Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why Obama Should Read This Dead Greek Guy

I've decided to make anti-German jibes a regular feature of my blog posts, since it's such a relief. So, here we go again: If (and that's a big IF) Germans show any interest in their politicians, they are usually pondering serious qestions like "Does he dye his hair?", "With which TV anchor does he cheat on his wife?" or "Is it okay for the Bundeskanzlerin to wear a rose jacket when attending the Wagner Festspiele?"

And those philistine Americans? They ask: What should the next president read? Fancy that. I mean, c'mon, Gerhard Schroeder probably never got past the table of contents of "Macchiavelli for managers" and I bet, the only book he fully embraces is about the Soccer Worldchampionship 1974.

Anyhow, Dan Drezner has this advice for Obama:
I’d probably advise the president to read the uber-source for international relations, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. (...) The entire text demonstrates the complex and tragic features of international politics, the folly of populism, the occasional necessity of forceful action, the temptations and dangers of empire, and, most importantly, the ways in which external wars can transform domestic politics in unhealthy ways.
And at that point my day job met my blogging pasttime head-on for the first time, since the other day, a member of the think tank I'm confined to sent me an essay to be posted on our website: Why President Obama Should Read Thucydides. (pdf)


Björn said...

About Mr. Schroeder's reading habits, there was a great scene back in the day when the new Kanzleramt opened and Frauke Ludowig (the German Helen Thomas) covered this groundbreaking event for RTL Exclusiv or something like that (the German equivalent to The News Hour with Jim Lehrer).

Anyhow, she was standing in the office of Mr. Schroeder pointing at his bookshelf, asking him: "And you read all of these." And the books she pointed to? Well, it was Der Große Brockhaus (the German equivalent to the Jack Ryan novels by Tom Clancy).

And about the differences between Germans and Americans? As Bodo Wartke said (you have to listen to the song to the end to really get its meaning)...

Mad Minerva said...

Actually, everybody should probably go read Thucydides! Then read some Herodotus for comparison too.

Marian said...

Then read some Herodotus for comparison too.

Says the Supernatural addict :-P.