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ISN Weekly Theme: Twenty Years Since the Fall of the Wall

The Berlin Wall in 1987, photo: fjords/flickr
The Berlin Wall in 1987, photo: fjords/flickr

Two decades after the fall of the Wall the world and Germany itself is afforded a moment for self-reflection and an opportunity for analysis of the consequences of that momentous event. As well as providing us with a unique reference point in terms of the end of the Cold War and Cold War history more generally, the end of Germany’s division provides us with a benchmark for the analysis of the progress that Germany has made since its re-unification nearly two decades ago.

  • In our Links section we feature 20 Years After the Wall, a web page provided by Spiegel Online that offers articles, background and opinions on the anniversary of the fall of the Wall.

Ready for My Close Up Mr Saakashvili

If you squint really, really hard...
If you squint really, really hard...

In what should be a record for the quickest turnaround from real life to “reel” life, the events of the 2008 South Ossetia War may be on their way to a screen near you.

According to Reuters, Finnish director Renny Harlin is currently shooting the as-of-yet untitled project in Georgia. Andy Garcia will play Tie-Taster-in-Chief Mikhail Saakashvili.

Who’s backing the project? The article says Papuna Davitaia, “a parliament deputy from Saakashvili’s ruling United National Movement” is a producer (meaning, he’s one of the money men). IMDB says “Mizra Davitaia.” I’m going to assume Papuna and Mizra are one in the same.

Now remember, the EU found that both sides bore equal responsibility (or at least shifting), for the conflict. But with Georgia money shoring up the production, should we guess who’ll wear the white hat?

But there are more important questions to ask, like who will play Putin.

I vote for Bruce Willis.

Medvedev?

Tom Cruise. They’re about the same height.

Want to know more about South Ossetia without the lights, cameras and action? Here you go.

Images: Garcia by Mireille Ampilhac/flickr, Saakashvili by Vladimer Shioshvili/flickr

ISN Weekly Theme: US Achievements in Iraq

Welcome to Baghdad, photo: Austin King / flickr
Welcome to Baghdad, photo: Austin King / flickr

In the wake of US troop withdrawals from Iraqi cities and with the scheduling of full withrawal still ahead, the ISN looks at the past, present and future of US involvement in Iraq. With a new president, a new strategy and a set of new challenges at home, the level of US engagement is changing drastically and rapidly altering the realities and demands on the ground. Will Iraqi troops stand up once Americans stand down? Will political reconciliation and institution-building take root?

I Am Committing High Treason with All My Might and Means

Sixty-five years ago, on 20 July 1944, during the darkest days of German history, a few good men brought back a small spark of light to the conscience of a nation torn by war and involved in history’s most unprecedented mass murder. The story is well-known. So is the result: the attempt to remove Hitler from power with the help of his own contingency plan “Valkyrie” tragically failed.

What might not be so well-known is that Count Claus von Stauffenberg, according to Cambridge historian Richard J Evans, “found moral guidance in a complex mixture of Catholic religious precepts, an aristocratic sense of honour, Ancient Greek ethics, and German Romantic poetry. Above all, perhaps, his sense of morality was formed under the influence of the poet Stefan George, whose ambition it was to revive a ‘Secret Germany’ that would sweep away the materialism of the Weimar Republic and restore German life to its true spirituality.”

The key to understanding that “Secret Germany” (as cryptically elaborated in a poem by the same title, which was written around 1910, but hermetically kept from the public until 1928) is the idea that only the poet with his charismatic authority can voice the arcane without revealing it. It is him being the “spiritus rector” who deepens the inner reflections of his disciples, who awakens their intellectual and spiritual sensitivity, so his word is followed by their action.

Stefan George, Claus and Berthold von Stauffenberg in 1924, one year after having first met in Heidelberg./ Public domain
Stefan George, Claus and Berthold von Stauffenberg in 1924, one year after having first met in Heidelberg. / Public domain

Remembering Robert McNamara

Nuclear bomb casing / photo: Andrea Church, flickr
Nuclear bomb casing / photo: Andrea Church, flickr

A ”mathematical genius”, statistics wonk, the man behind the escalation of the Vietnam War, the longest-serving US defense secretary, controversial World Bank president and nuclear disarmament advocate: Robert S. McNamara left big footprints in post-World War II international politics – for better and for worse. He died yesterday at the age of 93 at his Washington home.