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Obama in Berlin: behind the cheering crowds

by DoDo Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 08:40:16 AM EST

Obama's speech in front of the Victory Column in Berlin was an unqualified campaign success. Check the photos in Al Rodgers's diary, here is one more (photo from SPIEGEL).

This diary however is meant as a deeper look at the event and its significance. Some of the points covered will be critical, others will be further appraisal:

  • Ridiculous reaction from the McCain campaign
  • Symbolism of the place
  • The crowds and their reaction
  • An analysis in German media
  • War on Terra and Europe
  • European blacks watching
  • Meeting Merkel, the wily tactician
  • Meeting the gay mayor


This is the edited version of a diary I wrote for dKos (some parts cut, others added). As precedent on ET, also see jandsm's diary Obama in Berlin. Most of the material integrated below is from the discussion in the SPECIAL FOCUS - Obama in Berlin section of Fran's 25 July Salon and two subthreads of the preceding OT. For a different take on the speech, see Captain Future's Obama in Berlin: A President of Peace.


Ridiculous reaction from the McCain campaign

This is better to bring just in pictures. The McCain campaign had no better idea than find the nearest German Olde' Shoppe', and put Saint John in front... (photo via Berliner Morgenpost):

But, even more symbolic of McCain's campaign is this counter-protester at Obama's Berlin event (photo from SPIEGEL):

(Come on, this guy must have been paid by the Obama Campaign :-) Or, maybe he is a German Left Party member on a double-cross mission :-) )


Symbolism of the place

As jandsm explained in Obama in Berlin, by moving the site of the speech from the Brandenburg Gate to the Victory Column, Obama moved from a symbol of freedom to one of militarism. I won't recap that here in more detail. (Photo from SPIEGEL).

However, Obama himself (or his speechwriters) dealt with this problem by adding a nice rhetorical connection in his speech:

After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace.


The crowds and their reaction

The Obama campaign achieved its main goal: the media the world over is talking about cheering German crowds giving an enthusiastic welcome. On a closer look however, we get a more differentiated picture. It won't become a big problem for Obama, but it is worth to recognise for his supporters when thinking about international support.

According to German blogger Bernhard, who runs Moon of Alabama, a spinoff of Billmon's sadly defunct Whiskey Bar, and watched:

About 70,000 people max. A quarter of them U.S. folks.

Other estimates run up to 250,000. At any rate, the cheering was as much American fans abroad as foreign fans. About the reception on the spot, Bernhard writes:

Started with good touch on the Berlin wall and the 1948 air lift to walls in the rest of the world.

Said 9/11 terrorists trained in Hamburg, Kandahar and Karachi?
Karachi??? Pakistan, watch out! And what about the flight training they got in the U.S.?

Obama had to say that, or else the Republoscum will spin him as weak with the pussy European allies. However, adopting certain Bushista talking points, especially one that made an issue with which Europeans have decades of experience as police matter one for the military, was not received well:

That and other "war of terror" talk by Obama did get sparse applause.
Other talk about "U.S. bases" in Germany and around the world also.
Talk about Afghanistan - applause also very low.

Obama called for a "world without nuclear weapons" - BIG applause.
Common effort against climate change - BIG applause.

(Photo from SPIEGEL)

Another German who attended wrote up his reaction in acomment to the article Obama urges global fight against terror of Britain's The Independent, reporting similar sentiments.

I just came back from hearing Obama speak near the Victory column here in Berlin. The german crowd was polite, but not enthusiastic. Obama indirectly asked for more german involvment in Afganistan which met with silence.

I can cite this particular observer also as a good example for the not necessarily positive reception of the historical allusions in Germany:

Also his going on about the airlift during the cold-war was a bit much seeing as the cold-war was as much a american made problem as it was a soviet one. This going on about the wall was also a bit much as he was not critical about the newest wall of exclusion namely the walls that the isreallis are builiding about which he said nothing.

He ends on a negative tone:

He mentioned getting rid of all atomic weapons - this after the US government is supporting a deal leading to increased Indian access to nuclear fuel could accelerate the atomic arms race with Pakistan. What the people in Berlin came to hear and expect was an apology from a high US official for the last years of the stupid and criminal Bush gang. What it got instead was a milk-toast speach saying nothing.

Complain about this comment

Posted by Wim from Berlin | 24.07.08, 20:57 GMT

Bernhard also ends with a dissonant note; but there'll be some explanation in the next section:

Some phrases that sound wired for Germans:

"sacrifice"
"struggle for freedom"
"remake the world"

These are empty phrases for Germans. Unlike in the U.S. there is no positive associations with these.

I close this part by noting that at least one pro-American German politician predicted such reactions in advance. Karl-Theodor Freiherr, foreign policy expert of the conservative CSU (the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's CDU) said (here speaking in party-political terms):

Die "neue Begeisterung" der SPD für die USA sei an sich "begrüßenswert", sagte er. Allerdings bleibe abzuwarten, ob sich der "Enthusiasmus erschöpft, wenn Senator Obama in dieser oder einer künftigen Rede einen höheren deutschen Beitrag in internationalen Operationen einfordert".The "new enthusiasm" of the SPD [Social Democrats] for the USA was "welcome" in itself, he said. However, it remains to be seen whether the "enthusiasm will exhausted, should Senator Obama demand a higher German contribution to international operations in this or any future speech".


An analysis in German media

Now the reception of the speech was definitely positive in the German MSM (which cheerleads Obamamania in Germany). But the differential reception of Obama's different lines was noted even there:

Er findet neue Töne zum Klimawandel, den die aktuelle US-Regierung bis vor kurzem noch geleugnet hat. "Wir müssen sicherstellen, dass alle Nationen der Welt - einschließlich meiner eigenen - den Ausstoß an Treibhausgasen mit jener Ernsthaftigkeit reduzieren, wie es Ihr Land tut." Da gibt es mit den meisten Applaus während der gesamten Rede.He finds a new tone on climate change, which was denied by the current U.S. government until recently. "We must ensure that all nations of the world - including my own - reduce the emission of greenhouse gases with the seriousness with which your country is doing it." There is the most applause throughout the speech.
Doch dann spricht er sie aus, die erwarteten Forderungen...But then he spells them out, the expected demands...
...Wie angespannt die Beziehungen geworden sind, zeigt sich daran, dass eigentlich ganz selbstverständliche Sätze am meisten Beifall bekommen. Sätze wie: "Die Mauern zwischen armen und reichen Ländern müssen fallen. Die Mauern zwischen Christen, Muslimen und Juden müssen fallen." Oder ganz schlicht: "Wir Amerikaner lehnen Folter ab." Da gibt es viel Applaus.... How tense relations have become, is demonstrated by the fact that sentences that should actually be quite self-evident receive the most applause. Sentences like: "The walls between poor and rich countries must fall. The walls between Christians, Muslims and Jews must fall." Or, quite simply: "We Americans are opposed to torture." For that there is much applause.

The above quote is from an op-ed by Gregor Peter Schmitz for SPIEGEL ONLINE (DER SPIEGEL is Germany's prime weekly political magazine, and its website is the most-frequented German news site) titled Völker der Welt, schaut auf mich ( = People of the World, Look At Me). Analysing the speech, Schmitz recognises Obama taking four successive poses:

  • The restrained Obama: some words of modesty, also in defense against accusations during the pre-speech controversy, and words about Berlin.
  • The Transatlantic Bridge-Builder: words about re-starting the alliance between the USA and Europe, with heavy praise for the hosts.
  • The crafty US campaigner: his advisors feared that Obama would be perceived as 'too European' (speak: a weakling) at home if he gives too many concessions, so Obama "mixes in passages which could have easily been spoken by the current US President George W. Bush, too" - and even while he mentions European themes like nuclear weapons and climate change, he them makes demands towards the allies (see above).
  • The Save-The-World Rhetorician: the speaker of great words, the Redeemer.

What all this boils down is that Obama's big Berlin speech was more for the home (US) consumption than for his European audience. Schmitz ends his article with a symbolic moment that shows this:

Während Obama die letzten Sätze seines Manuskriptes in die Menge ruft, holen seine Mitarbeiter schon den mitreisenden Pressetross von der Gästetribüne. Die Journalisten sollen noch kurz mit Obama sprechen dürfen. Es sind nur Reporter aus den USA, 40 an der Zahl. CNN, "New York Times", "Newsweek", "Chicago Sun-Times". Ausländische Presse ist ausdrücklich nicht erwünscht. Die USA waren die Zielgruppe.While Obama shouts the last sentences of his manuscript into the crowd, his staff is already getting the accompanying press corps off the guest tribune. The journalists are to be allowed to speak briefly with Obama. They are only reporters from the USA, numbering 40. CNN, New York Times, Newsweek, Chicago Sun-Times. Foreign press is explicitly not welcome. The USA was the target group.
Sorry, Berlin.Sorry, Berlin.


War on Terra and Europe

From Obama's speech as reproduced on AMERICAblog, with my own comments this time:

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common.

I don't share Obama's faith in America's justness, greatness and ultimate goodness, so count me in the group who thinks America is part of the problem not the solution. Today. And potentially in 2009, too. I would need real strong signs of intent to dismantle the military-industrial complex, to think independently from the foreign policy consensus, and to tackle the real big problems of today (of which terrorism is not one) to believe that an Obama presidency would reverse - reverse NOT simply its precursors' bad choices, but the institutional dynamic -, rather than just temporarily stop it from going deeper.

Obama continued:

In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

I don't see in what way those bases defend European security. (They may eve undermine it, if missile defense comes to Poland and the Czech Republic.) There you have it, the institutional dynamic of the foreign policy consensus and the military-industrial complex. And it continues in this section:

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

There you have Obama adopting the War on Terra rhetoric, turning a police issue into a military one. The first sentence is a clear allure to the thinking that winning the war in Afghanistan (the explicit issue of the next paragraph) is the key to ending al Qaida style terrorism. On one hand, I don't share his optimism even for Afghanistan (both about a winnable the war, and about the tactic and networks of terrorism disappearing even locally). On the other hand, Iraq and Pakistan will remain as potential bases for al Qaida terrorism, and could metastase elsewhere too.

For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done.

As above, I question whether the "work" can be done.

A final quote, a self-criticism for America:

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

He must say that for the home crowd, but what I don't like about it is the self-referentialism. Liberty and equality for all of our people, not all men. Actions that have not lived up to our best intentions, as opposed to international law or the expectations/wants/choices of those who suffered these actions abroad.


European blacks watching

Much has been written about Obama's importance for the black community in the USA. But what about blacks in Europe? Who are immigrants or descendants of immigrants rather than descendants of locally held slaves (and don't form a community)?

On this, I paraphrase poemless (though I was thinking along the same lines) and Metatone. For non-Americans with a different skin colour, Obama has a special significance: the chance that the head of the strongest white-mens'-country that is lording over the world with all the weak states of coloured people may get a non-white leader. Some believe this will directly impact US policy, others see the primacy of a strong symbolism. There is also the circumstance that Obama's background as son of an immigrant from Kenya may make European blacks think that by his life's experience, Obama is even closer to them than US blacks. Of course, views aren't necessarily positive, Obama may also be identified more with the US beltway elite than his background.

At any rate, I noticed lots of blacks on the photos and TV images of the crowds at Obama's speech, and though it is hard to tell on clothing alone, it seemed to me that not just Americans but German blacks and immigrants were among them.


Meeting Merkel, the wily tactician

I won't recap here on ET what I wrote in two comments on the conflict over the Obama speech in Berlin.

The crux is: Merkel may have chosen to complain about the intention to have Obama speak at the Brandenburg Gate for tactical reasons, but by meeting Obama before his speech, I think Merkel showed her true colours. (Photo from SPIEGEL)


Meeting the gay mayor

Again I won't recap my profile of Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit on ET. But I wonder if it will play any role in the US campaign, if some McCain surrogates would want to use this meeting for some negative campaigning aimed at evangelical voters. (Photo again from SPIEGEL)

Display:
Hope the dKos version won't go under too fast...

I'd also hope nanne and Bernhard would turn up to comment further.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 08:41:29 AM EST
It's always difficult to figure out when to post on dKos. Guess it is not necessarily what they like to hear. :-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 09:41:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... that looks at Obama from the perspective other than cheerleading would be before February 1st of this year ...

;)

... and then it would have been subject to a well co-ordinated attack, whereas now they will only counter-attack is non-cheerleading posts look like they are going to gain some traction.

Another example of the Obama "organizing in depth" strategy at work ... in this case, organizing to neuter the highest profile terrain in the blogosphere.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 11:54:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There were definitely more than 70,000 people. The German police estimate is 200,000, which is what I'll go by. It is plausible that a slim majority of those 200,000 were standing on the Straße des 17. Juni, watching the video screens. I was on the left side of the podium.

On the reception: up to the line about a nuclear-free world, there was only polite applause. Wim in Berlin is plain wrong to say that there was absolute silence on the Afghanistan / war on terror lines (which directly preceded the line on a nuclear-free world). Watch the youtube for verification.

When Obama later skated on liberal interventionism with his line on Burma/Iran/Zimbabwe/Darfur, there was a big applause. I'm afraid that due to a hypercritical attitude, eurotrib is getting the wrong impression of the general sentiment in Germany, and Europe. Most of the hopeful twentysomethings out there (who I'd estimate at about 30-40% of the audience) subscribe to an Adam Yauch-kind-of worldview (Joshka Fischer without the nuance & intellectual content). And I'd extrapolate that to most of the young, educated leftish voting European public.

There were American blacks (spotted by their Obama Ts), German-born or -adopted blacks (spotted by their hipness) and African blacks. Moreover, there were muslim girls, Vietnamese or Thai guys, and people from all over Europe. Generally the audience was mainly in the 20-35 range. There are plenty of French-speaking Africans on my street, and they talk plenty about Obama and the US election at the cafe next door. So from my own experience, yes, it is significant.

On Merkel, she's clever. The U.S. election is Obama's to lose and she knows that. She probably also prefers Obama, kind of, though we will never truly know.

The speech.

The speech was pretty good, as far as I go. Only cringe line, personally, was the hypothetical nuclear bomb on Paris. Obama's speeches always span a coherent narrative and argumentative arch. This speech was about freedom and cooperation, about a common challenge, burden and destiny for Europe and the U.S. in the face of their responsibility towards the world.

The thing that I'm worried about most is whether Obama is a liberal interventionist. I suspect that he is, and he seemed to affirm that with his Burma/Darfur line. The point being that we know what's coming with regard to Afghanistan and Iraq, and they thereby are less dangerous.

Obama will withdraw from Iraq: good.
Obama will intensify the conflict in Afghanistan: risky.
Ignorant lefty U.S. bloggers will have sour grapes about low European support in Afghanistan: inevitable, and completely irrelevant.

We do not know what's coming in terms of other interventions, which might prove dangerously popular in Europe, and might open up both old and new rifts in the European Union.

Obama's speeches are heavy on religious overtones, mostly without being directly religious. There is a dissonance between his regular, implicit framing as an instrument for our deliverance, personally embodying the story of our time - and his words in Berlin, which called for everyone to share the burden of making a better future.

It's much more nuanced than just 'hope for me, I will bring change'. That is the reception of Obama, by the media, by many of his activists. In the thread yesterday I think many made the mistake of critising Obama as if he were identical with the reception of the Obama phenomenon. He is not.

I did chuckle at this comment over on Bootrib.

This Moses on the mount routine tends to get old over time, so optimistic to be practically useless, so inspiring, doomed for failure. I'm not looking for someone to follow, and much of the time these speechs are almost intellectually pandering in their sermon style delivery.

Obama is great in low key interviews, Obama is excellent in articulating coherent answers to complex questions. Obama, on the mass stage, speaking before the rapt audience, delivering the biblical phrasing, over the top idealist jargon that touches the stratosphere, not so much anymore. I had a dream, but then I woke up and had a cold shower. Refreshing actually.


I've stated before that I think the Blair comparison to be overwrought. Right now, I'm pushing the Baltar comparison.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 10:00:50 AM EST
Police guesstimates about the number of people at a public event should be taken with a largish grain of salt. I've been at a couple and sometimes I've actually counted heads, and in those cases the police WAGs were low by at least 20 %.

It's like polls in the newspaper: The answer the paper likes is always given a higher approval than it turns out to have when the chips hit the table. Same deal here - if the police (or whomever makes the decision on how many the police think are there) like the demonstration, there'll be more people than there really was. If they don't like the demo...

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 10:15:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The police are the only ones with a helicopter camera...

Anyway, take a look at this picture, which I'd estimate at about half a kilometre from the stage.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 10:43:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm. Myself, I know of a rule-of-the-thumb that the real number of a protest is double the police estimate and half the organisersa' estimate. Then again, I know protests where the estimates differed by more than an order of magnitude. And yet again, once I tried to estimate the numbers of a protest in the 100,000 range myself, using different methods - and I arrived at numbers differing by a factor of three...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:08:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Nanne, for your impressions. If I had to vote in the US elections, I would vote for Obama. I mean what other choice is there really. But the longer this goes on the staler my hope for the future gets. I really hope my feelings about Obama are wrong and that he will turn out to very different and much better. I really would like to dance on the street in 2010, after a year of him as President, because I have been wrong. Unfortunately for many years now my intuition has proven to be right. It's maybe time for the exception of the rule. :-)
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 10:34:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Might be time to do a summary of what we can expect of Obama, and what the effects will be. Along the lines of:

Positives:

  • Will end war in Iraq
  • Will end torture and limitless detention without charge
  • Will take action on climate change

Possible positives:

  • Might really work for more inclusive trade deal and less insane IP protection
  • Might take big enough commitment on climate change to get U.S. into global deal
  • Might fight for adoption of landmines and cluster bombs conventions
  • Will probably re-instate diplomatic relations with Iran and Cuba

Negatives:

  • Will intensify war in Afghanistan (in first term)
  • Won't prosecute current U.S. political leadership
  • Will maintain current military expenditure and expand size of army in terms of manpower
  • Will maintain forward basing strategy for US forces

Possible negatives:

  • May well initiate military intervention for humanitarian reasons
  • Others?

Of course McCain has none of these positives, and all of the negatives and more.

What are your hopes for the future?

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 11:13:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, this is actually worth a diary of it's own! It really is a good idea to look at what we as Europeans would like from a future US President.

  • One of the first things that comes to my mind is, to end the "war" on terrorism. It serves as cover up for so many things that have nothing to do with it.

  • Then be more respectful of "non-US" values.

  • Become more a member of the world community, instead of wanting to be its leader.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 11:21:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe I'll diary it later. Don't want to get into 'all Obama, all the time' SPIEGEL territory.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 11:27:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about intelligence and rationality in the White House; bringing good people into government, and making government work; executive orders that cut back the Imperial presidency to constitutional size (you don't teach constitutional law without gaining an appreciation for the big picture); Al Gore being taken seriously, with perhaps a war on global warming filling the American need for constant conflict...

But this is mere wonkery, and does not rise to the level of entertainment so as to be relevant to actually being elected.

The election will be decided on the basis of personality, race, attractiveness/repulsion, "star quality". We are consumers of politicians, not connoisseurs.

Obama understands this perfectly, so when he speaks in Berlin, his remarks are intended for the ears of those in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Don't take it personally, but you aren't the audience.

by greatferm (greatferm-at-email.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 12:31:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
greatferm:

Obama understands this perfectly, so when he speaks in Berlin, his remarks are intended for the ears of those in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Don't take it personally, but you aren't the audience.


Definitely. And the campaign is perpetual, and we are never going to be the audience. The point is to look at what we can expect, so that we can plot a course from there.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 02:31:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the financial problems we are facing will constrain much new spending on the military, otherwise I agree with your list pretty completely.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 02:00:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the US center-left and progressive fringe realize that Obama does not offer substantial hope for "the change we have been waiting for", but only the opportunity for a better environment in which to work for the change we need, the better.

Online ... and perhaps among some fringe percentage of the electorate as a whole ... there is a common confusion between voting for the administration we would prefer to be fighting against and voting as an act of political identification.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 12:01:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... the US center-left and progressive fringe realize that Obama does not offer substantial hope for "the change we have been waiting for", but only the opportunity for a better environment in which to work for the change we need, the better.

The US Left is far too weak to take advantage of a better environment.  We don't have the resources, institutions, connections, numbers, or leaders.  We have no means of mass-communication.  We are split into too many factions vociferously disagreeing on minutia.  

In short, there's no "here," here.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 01:24:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And yet, the Teamsters have abandoned the coalition in favor of drilling in Alaskan Wildlife Refuge in favor of pursuing a blue-green coalition.

For those seriously interested in pursuing progressive reform in the US, there is a sequence of self-contradicting statements here. The statement

The US Left is far too weak to take advantage of a better environment.

Is directly contradicted by the list of things which are easier to work on in a better environment:

We don't have the resources, institutions, connections, numbers ...  We have no means of mass-communication.



I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 02:57:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a discussion we should have but is too off-topic for ET.

I'm open to suggestions for a location.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:00:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Too off-topic for ET? There's such a thing?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:14:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's always Docudharma, where the discussion of how to wrest US foreign policy from the malign influence of the Orwellian "militaristic jingoism = national security" oxymoron is already under way.

But of course, wresting US foreign policy from that malign influence would have a dramatic on Europe, so its not altogether clear in my mind why its off-topic for the European Tribune, whose beat appears to be Europe, the World, and Stuff.

If its not in "the World" part of the beat, its gotta be in the "and Stuff" part of the beat.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 12:26:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meet you there.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 10:10:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran
If I had to vote in the US elections, I would vote for Obama... I really hope my feelings about Obama are wrong and that he will turn out to very different and much better. I really would like to dance on the street in 2010, after a year of him as President, because I have been wrong. Unfortunately for many years now my intuition has proven to be right. It's maybe time for the exception of the rule. :-

Your statement exactly captures the sentiment of this US citizen.  I find two things about this election and his candidacy distressing.  

First, that Obama will be the Democratic nominee despite having a very vaguely articulated set of policies. Concern is only heightened, it seems, every time he "clarifies" one of his policies.  He won on "hope." We all hope he will do what we hope will get done.  Each supporter, of course, has a different take on that.  Most will be wrong on at least some issues.

Second, that the US has such a pathetic electoral system and such an unsophisticated and readily manipulable electorate that such an approach is a possible and even, possibly, a necessary one to enable the candidate to win.  It really reveals all of the "informed electorate" rhetoric as the grotesque, self congratulatory nonsense it is.

Any real "hope" probably lies in him finding that there is no workable alternative to doing several fundamental things to improve our economy, society and polity. If the economy continues on its current downward course, as I fear it will, such changes may be possible. Of course, the unworkable alternatives always appear more attractive.  We can only "hope" that, should he be elected, he will use his rhetorical abilities to build support for necessary changes.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 12:18:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nanne:

This speech was about freedom and cooperation, about a common challenge, burden and destiny for Europe and the U.S. in the face of their responsibility towards the world. The thing that I'm worried about most is whether Obama is a liberal interventionist. I suspect that he is, and he seemed to affirm that with his Burma/Darfur line. The point being that we know what's coming with regard to Afghanistan and Iraq, and they thereby are less dangerous.

The problem is that the burden of support seemed to be pointing in one direction. There was an implied common enemy, and an implication that the US has The Answer and it's Europe's job to support whatever the US decides the answer should be.

Obama made no promises to listen to Europe, and didn't seem interested in the wider goals of the European process - which are very possibly a better long term prospect for peace than any amount of US warrrrrr.

Having had time to think, I feel it was an awful speech - patronising, offensive, and littered with an impossible mix of hopes for peace and threats of the necessity of future violence.

There was also something repellently cold and calculated and opportunistic about the way it was used a photo opportunity. I didn't get any feeling of warmth or personal consideration from it. Obama was there as a future president and implied colonial overlord, not as an egalitarian among equals.

As for Liberal interventionism - that's not a simple issue. With a formal world government, it might not be an entirely bad thing. No one can support what's happening in Zimbabwe, and the suffering must be incalculable.

But it would have to be policed by a world police force, and not by a gung-ho and partisan US military. I think it may not take the 20 somethings long to change their minds once they see how partisian interventions work out in practice. If Obama pushes in that direction, he's not going to stay popular for long.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 11:25:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Currently, liberal interventionism is all about going in without UN security council backing whenever the conditions seem grave enough (and pondering seriously at the seriousness of making that decision). Now the war in Kosovo was problematic in and by itself, but it also opened the door for the war in Iraq.

...

You may be focusing too much on what you disliked, so some more excerpts:

Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen - a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more - not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century


Obama's style of speaking in universals, moral requirements, as in a sermon, might distract from the content, which is that he is saying the U.S. and Europe should listen to each other, learn from each other, etc. Not, that Europe should listen to him, or listen to the U.S., but reciprocal. To the domestic audience, this is criticism of the Bush administration.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 11:50:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's true there were sections which are perfectly reasonable and worth supporting on their own.

The problem is that they weren't presented on their own - they were surrounded by sections which are difficult or impossible to support.

It's a biblical level of ambiguity - you can cherry pick sections which appear to support a wide range of contradictory policy positions.

I'm more interested in looking at the most obvious themes, and for me they were unquestioning support for a continuation of the so-called war on terror, and the implication that Europe should 'share the burden' in this.

That's an appalling position to take after the least popular war of intervention in recent history and the lack of any factual basis for the existence of terror which can be solved with a war.

Replacing Iraq with Afghanistan is equally appalling - and impossible, because no empire has succeeded in 'pacifying' Afghanistan in the last two millennia.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 12:07:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for the use of that term "empire".  For too long the average Joe Blow America did not even REALIZE that his/her USA was a bloody empire, a place where thugs pillaged other countries for their resources in exchange for "saving" or "civilizing" them.  You hear more and more the use of the term in the media.

Speaking of which, "Hey Europe, got any resources a hungry American might want to plunder?  We'll civilize you in return."    

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 03:03:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, we have some very nice plutonium in France. But I believe we're using it right now :-P

Reminds me of a sig on DailyKos: Be nice to America or we'll bring democracy to your country.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 10:30:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. But in picking obvious themes, statements on climate change, cooperating with Russia, working towards a nuclear weapon free world should also count.

On terrorism, Obama talks vaguely about defeating it and drying up the well that supports it. But he does not understand that well very well. In his mind, it is born of poverty and violence in third world countries. In reality, international terrorism is born out of grievances over violence and occupation on part of / by the country attacked. Domestic violence and chaos only ties in insofar as it provides a host for terrorist networks. Obama mentions creating 'a new and global partnership' to dismantle terrorist networks, which might mean something real, like a change in direction for Operation Enduring Freedom, or not.

On Afghanistan, Obama really does not get it, both on a tactical and a strategic level. He makes the grave tactical error of connecting the the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda with the war on drugs and the strategic error of conceiving Afghanistan as a single country, whose central government we should prop up.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 04:20:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On terrorism, Obama talks vaguely about defeating it and drying up the well that supports it. But he does not understand that well very well. In his mind, it is born of poverty and violence in third world countries.

Over here Mr Obama is quick to insist that greater "personal responsibility" is the solution to "poverty and violence (or terrorism)." Consistent with that axiom he advocates for expanding Mr Bush's (explicitly) "faith-based," federal funded social services programming --domestic and FDI, such as USAID and Peace Corps (see for example S.2433 RS not IS)-- and personal finance education, prerequisite to mortgage industry "reforms" and so-called urban redevelopment grants distributions. Then there's the facts of the Infrastructure Bank(ing) system, which he's been promoting as his dream child, not to mention back-door entry to the Chilean pension formula.

On the whole he's not much interested in preserving  government mandates to assure social welfare or collective bargaining. So please do keep forefront in mind, what happens to US will happen to NATO eventually.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:09:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Presuming, of course, that NATO continues to exist as a meaningful political entity.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 10:48:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the "meaning" of NATO depends entirely on how the command chain intends it to function, eh? Warehouse of conscripts and reliable buyer of armament will do for the time being :)

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 10:36:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't work in the former capacity for the assault on Vietraq.

The second though... There it works very well. Why, just last year or so my own government decided to buy American fighter jets despite Sweden having a superior design (and the advantage of local service being available). I don't remember the bullshit reason they gave, but I do remember wondering exactly what they were paid for doing it. Probably nothing more than a pat on the back and a few kind words from the Master.

What's værnemager called in English again?

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 28th, 2008 at 02:35:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Cat on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 at 12:43:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if perhaps Obama's secret is that there is no Obama. He's not a leader, in the sense of someone who's going to completely change the discourse.

Bush has been an outstanding leader from that point of view. He's been focussed and challenging, and it's a tragedy for the world that he's led everyone in the wrong direction.

But Obama is Mr Zeitgeist - he's a sponge which ingests the conflicting and impossible patchwork of ideals, fears, and aspirations which currently haunts US Main St and replays all of it, almost uncensored, on TV.

Which is why he makes a great figurehead and why everyone loves him - it's hard not to love someone if they're intuiting what you want to hear and repeating it back to you in a bigger and more charismatic widescreen satellite-link stadium-gig kind of a way. Selective attention means that people will hear what they agree with and deny the reality of the rest.

He's certainly a phenomenon, but a deeper and more challenging kind of leadership would be much more welcome.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 07:27:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, let's not forget that many of the "terrorist groups" currently targeted were built, trained, armed, funded, abetted and supported by the US during much of the Cold War as a countervailing influence against either socialist or pro-Russian groups.

The list includes at least

  • Hamas (against the PLO)
  • Al Qaeda and the Taliban (against the Soviet client regime in Afghanistan)
  • Ayatollah Khomeini (who, while not strictly speaking an American creation, was very much helped by the US pulling a Pinochet on Iran and virtually wiping out the Marxist opposition that was Khomeini's most serious rival for control of revolutionary Iran)
  • The Saudi royal family (OK, that's more because they're cronies than to countervail anything)
  • The Muslim Brotherhood (against Nasser).

And that's just the ones I know of. You can probably find more if you take a hard look at Indochina and Indonesia. And of course Pakistan (although to be fair that was the British, not the Americans).

We have met the enemy, and it is us.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 10:46:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the last: I think the Sassanids, the Red Huns, the Mongols, and Tamerlane succeeded. Even if apart from the first, their rule didn't last long.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 04:22:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

Where's the actual listening by Obama? Europeans (except their Bush-supporting elites) are saying that going to Afghanistan is insane. They don't want missile bases in Europe.

And that line about trust? Where's the acknowledgement that trust is, you know, earned, and all the more so after it has been so thoroughly lost?

Where's the humility?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 12:15:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, he is the heir to an empire, so expecting humility is likely wishful thinking. Would Caesar have expressed humility when speaking to the people of Syracuse? I highly doubt it.

That aside, even if he did have some humility, he sure wouldn't show any until he is coronated. Doing so would be a good way to cease being heir to the empire in question.

And for that matter, when is Europe going to do something about it? We claim to still have a more or less functioning democracy, we claim that The People(TM) don't hold American imperialism near and dear to their hearts. We claim that we are not dependent on the US for military protection, nor on their economic goodwill. And yet we are still grovelling at the feet of the caesar?

At least one of the above assumptions must be in error, because if they were all true, we would not be US client states.

Me, I'm betting that we do not, in fact, have a functioning democracy and that anyway The People(TM) largely support the empire and view collaboration with it as a noble end in and of itself.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 02:13:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Me, I'm betting that we do not, in fact, have a functioning democracy and that anyway The People(TM) largely support the empire and view collaboration with it as a noble end in and of itself.

has there ever been a fully functioning democracy, really?

certainly the millions protesting the iraq war all over europe weren't on board.

and as for the millions more watching the shopping channel...

as long as they don't see any sacrifice needed, they are just shining it on.

course, if they are able to connect the dots between poking a burning stick into the wasps' nest of the middle east and petrol prices going through the roof, then they might shift...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 03:43:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We claim that we are not dependent on the US for military protection, nor on their economic goodwill. And yet we are still grovelling at the feet of the caesar?
Actually I have rarely seen claims, we would be in no way dependend on their economic goodwill. And if not, then certainly only since a short time. So it is generational issue. Usually it is difficult to adapt to completely different frames to order one's thoughts. I don't expect people in the 50+ age to withdraw from atlanticism, if that was their credo, when they were 30.
Other issues like climate protection are in the end counterproductive, if there is no international agreement.

So you want, that we withdraw our troops from Afghanistan, and what do you assume will be the great positive consequence of that?
Not that it would be wrong to do so, but I don't see a reason to claim the end of democracy in Europe, because a pretty unimportant decision isn't done in the majorities wishway, as I said, probably mostly due to generational gap.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 03:56:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing more to add. It was wrong to go into Afghanistan in the first place, but actually when happened, it was shortly after 9/11, and even people, who ususally can't be counted as atlanticists have said things like 'uneingeschraenkte Solidaritaet' (G. Schroeder, 'unlimited solidarity'). This is what has pushed us into this situation.

So yes, we can call our troops home now, but to see live  on TV the towers coming down has brainwashed lots of people to say really stupid things.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 04:45:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yup.

check out this exchange

Daily Kos :: Comments British PM Sides with Obama

 sorry (4+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Delilah, walkshills, adrianrf, timekeeper

i was with you till this:

As much as the world sometimes (rightly) resents American power, it looks to us for leadership. It actually needs our leadership. So our elections have incredible resonance and meaning for all the world's citizens...it is not just us in the US who see great hope in an Obama presidency.

this is the exceptionalist virus talking.

here in europe we are heartily fed up with it, thanks but no.

obama has you to lead, if you live up to your (brilliant) constitution, and get back the respect the last 8 years of bush madministration has squandered, then we will continue to emulate and admire the qualities america does well, better than we do.

(like having a succinct, articulate constitution for one, lol!)

but please get over the projected 'need' on the rest of the world's part to have america lead anyone, anywhere, period.

it's in your mind, we just want america to lead herself, and quit trying to lord it over the rest of the planet.

aloha...

why? just kos..... just cause

by melo on Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 10:52:23 PM PDT

[ Parent ]

  •  I understand where you are coming from (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Delilah, lauramp, Fonsia

    and I have absolutely no "projected need" to lord it over the rest of the planet. I do not believe the US should have the right to set the international agenda and I often (as in in the case of Bush and the last 8 years) wish it were not so.

    However, I am simply stating reality as I see it. The need for American leadership was a common refrain in UK newspapers during the Bush years when I lived there. The lack thereof was a common lament. Thousands of Guardian readers wrote to US citizens in the 2004 election in an attempt to influence their votes towards Kerry. The US presidency matters to people across the world. It may not be right. It just is.

    As someone who has lived abroad, I understand very well that our American dream is a myth and the idea that we are the world seat of freedom and liberty is laughable, despite what our leaders would have us believe. I doubt you would find one world leader, however, who would deny that American leadership is unimportant.

    Ah no, it's always just my luck to get/ One perfect rose

    by kat68 on Sat Jul 19, 2008 at 11:20:35 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  you're conflating (0+ / 0-)

      american leadership for america, with leadership for the whole world.

      after america's performance lately, we just think you should be humbler and first get yourselves leading yourselves in the right direction, then see if we follow...

      it's the assumption of leadership, of 'setting the international agenda', as you phrased it, that makes many (most?) of us furriners' skin crawl.

      we don't assume we're here to 'lead' you, yet our policies in europe vis-a-vis the environment, health care and human rights are far ahead of yours right now. do you hear us trumpeting how it's our natural position to lead the world on anything?

      we just want to put our house in order, so should you...

      if american leadership is taking us off cliff stupid, as regarding kyoto and iraq, we categorically REJECT this and resent the backroom power america has had over our pols, with rendition, supporting recalcitrant demagogues like berlusconi, or crooks like tony bliar, then you should put that overblown hype they fed you about the city on the hill back in the bottle, or at least recognise it for the hypocritical, self-serving crap it is.

      what is it going to take before you guys do humble?

      we don't look up to you for leadership any more, (except maybe in eco-destruction, greed and lies) if we ever did, it's over...

      so thanks, but no thanks!

      i am jealous of what a fantastic leader barack is promising to be tho :)

      i sure hope he inspires us to find more intelligent leaders here too.

      sub 'inspire' for 'lead' and we'll agree, ok?

      why? just kos..... just cause

      by melo on Thu Jul 24, 2008 at 01:07:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

this was before the berlin speech. i'm a lot less optimistic about the global repercussions of his presidency since that...

hella improvement tho'...gotta focus on that!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 04:00:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes; what you said. What does one expect when the drumbeat of propaganda comes from news divisions owned by Disney (ABC), National Amusements (CBS) and the war and nuclear machine of GE (NBC).

It is so disappointing that otherwise intelligent people in the US are so locked into the rhythm of the propaganda that is fed to them. The apathy of the upper-middle and middle classes is palpable - they point to jobs that trap them, houses that trap them, cars that trap them, family expectations that trap them...that they can do nothing outside of the drumbeat except wait for the unknown. Politics is for others, who they demean with the lines from the bands on their nickel cigars.

Time for actual education? Ha~! Time for thinking about the consequences of their actions and their governments actions? Sure, in between the time for the next station to lock in while channel surfing and stopping for the cuppa Starbucks taking the kid or dog to acting classes.

And that's the lucky ones. The lower classes have been reduced to mere bodies looking in the concrete for dropped grain.

Funding for NATO? Yes; we are certainly the kindest most beneficial country in the world and we should continue our beneficence. Funding for Afghanistan? We are brave and righteous, our torch is mighty in finding the pathways for democracy to flourish - they destroyed those Buddhist statues, those heathens. What say? 1,000 military bases around the world, installing dictators and raping nuns? Can you believe those ecologists who want to stop our nuclear plants, the only way to get clean energy, as if there is a real global warming problem anyway.

Alas. I rant again. So much potential, but that's what the leaches think as well.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 05:31:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The humility is not there, because Obama can't be seen as apologising too much for America, and because both the elites and much of the media are already lining up to applaud a return to 'normalcy' -- eager to forget the past eight years.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 06:41:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have very strong problems to see ever in a world like the current one 'liberal interventionism' as something good. There are millions of people dying every year from easy to cure diseases, malnutrition, dirty water. This provoces mediocre, halfhearted responses. But when a human is responsible for the same kind of suffering, there is serious discussion of stopping him
  • using multiple times as much resources, which woule be necessary to save the same number of people from death who suffer structurally
  • killing, and making by that the own position very shaky
  • making a complex situation more complex, in which big unforeseeable things can happen, potentially triggering more harm, then without any intervention at all
  • taking longterm responsibility, despite, if it is really liberal, and not a cross partisan intervention, longterm commitment can't be guaranteed
  • opening up a discussion, principally accepting the killing for non-selfdefense purposes, look how the hypothetical question, if torture is fine to get information about a bomb to be exploding every minute, has let to preemptive torture in Guantanamo

Sure a world gov might intervene, but a world gov would do quite a lot different in the world. When I hear the words 'Nie wieder', I don't think of a supernational military squad, which prevents monstrosities all over the globe. I think of let us never again commit such crimes. Neither directly, nor indirectly due to ignorance of structural unjustice. For such a thought of course a certain amount of distrust against my own society is necessary. History shows, presumable civilised civilisations can fail. Be on the watch.


Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 04:11:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bingo.

Are all German conservatives this realistic about "democracy promotion a la Rumsfeld"?

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 11:01:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but more than one would guess, if one only hears the statements given by the party leaders.
In 2002 in a meeting of the local CDU of Holthausen/Biene, the Iraq war was discussed, and all attendants were completely opposing the war. One said something like, 'if Merkel and Stoiber believe we can't oppose the war, because the economic relations to the US are too important, then they should say it, and not pretend, that there would be security or humanitarian reasons for the war'.

The FAZ was strangely splitted by section, the politics part of the newspaper was pro-war, often arguing in a sense like, 'the US is such a great country, they can't be wrong'. As well there was pretty much believe of the announcements of how easy the whole thing would be, you know 'In three months our troops will be home' and such stuff that turned out to be completely out of world.
The Feuilleton part, had a tendence to oppose the war. In that part people with more fundamental thinking than the more day-to-day politics part can be found.
Letters to the editor were as well split, with the prowar letters usually acusing opponents of the war to hate the US for the most fancy reasons you can imagine (aggresive ungratitude, know-it-all arrogance, ...)

So to summarise, I think most Germans have a tendency to oppose militarism, the reason for support lies in extreme atlanticism (probably it is hard to find another country, where you find more people who would agree that the USA is 'the greatest country in the world'), not in neoconnic conviction of the course.
By the way, pre-Bush and pre-knowing some more ugly details of the US foreign policy, I was as well pretty much an atlanticist.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 04:19:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, pre-Bush I wasn't much of anything, politically. But not so very long ago, I still thought of the interventions in Yugoslavia as a good argument for "liberal interventionism."

Now I just wonder what was in it and for who. Because the more I look at that conflict, the less sense it makes.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 05:54:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... on foreign policy is, by definition, political suicide, because for US political discourse, most of reality is outside the Overton Window.

Hell, even given the best hope for a saner US foreign policy, y'all would have been treated to plenty of that Babylon 5, "America is the last best hope for peace" BS. And our primary process definitely handed out second best on the saner US foreign policy front (possibly equal second best, possibly better than ... the last two candidates standing were so close ideologically that it comes down mostly to questions of problem solving philosophies and temprament).

So, a kinder, gentler colonial government it is, to be mixed sooner or later with puzzlement that the colonial indigenes are not as grateful for that gracious concession as one had thought they might have been.

Obama cannot run as a full-bore progressive populist, after all, tapping a wellspring of anger at the way things basically suck for the ordinary working family, because he is too deeply committed to the corporatist system. So he's running as the new brand of soap powder that gets all your policy problems brighter.

Its just a question of which corporatist to vote for, and since McCain unsafe to have in the White House irrespective of his policy positions, and there may be some prospects for some progress on the climate crisis and some other issues under Obama, that question is not even close.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 12:58:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But, on the other hand, any not awful speech on foreign policy is, by definition, political suicide, because for US political discourse, most of reality is outside the Overton Window.

Howard Beale must be turning in his grave. The US citizen is educated like a wimp, acts like a wimp, is treated like a wimp, when all that is needed is someone to just change it.

My understanding is that Obama, a virtual unknown, was put up to this to counter the Hilary machine. All his charisma, all his intelligence, against a moron, against someone who, in a civilized planet, a war criminal, yet here we are again, in a plus or minus 4 race to jello.

Obama cannot run as a full-bore progressive populist, after all, tapping a wellspring of anger at the way things basically suck for the ordinary working family, because he is too deeply committed to the corporatist system.

Someone is forcing him to be so deeply committed to the corporatist system? Or do you mean that he is a corporatist, period, full stop, don't expect anything more. (I don't, by the way. I have been trained against hope by my moron corporatist Congressman Schiff, a pandering wimp if there ever was one.)

Which bring me back to the point: A leader with a platform like Obama's is able to shove the Overton Window, break it, clean it or whatever he wants to do. But Obama doesn't have to, since the suckers are going to vote for him anyway.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 01:17:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US citizen is educated like a wimp, acts like a wimp, is treated like a wimp, when all that is needed is someone to just change it.

What is needed is the building of a political movement that is able to put people willing to fight for the change into a position of being able to fight for the change.

If that movement existed, then obviously Obama would not be the nominee ... he's the nominee on the back of organizing a temporary occupation in terrain that a progressive populist movement would own, if it existed.

A leader with a platform like Obama's is able to shove the Overton Window, break it, clean it or whatever he wants to do. But Obama doesn't have to, since the suckers are going to vote for him anyway.

The majority of those on the moderate left will vote for him anyway, and if he pushes hard against the Overton Window, he'll lose. Balancing those two, he's not going to get close to the left edge of the Overton Window for love nor money ... after all, he does want to win election as President.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Jul 27th, 2008 at 03:51:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wim in Berlin is plain wrong to say that there was absolute silence on the Afghanistan / war on terror lines (which directly preceded the line on a nuclear-free world). Watch the youtube for verification.

I hate you for making me watch it :-)

I did so while looking at the script. What I noticed is that for popular passages in the speech, there is applause at the end of each sentence, even intrrupting Obama; while for these two paragraphs in the script, there is polite applause only at the end of each paragraph (with the weakest after the one on Afghanistan). The nuclear-free word sentence is the first in another paragraph. (What's interesating is that the end-of-paragraph applauses begin before Obama ends his speech. I is this because some people knew the draft, or just recognised that a pause nears from Obama's voice/rhythm?...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 04:44:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a late response, my guess it that it is a function of speechwriting and speechifying. You put the substantive line that people are going to applaud at before last and end with a line that serves mainly to confirm or tie it in to the larger narrative. You build similarly sized paragraphs.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Jul 30th, 2008 at 11:11:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid that due to a hypercritical attitude, eurotrib is getting the wrong impression of the general sentiment in Germany, and Europe.

My guilt as editor. Note that I wrote this for dKos, with emphasis not on an objective reporting of general sentiment, but an aim to show up critical voices.

There was one line I thought long about whether to include in the diary (both versions) but dropped in the end. Which is that any critical views that may have appeared to a part of those attending and those watching live won't be shared by the majority of the Germans who followed the event only ith cursory attention, and only saw the news about a perfect media event. So I don't expect German and European Obamamania to end in the near future.

We do not know what's coming in terms of other interventions, which might prove dangerously popular in Europe

I'm afraid I have to agree. The popularity of Kouchner, the success with which Kosovo's indepdndence was sold in most EU countries, aren't good omens.

On the other hand, I don't think that the young, educated leftish voting European public with the superficial Free-Tibet worldview (of which I know some examples personally, too) suffices to define general sentiment in Germany or Europe. (They aren't even as influential as the '68-ers in 1968.) If anything, your observation might prove a selection effect for the Obama crowd.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:02:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that I wrote this for dKos, with emphasis not on an objective reporting of general sentiment, but an aim to show up critical voices.

With the addition that, as I stated yesterday, I couldn't bring myself to watch the speech, so wasn't in the position to meter even the reaction of the public present.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:19:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I stated yesterday, I couldn't bring myself to watch the speech,

Haha.  Fortunately you did not let the fact prevent you from judging it!

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:44:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did read it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:55:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...on which the only part of my diary that is a direct rather than a meta-commentary on the speech is based.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:58:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That last part is definitely true. The point would be that they are influential among the large social-democratic parties of the left, and among the greens. Which leaves only the 'populist' left (and perhaps a few quirky small conservative parties) as the reliable, principled opposition.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Jul 30th, 2008 at 11:19:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If so, I think, his message was lost in translation. Here the polemic of "walls" and military escalation is just beginning to sink into the popular consciousness. By that I do not mean MSM media outlets. Here is another link to his remarks as prepared.

Mr Obama is in the habit of simultaneously historicizing US domestic and foreign affairs and mythologizing current events in his "one world" speeches. In 1942 FDR dispatched Wendell Wilkie on a 50-day journey to "allies" around the world to assure them of US commitment to democracy and the dangers of US isolationism as well as to raise cash and domestic support for intervention in the European theater.

Again, these effects gloss a collection of policy declarations respecting the continuity of US geo-political domination ...

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.
[...]
This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

... dependent on NATO financing, Isreali apartheid, WTO enforcement of commodity arbitrages, and multilateral deployments to Afghanistan, probably Pakistan and AFRICOM bases, too. As always, Mr Obama's speech is descriptive rather than prescriptive unless one believes more human "sacrifice" is therapeutic. He exemplifies US entertainment.

Answer me this, how many of the crowd of 200,000 were enlisted US soldiers? Of which how many US "blacks" and how many immigrant African nationals or Turks? Perhaps there's a "black".de blog to which you may refer us that demonstrates a "naturalized" affinity to which MSM alludes.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 10:19:39 AM EST
Here a link to quotes from different German Newspapers in the Spiegel.

The World from Berlin: 'An Ad for the War on Terror' - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Barack Obama conjured up Berlin's Cold War past in his speech on Thursday, urging Germany to strengthen the trans-Atlantic relationship. The German press on Friday regards the plea as a prelude to demands for more Bundeswehr soldiers in Afghanistan.

 Barack Obama has taken Berlin by storm, but will Germany really want to hear what a President Obama has to say?

Barack Obama stood in central Berlin on Thursday and called on the spirit of the city's turbulent Cold War past to urge Germans to strengthen the trans-Atlantic alliance. The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate spoke for just under 30 minutes (more...) at Berlin's historic Siegessäule, or Victory Column, touching upon a dizzying array of issues, including nuclear disarmament, climate change, globalization and trade.

At the heart of the speech, however, was Obama's insistence that the challenges of the 21st century -- and in particular that of terrorism -- require a strong alliance between the United States and Europe, an alliance that has been severely tested by the disagreements of recent years.

On Friday the German press sifts through the text and subtext of Obama's speech. Most hear one essential message loud and clear: If Obama ends up in the White House, then Europeans -- and Germans in particular -- will be called upon to play a greater role in the war on terror -- and that means contributing more troops to the war in Afghanistan.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 10:44:08 AM EST
They really seem to be on a Obama trip.

West Wing : Obama's Romantic Revolution - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Barack Obama's promises to heal the world were lapped up in Berlin on Thursday. His speech was a masterpiece in the art of political magic -- and it was all cooly calculated.

Barack Obama waves after his speech in Berlin on Thursday. Barack Obama is often compared with a pop star these days. That makes the job of being a politician all the more difficult for him.

In show business the performance is the finished product, where reality and appearance come together as one. What you see is what you get, as the Americans say. There is no morning after.

For politicians, on the other hand, words are not actions, rather they are announcements of future actions, often actions to be claimed or even just simulated. Reality and appearance are in conflict, whether by accident or design.

"America stands alone as the world's indispensable nation," Bill Clinton said, when a bit of patriotism was required. "The world's greatest democracy will lead a whole world of democracies." His policies, however, were based on respect toward other people and not on triumphalism.

REPRINTS Find out how you can reprint this SPIEGEL ONLINE article in your publication. "If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us; if we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us," said George W. Bush during the 2000 election campaign. The worthlessness of this statement is now well known. Back then he was believed.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 10:57:56 AM EST
One More from the Spiegel.

German Politicians React to Obama's Speech: 'Will a German Speak at the Washington Monument in 2009?' - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

"The speech of a global citizen," "perfect performance," an "homage to Berlin" -- After Thursday's big Obama show at Berlin's Siegessäule, most German politicians seemed impressed by the senator's performance. But some political experts thought it amounted to nothing more than "rhetoric."

 Obama's speech earned him praise from politicians on the left and right. But not everyone was impressed. Barack Obama was greeted on Thursday night with words of praise from the left and the right. With his speech at Berlin's Siegessäule, or Victory Column, the Illinois senator appears to have impressed most German politicians across the political spectrum. But some political experts thought the speech was an "unsuccessful sermon" or amounted to nothing more than empty rhetoric.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit of the left-leaning Social Democrats praised Obama's speech for being strong and gutsy. "It's a sign," Wowereit said after the speech, "that US politics will take a new course, and it's an homage to Berlin."

Of the many Berlin-centered details in the speech (more...), Obama mentioned the period of the Berlin Airlift 60 years ago, when US and British airplanes delivered supplies to the city as it was blockaded by the Soviets. Wowereit said that the friendship born between Germans and Americans as a result of the airlift serves as an example of how far people can come in overcoming the challenges of the world if they learn to work together.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 11:00:24 AM EST
Thanks, I didn't catch that, the German version of that article quoted much less people (and all of them uncritically approving) when I read it.

I find that the critical words in the title, 'Will a German Speak at the Washington Monument in 2009?', were spoken not by a leftie but an apparent McCain fan: Horst Teltschik, former confidante of Helmut Kohl and hyper-Atlanticist. (For me he is simply evil.)

Another critical voice quoted is that of Klaus Bölling, who was government spokesman for Helmut Schmidt (Kohl's predecessor, SPD but Cold Warrior), who simply sees Obama as unconvincing and spouting empty rhetoric.

What is still missing is responses from prominent Left Party figures. But I don't have the energy to look for them tonight.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 04:13:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The statement from 'Die Linke', wih only slightly edited tribext translation:
25.07.2008 - Gregor Gysi
Hoffnungen ohne Illusionen
25.07.2008 Gregor Gysi

Hopes without illusions
Zur Berliner Rede des designierten Kandidaten der Demokraten für die Präsidentschaftswahlen in den USA, Barack Obama, erklärt der Vorsitzende der Fraktion DIE LINKE, Gregor Gysi:About the Berlin speech by the nominee of the Democratic candidate for the presidential elections in the United States, Barack Obama, says the chairman of the Group THE LEFT, Gregor Gysi:
"Obama vertritt eine neue Generation und strahlt einen anderen Zeitgeist aus, allerdings befangen im bisherigen System. Zu begrüßen ist sein Grad an Souveränität, sein Charisma, vor allem aber seine Bereitschaft, auf andere Länder zuzugehen, anderen Menschen zuzuhören. Er will nicht kulturell dominieren, sondern verschiedene Kulturen akzeptieren."Obama represents a new generation and radiates a different Zeitgeist, however caught in the current system. To be welcomed is his degree of sovereignty, his charisma, but especially his willingness to listen to other people. He does not want to culturally dominate, but accepts different cultures.
Zu begrüßen sind seine Äußerungen, nicht nur in einzelnen Ländern den Besitz von Atomwaffen zu unterbinden, sondern sie schrittweise generell, das heißt auch in den USA, abzuschaffen. Zu begrüßen ist, dass er dem Iran nicht militärisch droht. Zu begrüßen ist, dass er endlich die Soldaten aus dem Irak abziehen und stattdessen zivile Hilfe leisten will. Zu begrüßen ist, dass er ernsthaft gewillt scheint, einen Beitrag zur Reduzierung des CO2-Ausstoßes zu leisten.welcome are his remarks, not only to suppress individual countries the possession of nuclear weapons, but generally, that also means in the United States. To welcome is that Iran is not militarily threatened. To welcome is that he withdraws finally the soldiers from Iraq and instead deduct civilian assistance. To welcome is that he seems seriously willing to contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions.
Befangen ist er in der Idee, Terrorismus militärisch bekämpfen zu können und zu müssen. Krieg erzeugt aber neuen Terrorismus und besiegt ihn nicht. Deutschland sollte seine Truppen dort nicht verstärken, sondern abziehen. Da Obama zuhören kann, könnte die Kanzlerin es ihm erklären, wenn sie es nur wollte.Caught he is in the idea of military combat terrorism. But war creates new terrorism and doesn't defeat it. Germany should withdraw its troops, not strengthen but deduct. As Obama listens, the Chancellor could explain it to him, if she only wanted.
Man darf mit Obama Hoffnungen verbinden, wie die 200.000 Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmer seiner Kundgebung in Berlin zeigen, sollte aber Illusionen vermeiden. Die wirtschaftlichen Machtverhältnisse, die Administration, das Militär und die Geheimdienste bleiben gleich. Er will nicht aus diesem System, auch nicht aus dem Kapitalismus, aussteigen. Aber immerhin, er hätte Spielräume. Die Frage ist, wie er sie nutzen würde. Akzeptierte er, dass die USA völkerrechtlich gebunden höchstens die Ersten unter Gleichen sein dürften, wäre dies ein bedeutender Akt.One can connect with Obama hopes, as the 200,000 participants at its rally in Berlin show, but should avoid illusions. The economic power relations, administration, the military and secret services will remain the same. He will not abolish this system, not the capitalism. But at least he would have room for manoeuvre. The question is, how he would use them. If he accepts that the U.S. is bound by international law, and not more than the first among equals, this would be a major act
Würde Obama zum Präsidenten gewählt werden, wäre dies ein kulturelles Jahrtausend-Ereignis, nicht nur in den USA. Noch vor kurzem wäre eine solche Wahl, auch durch weiße Texaner, völlig undenkbar gewesen. Mit ihr würde eine kulturelle Veränderung eingeleitet werden, die man sich in ihrer Tiefe kaum vorstellen kann."
Obama would be elected president, this would be a cultural millennium event, not only in the United States. Not long ago would be such a solution, even by white Texan, completely unthinkable. It would require a cultural change initiated, which is in its depth can hardly be imagined. "


Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:06:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow thanks!

Predictably, the closest to my views. However, it is interesting (and evidence of Obama's popularity on the left) that even Gysi feels the need to treat Obama with kid gloves - and it is a conservatives and a centrist(?) who dare to spell out clearly negative views.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:16:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A couple of things:

First, a politician is a politician and says the things politicians say.  Obama has stellar rhetorical skills so he spouts his line of BS better than most.  

Second, Obama is in the middle of an election.  Of course everything is being calculated for its affect on the election.  Since it is an American election the speech was written to maximize affect in the US, not Germany or the EU.  

Third, Obama is a "Change" candidate only in the sense he wants to return to the glory days of the US intervening and bombing people only for their own good.  Dodo called it "Liberal Interventionism."  I call it Imperialism.

Let me underscore something.  Unless one really 'gets' the US is a nationalistic military state and that state is considered 'normal' and 'desirable' by the majority of US citizens nothing is going to make sense.  FDR's military build-up to WW 2 and WW 2 itself is what drove the US out of the Great Depression and that political-economic system is what fueled prosperity since.  That system is crumbling but neither the people nor the Ruling Class want to face facts and deal with 'em.  Thus, successful politicians can't, thus won't, face facts either.

So ...

Fourth, Don't expect much of a change in US Foreign Policy should Obama get elected though the way that Foreign Policy is justified will change.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 01:02:16 PM EST
Oh bugger:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows a bounce for Barack Obama. The presumptive Democratic nominee attracts 46% of the vote while John McCain earns 41%. When "leaners" are included, it's Obama 49% and McCain 44%. Just three days ago, the candidates were tied at 46% (with leaners).

Rasmussen just called it a BOUNCE; likely because only Rasmussen can see the individual day to day numbers.  To go from tied to a 5 point lead in 2 days of polling indicates that Obama's numbers last night were off the chart.

I guess going to Berlin with same old Rah-Rah blah-blah Snake Oil played in Peoria, it worked.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 01:34:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remind me to do a diary on Poisson distributions and the reliability of poll numbers. I need to go through the math and put it down on paper somewhere, if for no other reason than to help me gauge the reliability of the conclusions newsies and other tea-leaf readers draw from polls...

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 01:42:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remind me to do a diary on Poisson distributions and the reliability of poll numbers.

Will Do:

Hey, Jake!  Don't forget to do a diary on Poisson distributions and the reliability of poll numbers.

:-D

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 01:49:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And fans everywhere of Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow will applaud.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 03:19:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poisson or multinomial?

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 02:43:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Technically speaking it's a multinomial, but if I recall my applied stats correctly, the Poisson distribution is the limit of the multinomial for intermediate sample size. If you don't have at least intermediate sample size, then you really shouldn't present your polling results in the first place :-P

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 11:08:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the above link:

"Obama? He's my pal," the president told Le Figaro. "Unlike my diplomatic advisers, I never believed in Hillary Clinton's chances. I always said that Obama would be nominated."

Sarkozy added that an Obama victory "would validate" his strategy of reconcilation with the United States.

I swear to God I'm going to stop reading Kos.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 01:53:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hahaha...all the people on this site that hate daily kos are precisely the people that will never stop reading it.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:33:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't hate Kos.  It's just that they've gone all icky-gooey over Obama and he ignores them.  It's like a puppy piddling on the rug to get some attention.

And, anyway, I can give it up anytime I like.  ;-)

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 09:45:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy the grinning idiot.

Blair has a worthy successor.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 02:42:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am reminded of that picture of Vladimir Putin and King George the Lesser side-by-side just after George's coronation. Except this time it's the American who looks like the calm statesman (well, more or less) and the European who looks like a blithering idiot.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 11:13:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When i perform due diligence on a new wind turbine, besides looking deeply through the design criteria, we aggressively analyze past performance.  Then we mix in the frame of the turbine's competition.

For this candidate, the design criteria has something for everyone across the political spectrum;  so no predictors there.  Other than choosing to continue the war on Terra and be the first to pacify Afghanistan since Alexander.

As far as track record:  opposed Iraq attack (credit where credit's due), and FISA.  FISA.

Frame:  Whoever he is, he's operating within a political system completely broken except for the elites, at a time when the powers that be are attempting to postpone the economic disaster until 2009.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 03:18:11 PM EST
Whoever he is, he's operating within a political system completely broken except for the elites, at a time when the powers that be are attempting to postpone the economic disaster until 2009.

Given that the housing price declines in major markets such as Los Angeles, San Francisco etc, which have the largest number and highest priced properties, are now around -30% and falling, perhaps to more than -50%, the $5trillion held/and/or guaranteed by Freddie and Fanny is now worth less than $4trillion.  I have seen estimates that "toxic paper" MBSs, including those backed by Fanny & Freddie comprise 60% of the equity reserves of FDIC insured banks.  

A couple more letters such as the one Chuck Schumer sent to regulatory authorities regarding Indy-Mac might set off the pending disaster.  Where will FDIC come up with the money to take over all those banks?  A trillion here and a trillion there...Better make certain that we have the hard currency to pay the suppliers of bank note paper and ink.

To me the real question is whether I prefer the disaster before or after the election or after the inauguration.  I'm having trouble deciding.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 03:41:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"To me the real question is whether I prefer the disaster before or after the election or after the inauguration.  I'm having trouble deciding."
---
Some say it's going to happen after Olympic Games...Is it that close?
There was an interview few days ago. I did not hear the name of famous economist but it was gloomy and scary as hell. He was asked how it's going to play for Australia and he said that we are going in to the deep shit together with Empire...in some aspects ( like housing) even worse...Why do I have to live it all over again? Shit!


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 12:30:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Between the election and the inauguration would be ideal. It could not be said to influence the election and would justify strong policy proposals (even a "newer deal"?) on the last week of January. Remember FDR took over the banking system on the first weekend of his presidency (though he was inaugurated in March).

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 02:52:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only advantage of a collapse before the election would be to insure a democratic victory.  The disadvantage of collapse before the inauguration is that it would leave the current crew in charge of the initial response.  Of course, the real catastrophe was to allow the situation to get to this point, both politically and economically.

In the most fundamental sense, the impending economic collapse is due to the policies of the last 30 years having succeeded so spectacularly in concentrating the wealth, especially in the US, in the hands of the very wealthiest.  That has to change in order for recovery to occur.  

A good first step would be to acknowledge that real estate values have been driven to unsustainable levels as a part of those policies and to systematically write them down to levels appropriate to each market. That would cancel essentially fraudulent claims on a substantial portion of the assets of those not amongst the very wealthiest and set the stage for recovery.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 08:32:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so, a kinder, gentler military imperialism, then?

i found obama's spiel much less persuasive than against an american backdrop, tho' obviously we were just props, extras for the campaign movie.

i found the hectoring tone unfortunately sounded more authentic than the airy affirmations, which disturbed me not a little.

i still want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but his pedestal is showing ever clearer fissure lines, and the flinty exhortations to pump more life into the delusional WOT evokes a grimly depressing deja vu.

some kinda dated playbook, methinks, still dabbling in fear-based duality, while crooning charms of hope and unity at the same time...

same cog-diss, different orator...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 04:13:04 PM EST
melo:
so, a kinder, gentler military imperialism, then?

Yup.

Because it's so much easier to accept being ordered around by a charismatic mediagenic oratorical genius than by a drooling drunken simian idiot.

It looks like the message is going to be much the same, more or less, but after the rebrand it's going to be presented with a much more professional logo.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 07:39:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
_Because it's so much easier to accept being ordered around by a charismatic mediagenic oratorical genius than by a drooling drunken simian idiot. _ LOL

someone behind the curtain is testing us, first by seeing how stupid a man they can install and have us accept, now another who's so intelligent...

getting whiplash here...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 02:00:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great Dodo.. great.. just great...

I still recall my opiniion at the beginning of the process.. Obama will be better for the Us than McCain with amillion mile difference.. but regardign basic foreign policy goals I doubted it very much.

That siad.. I culd be wrong.. he could really get serious about global warming and he could really move the military-economic system a little bit to the health-infraestructure-new energy technologies side...
but I really doubt it...

Mc cain would be exactly the same as Obama in foreign policy if Obama does not make these two basic changes....the other basic ideas will be the same... it has already being said in germany...

Oh.. and I forget about Iran... would McCain bomb Iran? I really doubt it too...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 05:44:36 PM EST
Totally bullshit speech, but, Holy Hell, it really moved the polls.  The image is what mattered, and Europe may have just played a critical role in this race.  To move six points in one night of polling suggests either massive statistical noise or great reception here in the states.  Great stuff.

Ich bin ein Obama!

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 06:32:59 PM EST
Ich bin ein Obama!

ROTFLMAO :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 03:41:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Knew you'd get a kick out of that. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 10:57:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a U.S. voter, I'm glad for the opportunity of a candidate other than Bush Redux. Obama's definitely not perfect, but he's a whole lot better than what our very imperfect system has offered otherwise.

I heard his speech to the 2004 Democratic convention and was greatly moved, both by his ability as a public speaker and by what he was saying. I suspect that a good bit of what he's saying now (in Berlin and other places) is dictated by the truly byzantine labyrinths (not to mix metaphors or anything) of U.S. domestic politics. If he told the truth, he'd have as much chance of being elected as the proverbial snowbell in hell.

I don't like all the postitions, and some changes of same, that he's articulated, but it's the job of the electorate to hold elected officials accountable. Hasn't worked with Junya, of course, but he was appointed, not elected.

Obama appeals to me because he is talking about the politics of inclusion, not the politics of hate and separation, with which American voters and the world have been inundated for too many years. Can he be that way in the real world? I don't know, but I'm willing to give him the chance. We don't have a lot of other viable options.

Many of the American voters who support Obama now are, it seems to me, a bit like women who've been in an abusive relationship for a long time--gradually finding out that there is an alternative, and that they can assert themselves and have a real life outside the browbeating and lies.

Like a lot of people in this country, and the world, I am living day to day, hoping and praying that nothing truly horrific happens on account of or is perpetrated by the current administration, and that we can get rid of them without another major disaster being foisted on the world. So, yes, I'm going to vote for Obama, and probably send more money to the campaign. And pray daily.

by Mnemosyne on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 09:15:27 PM EST
Of course you have to vote for Obama.

Maybe a little critisism of grumpy Europeans is not so bad for him. He can't be painted as 'unAmerican socialist' then. I really hope 200,000 people have helped him, to be seen positively and not as outseller of American interests.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 25th, 2008 at 09:57:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Many of the American voters who support Obama now are, it seems to me, a bit like women who've been in an abusive relationship for a long time--gradually finding out that there is an alternative, and that they can assert themselves and have a real life outside the browbeating and lies."

I would say that this describes voters who eventually realize that both the Republicans AND Democrats are abusers, and that there are alternatives to them. I will probably vote for Obama, but his enthusiasm for war in Afghanistan sure is hard to swallow.

The new issue of National Geographic has a story about historical (pre-Islam) Persia/Iran, perhaps a gentle reminder that there is more going on over there than is comprehended by the jingoist nationalistic militarists...

by asdf on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 12:39:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Was it because my take is so different from this one that it wasn't included as an ET precedent?

For further thoughts from an American perspective, including structural and historical analysis of the speech itself, my Kos diary.
 

"The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

by Captain Future (captainfuture is at sbcglobal dot net) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 02:32:46 AM EST
Jandsm's diary was definitely the only precedent in the sense of what my diary is in line with and grew out from, but I can link to yours (now done). I must admit I only skimmed your diary so far, will read & may react to it later today.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 03:52:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, DoDo.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 26th, 2008 at 02:39:35 AM EST


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