Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Obama, John Rawls, and a Defense of the Unreasonable

by Nonpartisan Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 12:24:14 AM EST

Cross-posted from ProgressiveHistorians

 If you want to understand President Obama's soul, read his books.  But if you want to understand his beliefs, read John Rawls.  The Harvard academic, who died in 2002, was the most important philosopher of liberalism in the twentieth century, mostly because, in so many ways, Rawls' ideas describe the world we live in.  That has never been more true than today, when our President has, consciously or unconsciously, exalted Rawlsian ideas to the position of the greatest possible good.

Care to hear more about this explanatory model that is so central to Obama's thought, whether he acknowledges the influence or not?  Read on.

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Palestine, Israel, and the Abuse of History

by Nonpartisan Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 04:44:53 PM EST

[Cross-posted at ProgressiveHistorians, Daily Kos, and My Left Wing.  Image: Palestinian tribal boundaries in 1759, courtesy Wikipedia.]

As I wade with trepidation into this thorny and contentious issue, two quotes seem particularly relevant.  The first quote comes from John McWhorter's jaw-droppingly good piece on August Wilson (who, as far as I can tell, had no opinion whatsoever on the I/P conflict):

History is important--but not so much that, as Faulkner had it, the past isn't even past.

The second is from a comment by Curmudgette at My Left Wing regarding the I/P debacle:

History is written by the victors, and there isn't one.

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My Foreign Policy Interview with Bill Richardson

by Nonpartisan Tue May 8th, 2007 at 11:25:38 AM EST

[Posted at ProgressiveHistorians, Daily Kos, My Left Wing, MyDD, Never In Our Names, European Tribune, Eteraz, and Nation-Building.]

New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson is one of America's leading foreign policy experts.  A former Ambassador to the United Nations, Richardson holds an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.  Richardson is also perhaps America's leading diplomatic negotiator, having recently brokered successful agreements in both Darfur and North Korea.  Whether or not Richardson is elected President in 2008, he is certain to be one of the most influential foreign policy advisors in any Democratic administration.  Therefore, it is important to ascertain just where Richardson stands on the foreign policy issues most important to progressive activists.

After reading my January diary about Bill Richardson and the need for a visionary foreign policy, a Richardson for President staffer contacted me to arrange a foreign policy interview with the Governor.  I suggested the interview be conducted via e-mail, citing the need for lengthy and substantive answers and my own lack of proper recording equipment, and my contact agreed.  I submitted my questions at the end of January, and received the completed interview over the weekend.  (As a result of the time lapse, some questions are necessarily outdated.)

I drafted the interview questions after soliciting input from readers at each of the eight sites linked above.  The resulting epistolary interview is, I believe, the most in-depth foreign policy interview with Governor Richardson to date.  Many thanks to the Governor and his staff for agreeing to this interview.

Over the flip, the complete text of the interview.

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What Should I Ask Bill Richardson About Foreign Policy?

by Nonpartisan Mon Jan 29th, 2007 at 07:58:23 PM EST

[Cross-posted at ProgressiveHistorians.]

Well, folks, I have some pretty big news. 

Yesterday morning, I posted this diary, which discussed the need for a visionary foreign policy in the context of Woodrow Wilson's 1919 Pueblo, Colorado speech in support of the League of Nations.  In it, I argued that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is the only Democratic Presidential candidate who has made foreign policy his top priority, but that he still had a ways to go as far as developing a comprehensive foreign policy vision.

Last night, I received an e-mail from a Richardson staffer who had read my piece.  He wanted to let me know that Richardson had in fact articulated a more complete international vision than I had realized.  He also asked me whether I wanted to interview Governor Richardson on foreign policy issues.

To make a long story short (or a short story shorter), I'll be submitting a list of foreign policy-related questions for Richardson via e-mail within the week.  I'll receive his answers sometime after that, I'm guessing within a few weeks.  When I do, I'll post the entire text of the interview right here.

I've got a couple of questions I want to ask the Governor, but beyond that, I'm throwing the floor open to YOU.  What questions do YOU think I should ask Governor Richardson?

Post your questions in comments, and I'll read them all and use those I like the best in the interview.  Remember to keep your questions limited to foreign policy issues.  Also, over the flip I'm including the text of a speech I was sent by Richardson's staff laying out what he's said so far about foreign policy.  I'd appreciate it if you'd read the text and not ask questions that are already covered in there -- I'd like the interview to cover material Richardson hasn't already articulated, not simply rehash what he's already said.

To put this in perspective, Governor Richardson is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, U.S. Secretary of Energy, and a four-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee.  He just returned from a trip to Darfur, where he successfully brokered a cease-fire, and has been instrumental in conducting talks with North Korea.  In addition to being one of the leading Democratic candidates for President, Richardson is widely considered to be the leading candidate for U.S. Secretary of State in a Democratic administration -- so the importance of his views on foreign policy can't be overestimated.

Let me know what YOU think I should ask Richardson.  On the flip, his "New Realism" foreign policy address from last summer.

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In Search of a Foreign Policy Vision

by Nonpartisan Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 05:56:14 AM EST

[Cross-posted at ProgressiveHistorians.]

On September 25, 1919, the day before he suffered the first of a series of strokes that that would leave him incapacitated for the rest of his life, Woodrow Wilson delivered the last and most brilliant speech of his political career.  The location: Pueblo, Colorado.  The subject: the League of Nations.

The most dangerous thing for a bad cause is to expose it to the opinion of the world.  The most certain way that you can prove that a man is mistaken is by letting all his neighbours know what he thinks, by letting all his neighbours discuss what he thinks, and if he is in the wrong you will notice that he will stay at home, he will not walk on the street.

He will be afraid of the eyes of his neighbours.  He will be afraid of their judgment of his character.  He will know that his cause is lost unless he can sustain it by the arguments of right and of justice.  The same law that applies to individuals applies to nations. ...

We must see that all the questions which have disturbed the world, all the questions which have eaten into the confidence of men toward their governments, all the questions which have disturbed the processes of industry, shall be brought out where men of all points of view, men of all attitudes of mind, men of all kinds of experience, may contribute their part of the settlement of the great questions which we must settle and cannot ignore. ...

Unless you get the united, concerted purpose and power of the great Governments of the world behind this settlement, it will fall down like a house of cards.  There is only one power to put behind the liberation of mankind, and that is the power of mankind.  It is the power of the united moral forces of the world, and in the Covenant of the League of Nations the moral forces of the world are mobilized. ...

And what do they unite for?  They enter into a solemn promise to one another that they will never use their power against one anther for aggression; that they never will impair the territorial integrity of a neighbour; that they never will interfere with the political independence of a neighbour; that they will abide by the principle that great populations are entitled to determine their own destiny and that they will not interfere with that destiny; and that no matter what differences arise amongst them they will never resort to war without first having done one or other of two things - either submitted the matter of controversy to arbitration, in which case they agree to abide by the result without question, or submitted it to the consideration of the council of the League of Nations, laying before that council all the documents, all the facts, agreeing that the council can publish the documents and the facts to the whole world, agreeing that there shall be six months allowed for the mature consideration of those facts by the council, and agreeing that at the expiration of the six months, even if they are not then ready to accept the advice of the council with regard to the settlement of the dispute, they will still not go to war for another three months.

In other words, they consent, no matter what happens, to submit every matter of difference between them to the judgment of mankind, and just so certainly as they do that, my fellow citizens, war will be in the far background, war will be pushed out of that foreground of terror in which it has kept the world for generation after generation, and men will know that there will be a calm time of deliberate counsel.

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Compendium of Public-Domain Image Links

by Nonpartisan Sat Jan 20th, 2007 at 03:47:52 PM EST

&Cross-posted at Whataboutbob's request.  NOTE that end-of-copyright dates for European sources are generally 70 years after death, rather than the American 72 years after publication -- so a few of the historical sources may have different fair use requirements for you guys.  Also note some additional historical links here. -- Nonpartisan;p> [Courtesy of ProgressiveHistorians, my community site.]

Now that Kos has cracked down on the use of copyrighted images, I think it might be useful to examine what public-domain image resources are available for our diarists.

I don't usually write short diaries, but I started writing this one and realized all the work had already been done for me.

So let's give a huge round of applause for Wikipedia, whose editors have compiled a fantastic list of sources for public-domain images.  The full list appears at the link I just cited above.  below, I'll summarize a few of the named sources that I think may be particularly relevant for Daily Kos users.

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The False History of Muslim Intolerance

by Nonpartisan Fri Jan 19th, 2007 at 03:42:18 AM EST

[Cross-posted at ProgressiveHistorians and Eteraz.]

First of all, let me state for the record that I am not a Muslim; therefore, I do NOT claim to speak for the Muslim community in any way.  However, I am a historian, and in such capacity I feel qualified to answer the following portion of Johne's lengthy post at Redstate:

To every non-Muslim I ask: do you comprehend this shape of the conflict? Can you guard as your own the liberty of the Muslim who will likewise guard yours? Do you understand the enmity toward non-believers born out of externalizing to the social order the idea of submission to Allah through Muhammad - that first pillar of Islam? Do you comprehend the history that shows the David-vs.-Goliath power of this system of ideas to rearrange the socio-political order to a procrustean form of tyranny? Do you believe that, for the good of all mankind, our social order rooted in liberty must prevail over Muhammad's social order rooted in submission? What will you not do - as a matter of principle - in order to achieve this? In the Cold War with communist regimes, we were willing to deter their dominance by the will of mutually assured destruction in nuclear war; are you willing to go that far against an enemy who is clearly willing to sacrifice innumerable lives for the triumph of their ideas?

The historical crux of John's argument -- that Islam is a historically intolerant religion -- is a historical fallacy opposed by literally millennia of accrued evidence.  Across the flip, I present some of that evidence, and discuss the consequences of perpetuating this dangerous historical myth.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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With Government For All, With Charity For None

by Nonpartisan Fri Dec 22nd, 2006 at 10:03:28 AM EST

[Cross-posted from ProgressiveHistorians.]

One of the bad things about being on hiatus is that other people write the diaries you wanted to write.

I consider that the only way to take care in a durable, fair and consistent way of such [charitable] tasks is if the State, or at least regional authorities, do it. Thus, I consider that I have no moral duty to go and participate myself personally to such soliarity. ...

Congratulating Bill Gates and Warren Buffett because they are putting upwards of $60 bn in the Gates Foundation, as the press has been doing in recent motnhs with abandon, is incredibly shortsighted.

Such massive amounts on any given topic will inevitably lead to reductions in public funding of the same, and transfer decision making on major public policy issues to people whom we may admire but who represent no one but themselves. Worse, once public money is gone, it is unlikely to come back, and policy will end up being decided by entities with no requirement to continue to provide their services, no accountability beyond what they are willing to give, and no coherence with other public policy objectives.

nd whey they are on their own, you can be sure that they will start asking for public money to fulfill a "vital" role. Taxpayers will end up footing the bill but with much less effective oversight. Meanwhile, spending will have been funneled toward the topic of the billionaire's choosing. ...

Letting the private sector in charge of major planks of our social policy or of our healthcare policy brings about the risk that it will provide a selective service, i.e. will choose who is "worthy" of help, and what conditions they must fulfill to benefit from such help.

Jerome a Paris may be French, but what he's proposing is sound American policy.  The reason has its roots in American history -- specifically, between the battle between two American economic philosophers in the 1890's.

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Calling All World Historians

by Nonpartisan Sat Dec 2nd, 2006 at 05:12:14 PM EST

Dear EuroTribbers,

Over the past few days, I've seen two of the best history diaries I've ever read.  They've both been at European Tribune.  I've known about EuroTrib since it was founded, but I had no idea the quality of writing to be found here.  Color me impressed -- and hungry for more!

I'm the proprietor of another community site, ProgressiveHistorians, now three months old.  Our mission is the intersection of history and politics from a lefty perspective.  However, our writings so far have focused overly much on American history -- mostly because I and several of the frontpagers are American historians.  I've been looking for more work from non-American historians, as well as more readership from the rest of the world.  From what I've seen here, I think that many of you would fit right in at ProgressiveHistorians.

So here's my invitation to you: come on over and join the history fun!  Over the flip, I've reproduced part of my initial post inviting folks to come visit the site.  Hope to see you around!

P.S. I'll be posting some of my own stuff over here, too, when appropriate.

Read more... (19 comments, 626 words in story)

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