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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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Atlantic Review Receives the Fulbright Association's Mulert Award

Many organizations give awards to prominent people, who have already received dozens in the past. Sometimes it seems the purpose is not to honor the recipient of the award, but to use his or her fame to shine a light on the organization that is bestowing the award. Many also combine the awards ceremony with a fundraising dinner.

Not so the German Fulbright Alumni Association, which awarded the Mulert Award on Mutual Understanding 2015 to this blog. I will keep you post regarding the project that I will implement. 

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NATO Solidarity: Atlantic Community is a Vision, not yet a Reality

The Pew Research Center's transatlantic survey indicates a high degree of security complacency and a lack of solidarity across NATO member publics. Evidently, the Atlantic Community is still a distant future, with this vision being marred by an absence of real unity. We must encourage more policy dialogue between citizens throughout Europe and across the Atlantic and thereby create empathy and a shared identity.

Many in the European publics, especially the Germans, take US support for granted, feel comfortable as security free-riders, and don't seem to understand NATO's concept of collective defense. From the Pew Research Center:

Americans and Canadians are the only publics where more than half think their country should use military action if Russia attacks a fellow NATO member (56% and 53%, respectively). Germans (58%) are the most likely to say their country should not. All NATO member publics are more likely to think the United States will come to an ally's defense (median of 68%) than to be willing to do so themselves. (…) Poles stand out as less certain that the U.S. would come to an ally's aid (49% would, 31% would not).

This is quite troubling and disconcerting as only a friend in need is a friend indeed. But, according to this poll, we are not even „fair weather friends", as we oppose solidarity already, before a NATO ally has even been attacked. Coming to each other's defense is the most basic principle of a friendship or partnership. Failing to do so is obviously infinitely worse than a disagreement about out-of-area missions or specific strategies.

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An Anthem for NATO

The NATO Foreign Ministers have met in Antalya, Turkey, instead of Brussels. Various public diplomacy activities were organized as well. I think this is great, as Turkey is at a NATO “front-line” and has also been drifting away from the West as the AKP policies and public opinion polls by the German Marshall Fund’s Transatlantic Trends have shown in recent years. Thus, any policy or gesture to reverse the trend is welcome.

What has been going viral from the meeting, however, is something else. A video of senior leaders singing “We are the World,” often with critical comments:

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CIA Recommendations for Sustaining West European Support for ISAF

WikiLeaks (HT: Marie-Claude) has published what it calls a Special Memorandum by the Central Intelligence Agency's Red Cell. The document argues that after the fall of the Dutch government "counting on apathy might not be enough," because "indifference might turn into active hostility if spring and summer fighting results in an upsurge in military or Afghan civilian casualties." Unfortunately, the recommendations for shoring up popular support are not as exciting as you would expect from a classified and leaked document. Some examples:

* Some German opposition to ISAF might be muted by proof of progress on the ground, warnings about the potential consequences for Germany of a defeat, and reassurances that Germany is a
valued partner in a necessary NATO-led mission.
* Emphasis on the mission's multilateral and humanitarian aspects could help ease Germans' concerns about waging any kind of war while appealing to their desire to support multilateral efforts.
* Appeals by President Obama and Afghan Women might gain traction.

Phil Murphy as America's Next Ambassador to Germany?

The US embassies in Berlin, London, Brussels, and Paris still lack ambassadors. President Obama is taking his time to screen all candidates after the trouble with the nominations of various secretaries. It now seems that he would like to announce his choice for all four embassies prior to his visit to Germany and France on June 5-6, 2009.

"The Germany posting looks to be going to former investment banker Phil Murphy, national finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who's oft credited with turning around the party's fundraising operation, " says Washington Post columnist Al Kamen, but does not write much about Murphy. Spiegel (in German) has more information about the first (and positive) reactions from Germany to these "targeted leaks." Murphy used to work for Goldman Sachs in Frankfurt.

And Murphy is also on the Board of Directors of the US Soccer Foundation (HT: David). His knowledge of soccer will help him to win friends in Germany and improve German-American relations to unprecedented levels. At least, let's hope so.

A New Public Diplomacy Approach for NATO

Dr. Stefanie Babst, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Strategy, argues that public diplomacy needs to respond to the challenges of the Web 2.0 world:

NATO should be more courageous in using digital tools to directly interact with the public. Why not host a permanent blog on the NATO website? Why not widen the debate about NATO's new Strategic Concept beyond the 'usual suspects' and try to obtain new thinking through, for instance, online discussions with citizens on specific aspects of NATO's future role? Let us hope that when Allies discuss NATO's future strategic course at the forthcoming Summit in Strasbourg and Kehl, they will also take a moment to sign up to a 21st century public diplomacy approach.

Dear readers,

Do you think NATO would benefit from engaging the blogosphere? Do you think bloggers have constructive advice for NATO's specific challenges?

Do you think NATO would manage to identify and then listen to the smart bloggers and their readers and implement the best suggestions? Here I mean citizen bloggers, not the wonks who blog.

U.S. Ambassador: Russian response in Georgia 'well-grounded'

In an interview with the Kommersant, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, confirmed that the Russian response to Georgia's attack on South Ossetia was legitimate. He also stated, however, that Russia went too far by invading Georgia 'proper', and that Russia now has to abide by the cease-fire agreement and stop hinting at regime-change in Tblisi. A small bit of an AP report in the International Herald Tribune:

John Beyrle [...] told the Kommersant Friday that Russia "gave a well-grounded response" to a Georgian attack on Russian peacekeepers, but exceeded its authority by invading Georgia proper.

Ambassador Beyrle has presumably been green-lighted to give this statement, and he has also stated to the Kommersant that Saakashvili acted without the consent and against the advice of the United States in attacking South Ossetia. This signals a certain ratcheting-down of tensions between the U.S. and Russia, and a readiness on the side of the U.S. to come to an accommodation.

The full interview is available in Russian, here.

Late update: Telo notes in the comments that the translation of the AP might be off, and that the relevant statement by Ambassador Beyrle implies that the Russians had a reason to respond, but is ambiguous on whether that reason was completely sufficient.