Professors Peter J. Katzenstein and Robert O. Keohane, who are two leading international relations experts at Cornell and Princeton, have just published Anti-Americanisms in World Politics (Amazon.com, Amzon.de). According to the book description, they have "assembled a distinguished group of experts, including historians, polling-data analysts, political scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists, to explore Anti-Americanism in depth, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The result is a book that probes deeply a central aspect of world politics that is frequently noted yet rarely understood."
Policy Review has published the essay "Anti-Americanisms: Biases as diverse as the country itself" by Katzenstein and Keohane, adapted from their new book. In the book and the essay they discuss four themes:
First, we distinguish between anti-Americanisms that are rooted in opinion or bias. Second, as our book's title suggests, there are many varieties of anti-Americanism. The beginning of wisdom is to recognize that what is called anti-Americanism varies, depending on who is reacting to America. In our book, we describe several different types of anti-Americanism and indicate where each type is concentrated. The variety of anti-Americanism helps us to see, third, the futility of grand explanations for anti-Americanism. It is accounted for better as the result of particular sets of forces. Finally, the persistence of anti-Americanism, as well as the great variety of forms that it takes, reflects what we call the polyvalence of a complex and kaleidoscopic American society in which observers can find whatever they don’t like -- from Protestantism to porn. The complexity of anti-Americanism reflects the polyvalence of America itself.
Another one of their conclusions:
Perhaps the most puzzling thing about anti-Americanism is that we Americans seem to care so much about it. Americans want to know about anti-Americanism: to understand ourselves better and, perhaps above all, to be reassured. This is one of our enduring traits. Americans’ reaction to anti-Americanism in the twenty-first century thus is not very different from what Alexis de Tocqueville encountered in 1835: "The Americans, in their intercourse with strangers, appear impatient of the smallest censure and insatiable of praise... They unceasingly harass you to extort praise, and if you resist their entreaties they fall to praising themselves. It would seem as if, doubting their own merit, they wished to have it constantly exhibited before their eyes."Perhaps we care because we lack self-confidence, because we are uncertain whether to be proud of our role in the world or dismayed by it.
The second book Ueberpower: The Imperial Temptation of America (Amazon.com, Amazon.de) was published in the summer of 2006 and is written by Fulbright Alumnus and ZEIT editor Josef Joffe, who is very pro-American and even supported the Iraq war. The title is a bit misleading since the book examines Anti-Americanism at great length. I have read an interesting essay in the American Interest by Joffe based on his book, but that essay is no longer available online. Joffe presented and discussed his book at Carnegie.
The New Yorker reviews Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University (Amazon.com, Amazon.de) by William Clark, a historian who "has spent his academic career at both American and European universities. Clark thinks that the modern university, with its passion for research, prominent professors, and, yes, black crêpe, took shape in Germany in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And he makes his case with analytic shrewdness, an exuberant love of archival anecdote, and a wry sense of humor." (HT: Chris, who blogs at Edit Copy.)
Likewise, Louis Menand's Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Metaphyisical Club: The Story of Ideas in America (Amazon.com, Amazon.de) describes how important German universities were in creating graduate studies in the United States. From Dialog International's review:
The first graduate school was established at Johns Hopkins University and was modeled after the University of Heidelberg. Nearly every serious scholar in America made a pilgrimage to the great universities at Heidelberg, Berlin, Leipzig and Goettingen. Of Stanford University's original 30 professors, 15 had received degrees in Germany and the school's unofficial motto which appears on its official seal is Die Luft der Freiheit weht ("the wind of freedom blows") - a quote from Ulrich von Hutten, a 16th-century humanist.
A humorous philosopher and a philosophic comedian have redefined two terms to better describe shortcomings of the media and political debates. Harry Frankfurt, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton University, wrote a short book about Bullshit. Bullshitting is distinct from lying and it is worse for public discourse in the long run. Liars make deliberately false claims about what is true, but they know the truth and they try to hide it. Bullshitters, however, are not concerned about whether anything at all is true, they are just indifferent to the truth. Excessive bullshitting can eventually undermine the practitioner's capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. More in Slate and in this ten minute video interview with Prof. Frankfurt. Or just buy the book for less than 10$ (8 €) at Amazon.com or Amazon.de.
Many Bullshitters do not care about the truth, but about truthiness, which is stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true. The American Dialect Society (pdf) voted "truthiness" as the Word of the Year 2005, because Stephen Colbert reinvented it on his first episode of his satirical television program the Colbert Report. Wikipedia as a long entry:
Truthiness is the quality by which a person purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or to what the person might conclude from intellectual examination. (...) By using the term as part of his satirical routine, Colbert seeks to critique the tendency to rely upon "truthiness," and its use as an appeal to emotion in contemporary socio-political discourse.
Colbert is a liberal pretending to be a conservative, but truthiness -- as well as bullshit -- are common practice across the political spectrum on both sides of the Atlantic. From Sonja: Comedian Stephen Colbert's biting satire at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner has been the talk of town for weeks. Watch the whole, original broadcast. "Finally, somebody from the press, somebody at all is speaking up! Bush was not amused", was a common reaction among my Seattleite friends.
1. Celebrating German-American Friendship! The Berlin chapter of the Fulbright Alumni e.V. invites everybody to a German-American Soccer World Cup Game Watching Party for the match USA vs. Italy. The party will start on Saturday, June 17th, 8:00 pm at Rock Berlin, Immanuelkirchstr.14. Stephan Meyer-Brehm is one of the organizers and appreciates feedback from any potential participants by June 11th, "so we won't suddenly run out of beer… (If you should desire to make a – voluntary – financial contribution, a short notice is also most welcome.)" Stephan was a Fulbrighter at the University of Texas at Austin in 1985/86 and can be reached at "stephan AT texasexes.de"
2. Understanding German-American Differences and U.S. exceptionalism! Fulbright Alumnus Andrei S. Markovits is the author of Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism / Im Abseits. Fussball in der amerikanischen Sportkultur. I have not read this book, but his other books on Germany and U.S.-German relations are very good and easy to read for non-experts as well. Markovits is a renown political science professor at Ann Arbor and currently the Gambrinus Visiting Professor of Soccer and Sport Studies at the University of Dortmund. He will lecture about "Soccer in America: Unique among American Sports, Unique in the International Arena of Team Sports" at the Free University of Berlin's John F. Kennedy Institute on June 13, 2006, 2:00-4:00 PM. Prof. Markovits explains on his homepage:
Soccer is the world's favorite pastime, a passion for billions around the globe. In the United States, however, the sport is a distant also-ran behind football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. Why is America an exception? And why, despite America's leading role in popular culture, does most of the world ignore American sports in return? Offside is the first book to explain these peculiarities, taking us on a thoughtful and engaging tour of America's sports culture and connecting it with other fundamental American exceptionalisms. In so doing, it offers a comparative analysis of sports cultures in the industrial societies of North America and Europe.
Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino comes up with ten funny reasons why soccer isn't a beloved sport in America.
3. Are Americans ignorant of the greatest game on the face of the earth ;-) ? The Foreign Policy magazine's blog links to a GMI poll that says "56% of American World Cup fans do not know that the 2006 Soccer World Cup will take place in Germany, and only 1 in 10 plans to follow the game." I think they misspelled and polled all Americans rather than just American World Cup fans. They give it a negative twist, but I think the numbers are remarkable and prove that soccer is becomingmorepopularintheUS. I am not sure if the enthusiastic Independent Sources Blog is ignorant of history or trying to be funny:
The U.S. may not even make it to the round of 16 this time, but that will be a minor setback. As Wells failed to note, was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? No. We eventually won that one too.
Soccer has been more popular in U.S. than President Bush and many Americans think it is. In an interview with Bild (White House transcript), President Bush said:
I never saw soccer as a young boy. We didn't play it where I was from. It just didn't exist. I can't even -- I'm thinking about all the -- between age six, when I can remember sports, and 12 or 13, I just never saw soccer being played. And so there's a generation of us that really weren't fanatic. There's a new generation of Americans that did grow up on soccer. And there's obviously a huge interest amongst that crowd in the World Cup. And some of us older guys are now beginning to understand the significance of the World Cup around the world.
Although President Bush is learning the importance of soccer, Grahame Jones, soccer writer for the LA Times, is angry and describes President Bush as ignorant of the "rich" soccer traditions of New Haven, Connecticut, where George W. Bush was born, as well as the similarly rich heritage of Texas, where he was governor. Via: Global Game.
UPDATE: The United States Embassy created a special world cup site and describes the popularity of soccer in the U.S.:
Registration on U.S. Youth Soccer Association teams climbed approximately 90 percent to nearly 3.2 million players in 2002-03 from 1990-91. The number of adult soccer players has also increased approximately 80 percent to more than 5 million since 1987. Statistics also show that while interest in other sports is declining, there is increasing interest in Soccer. The number of total Soccer participants (6-years plus) in 2003 was 17,679,000.
UPERDATE: A great German World Cup News Blog in English. Our reader DJ Walker, who also runs the excellent Footballs are Round blog, informed us in a comment that the quote about Germans having bombed Pearl Harbor is a reference to the movie Animal House. Thanks!
The State Department plans to award 25 extended Fulbright scholarships to foreign graduate students in science and engineering, who will be chosen by "a blue-ribbon panel of experts in a global competition rather than through the traditional bilateral agreements," writes Science Now. This article, recommended by Fulbrighter Dr. Walter Berger, quotes Deputy Under Secretary of State Tom Farrell:
We wanted to send a clear signal that this country is intent on welcoming foreign talent, especially future scientific and technical leaders. What better way to do that than through our most important global brand name in international education, the Fulbright program?
Besides, Fulbrighters improve US security: The National Security Language Initiative expands the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program, "to allow 300 native speakers of critical need languages to come to the U.S. to teach in U.S. universities and schools in 2006-07."
Anniversary Ball and General Assembly in Erlangen, January 20-22 Our Organization Committee and the Board of the Fulbright Alumni Association cordially invite all Fulbrighters and friends to our Anniversary Ball and annual General Assembly which will take place in Erlangen on the weekend of 20-22 January 2006. We have prepared some specials and surprises for you; there are also various highlights to discover: a bit of Franconian culture and some insights into local education. Of course, there will be lots of opportunity to mingle and chat with new and old friends and - even better - to dance the night away. More information and our online registration form are available under www.fulbright-alumni.de/jb2006.
Fulbrighters in Science Conference in Berlin, March 4-5 Founded in 2003, the Fulbright Academy of Science & Technology (FAST) is an international membership organization established by alumni of the Fulbright Exchange Program and other individuals interested in science and technology innovation. Through its meetings and programs, FAST creates new international ties among alumni, current grantees, Fulbright hosts, and others interested in international exchange. Participants in the Berlin program are coming from 16 countries and four continents, and they include students, teachers, professors and professionals working in fields such as natural and social science, law, engineering, technology, medicine, and business. Panels & presentations will cover topics such as internet & education, biology, teaching, international development, climate change, conservation of art, and science policy. Visit the Academy's website for information about this conference, other events, and membership. The weekend conference is 150 Euros, and discounts are available. Membership in the Academy is 50 Euros, with discounts for students.
In an interview with the leftwing/liberal German daily Frankfurter Rundschau, migration expert Klaus Bade paints an unpleasant migration-picture for Germany: While immigrants often times don't fulfill the requirements to fit in socially and professionally, more and more well educated, German-trained professionals turn their backs on the country, increasingly so not only for certain period of time, but for good, he says. Two of the reasons he mentions are the continuingly unpromising outlook for the German job market and "absurd practices within the German academia," which will soon drive so many experts abroad that we can expect a distinct shortage of trained professionals in certain sectors. Among the highly and very highly qualified experts Germany is loosing are IT-professionals, many of whom migrating to the United States. Canada is among other favored countries of immigration. Predominant among the emigrants are young, educated people "in their best years of earning," Bade laments. "Germany is on her way to find herself on the loser's side of the competition over the brightest minds." An additional problem he contends: While many second- or third generation immigrants to Germany are now leaving the country for better opportunities abroad, their parents and grandparents tend to stay in order to enjoy their retirement benefits in Germany." In times of retirement crisis, this is a problem that should not be underestimated", Bade warns. All in all, he contends, this is "a thoroughly unpleasant migration scenario, which should neither be talked nor calculated away."