Die USA nach dem Kalten Krieg Innerer Wandel, Außenpolitik, Beziehungen zu Deutschland

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Die USA nach dem Kalten Krieg

Innerer Wandel, Außenpolitik, Beziehungen zu Deutschland

Dr. Markus Hünemörder, LMU München


Ups and Downs:

Obama’s Victories and Frustrations


Presidential Election of 2008

52.9%, 365 45.7%, 173


Treehouse of Horror XIX

The Simpsons, 2008 20th season

This episode was aired on November 2, 2008 – two days before the presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain. Despite the apparent voting fraud in Springfield, Obama won the 2008 election by a large margin.


The Obama Presidency: Success and Failure

in 2008, Obama won the presidency

with promises of “change”, “hope”, and “yes, we can”

he began with a progressive reform

agenda and even got Congress to pass a landmark health care reform

 however, in 2010 Republicans, driven by the ultra-conservative Tea Party

movement, won a majority in the House of Representatives

since then, Congress has been divided

between a Democratic-majority Senate and a Republican-majority House

all laws and budgets must be approved

by both the Senate and the House

Republicans have effectively blocked

most of Obama’s initiatives

even so, Obama won re-election in

2012, esp. with voted from women, minorities, and young voters

With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, Obama does not have much


Presidential Election of 2012

50.5%, 332 47.9%, 205


Presidential Election of 2008

52.9%, 365 45.7%, 173


Voter Coalitions




minorities, esp. black and

Hispanic voters


younger voters

voters with lower income

voters with advanced

college education


suburbs and rural areas



evangelicals and

increasingly non-Hispanic


older voters

voters with higher



Homer Votes in 2012 – Some Explanations

in several states, Republicans tried to

require government-issued photo ID from voters in an attempt to reduce poorer and minority voters

extreme critics of Obamacare said

there would be “death panels” deciding to let older patients die

“magic underpants” is an unflattering

nickname for Mormon temple

garments, while “going commando” means not wearing underwear

Romney’s health care reform in

Massachusetts was a role model for Obamacare

 Romney refused to reveal most of his tax returns during the campaign

Obama accused Romney of

outsourcing jobs to China during his business career

Obama or Romney in 2012? Homer makes his choice based on very bizarre considerations.


Homer Votes in 2012

This is an ad for the

Simpsons 24th season, and also a running gag on the election joke of 2008. This segment was aired again as part of an episode two days before the


Got Insurance?

The Controversial Politics of Obamacare


The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)

 about 15% of Americans have no health insurance

in early 2010, a still Democratic

Congress passed the ACA, better known as “Obamacare”

 it requires all Americans to buy commercial, but highly regulated health insurance and pays

subsidies to those with low incomes

 conservative critics protest the cost of Obamacare, the increase in federal power, and the expansion of “European style socialism” in the United States

 for the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement, getting rid of Obamacare is a top priority

The ACA was passed almost exclusively by the Democratic Party (the donkey), therefore most


The Botched Start of Obamacare

 in October 2013, the federal

website selling Obamacare health insurance opened for business

it did not work – which gave

conservatives a great boost

 by end of 2013, the site worked better, but was still plagued by problems

some insured people lost their old

insurance because it did not

conform with Obamacare rules – in violation of an Obama promise

also, fewer young and relatively

healthy people have signed up than the system needs

 currently, conservatives hope that

the system will implode This is an advertisement for Colorado Obamacare, aimed at college students.


Divided We Stand?


The Basic Conflict: How Much Federal Government?

the biggest ideological conflict in

the US is about the amount of federal power and spending

 comparable to the debate about the EU in Europe

liberals want the federal

government to actively tax and legislate for social justice, and expand the social insurance net

conservatives want the federal

government to interfere as little as possible in individuals’ lives and keep taxes and spending to a minimum

this explains the political conflict

over Obamacare and federal spending in general, esp. since federal deficits have risen to high levels

Ronald Reagan (1981): “Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.” This remains the conservative credo.


The Divided Republican Party (“GOP”)

 nearly all Republicans are

“conservative”, but they differ on what that means and how to

pursue it

moderate, pragmatic Republicans

want a business-friendly policy of low taxes and few regulations, but they want the federal government to work

radical conservatives – esp. the

Tea Party movement – feel that the federal government should be reduced to its bare bones and any compromise is a sign of weakness

increasingly, the GOP is the party

of native-born, older white voters,

esp. men What is the face of the Republican party?


Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson

The Simpsons, 2012 23rd season

Homer becomes a

successful conservative talk show host and launches the “gravy boat” movement – a parody of the Tea Party Movement.


The Debt, the Deficit, and the Government Shutdown

the federal debt and deficit are very

high and have been for years

 Democrats want tax raises and only moderate spending cuts

Republicans want no tax raises and

(much) deeper spending cuts

during the 2012 budget negotiations,

Tea Party radicals pressured

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner to reject any budget unless Obamacare was defunded

the federal government was shut

down for two weeks before a compromise was reached

 strong public backlash against Republicans, esp. Tea Party

since then, John Boehner has been

very critical of Tea Party radicals Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner


We Did Stop

(the government)

Saturday Night Live, 2013 Pop singer Miley Cyrus

appeared on Saturday Night Live with a parody of her own song “We Can’t Stop”. SNL actor Tarim Killam takes on the role of John

Boehner, while Cyrus plays Michelle Bachmann, a Tea Party radical in the House of Representatives.

In this video, the Republican Party is … a party!


¿Hablas español?


Illegal Immigration

legal immigration (ca. 1 million per

year) is largely undisputed

 however, several hundred thousand immigrants come to the US illegally each year

roughly 11.5 million undocumented

immigrants live in the US

 how to better enforce immigration laws and secure the border?

 whether/how to provide illegal immigrants a perspective in the US?

mostly from Mexico, central America,


many work in low-paid jobs like

agriculture or day labor, often under bad conditions

for over 25 years, Congress and

presidents have failed to find a workable solution

Building a fence along the Mexican border is popular, but also expensive and ineffective. Also, why stop with just the Mexican border?


Coming to Homerica

(“The Simpsons”, 2009) In this episode, the people of Ogdenville immigrate to Springfield when their barley-based economy crashes. In Springfield, they find work as day laborers, domestic servants and other low-paid jobs. In in satirical twist, the Ogdenvillians are of

Norwegian (not Mexican or other Hispanic) ancestry.


The Republicans’ Hispanic Problem

72% of Hispanic voters supported

Obama in 2012. Why?

 Republican candidates used very harsh rhetoric against illegal immigrants

 even Hispanic citizens got the feeling that Republicans don’t like them

 without more Hispanic support, the Republican party has a long-term problem – Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing minority in the US

once again, the Republican party is

deeply divided between those who want immigration reform and those who want to deport illegal immigrants

Obama has made immigration reform

a priority for his second term

With their harsh rhetoric against illegal immigrants, Republicans have built a wall


The Bipartisan Senate Plan

in 2013, the Senate passed a reform

plan drafted by a group of eight senators (4 Rep., 4 Dem.)

 strengthen border and employment enforcement with lots of money

 amnesty (“probationary legal status”) for most illegal immigrants

 offer a path to citizenship after many years on probationary legal status

 reform legal immigration system to attract more high-skill immigrants rather than mostly family members

the biggest controversy is the path to


House Republicans oppose Senate

plan and want piece-by-piece

legislation instead, probably without a path to citizenship

 outcome is doubtful

a key part of the Senate Plan is an even more massive buildup of border security, making

the border patrol the largest law enforcement agency in the US


Coming to Homerica

(“The Simpsons”, 2009) In this episode, the people of Ogdenville immigrate to Springfield when their barley-based economy crashes. In Springfield, they find work as day laborers, domestic servants and other low-paid jobs. When the wall between Springfield and Ogdenville is finally finished, the people of Springfield realize their mistake.


The “Indispensable Nation”: From the

New World Order to the War on Terror


A New World Order?

 with the Cold War over, many ideas about the future

“the end of history” (Fukuyama) –

the triumph of liberal democracy

“the clash of civilizations”

(Huntington) – new conflicts largely along religious lines

a “New World Order” meant as a

cooperation of the international community under US leadership – almost a Neo-Wilsonian concept

 the Gulf War of 1990-91 became the high point of this concept

US military and political leadership with the backing of the UN and

other supranational organizations

supported by a wide international

coalition, including key Arab states

George H.W. Bush combined both liberal and conservative internationalism in his speech


The Indispensable Nation

 Bill Clinton‘s foreign policy was characterized by a lack of strategic direction, but also pragmatism

much talk of multilateralism, but

Clinton acted unilaterally when it suited

 Bosnia: Dayton Accord 1995

Israel/Palestine: Oslo Accords of


Kosovo 1999

 but also: Somalia debacle,

beginnings of Al Quaeda terrorism

Both Clinton and Madeline

Albright called the US the “indispensable nation” which could back up diplomacy by force


New Kids on the Blecch

The Simpsons, 2001 12th season

Bart joins a boy-band formed to support recruitment for the US navy (with subliminal messages, as it turns out). It is a parody of the use of

patriotic symbols in military recruitment.

The episode was produced and aired before 9/11 and was shown abridged for several years afterward. Guest appearance by N’Sync.


9/11 and the War on Terror

 in 2001, George W. Bush rejected “nation-building” and aimed for a domestic presidency

9/11 changed everything

Bush interpreted Al Quaeda style

terrorists as “enemies of freedom” and declared an open ended “war on terror”

the United States interpreted 9/11

as an act of war, not a criminal act, and acted accordingly (and

sometimes controversially, like at Guantanamo)

initially, the Bush administration

relied on multilateral action like the US-led, but NATO-supported, invasion of Afghanistan

the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 made the “war on terror” America’s top foreign


Terrorists, Rogue States, and the “Axis of Evil”

9/11 posed a 21



problem: organized non-state

aggressors seriously threaten

US national security

the Bush administration

responded in a 20



way, by going after states seen

as supporting terrorism

Bush administration identified

“rogue states” as key threats,

esp. the so-called “axis of evil”:

Iraq, Iran, and North Korea

these ideas not only applied to

the immediate fight against Al

Quaeda, but came to dominate

Bush’s foreign policy in general

Bush’s “axis of evil” speech became a target for political satire, like in this “Axis of Evil”


The Bush Doctrine, Neocons, and the Iraq War

 a “Bush Doctrine” emerged:


Attacking countries that harbor

terrorists or threaten US security

Pre-emptive strikes

Democratic regime change

largely driven by neoconservative

policymakers: former liberals who believe that US values could and should be spread by force, esp. in the Middle East

Iraq War of 2003-2011: not so

much about oil but about creating a US ally in the oil-rich Middle East

 the devastating problems

following the US invasion of Iraq largely discredited neocon

ideology in the Republican party

in 2003, after Saddam Hussein’s regime had been toppled with ease, Bush gave his famous


Yes We Can, but do we want to?

Obama‘s Foreign Policy


Iraq and Afghanistan

 Obama won the Democratic

nomination in 2008 partly due to his opposition to the Iraq War

foreign policy played little role in

the 2008 campaign

 ending the Iraq War was a central campaign promise fulfilled in 2011

but on Afghanistan, two positions:  Joe Biden: forget Afghanistan,

focus on terrorists in Pakistan

Hillary Clinton: let’s finish what we


 in 2009, Clinton’s position

prevailed, leading to a massive troop surge

however, since 2011/12, Obama

has come around to Biden’s view and is preparing withdrawal

Obama’s decision to shore up US efforts in Afghanistan met only limited success


Obama’s War on Terror

 Obama set out to change key Bush policies, but more continuity than expected

end to CIA torture but failure to

close Guantanamo

 most importantly, Obama endorsed an “Eisenhower” approach to the War on Terror

 no new invasions of “rogue states”

strong reliance on special forces

and drones

targeted killings of suspected

terrorists leaders

widening the war against Al

Quaeda to Yemen and North Africa

 more effective against terrorists, but esp. targeted drone killings are extremely controversial

Obama may very well be remembered as the “drone president”


The Secret War of Lisa Simpson

The Simpsons, 1997

In this episode, both Bart and Lisa enroll in a military school. Interestingly, the episode predicted the age of drone warfare, several years before it became reality.


Obama’s Strategy for the Middle East

by now, there seems to be an Obama

“doctrine”: limited disengagement from the Middle East

 ending Iraq War

 withdrawing from Afghanistan

 limited involvement with “Arab Spring”

 “leading from behind” in Libya

 compromise on Syrian chemical weapons

 focus on energy independence

at the same time, some priorities


 anti-terrorism ops (drones, etc.)

 protecting Israel (but not necessarily all Israeli policies)

 curtailing Iran’s nuclear program and proliferation of WMDs

major potential strategic shift, but

many open questions, as well

Obama definitely wants to avoid a new war in the Middle East, but the Syrian crisis offers


German-American Relations

 US-German relations have

normalized and cooled in the 21st century

strong basic security and

economic relationship

 German refusal to support Iraq War

strong German trade relations

with Russia

conflict over Libya

 lack of unified European foreign policy

Bush preferred Britain as a

partner, Obama increasingly France

 Eastern European countries rely strongly on US protection

conflict over NSA surveillance have not helped US-German relation


Surveillance and Controversy

 Edward Snowden’s “revelations” have started a debate about

electronic surveillance in the US

however, the debate is mostly

about the NSA spying on US

citizens (which it is not supposed to do without a court order) and not on foreigners

most reform ideas revolve around

more effective court oversight for the NSA

 Obama has advocated review of NSA practices, but no substantial limitations

an end or sweeping changes to

surveillance programs are unlikely


Let Go, Let Gov

South Park, 2013 In this episode, Eric

Cartman infiltrates the NSA only to discover they don’t care about him, despite the fact that he constantly blogs and twitters about NSA spying. Ironically, Cartman signed up for a new

microblogging system called “Shitter” that publishes everything he thinks to the world.

And then, he finds out the horrible truth…


A Pacific President?

Obama is no committed


as US trade with Asia grows,

Obama focusses more on US

presence in the Pacific


new military bases, more

diplomatic efforts

complicated mixture of

rivalry and economic

partnership with China

free trade negotiations with

EU are intended as a

counterpoint to China’s

economic rise

partly in response to China’s growing military power, the US has established a military


The Return of Isolationism?

 interestingly, isolationism has made a comeback in American politics

strange bedfellows: some Tea Party libertarians

left-wing pacifists

recently, senator Rand Paul’s

filibuster against Obama’s drone policy has gained him prestige

 old school Republican McCain complained about “wacko birds”

so far, little impact on policy

except for general skepticism on major military commitments

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)

prominent libertarian and Tea Party leader with neo-isolationist tendencies


American Decline?

relative economic decline since 1970s

– several countries have become serious economic powers

relative diplomatic decline since early

2000s – China, Russia and some others are more willing to use their political power

however, US military power is

unrivaled and economy still the largest and most productive in the world

China is far from reaching remotely

comparable power

America’s only economic rival – the

EU – is hopelessly divided on foreign policy

the world is still becoming more

multipolar, but US policy is reflecting

that already magazine cover from 1987(!)


The Permanent Campaign


Congressional Elections in 2014

2014 elections in November

could potentially break

congressional deadlock

however, most House

Republicans have fairly safe,

predominantly conservative


also, many Democratic

senators face difficult

re-election or are not running


a lot of politics is currently

about the “blame game” with

the 2014 elections in mind

most likely, the divided

Congress will continue

Republicans and Democrats are already fighting over who will control Congress after


The Presidential Election of 2016

earlier than ever, talk of 2016 is

in full swing

Obama cannot run for

re-election – “lame duck”

Potential candidates for 2016:


Hillary Clinton

 Joe Biden (vice-president)

Elizabeth Warren (sen. MA)

Andrew Cuomo (gov. NY)


Chris Christie (gov. NJ)  Marco Rubio (sen. FL)

Jeb Bush (former gov. FL) Rand Paul (sen. KY)

most seem to expect a Hillary Clinton candidacy, but what if she does not run?


Steven Spielberg’s “Obama”

2013 White House

Correspondents' Dinner Steven Spielberg is well known for his epic movies like “Lincoln.” In this parody produced by the White House itself, “Spielberg” is making plans for an epic biography movie about Obama, with some


Thank You for Your Attention!

you can download this presentation at


Internet Links

South Park "Let Go Let Gov" (NSA parody)

Miley Cyrus "We Did Stop (the government)" on Saturday

Night Live

Steven Spielberg's Obama




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