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"Europe Deserves Obama More"

Benjam in Perry writes in Anglofritz:

Berlin-based Scottish expat, culturist and opinionator Nick Currie, better known as the musician Momus, elects Barack Obama today as the next President of Europe. The position just opened up, Momus says, after French President Nicolas Sarkozy earlier this month withdrew his essential support of Tony Blair for the job.

He also quotes Roger Cohen in the New York Times, who describes Obama as an online phenomenon, jumping national borders and  "stirring as much buzz in Berlin as he does back home." Well, that's quite a bit of an exaggeration, but there is probably indeed more popular support for Barack Obama than for Tony Blair for the position of EU President. (See Nanne's post on Contention About the New "EU President")

Obama is considering a visit to Berlin, says Karsten Voigt, the German government's envoy for German-American relations, according to DW World. I doubt that Obama will indeed visit Germany during the hot election campaign. He already has won more than 80% of votes from the US expats living in Germany and registered as Democrats, I believe.

It would be great, however, if Obama would take time of from the campaign trail and visit Europe in order to put to rest the criticism from Steve Clemons (and myself) regarding his Lack of Real Interest in Transatlantic Cooperation:

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations' Subcommittee on Europe, Obama has held zero hearings -- at least that is how the record appears to me. Compare this to the House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe, which is having constant hearings -- or to the Senate Subcommittee's work before Obama became Chair -- or to a comparative commitment of Hillary Clinton

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:

President Obama and Europe

Clinton Most Likely to Rebuild US-European Alliance

Obama the Catalyst

Israel Does not Allow Fulbright Grantees to Leave Gaza (UPDATED)

The State Department has taken Fulbright scholarships away from eight students in Gaza, because of Israeli travel restrictions imposed on the Hamas-ruled part of the Palestinian territory.

Sounds like a PR disaster for Israel and the US due to the lack of cooperation among bureaucratic. The New York Times talks about "longstanding tensions" between the US consulate in Jerusalem and the embassy in Tel Aviv and also says that the Israeli defense department and prime minister's office disagree whether a Fulbright grant is a "humanitarian necessity."

How shall there be any economic and political development in Gaza as well as some pro-American sentiment, if students are not allowed to leave the Gaza prison strip? The New York Times also points out:

Some Israeli lawmakers, who held a hearing on the issue of student movement out of Gaza on Wednesday, expressed anger that their government was failing to promote educational and civil development in a future Palestine given the hundreds of students who had been offered grants by the United States and other Western governments.
"This could be interpreted as collective punishment," complained Rabbi Michael Melchior, chairman of the Parliament's education committee, during the hearing. "This policy is not in keeping with international standards or with the moral standards of Jews, who have been subjected to the deprivation of higher education in the past. Even in war, there are rules."

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:

More Iraqi Fulbrighters Seek Asylum
Experiencing America: New Book by Fulbrighters
• Fulbright Workshop on Implementing a Digital Library for the Maghreb

UPDATE: Open Letter by Fulbrighters: Reinstate Fulbright Grants to Students in Gaza

The Petition Site: Help Palestinian Fulbright Grantees Get Exit Visas from Israel.

UPPERDATE:
The BBC reports that the State Department has reinstated Fulbright grants. (HT: Omar)

Germany's Christian Democrats are Pulled Left

David Vickrey, editor of Dialog International, wrote this guest blog post:

When Angela Merkel became Germany's chancellor in 2005 American conservatives were jubilant.  Here was a European leader who was not afraid to stand with George W. Bush and his Iraq War policy.  Conservatives were enthralled with Merkel's personal biography, her rejection of the perceived anti-Americanism her predecessor and her embrace of market solutions.  Surely her political victory would mark a new beginning for the frayed Atlantic alliance, a new strategic partnership based on conservative principles.

But 2005 now seems like long ago, and Angela Merkel has turned out to be something of a disappointment to American conservatives. 

Continue reading "Germany's Christian Democrats are Pulled Left"

High Demand Or Rather An Oil Bubble?

A tip from our reader Don has led us to an article in the London Times. In it, economics columnist Anatole Kaletsky argues that the astronomical oil price is not caused by economic fundamentals like supply and demand,

but rather the product of a typical financial boom-bust cycle, which could be deflated - especially with some help from sensible political action - as quickly as it built up. [...]
In the late stages of financial bubbles, it is quite normal for prices to become completely detached from economic fundamentals. House prices in Florida and Spain kept rising even after property developers built far more homes than they could possibly sell. The same thing happened in credit markets: mortgage securities kept rising even while banks created “special purpose vehicles” to acquire vast “inventories” of bonds for which there were no genuine buyers - and dozens of similar examples can be cited from the bubbles in internet stocks and Japan. Similarly, the International Gold Council reported this week that gold demand for commercial uses and investment fell 17 per cent in January, just as the gold price surged through $1,000 for the first time.
Now consider the situation today in oil markets: the Gulf, according to Mr Rothman, is crammed with supertankers chartered by oil-producing governments to hold the inventories of oil they are pumping but cannot sell. That physical oil is in excess supply at today's prices does not mean that producers are somehow cheating by storing their oil in tankers or keeping it in the ground. All it suggests is that there are few buyers for physical oil cargoes at today's prices, but there are plenty of buyers for pieces of paper linked to the price of oil next month and next year. This situation is exactly analogous to the bubble in credit markets a year ago, where nobody wanted to buy sub-prime mortgage bonds, but there was plenty of demand for “financial derivatives” that allowed investors to bet on the future value of these bonds.

The article quotes a book by George Soros which is available on Amazon.de or Amazon.com.

British-French Defense Cooperation Looks Promising

European defense has two problems: The defense spending is much lower than in the US. And in addition, the money is not used as efficiently as in the US, because each EU country has its own military with its own equipment. Therefore, I am pleasantly surprised to read in The Sunday Times (HT: Zyme):

Two hundred years after the battle of Trafalgar, the [British] navy could end up sharing the pride of its fleet with the French. Driven by spiralling budgets, the two navies began talks last week aimed at sharing their aircraft carriers.

And of course it is always wonderful to see former enemies working that closely together now. In the next century, Iran and the US might share an aircraft carrier --  or space ship. ;-)

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:

Defense budget: US spends too much and Europe spends too little?

Would the Democrats Cut Defense Spending?

Britain: Pro-European And Pro-American At Once?

Gordon Brown’s administration, despite its domestic (foremost economic) troubles, has a great foreign policy opportunity, claims Philip Stephens in the Financial Times:

The next year or so offers Britain the best chance in a generation to get its foreign policy right. Whoever wins the White House, the time has come for Britain to rebalance its European and transatlantic relationships. [...]

While Foreign Minister David Miliband insists on the "special relationship" between Britain and the US, he's also been making remarks hinting at a new recognition of Great Britain being part of Europe, says Stephens.

The implication is that a British government will speak from a European perspective in Washington as much as from a US one in Paris or Berlin. Behind this – at least I hope this is what Mr Miliband means – is an understanding that strong ties between London and Washington work in Britain’s interest only in so far as they also reflect wider transatlantic cohesion. [...] What has changed [though] is that a less subservient British relationship with Washington need no longer imply a weakening of broader transatlantic ties. The message for Britain from the Iraq war was that it could not have the best of both worlds – a privileged place in Washington and a leadership role in Europe. But France too learned a tough lesson: it cannot unite Europe against the US. [...] The governments of Europe’s three most powerful nations are now more or less at one. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy has abandoned his predecessors’ anti-Americanism. Angela Merkel has restored Germany’s Atlanticist tilt. [...] What this means is that Mr Brown can be at once pro-European and pro-American.

World War IV: Europe on the Front Line

While Swiss media are reporting Al Qaeda bomb threats during the upcoming EU- soccer championship (taking place in Switzerland and Austria), Eric Grover warns from an Islamic "World War IV" against the West on blogactiv. This entry was cross-posted from blogactiv with permission and without further editing. It does not represent the Atlantic Review's opinion on the matter:

"A resurgent fundamentalist Islam is engaged in a global war against the West and the rest of the infidel world. In World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism former Commentary editor in chief Norman Podhoretz calls it WW4.

Republican presidential frontrunner John McCain believes "the transcendent challenge of the 21st century is radical Islamic extremists." Mitt Romney said the “philosophy of radical jihadism says, ‘We want to kill.’” In stark contrast, Democrats, George Bush and many European leaders talk about combating terrorism – a means, disembodied from any animating ideology or purpose. It is as if in WW2 Roosevelt and Churchill had called for waging war against Panzer tanks. UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in a positively Orwellian construction now refers to Islamic terrorism as “anti-Islamic activity.”

21st century Europeans and Americans no longer understand men motivated by and willing, indeed eager, to kill and die for their faith.

Continue reading "World War IV: Europe on the Front Line"

California: Today Gay Marriage, Tomorrow Meteors and Volcanoes

The California Supreme Court made a 4-3 decision this week that will legalize gay marriage in California, most likely effective within 30 days.  As reported by the New York Times:
This decision will give Americans the lived experience that ending exclusion from marriage helps families and harms no one,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, who noted that same-sex marriages were legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa and Spain.
The timing of this action, coming only months before the US presidential elections in November, have led to speculation on whether or not it will hurt the Democratic nominee.  Alex Altman wrote an article in Time Magazine asking, “Will Gay Marriage Help the GOP?”:
California Republicans are hoping that history will prove instructive. After Massachusetts became the first state to codify marriage equality in 2003, the G.O.P. spent the ensuing general election wielding the issue as a potent weapon. Thirteen states passed ballot initiatives to ban same-sex marriage — including Ohio, the battleground that tipped the 2004 election in George W. Bush's favor. Opponents of gay marriage in California have generated more than 1 million signatures to place on November ballots an initiative amending the state's constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.
Kai Stinchcombe, a PhD candidate in political science at Stanford University, and a very good friend of mine, created the popular Facebook group Gay Marriage Killed the Dinosaurs.  In his thoughtful analysis, Kai identifies 17 reasons gay marriage should remain illegal: Continue reading "California: Today Gay Marriage, Tomorrow Meteors and Volcanoes"