Barack Obama & Hadrian, A New Emperor, presented by 2008 Briton of the Year Neil MacGregor, British Museum Director : Hadrian, Obama and Iraq

Does history repeat itself? You decide.

The parallels between the ancient Roman Emperor Hadrian (famed for Hadrian’s Wall) and the new US President Barack Obama are remarkable. Watch the video below about Hadrian from the British Museum, narrated by Neil MacGregor, voted Briton of the Year 2008 by the Times in his capacity as Director of the British Museum (and someone Obama might want to consult in resurrecting the American cultural landscape):

As you can hear in the video, both Obama and Hadrian inherit(ed) an empire in trouble and began (begin) their reigns by facing troublesome internal and external foes.

Hadrian’s first major move in office was to withdraw his troops from Mesopotamia (including present-day Iraq) and to solidify his own security against more pressing foes.

Hadrian went on to become one of the greatest – and predominantly peaceful – Roman Emperors of all time, extending the boundaries of the Roman Empire to their greatest expanse ever. As Guy Raz, Nieman fellow at Harvard University, writes:

“[Hadrian] shift[ed] money from the war in the east to deal with the public debts. He even found some extra cash to boost the economy with a massive public infrastructure project — things like repairing aqueducts, roads and bridges.

Finally, Hadrian did what few of his predecessors would even consider: He went on a road trip and visited nearly every corner of the empire. He knew that for Rome to bolster its influence, it had to show at least some respect for the nations so affected by its power. Hadrian also increased foreign aid and started a program of nation-building throughout the empire.

By and large, it worked.

Obama started his first term as President of the United States by asking the US military commanders for a “a responsible military drawdown from Iraq.”

A few days later, he announced his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, stating:

[I]f we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse. That is why I have proposed an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan to immediately jumpstart job creation as well as long-term economic growth….

Below is Obama’s first weekly broadcast as President:

Beyond the inevitable partisan babble on the Beltway and elsewhere, is there any serious doubt out there among those with strong intellectual depth in their political and economic analysis that Obama will be successful?

Not in these quarters.

Cosmopolitan Citizenship & World Legal Order : Germ. Law J. (1, 2009) on Kant, Habermas, Divided West & International Law Constitutionalization

IN a special edition, 10 German Law Journal No. 1 (1 January 2009) presents The Kantian Project of International Law: Engagements with J. Habermas’ The Divided West (in English).

Achilles Skordas & Peer Zumbansen write in the introductory article:

After HabermasDer gespaltene Westen was published in Germany [by Suhrkamp] in 2004 to wide acclaim, Polity Press published an English language edition of the book in 2006. The Divided West contains Habermas’ recent writings on international law and, particularly, his landmark essay on “The Kantian Project and the Divided West – Does the Constitutionalization of International Law Still Have a Chance?” The essay constitutes the most elaborate contribution by Habermas on the challenges facing the international legal order today. While carefully unfolding his inquiry into the dynamics of international law within the current state of transatlantic relations and the role played by the United States in this and the global context, his essay has an objective beyond this. Habermas revisits Kant’s concept of cosmopolitan citizenship and a world legal order, as elaborated in the essays “To Eternal Peace” and “Idea for a Universal History with Cosmopolitan Intent.” Habermas explores the chances of a revival Kant’s thesis in a (post)-Kosovo and (post)-Iraq Era of International Relations. Habermas’ essay makes a number of poignant and provocative observations that have already been taken up in an increasingly global discussion.

This Special Issue of the German Law Journal celebrates the publication of The Divided West with a series of essays of highest timeliness. [Links in the cited material to a biography of Habermas at the Goethe-Institut USA and to the English and German versions and the publisher of his book have been added by LawPundit.]

Read more at the German Law Journal (in English).