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Senator Fulbright: "There are two Americas..."

Senator Fulbright's birthday (April 9th, 1905) was on Sunday. He died eleven years ago, but many observations continue to be topical and controversial today, e.g. this quote about "superpatriots" from his book The Arrogance of Power ( (Deutsches
There are two Americas. One is the America of Lincoln and Adlai Stevenson; the other is the America of Teddy Roosevelt and the modern superpatriots. One is generous and humane, the other narrowly egotistical; one is self-critical, the other self-righteous; one is sensible, the other romantic; one is good-humored, the other solemn; one is inquiring, the other pontificating; one is moderate, the other filled with passionate intensity; one is judicious and the other arrogant in the use of great power.
From the same book:
To criticize one's country is to do it a service and pay it a compliment. It is a service because it may spur the country to do better than it is doing; it is a compliment because it evidences a belief that the country can do better than it is doing. Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism -- a higher form of patriotism, I believe, than the familiar rituals and national adulation.

Senator Fulbright and statistics of the Fulbright Program

"Our future is not in the stars but in our minds and hearts.  Creative leadership and liberal education, which in fact go together, are the first requirements for a hopeful future for humankind.  Fostering these – leadership, learning, and empathy between cultures – was and remains the purpose of the international scholarship program that I was privileged to sponsor in the U.S. Senate over forty years ago.  Its is a modest program with an immodest aim – the achievement in international affairs of a regime more civilized, rational, and humane than the empty system of power of the past.  I believed in that possibility when I began.  I still do."
J. William Fulbright, The Price of Empire, 1989, page xi

To answer a question in the comments section of the last post: According to the State Department, the congressional appropriation for the entire Fulbright Program for 2005 was $144.5 million. Foreign governments contributed an additional $37 million directly to the Program. According to the German-American Fulbright Commission's annual report for 2003-2004 (page 7), the German government contributed 4.2 million Euro and the US government contributed 2.4 million Euro to the US-German Fulbright Programme's budget. The Association of Friends and Sponsors of the German-American Fulbright Program donated 78,000 Euro. This annual report also quotes Alison Kamhi, a US Fulbright grantee at the University of Rostock and originally from Stanford University:
Being one of the few Americans in Rostock, I took it as my job to provide the Germans in this city with a positive example of an American. Every time I was challenged about Bush or the war in Iraq or consumerism or whatever I took the time to talk to the person, simply to show that all Americans are not anti-European war-mongers, as is unfortunately often the stereotype. Volunteering at so many social organizations, I got the opportunity to answer questions from children, immigrants, or elderly Germans about the United States and our culture and politics, and I enjoyed being a representative of another side of America than what gets portrayed in the media.

Former Foreign Minister Fischer described the significance and purpose of Fulbright exchanges as well as Senator Fulbright's legacy at a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the German American Fulbright Program in 2002: His speech in German. The English translation. More than 40,000 Americans and Germans received a Fulbright grant since 1952. According to the State Department, "approximately 267,500 'Fulbrighters,' 100,900 from the United States and 166,600 from other countries, have participated in the Program since its inception over fifty years ago. The Fulbright Program awards approximately 6,000 new grants annually."

Bill Clinton and Senator Fulbright on arrogance and freedom

In his autobiography My Life, Bill Clinton wrote about Senator Fulbrights's book "The Arrogance of Power" (1966) ( (Deutsches

Fulbright's essential argument was that great nations get into trouble and can go into long-term decline when they are "arrogant" in the use of their power, trying to do things they shouldn't do in places they shouldn't be. He was suspicious of any foreign policy rooted in missionary zeal, which he felt would cause us to drift into commitments "which though generous and benevolent in content, are so far reaching as to exceed even America's great capacitities." He also thought that when we brought our power to bear in the service of an abstract concept, like anti-communism, without understanding local history, culture, and politics we could do more harm than good.

Joe Kristensen, president of the Fulbright Alumni e.V., has compiled several quotes from The Arrogance of Power. One of them is:

Freedom of thought and discussion gives a democracy two concrete advantages over a dictatorship in the making of foreign policy: it diminishes the danger of an irretrievable mistake and it introduces ideas and opportunities that otherwise would not come to light. (...) In addition to its usefulness of redeeming error and introducing new ideas, free and open criticism has a third, more abstract but no less important function in a democracy: it is therapy and catharsis for those who are troubled by something their country is doing; it helps to reassert traditional values, to clear the air when it is full of tension and mistrust. There are times in public life as in private life when one must protest, note solely of even primarily because ones's protest will be politic or materilally productive, but because one's sense of decency is offended, because one is fed up with political craft and public images, or simply because something goes against the grain.

Joe has recommended this book and provided more quotes in the October 2003 issue of the Atlantic Review.

Republican Senator Hagel walks in Senator Fulbright's footsteps

All high ranking Republicans support President Bush's policy on Iraq? Think again! Senator Hagel, a Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran and member of the Foreign Relations Committee, reminds Boston Globe Columnist Derrick Z. Jackson of Senator Fulbright:

As President Bush's war in Iraq becomes more maddening to Americans, the more Hagel talks as if he is the Republican who will become to Bush what J. William Fulbright once was to Lyndon Johnson. Fulbright was the Democratic senator from Arkansas who publicly turned against Johnson's war in Vietnam. Fulbright used his power as the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold nationally televised hearings to debate the merits of the war. (...)
The more disconnected the Bush administration becomes, the more Hagel -- who is said to be testing the waters for a presidential run in 2008 -- finds himself linking himself to the legacy of Fulbright. A measure of how badly Bush has botched events since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is that a Republican might run on something that smacks of an antiwar platform. In a January speech before the World Affairs Council, Hagel noted Fulbright's Vietnam hearings. ''Fulbright received criticism for holding public hearings on Vietnam, especially with a president of his own party in office," Hagel said. ''Fulbright later wrote that he held those hearings 'in the hope of helping to shape a true consensus in the long run, even at the cost of dispelling the image of a false one in the short run.' " Hagel continued by saying, ''Today, we must not be party to a false consensus in Iraq or any foreign policy issue." That echoes Fulbright's famous statement: ''The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust government statements."

Big thanks to David from Dialog International for sending us this article.

"The Arrogance of Power" by Senator Fulbright

Joe Kristensen recommends The Arrogance of Power by Senator Fulbright (New York, Random House, Inc., 1966): "Auch wenn das Buch im politischen Umfeld vom Kalten Krieg, wesentlich von der Russland, China und Vietnam-Politik geprägt ist, hat das Werk aus dem Jahr 1966 an vielen Stellen eine fast gespenstische Aktualität. Hier ein paar Zitate:"

... a preemptive war in 'defense' of freedom would surely destroy freedom, because one simply cannot engage in barbarous action without becoming a barbarian, because one cannot defend human values by calculated and unprovoked violence without doing mortal damage to the values one is trying to defend. (p. 154)

Law is the essential foundation of stability and order both within societies and in international relations. .... When we violate the law ourselves, whatever short-term advantage may be gained, we are obviously encouraging others to violate the law; we thus encourage disorder and instability and thereby do incalcuable damage to our own long-term interests. (p. 96)

The United States, on the other hand, is the richest, most powerful, and generally most successful nation in the world, and everyone knows it. It is simply not necessary for us to go around forever proclaiming: 'I am the greatest!' The more one does that sort of thing, in fact, the more people doubt it .... (p. 222)

There is something unseemly about a nation conducting a foreign policy that involves it in the affairs of most of the nations in the world while its own domestic needs are neglected or postponed, just as there is something unseemly about an individual carrying all the burdens of the Community Chest and the PTA [Parent Teachers' Association] while his own children run wild and his household is in disarray. There is something fishy about this kind of behavior, something hidden and unhealthy. (p. 134)

Und zu guter Letzt, das berühmte:

"To criticize one's country is to do it a service and pay it a compliment. It is a service because it may spur the country to do better than it is doing; it is a compliment because it evidences a belief that the country can do better than it is doing. .... In a democracy dissent is an act of faith." (p. 25)