The Daily Demarche
Thursday, October 27, 2005
The old one, two combo.
I feel pretty safe in saying that Americans in general tend be fairly isolationist in their thinking, that is, we just don't think about the rest of the world on a regular basis. Part of that is physical isolation- America is a huge country, and for most residents of the U.S. another country is pretty darned far away. A second reason is largely emotional- our experiences with the world have been less than ideal, as a nation. The first time massive numbers of Americans went out into the world was World War I, the second was World War II. Perhaps for a while after the second World War we thought we had made some friends out there, you know the countries we had bled and died for twice in less than thirty years, but I guess we learned the hard way not to count on those "friends in need, friends indeed."

For all that we don't get out much, however, we (as individuals) are pretty much always ready to welcome the rest of the world to visit- every bad teenage movie has a "foreign exchange student", and the idea of someone visiting from a faraway place and then taking a positive image of America home with them is an enduring one. The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the Department of State, is one of the most successful of these exchange programs:

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is now the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students, and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide. The U.S. Student Program currently awards approximately 1,100 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.

The foreign students who participate in the Fulbright program get an up-close and personal look at the U.S., they experience first hand the everyday "cultural diplomacy" that is only possible by complete immersion. Then they go home, and some of them apply what they have learned in America- namely, don't be shy and tell us what you really think. For an excellent example, see the group of Fulbright alum over at Atlantic Review, one of my favorite blogs from Old Europe:

...we believe that our website contributes to mutual understanding by informing our German readers of ongoing debates in the US that are not sufficiently covered in the German media and vice versa. The information in the Atlantic Review can help our readers not only to stay well informed about German, EU- and US foreign policies and transatlantic relations, but also to confront anti-American sentiments in Germany as well as Anti-German/Anti-European sentiments in the US. The Atlantic Review lays the ground for deeper understanding and insightful discussion.

Recently Joerg and Sitzpinkeln and Warmduscher (I am not sure which two they are) have been haunting the comment section on this blog, and today Sitzpinkeln threw down the gauntlet, both in the comments and in the trackbacks. He certainly knows his target audience- in one post he tracked back to he leads with this quote:

There's no serious disagreement that two major crises of our time are terrorism and global warming. And there's no disputing that America's oil consumption fosters both. Oil profits that flow to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries finance both terrorist acts and the spread of dangerously fanatical forms of Islam. The burning of fossil fuels creates greenhouse emissions that provoke climate change. All the while, oil dependency increases the likelihood of further military entanglements, and threatens the economy with inflation, high interest rates and risky foreign indebtedness.

Umm, I am pretty certain there is a lot of serious disagreement on those two issues, and I would think anyone reading this page would interpret "America's oil consumption fosters both" as "so there, you had it coming." Oh, that quote, by the way, if from the NY Times owned International Herald Tribune.

While the above passage seems fine tuned in order to drive folks who think like me nuts, the second trackback finds common ground- the threat posed by Saudi funded Wahhabism. He even goes so far as to drag our friend Marc Schulman over at American Future into it:

dozens of mosques in major cities across America are distributing documents, bearing the seal of the government of Saudi Arabia, that incite Muslims to acts of violence and promote hatred of Jews and Christians.

This post on Atlantic Review is one of the best I have read when it comes to policy issues, oil dependence and terrorism, linking to a wide array of greatly varied sources.

Now Sitzpinkeln wants some feedback from the readers of The Daily Demarche. If I know anything about the frequent commenters here, it is this: no one ever backs down from a great debate, even when it gets a little heated. So go ahead and give them your best shot, after the one-two they delivered here today, I hope some of you will take them up on the challenge. If you do please paste your comments in here too, so that we can all keep up on what is happening.

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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

A blog by members of the State Department Republican Underground- conservative Foreign Service Officers serving overseas commenting on foreign policy and global reactions to America.
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