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"The Fulbright Program is facing an existential threat”

The US Fulbright Alumni Association has launched the "Stand for Fulbright" campaign, because "the Fulbright Program is facing an existential threat: The Administration has submitted a budget that would result in a 47% cut to the Fulbright Program for Fiscal Year 2018."

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Fulbrighters Reflect on their Exchange Year

In this video produced by the German Fulbright Alumni Association in 2014 former German and US grantees talk about the relevance of their exchange experience and their reasons to get involved with the Alumni Association. 

The video captures the importance of the Fulbright program quite well. Authentic, personal, no exaggerations. After watching it, you will probably want to get in touch with the German Fulbright Alumni Association or learn how to get a Fulbright grant: For Germans going to US, for Americans going to Germany, for all other nationalities and destinations. 

The last link takes you to the State Department and promotes the Fulbright Program as "the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. (...) Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide." Most programs with rich countries are financed jointly. The German-American Fulbright program has received 2.6 Mio EUR from the State Department and US Host Institutions, but the much larger amount of 5.6 Mio EUR from Germany's federal and regional governments in 2013/2014. 332 Americans and 408 Germans received grants in that academic year.

The American Fulbright Alumni Association has just released this promotional video:

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"Afghanistan now awaits its Fulbright"

Comparisons between Afghanistan and Vietnam are becoming popular again. Will Senator John Kerry walk in Senator Fulbright's footsteps?

Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote in the Washington Post:

Afghanistan now awaits its Fulbright. It is time for the Senate to make an independent review of the war, and to challenge - as Sen. J.William Fulbright did during the Vietnam war - a president unwilling to end a conflict he knows will not be won. Surely, it is fate that the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is Sen. John Kerry. Nearly 40 years ago, as a brave, decorated, young Navy lieutenant returning from Vietnam, he challenged senators to do their duty, saying that each day "someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows . . . that we have made a mistake. . . . How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
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New Fulbright Documentary and Fulbright Discussion on Iraq

The J. William & Harriet Fulbright Center has a new homepage and presents a new documentary highlighting Senator Fulbright's "role in the founding of the United Nations, his opposition to the McCarthy investigations, and his questioning of American policy in the Vietnam War."

And Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith questioned American policy in the Iraq war in a speech to Fulbright Alumni at Harvard last week. According to the Harvard Crimson, Galbraith predicted that Iraq would not be able to weather the ongoing civil war and would eventually split along sectarian lines:
Galbraith—who was never a member of the Fulbright program—was invited because of his support for the program during his 14 years as a senior advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The Iraq war has not served a single national security purpose,” Galbraith said. “Iraq cannot be put back together again—there is actually no way to stop the civil war in Baghdad.”
Despite the fact that most of the assembled scholars strongly backed Galbraith’s comments, one Iraqi woman took issue with his prediction that Iraq would fracture along ethnic lines. She said that the fault for Iraq’s divisions lies with politicians who are dividing people for their own ends, and that the populace is less divided than Galbraith claimed. "We are all Iraqi,” she added. But an Iraqi Kurd said that he supports autonomy from the Baghdad government for the Kurd-controlled region in the north.

Fulbright News

• "Fulbright India had enough," writes Judith Apter Klinghoffer in History News Network. Interesting article, which also links to many other interesting articles about Fulbrighters calling Secretary Rice for help, and about "amazing anti-Americanism exhibited by the Indian elite" and other topics.

• Marin Marian-Bălaşa writes about the Romanian Fulbright Alumni Association's plans for
a series of public talks about "What is and isn't the USA".
Each meeting will be devoted to a different topic (politics, culture, society, etc.), will surely be reflected and covered by the media, and we hope that every occasion will succeed in defeating prejudice, bringing a refined knowledge about the US, and helping the audience and those hearing about it to handle a subtler way of thinking about USA, democracy, society, cultural production, consumerism.
Marin also describes "how the axe of reality works" in his volunteers organization:
Colleagues come to our “Romanian Fulbright Alumni” association always, I mean yearly, with the same “let’s do it” ideas, “why wouldn’t we” (i.e., well-doing) intentions, desires for serving, job searching tentative, and societal fitting. In the course of time they surpass the critical phase encountered on their return, and then their social soul succumbs in favor of individualistic needs and careers.
Senator Fulbright is sometimes mentioned in discussions about Iraq: Senator Edward Kennedy on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace
KENNEDY: But we have to understand that there is absolute chaos that is taking place there. This country is falling apart. The bottom is falling out of this thing. And we have to — as the number-one issue is the protection of the American troops, and not let them be in a sinkhole. And that is our commitment.
Carl Levin has said he'll have the hearings, weekly hearings, on Iraq. This reminds me of those kinds of hearings that Senator Fulbright had on the Vietnam War. This country will be tuned into this. And the manner of the stubbornness of the president of the United States will not be able to resist what I think is the movement in this country to ensure that we're going to protect our troops and recognize how limited our influence really is.
WALLACE: Do we have any moral obligation to the Iraqis who have risked their lives, counting on our word that we're going to be there? And do we have to ensure that we're going to be safe from the possibility of terrorist attacks coming from Iraq?
KENNEDY: We have an enormous moral obligation to those Iraqis who have worked with us. And we are failing them. We are failing them.
• Updated directory of Fulbright projects: Fulbrighters make the world a better place

• List of blogs written by Fulbrighters.

40th Anniversary of Senator Fulbright's "Arrogance of Power" Speech

The Arrogance of Power by J. William Fulbright
The liberal American Prospect wrote about an anniversary in April 2006, which the Atlantic Review missed:
Forty years ago this week, Senator J. William Fulbright delivered a speech at Johns Hopkins University on "the arrogance of power." Talk about a time bomb. "The question I find intriguing is whether a nation so extraordinarily endowed as the United States can overcome that arrogance of power which has afflicted, weakened, and, in some cases, destroyed great nations in the past," Fulbright said. "Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations -- to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image."
Many people believe the Bush administration's foreign policy is misguided, arrogant, and headed for disaster. But few were making that argument back when George W. Bush was still in college. Of course, the context of Fulbright's speech was not Bush's virtuous unilateralism or the divine summons to Iraq; it was President Lyndon Johnson's deepening engagement in Vietnam. But it's doubtful anyone in Congress today has delivered a more thoughtful critique of Bush’s foreign policy. What's even more striking from this vantage point, however, is that Fulbright delivered his broadside against a sitting president of his own party. Johnson was still a commanding and fairly popular figure in 1966 -- the Vietnam War, remember, did not lose majority support until spring 1968 -- when Fulbright rose to fulfill what he called "the patriot’s duty of dissent." The White House, Senate, and House were all controlled by one party, as they are today.
In August 2005, the Atlantic Review recommeded an article about Senator Hagel walking in Senator Fulbright's footsteps. The American Prospect writer Francis Wilkinson would like Senators Hagel and McCain to take note: "Do today what William Fulbright did 40 years ago this week, and then we'll talk":
Senator John McCain used to be good for an honest slap at the White House every now and then. But ever since he made up his mind to do whatever is necessary to win the Republican nomination in 2008, he's been a pussycat. Republican Senator Richard Lugar has been known to raise a paternal eyebrow and murmur something -- darned if I can recall what -- on a Sunday morning talk show. Senator Chuck Hagel occasionally strays from party, which is to say, White House, talking points. Arlen Specter held hearings on the NSA spying scandal -- and then refused to swear in administration witnesses. But faced with a situation not unlike Fulbright's in 1966, very few on the Republican side have dared to offer a critical public analysis of White House policy.
Mr. Wilkinson, however, does not outline what criticism and what constructive proposals regarding Iraq he expects from those Republican Senators. There seems to be a shortage of suggestions to improve the Bush administration's Iraq policy, while there certainly isn't a shortage of criticism.

Michigan State University presents a copy of Senator Fulbright's 1966 speech (HT: Phronesisaical). and sell Senator Fulbright's book The Arrogance of Power that followed after the speech.

Senator Fulbright on Free Speech

Harriet Mayor Fulbright talked about her husband's legacy and relevance today at the University of Oslo in February 2005:
As Fulbright said, "In a democracy dissent is an act of faith.  Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste but its effects."  In fact, democracy flourishes when its citizens feel free to dream and discuss the impossible.
"We must dare to think 'unthinkable thoughts,'" he wrote.  "We must learn to explore all of the options and possibilities that confront us in a complex and rapidly changing world. We must learn to welcome rather than fear the voices of dissent. We must dare to think about 'unthinkable things,' because when things become 'unthinkable,' thinking stops and actions become mindless.  If we are to disabuse ourselves of old myths, and to act wisely and creatively upon the new realities of our time, we must think and talk about our problems with perfect freedom, remembering, as Woodrow Wilson said, that 'The greatest freedom of speech is the greatest safety because, if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking.'"
Senator Fulbright not only thought unthinkable thoughts but felt compelled to make them public when his country’s policies were in his view seriously flawed.  In the mid-1960’s, for instance, Fulbright tried to convince President Johnson that the war in Vietnam was not in the interests of the Unites States for many reasons.  As long as the discussion was in private, Johnson remained cordial, but as soon as Fulbright made his views public, Johnson's intense hostility toward him was perhaps the greatest trial of his political life.  President Johnson lashed out at him in many ways, including engineering a cut in the Fulbright Program funds of 70%.  As we all know the Program survived the attack and grew considerably afterward, but the two men, who were close friends until that time, never spoke again, and this hurt Fulbright deeply.
Senator Fulbright made these comments in his book "Old Myths and New Realities", which is based on a speech he delivered in the Senate in 1964. Harriet Mayor Fulbright quotes from the book in her speech to the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Conference in 2002.

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Anniversary of the Fulbright Exchange Program

This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the international Fulbright Exchange Program. (The US-German program is a couple of years younger.) Let's start with a quote from its founder, Senator Fulbright:
There is a multiplier effect in international education and it carries the possibility – the only real possibility – of changing our manner of thinking about the world, and therefore of changing the world.  For every university professor whose outlook has been broadened by study in another country, many thousands of students will gain some measure of intercultural perspective.  For every business person who has studied in another country, many associates are likely to gain some appreciation of the essential futility of nationalistic economic policies and of the way in which an international division of labor benefits all countries.  For every politician who, through study abroad, has gained some appreciation of the world as a human community, untold numbers of ordinary citizens, as well as their leaders, may be guided away from parochialism and narrow nationalism to broader, more fruitful perspectives.
The quote is from J. William Fulbright's book The Price of Empire ( The German translation is titled Im Zeichen des Sternenbanners (
Tomorrow German and American Fulbrighters based in Berlin will celebrate the Fourth of July with a BBQ and a game watching party: The World Cup semi-final Germany vs. Italy. Happy Fourth of July everybody!