country on Earth. And that is a little f***in' obnoxious! And they know it's obnoxious. Because, if you were in an office, and there was someone there, who came in every day and said; "I'm the greatest fucker here! And you snivelling shits would die without me! Ahahahaha!" I can guarantee that by the end of the week, you'd have killed him! And eaten him, just to try to possess his power!
The Youtube video below includes the above quote and some funny comments about US obsession with health and about milk:
Or shall we chill out and ignore both the Europeans, who complain about US arrogance, and the Americans, who complain about Anti-Americanism in Western Europe? After all boasting about one's country might be considered pretty normal around the world, except in Western Europe. Many Western Europeans dislike nationalism and boasting and instead prefer to put down arrogant others. At least this is what one commenter suggested as previously mentioned:
I think anti-Americanism is some kind of weird, inverted nationalism for people who don't think nationalism is cool (think about it, what better way to believe in the superiority of your nation without being explicit about it?)
Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
• America's Cultural Superiority
• The Anti-Americans and the Manichaean Narcissists
• Is it Anti-Americanism or just Disappointment and Sensitivity?