Monday, January 31, 2005

Al Qaeda's New Front

A PBS special on the rise of radical Islam in Europe, Al Qaeda's New Front, can be viewed online.

Key to winning over Europeans is for Bush to listen to them

Thomas Friedman captures European attitudes perfectly in this piece written in anticipation of President Bush's European trip. His comment do not apply to Europeans only, but to Arabs too, and others who don't seem to 'get' what the President is saying. Mr. Bush always sounds as if he is addressing his home country's audience, even when he is abroad. The widespread dislike of America around the world is treated as a 'communication problem' that will be solved by better public relations and media penetration abroad, to 'better communicate' the message. There is nothing wrong with the way the message is communicated, but the contents of the message which irk people, and the first step to realizing that is to just listen:

Key to winning over Europeans is for Bush to listen to them


By Thomas L. Friedman

Having spent the past 10 days traveling to Britain, France, Germany and Switzerland, I have one small suggestion for President Bush. I suggest that when he comes to Europe to mend fences next month he give only one speech. It should be at his first stop in Brussels, and it should consist of basically three words: ``Read my ears.''

Let me put this as bluntly as I can: There is nothing that the Europeans want to hear from George Bush, there is nothing that they will listen to from George Bush that will change their minds about him or the Iraq war or U.S. foreign policy. Bush is more widely and deeply disliked in Europe than any other U.S. president in history. Some people here must have a good thing to say about him, but I haven't met them yet.

In such an environment, the only thing that Bush could do to change people's minds about him would be to travel across Europe and not say a single word -- but just listen. If he did that, Bush would bowl the Europeans over. He would absolutely disarm and flummox people here -- and improve his own image markedly. All it would take for him would be just a few words: ``Read my ears. I have come to Europe to listen, not to speak. I will give my Europe speech when I come home.''

If Bush did that, none of the European pundits would be able to pick apart his speeches here and mock the contradictions between his words and deeds. None of them would comment on his delivery and what he failed to mention. Instead, all the European commentators, politicians and demonstrators would start fighting with one another over what to say to the president. It might even force the Europeans to get out of their bad habit of just saying, ``George Bush,'' and everybody laughing or sneering as if that ends the conversation, and Europe doesn't have to declare what it stands for.

Listening is also a sign of respect. It is a sign that you value what the other person might have to say. If you just listen to someone first, it is amazing how much they will listen to you back. Most Europeans, though, are convinced that George Bush is deaf -- that he cannot listen or hear. Just proving that he is not deaf, and therefore the Europeans don't have to shout, would do wonders for Bush's standing.

What would Bush hear? Some of it is classic Euro-whining, easily dismissible. But some of it is very heartfelt, even touching. I heard it while doing interviews at the Pony Club, a trendy bar/beauty parlor in East Berlin. And more and more I think it explains why many Europeans dislike Bush so intensely.

It's this: Europeans love to make fun of naive American optimism, but deep down, they envy it and they want America to be that open, foreigner-embracing, carefree, goofily enthusiastic place that cynical old Europe can never be. Many young Europeans blame Bush for making America, since Sept. 11, into a strange new land that exports fear more than hope, and has become dark and brooding -- a place whose greeting to visitors has gone from ``Give me your tired, your poor'' to ``Give me your fingerprints.'' They look at Bush as someone who stole something precious from them.

Tim Kreutzfeldt, the bar owner, said to me: ``Bush took away our America. I mean, we love America. We are very sad about America. We believe in America and American values, but not in Bush. And it makes us angry that he distorted our image of the country which is so important to us. It is not what America stands for -- and this makes us angry and it should make every American angry, because America lost so much in its reputation worldwide.''

The Bush team, he added, is giving everyone in the world the impression that ``somebody is coming to kill you.''

Stefan Elfenbein, a food critic nursing a beer at our table, added: ``I know many people who don't want to travel to America anymore. People are afraid to be hassled at the border. We all discuss it, when somebody goes to America: `Are you sure?' We had hope that Kerry would win and would make a statement, `America is back to what it was four years ago.'

``We hoped that he would be the symbol, the figure who would say, `[America] is the country that welcomes everybody again.' Now we have to wait four more years, hopefully for somebody to give us back the country we knew and liked.''

Yes, yes, there are legitimate counters to all these points. But before anyone here will listen to Bush make those counterpoints, he will have to really listen to them first.

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN is a New York Times columnist.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The United States Of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy

While the United States flexes its economic and military muscles around the world as the dominant global player, it may soon have company. According to the Washington Post's T.R. Reid, the nations of Europe are setting aside differences to form an entity that's gaining strength, all seemingly unbeknownst to the U.S. and its citizens. The new Europe, Reid says, "has more people, more wealth, and more trade than the United States of America," plus more leverage gained through membership in international organizations and generous foreign aid policies that reap political clout. Reid tells how European countries were willing to discontinue their individual centuries-old currencies and adopt the Euro, the monetary unit that is now a dominant force in world markets. This is noteworthy not just for exploring the considerable economic impact of the Euro, but also for what that spirit of cooperation means for every facet of Europe in the 21st century, where governments and citizens alike believe that the rewards of banding together are worth a loss in sovereignty. Reid's most compelling portrait of this trend is in the young Europeans known as "Generation E" who see themselves not as Spaniards or Czechs but simply as Europeans. To illustrate America's obliviousness to this trend, Reid tells of former GE CEO Jack Welch, who never bothered to factor European objections into a proposed multi-billion dollar merger with Honeywell, leading to the deal being torpedoed and Welch disgraced. But what is most striking in The United States of Europe is the contrast between the new Europe and the United States. The Europeans cannot match the raw military size of the U.S., but by mixing wealth with diplomacy and continental unity (helped along by antipathy toward George W. Bush's brand of Americanism), they are forming an innovative and powerful superpower. --John Moe (

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Bush doctrine

Christ called on us to turn the other cheek if someone smites us. The Bush doctrine is not only to smite the other guy if he smites us, but to smite him even before he attacks. It's actually to smite him even if we're not sure he has a club to attack us with. Really, it's more like 'to smite someone if we suspect that he has a club with which he intends to smite us, and after we've killed him and searched his dead body, finding that he had no club, to pretend that we should have smitten him anyway'.

Originally posted in the comments of

The collapse of the Dollar

The collapse of the US dollar is inevitable, as America continues to spend her money in misguided overseas wars, as China rises and Europe consolidates, as American consumers continue to spend mindlessly, confident in their leaders' assertion that all is well with the American economy, as jobs continue to be shipped overseas, while the living space of America is invaded by illegal immigrants whose presence is welcomed by the members of the economic elite which has lost all interest in America as a country, provided that it continues to remain a safe haven for them and their children.

What do Americans do about all of this? Some of them at least try to make money out of the coming collapse, by writing books such as The Coming Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit from It : Make a Fortune by Investing in Gold and Other Hard Assets. I can't say that I blame them, because financial profit may be the only thing left to salvage from the failed American experiment.

Friday, January 21, 2005


'So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.'

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

European Excellence

European science and technology is proving its might, soon after the inauguration of the world's tallest bridge, this week saw the launch of the world's largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, and the arrival of the Huygens probe to Titan.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Is the U.S. "Stingy"?

Yes they are, according to the facts.