Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Anti-Bush Triumph \ Obama’s Whirlwind Tour

A crowd of 200,000 in Berlin and an enthusiastic welcome in Jerusalem and Paris: Barack Obama's whirlwind tour of the Middle East and Europe has fascinated the crowds and impressed politicians. Will it be enough to overcome doubts about his foreign policy expertise?

On Obama’s Berlin Speech

Excerpts - From the very second he walked onto the stage with an athletic bounce in his step, waved, smiled, it was obvious here was a man who so obviously knows where he stands and is so confident in his message. This doesn't look like just another political product that needs to be sold -- at most just someone who needs to be coached in the details. Here comes a natural talent with the charisma of John F. Kennedy, the kind of man who only comes along once in a generation. [...]

He gave an almost poetic speech, a tour de force through global politics, but without many specifics, in which he invoked what has fallen by the wayside during the Bush years without even referring to George W.: the partnership with Europe, cooperation on climate protection, phasing out nuclear weapons. On the topic of Afghanistan, he called on the Germans to play a more active role. He didn't utter a single negative word abroad about his own government, about the lies that were used to justify the Iraq war, about the ongoing revelations of torture by the CIA, or the fact that 74 percent of Americans feel that their country is on the wrong path. … More by Erich Follath, Spiegel International

Friday, July 25, 2008

Barack Obama’s Berlin Speech to the People of the World

In front of the Victory Column [photo] - July 24, 2008

Excerpt - So far Obama has provided scarce details -- and he has generated criticism in the US for not being more forthcoming with his ideas. For days now, his advisors have been warning that Obama is still just a presidential candidate and not the president. As such, he can only speak generally about his vision, and he can't make any concrete policy proposals. But perhaps he also went too far in announcing that this was going to be a "keynote speech on trans-Atlantic" relations.

Nevertheless, it could be that the trans-Atlantic relationship needs a new tenor a lot more right now than it needs new political projects. The degree to which tensions in the relationship have developed in recent years was illustrated by lines Obama gave in his speech that under normal circumstances would be self-evident, like: "The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand." Or even better: "We will reject torture." … More by Gregor Peter Schmitz, SPIEGEL INTERNATIONAL
with 34 photos & video

Thursday, July 17, 2008

UNESCO awarded six BAUHAUS estates in Berlin

Why are these examples of modernist architecture so important?

Dr. Annemarie Jaeggi, Bauhaus Archiv Director, says: “Sure these buildings go back 80 years and the collectivist model is no longer there in our society. However, this architecture spread right across the world. That is really one of Germany's contributions to the 20th century.

Why does that not have just as much a claim to UNESCO status as a Gothic cathedral? I don’t see the difference. Why should one say modernism is not worth protecting just because it was a utopia?” … Spiegel interview


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Economist: What a way to run the world?

G8, U.N., IMF, WTO, et al.

Excerpt - The G8 is not the only global club that looks old and impotent. The U.N. Security Council has told Iran to stop enriching uranium, without much effect. The nuclear non-proliferation regime is in tatters.

The International Monetary Fund, the fireman in previous financial crises, has been a bystander during the credit crunch. The World Trade Organization's Doha round is stuck.

Of course, some bodies, such as the venerable Bank for International Settlements, still do a fine job. But as global problems proliferate and information whips around the world ever faster, the organizational response looks ever shabbier, slower and feebler. The world's governing bodies need to change… From the Economist Magazine via Seattle Post-Intelligencer