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Would McCain or Obama be Better for Britain?

Christopher Meyer, former British Ambassador to the United States during 9/11, writes in the Telegraph:
I have no idea - I have never met him - what Obama thinks of Britain, though in one of his attacks against Bush, he dismissively brackets the UK with Togo. McCain, whom I knew well and liked, is to all appearances a declared anglophile. But, none of this is relevant. America will act on an unsentimental calculation of where its national interest lies. The problem with the rhetoric of the Special Relationship is that it implicitly denies this reality, putting a burden of expectation on the ties between our two countries, which they cannot bear.

Whoever wins, Britain must rest its relationship with America on four propositions: is America our single most important ally and partner? Absolutely. Does this mean that our national interests will always coincide? Absolutely not. Should we stand up for our interests when they diverge from the Americans? Absolutely. Will having rows with the US from time to time fatally undermine the closeness of the relationship? Absolutely not.
While Meyer concludes with a subtle endorsement for Obama, overall he leaves the impression that neither Obama nor McCain will necessarily be better for Britain, since "America will act on an unsentimental calculation of where its national interest lies." That is, it does not matter who is president, because the United States will always act the same way, based on what is in its best interests.  As President Lincoln once said: "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me."

However, the argument that neither president will be better for Britain (or other allies in Europe, or the transatlantic alliance as a whole) attributes too little influence to the US executive branch.  The fact is, different presidents push different policies and weigh the importance of allie's opinions differently.  If Al Gore had been president in 2003, there is a good chance the US would not be at war in Iraq (or at least would have approached it in a less unilateral way), which would have prevented the transatlantic alliance from reaching a major low following the Iraq invasion. 

McCain and Obama have different approaches to foreign relations, different world views, and different personal styles -- and one of them will be "better" for Britain than the other, regardless of events.

Juergen Habermas and Al Gore: Profit Driven Media Endangers Democracy

Juergen Habermas, Germany's most prominent philosopher, criticizes excessive market influence on Germany's newspapers in Die Sueddeutsche. Sign and Sight posted a full translation. Andrew Hammel comments in German Joys:
In the United States -- once the home of aggressive investigative reporting -- troubling signs have emerged at some of the nation's top newspapers. The Los Angeles Times has been ruthlessly re-organized, and the Boston Globe has closed all of its overseas bureaus. At a time when the U.S. is fighting two wars. Habermas, whose 1962 Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere is considered a classic of modern sociology, warns of a similar process on the horizon in Germany. News and information, he warns, cannot be treated as consumer products. I note that Habermas does not mention blogs or other online information sources even once during the entire piece. Yes, blogs are still in their infancy and, and their influence is often exaggerated by fans. Still, Habermas' lack of curiosity about this looming transformation is disappointing. That caveat aside, Habermas, as usual, makes interesintg points.
Habermas is 77 and may be 'excused' for ignoring the blogosphere, which even much younger German academics ignore or underestimate. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia, "Jürgen Habermas currently ranks as one of the most influential philosophers in the world. Bridging continental and Anglo-American traditions of thought, he has engaged in debates with thinkers as diverse as Gadamer and Putnam, Foucault and Rawls, Derrida and Brandom."

Andrew Hammel
writes in another post that Al Gore new book "The Assault on Reason" comes with a similar message. Quote from that book:
It is too easy—and too partisan—to simply place the blame on the policies of President George W. Bush. We are all responsible for the decisions our country makes. We have a Congress. We have an independent judiciary. We have checks and balances. We are a nation of laws. We have free speech. We have a free press. Have they all failed us? Why has America's public discourse become less focused and clear, less reasoned? (...)
American democracy is now in danger—not from any one set of ideas, but from unprecedented changes in the environment within which ideas either live and spread, or wither and die. I do not mean the physical environment; I mean what is called the public sphere, or the marketplace of ideas. It is simply no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. (...) While American television watchers were collectively devoting 100 million hours of their lives each week to these and other similar stories [stories about celebrities and missing women, ed.], our nation was in the process of more quietly making what future historians will certainly describe as a series of catastrophically mistaken decisions on issues of war and peace, the global climate and human survival, freedom and barbarity, justice and fairness.

Al Gore considers US democracy in grave danger due to news media

Fellow Fulbrighter Harry recommends a speech by former Vice President Al Gore who promoted his Current TV network at the "We Media" conference. Al Gore's speech began with the dire warning:

American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse . I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America's fabled "marketplace of ideas" now functions. (...) More than four years [after 9/11], between a third and a half [of all Americans] still believe Saddam was personally responsible for planning and supporting the attack. At first I thought the exhaustive, non-stop coverage of the O.J. trial was just an unfortunate excess that marked an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our television news media.
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