Hon. Jim Kolbe|
The Honorable Jim Kolbe, former US Congressman from Arizona, introduced the keynote speaker. I had the beginnings of an interesting conversation with Congressman Kolbe about immigration, but the press of events cut it short.
The keynote address was given by Martin Klingst, the Washinton bureau chief of Die Zeit, the Hamburg newspaper. His talk about European cultural views was very interesting, mostly because of his awareness of the fact that the main political difference between Europeans and Americans is that Europeans -- particularly the Germans and the French -- have a great deal more confidence in government than Americans have. This explains our differences on a host of issues. Klingst's contention is that this attitude is the result of the experience of tyranny in the 20th century. You might say it's a Tudor response to atrocity. But it begs the question, naturally, whether the atrocities of 20th century Europe were due to too much or too little government -- or to another political factor, namely, an inadequate respect for the dignity of the human person, also known as a weak rule of law.
In any case, Mr. Klingst's urbanity was a welcome treat. How anyone with two law degrees can remain interesting is a seven day wonder at least!
Dr Karen Donfried|
Dr Karen Donfried discussed the problem of European relations in a post cold war world. Absent the common threat of Soviet aggression, it has been difficult for European countries and the United States to recognize their common interests.
Prof Gary Weaver|
Professor Weaver presented his coherent view of what American culture really is. He began by arguing that it is neither a modified form of Northern European culture, nor a hodgepodge of immigrant cultures melted together. (When pressed, however, he did acknowledge that there is an important sense in which the first option is correct -- many of our institutions would obviously not have been possible without the common law tradition.) In the end, his discussion of the origins of American individualism and idealism was quite compelling. And his observation that Americans generally identify themselves by what they do rather than by who they are related to (as, apparently, many Europeans do) was quite telling.
W. Price Roe|
In one of those one degree of separation moments, Emily Cain (a fellow this year who is a State Rep., D-Maine) and I discovered that we had a mutual friend -- Price Roe, my counterpart at Homeland Security (Counselor to Secretary Chertoff). Price met a group of us for a drink at Toledo Lounge, nearby. We all expect Price to be a fellow next year (his interview is tomorrow). At any rate Price will always be the life of any party lucky enough to have him.
I'll be attending the Fall 2007 American Marshall Memorial Fellowship from October 4 - 28.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States is a foundation that was endowed by a gift from the German Government to the United States Government, in gratitude for the Marshall Plan. The Marshall Memorial Fellowships were established in 1982 to promote transatlantic understanding and cooperation. There are European Fellows who visit the U.S., and American Fellows who visit Europe.
Each Marshall Fellow has a unique itinerary. Mine is as follows:
October 4-5 Washington, D.C. (see below)
October 6-10 Brussels, Belgium
October 10-15 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
October 15-19 Turin, Italy, and environs
October 19-24 Budapest, Hungary, and environs
October 24-28 Berlin, Germany
See bios of our city coordinators, here.
In Washington, I'll get a chance to meet my fellow fellows -- the 15 winners of the Fall 2007 American Marshall Memorial fellowship. You can read their bios here. They look to be a most interesting group.
Thursday, we'll have orientation, and then a welcome dinner at Restaurant Nora.
Friday, we'll be briefed on US foreign policy by Dr. Karen Donfried, a former State Department official who is Executive Vice President of the German Marshall Fund. We'll also hear from Mr. Thomas Becker, Head of International Department, Danish Lead Negotiator in Climate Change, Subsidiary Body of Implementation under the UN Climate Change Convention.
Later Friday, we'll have a three hour seminar on the Differences Between American and European Beliefs and Values, given by Prof. Gary Weaver of The American University. Since Alexis de Tocqueville is the springboard of this conversation, I expect to be very engaged by it. In (I hope) a Tocuevillian spirit, Dr. Weaver will raise the question of whether there is, in fact, an American philosophy. At least we'll be beginning the trip with a question I am fully prepared to answer.
And then we're off to Dulles International Airport, and a night in the air, arriving at 7:30 a.m. local time in Brussels, Belgium.
Check back later for pictures and commentary on the Washington portion of the fellowship.