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German-American Festival in Berlin on July 5, 2008

 

On Saturday, Berlin will celebrate Independence Day and the return of the American Embassy to the famous Pariser Platz with the grand "Amerikafest 2008," which will take place where the German soccer fans celebrate their team today...

The festivities are organized by the The Federation of German-American Clubs e.V. (in German), which describes the event as an occasion to discover many aspects of American culture, from politics to sport and entertainment.

I will be there from noon until 6:00 PM as part of my day job at the Atlantische Initiative e.V. We have a stand on Pariser Platz (on the Eastern side of the Brandenburg Gate). See our announcement: Meet the atlantic-community.org Editorial Team at the Amerikafest!
Anybody planning on coming? Write a comment or send me an email.

The Americanization of France

Okay, the headline is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely unwarranted:
The Economist reports about the novelties in the new French defense review. The white paper defines France's "first formal national security strategy, to be overseen by a new national security council." That sounds very American, does not it? There will also be a new national intelligence co-ordinator, answering to the president, just like in the US. And, the white paper approves France's reintegration into NATO's military command structure.

The Atlantic Community has published a transatlantic press round-up about France's Adoption of a Multilateral Defense Policy.

Making Transatlantic Economic Cooperation More Interesting

In reaction to a previous post about the boring, technical nature of transatlantic economic cooperation, Atlantic Review reader John in Michigan made the important point that "the political process requires an engaged citizenry to function well. Any topic or area that an ordinary citizen would rightly find dull, doesn't belong in politics".

Transatlantic economic cooperation is a process that produces winners and losers and thereby has political implications. As it deals with economic relations between the world's two largest economies by far, these implications will likely prove to be significant. The cooperation process, however, is technical to a degree where the political implications are likely to be registered late, and to lead to oblique reactions.

At the core, being 'dull but important' is a dilemma, which has to be solved by making transatlantic economic cooperation more interesting. This could for instance be done by clarifying the political implications of very technical issues like eliminating 'non-tariff barriers'. That, however, is a very difficult analysis to make, and will be contested.

Another solution is to make the issue more interesting by addressing more strategic and political issues. That is the proposal of Henning Meyer of the Social Europe Blog, in a policy paper written for the Global Policy Institute.
Continue reading "Making Transatlantic Economic Cooperation More Interesting"

US Nukes not Secure in Europe

"Most European military sites equipped with US nuclear weapons fail to meet Pentagon security requirements, according to a US Air Force study." reports Reuters:

Hans Kristensen, director of the [Federation of American Scientists'] Nuclear Information Project, said the security problems occurred at installations operated by the national militaries of Germany, Belgium, Holland and Italy, all NATO members. About 200 to 350 nuclear weapons are believed to be stored at the sites.

"What's really going on here is that the United States has changed its standards (since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States), but NATO has not followed and it's at the national bases we're seeing this problem," Kristensen said on Monday.

"In a way, it's the United States knocking on NATO's door and saying: 'C'mon, guys, you need to upgrade, too.'"

Though, rather than calling for such security upgrades of military sites, many German politicians call for the removal of US nuclear weapons from German soil. Our reader Zyme writes this guest post:

Continue reading "US Nukes not Secure in Europe"

Barnett: "Don't expect Europe to step in line behind any new American president."

Thomas P.M. Barnett has a column in the Knoxville News Sentinel in which he reports on the mood of government officials in the Netherlands. There are a lot of interesting angles in the article -- for instance on McCain's 'League of Democracies', which the Dutch do not appreciate, and on European worries about trade rhetoric by Obama, which would be overblown as Obama is pivoting to the centre faster than the eye can see.

These, however, are the article's key paragraphs:

But here's what I found during my week in The Hague: the Dutch aren't convinced that America plus Europe translates into a quorum that's sufficient to tackle all the challenges we collectively face.

In almost every issue you can name, Europe's coming to the conclusion that the West needs the East to figure out the South, as well as our shared future on this increasingly crowded and competitive planet.

It should be borne in mind that the Dutch are one of the most atlanticist nations of Europe in their outlook. Public thinkers from the States like Barnett quite frequently get an ear from the Dutch government. Yet, they have gone global. The Dutch - and the Europeans in general - do not see the 'west' as sufficient anymore, either in terms of its power or in terms of its legitimacy.

Political Segregation Increases Culture Wars in America

"Americans are increasingly choosing to live among like-minded neighbours. This makes the culture war more bitter and politics harder," writes The Economist
Residential segregation is not the only force Balkanising American politics, frets Mr Bishop. Multiple cable channels allow viewers to watch only news that reinforces their prejudices. The internet offers an even finer filter. Websites such as conservativedates.com or democraticsingles.net help Americans find ideologically predictable mates. And the home-schooling movement, which has grown rapidly in recent decades, shields more than 1m American children from almost any ideas their parents dislike.

Why is this voluntary segregation bad for politics? Because:

Continue reading "Political Segregation Increases Culture Wars in America"

Dealing with the Past in 'New Europe'

Guardian correspondent Jonathan Steele has an interesting piece about the different significance Lithuania attaches to the victims of Communism and of Nazism. He describes walking through the 'Museum of Genocide Victims':
But as I moved from room to dismal room, I had a growing sense something was missing. Vilnius was once known as the Jerusalem of the North. What about the Jews? Did their fate not merit remembrance? In a corridor I eventually found a placard with a brief, though telling, mention. It gave estimates for the victims of Lithuania's Soviet occupation and of the Nazi one as well. The number summarily shot, or who died in prison and during deportation in the Soviet period, reached 74,500. During three years of Nazi rule from June 1941, those killed amounted to 240,000, "including about 200,000 Jews".
It is worth noting that this is a general issue throughout the former communist countries of Europe. It is not hard to predict that countries will tend to play up their own victimhood and not discuss their complicity in a genocide. This was also the initial reaction of the West European countries that were occupied by the nazis. Over time, however, that has been replaced by a more critical narrative.

Round-up: Top Press Commentary

The Atlantic Community think tank recommends a daily selection of five commentaries from leading international newspapers. Here are the best from last week:

Time Magazine: US Nukes Are Not Secure in Europe

Die Welt: Bush Leaving Means no More Teasing

Die Zeit: It is Not Only Bush Who Was the Wrong Guy

The Economist: Iraq Starts to Fix Itself

Nicolas D. Kristof: "Israelis Helped Create Hezbollah and Hamas"

Madeleine Albright: No More Humanitarian Interventions

Joseph Nye: Chindia: A Rare Success of the Bush Era

The daily Top Press Commentary Section is featured in the top left corner of atlantic-community.org