American Views Abroad

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Cindy Sheehan Resigns

In a letter posted at Daily Kos, entitled "Good Riddance, Attention Whore" Cindy Sheehan announces with bitter words that ring true, her resignation from the peace movement.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
A long lost letter written by my father on the last day of World War II resurfaced recently. He was born in 1917 and entered the US Navy during the depression when he was 17. His reason for joining the Navy was a personal one. He did not want a 'white collar' job sitting in an office which was his mother's dream. He wanted to get out and see the world. There wasn't any talk of war in 1934 and he never knew what he would later face: fighting the Germans in the North Atlantic before war was even declared; surviving the explosion of the minesweeper he was serving on off the coast of France on the night before the invasion; grasping the unimaginable horrors of the war in the Pacific, particularly Okinawa. David M. Kennedy in Freedom from Fear - The American People in Depression and War on Okinawa:

'On the same day (April 5, 1945), Japanese fliers launched an enormous kamikaze attack on the U.S. fleet offshore. For weeks, waves of suicide planes in squadrons of up to three hundred aircraft, some three thousand sorties in all, defied steel blizzards of antiaircraft fire to zero in on the American ships. They sank 36, damaged 368 others, killed 4,900 sailors, wounded 4,824 more. Abroad the ships anchored off Okinawa, a correspondent wrote, the terror of the kamikaze onslaught 'sent some men into hysteria, insanity, breakdown.' (page 833)

August 14, 1945
10:40 p.m.

Dear Ann,

Believe this to be as fitting a day as any in history to sit down and write a letter to you folks. Can't express my joyous feelings at the glad tidings ending this terrible conflict of almost 4 years duration. I feel like an inner tube when somebody suddenly lets all the air out - that is just the way all of my pent up emotion left me when the news hit us at 4:05 p.m. this afternoon.

Give my love to Mother and Dad and thanks to all of you for praying for me through all these years of strife and conflict because that belief is one of the biggest reasons for my being able to finish this war sound in body and mind. Like they say, honey, there are no atheists in foxholes and brother Joe can bear that out.

Give my regards to all at home and in the neighborhood. For you, honey, a special hug, kiss and a big thank you for your wonderful letters to me during these trying times; letters that kept my moral up when times were a wee bit tough and depressing. God bless you all and protect you.

Your brother,

Thursday, May 17, 2007
A small but very fine museum in Hamburg has planned a three-part exhibition series entitled 150 Years of American Art: 1800 - 1950. The Bucerius Kunst Forum, situated right next to the city hall, is currently presenting the first part-- New World. Creating American Art. The art works are from The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut which was founded as the first public art museum in America in 1844.

This exhibition is a gem to take in. A group of artists, later known as the Hudson River School, created wildly romantic paintings in the Catskill Mountains in New York State. What is probably little known, but impressive is how painters traveled along with scientists and adventurers on daring journeys to explore the natural wonders of the New World. Their paintings and reports inspired the emergence of an early type of tourism to place like the White Mountains, Niagara Falls and the Yosemite Valley. This exhibition travels on to the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart after it closes in Hamburg on May 28th.

Thursday, May 10, 2007
William Fisher reports in Arab Nations Say 'No Thanks' to American Democracy Promotion on Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, testifying before a House subcommittee:

Our polling has shown us that Arabs, like people all over the world, have, as their personal concerns, issues related to their families and their economic well-being, health care and the educational opportunities available to themselves and their children. But Arabs, even those disposed to America overwhelmingly reject US help in dealing with matters of internal reform. Make no mistake the situation of the Palestinians, US actions and politices in Iraq ... Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, secret prisons....have take and continue to take a toll on America's standing in the Arab world.

Another article on a similar topic by Fisher at

Thursday, May 03, 2007
There's tremendous interest in the upcoming final French presidential election on Sunday. TV late evening news led with the long, rather vigorous debate between the two candidates yesterday as did radio news this morning. It isn't so much that Germans are taking sides as that they are curious how the French will vote. Will continental Europe actually be run by two women soon - two women who couldn't be more different in practically all ways starting with their political leanings? There is, however, no denying that seeing women in positions of power is uplifting in a subconscious way. What is even more interesting is how both of them managed to get to the top (or, at least, close to it). First and foremost, neither of them is rich or had to scrabble around gathering millions and millions of euros and there is no discussion about how the one with the most money has the best chance of winning. Compare this to the media frenzy in the US about how much money candidates rake in from fat cats or other donors indicates their chances of winning --- a slam dunk so to say. John R. MacArthur mentions this in I Deconstruct My Recent French Vote:

France's publicly financed campaigns remain remarkably unpolluted by plutocratic wealth, special interests and vote fraud. Strict limits on campaign spending and TV advertising ensure that the richest candidates or parties don't necessarily get the greatest amplification.
....So I had the luxury of voting intelligently for president of my maternal republic in a way that I'm almost never afforded in my paternal republic.

Germany too has strict limits on TV advertising and it is delightful to sit back and watch the handful of tiny parties, often with non-professional ads, fill up their designated five minute campaign time on national TV. No, they certainly haven't any chance of winning a seat, but they do have the feeling of getting their pitch out to the greater public. It certainly feels more like a democracy when the discussion isn't only about tons of money. One other thing can turn an American green with envy. They don't need to jump loops trying to register to vote. Information about where their polling station is, and if they so choose how they can very easily obtain an absentee ballot is sent in the mail. Since Germans are required by law to register whenever moving at a local office, they are automatically registered to vote.

One thing like noticed or mentioned in the press when Schroeder was being snubbed by Bush at the beginning of the Iraq war was how Schroeder grew up without a father in a very working class background, attended public schools and universities and became Chancellor without family wealth and influence. It's quite liberating that no one mentions (in Germany) what universities someone attended, for example.

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