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State of the Union: "We Revitalized NATO" and "We Do Big Things"

"With our European allies, we revitalized NATO and increased our cooperation on everything from counterterrorism to missile defense.  We've reset our relationship with Russia, strengthened Asian alliances, built new partnerships with nations like India." declared President Obama in yesterday's State of the Union Address (Enhanced video).

The focus of his speech was of course domestic rather than foreign -- "and perhaps properly so, given Americans' continuing preoccupation with the economy. Even in that context, though, President Obama's portrait of U.S. engagement in the world was thin -- and weak. By Obama's account, the most important American foreign initiatives in 2011 will be retreats," comments Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post.

Still, I very much like his speech. I felt inspired afterwards, and I assume the speech moved many Americans as well. An optimistic yet realistic message during tough times.

My favorite quotes:

This is our generation's Sputnik moment.  Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race.  And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal.  We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology -- (applause) -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people. (...)

That's what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves. (...)

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How US Girls Can Find Hot Men in Europe

As a blog dedicated to transatlantic relations, I guess we are obligated to promote this book: The Single Girl's Guide to Meeting European Men Amazon.com, Amazon.de: "This book offers single girls forty proven tips for meeting and interacting with European men - in a frank, energetic voice that twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings alike will love. Katherine Chloe Cahoon then guides readers through the hottest man-meeting spots in Europe country by country - including phone numbers and addresses of the establishments where single girls have the best chances of meeting Europe's hottest males."

Here is one of the many favorable (and totally serious) reviews on Amazon.com:

So good I might switch teams! I'm a guy. I had absolutely no interest in this book, but my wife did. After she read it, she told me it was the greatest piece of 21st century literature. Naturally, I dismissed the notion of a manual to pick up men actually being a worthwhile read, but she insisted, so I gave it a shot. Imagine my surprise when I went to get a drink and saw that I had been reading for 9 hours straight! It was such a compelling page-turner that I somehow unwittingly finished the whole book and convinced myself to start over twice! Never in the course of human history has so much been owed by so many to one author. There are, as advertised, great tips for getting yourself in with some Euro spice, but they feel like an extra gift included with the deftly woven narrative. I only regret that I fell so in love with this book that now I, too, want to fly to Berlin and try to land one of the beautiful young men so well-described in these pages. My wife regrets it, too, but you won't! Read this book today!

The author seems to be serious and has produced a large number of videos to promote the book.

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"Afghanistan now awaits its Fulbright"

Comparisons between Afghanistan and Vietnam are becoming popular again. Will Senator John Kerry walk in Senator Fulbright's footsteps?

Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote in the Washington Post:

Afghanistan now awaits its Fulbright. It is time for the Senate to make an independent review of the war, and to challenge - as Sen. J.William Fulbright did during the Vietnam war - a president unwilling to end a conflict he knows will not be won. Surely, it is fate that the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is Sen. John Kerry. Nearly 40 years ago, as a brave, decorated, young Navy lieutenant returning from Vietnam, he challenged senators to do their duty, saying that each day "someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows . . . that we have made a mistake. . . . How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
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Europe and China: Weapons for Investment?

Atlantic Community:

EU countries mired in debt are getting help from an unlikely source: China. The ascendant superpower is buying up large amounts of European bonds and investing heavily in euro zone countries. Moreover, there is talk of a reversal of the long standing EU arms embargo on China. Is this all a coincidence?

Kurt Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and now managing director at Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University commented: "If all this were to play out - that is, lifting the embargo, subsequent sanctions, etc. - it would be a new low point in U.S.-E.U. relations." (HT: NATO Source)

I agree. I hope the EU does not lift the arms embargo. In my opinion NATO countries should not sell any arms to non-NATO members.

USA Still "a Light to the Rest of the World"?

Sarah Palin responds with an 8-minute video statement to the criticism that has been leveled at her after the Arizona shooting. She claims:

Our exceptional nation, so vibrant with ideas and the passionate exchange and debate of ideas, is a light to the rest of the world.

Is the US still a light to "the rest of the world" or is that just arrogant and self-congratulatory wishful thinking?

Comedian Lewis Black addressed this boasting of American exceptionalism/superiority/etc. in 2008.


Related post on Atlantic Review:
Arizona Shooting Victim Was a 9/11 Baby

Endnote: Interesting statistic quoted in the Washington Post:

According to the Brady Campaign, an advocacy group, "more Americans were killed with guns in the 18-year period between 1979 and 1997 (651,697) than were killed in battle in all wars since 1775 (650,858)."

Fellow citizens are a bigger threat to Americans than the world is? Okay, not really comparable, but still interesting.

Antibürokratieteam presents NY Times bias.

Plutocracy: US Media Concerned about the Political Influence of the Super Rich

Conventional wisdom used to be that Europeans envy the rich, while Americans hope to emulate them. Now, Americans are increasingly concerned about rising inequality and the influence of the tiny elite of the super rich.

Plutocracy is a very popular topic of discussion in the US media at the moment. I am quite surprised.

It can't be a coincidence that even mainstream and center-right publications like Foreign Affairs, The American Interest and The Atlantic write about it extensively right now:

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