Interesting Comment from An American Citizen who has been living and working in Washington, DC for many years:
I read this op-ed (Wash Post 2/17) by David Ignatius about Obama's experience or lack thereof. He looked back at the first 18 months of the Kennedy administration, which were mostly spent in a very steep learning curve, especially in terms of foreign affairs, culminating in the Cuban missile crisis. We tend to forget that Kennedy was not exactly a glittering success in domestic policies and the only reason he looks good in the Cuban missile crisis is because Russia backed down. Then there was that whole Bay of Pigs ugliness.
It suddenly occurred to me that one guy looking on with great interest must be Vladimir Putin. He definitely has ambitions and may well be licking his chops at the chance to test Obama. We Americans tend to view the world in terms of an unending Manifest Destiny, whereas Europeans I think see things more in terms of Empires that come and go. And clearly you could make the case that the American Empire is going, going, maybe gone. A guy like Putin who clearly has great ambitions and would love to head up a newly resurgent Russian Empire may well see this as his moment. Certainly if you look at the classic signs --- a weakened economy, the decline in cultural literacy, destructive wars fought far from home --- America fits right into the mold of an empire on the decline.
I can remember walking down M Street with H. sometime in the late 60s and saying to him that I couldn't see how the USSR could possibly survive. I based that on the belief that no country that fucked up could possibly endure for long. H. just sort of humored me but I remember that conversation well and I have that same sort of feeling now that something big is coming our way and it ain't good.
Oddly enough, I also have the feeling that Obama could be the one guy who could turn things around in terms of getting the world to see us in a better light. Are we looking at win-win or lose-lose? And what would happen if Hillary or McCain wins? I guess we are doomed to live perpetually in uncertain times.
He included an added comment on Putin when agreeing to have his words put up here:
As for Putin, you should definitely be worried. This is one scary guy who definitely has plans. The collapse of an empire is always a dangerous time and the repercussions may take a few decades to full unfold. Here we have two empires --- the old Soviet empire and the new American empire ---- that are in various stages of decline and birth.
Kosovo may prove to be a revealing snapshot of where we are. The 20th Century started out with a war that had its initial spark in that region. Hate to see history repeat itself, but this whole situation is so reminiscent of the entangling alliances that caused so much trouble before.
The David Ignatius column at www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/15/AR2008021502962.html
A first hand report from an American friend in Munich:
Obama's Fireside Chat Abroad - Con Call with U. S. citizens around the world
Barack Obama's con call to thousands of Americans abroad yesterday was an idea as fresh and innovative as Roosevelt's famous fireside chats. He spoke about the issues that particularly touch those living far away, but without in any way minimizing the weight of the issues at home in the United States. For old folks it brought back memories of how families used to sit around the radio at night to listen to the news together. This call touched a nerve in the emotions of Americans everywhere and will go down in history as a landmark when the global community came together at 16:15 Central European time on February 11, 2008 to listen to a man who might become the next President of the United States.
This is not a political endorsement, but an objective observation about a very unique way to personally reach citizens outside the country.
Marina in Munich