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Obama Has to Work with Two Germanys

Foreign Minister Steinmeier is "the president of Germany's Obama fan" and, for instance, "indicated right away that Germany would accept detainees from Guantanamo," while Chancellor Merkel takes "a reserved view of Obama, waiting to see what his administration's policies will look like," writes Spiegel International:

Barack Obama grew up knowing that there were two Germanys. Then the Berlin Wall fell, and he became accustomed to the idea that there was only one Germany. Now that he is president he has discovered, during his first few days in office, that Germany is divided once again. But this time the country is not divided into East and West Germany, but between Merkel's Germany and Steinmeier's Germany. And when it comes to their relationship with the new America, these two Germanys could not be more different.


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Zyme on :

As much as I generally like Steinmeier, one has to acknowledge that his pro-Obama stance probably simply results out of simple populism in this election year. Due to the horrible ratings of the SPD he may be forced to take every "Strohhalm" he can get by posing as Obama's friend to boost public support for him. Merkel on the other hand can afford resisting this cheap populism which may eventually backfire on Steinmeier once Obama isn't as popular anymore here.

Joe Noory on :

Having spent time in "all three Germanys", I think their argument is getting a bit too cute to be anything other than self-flattery.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Perhaps Obama would have better luck if he had traveled to Europe and met people as a Senator, before he went there as a Presidential candidate with his command performance parade appearance. That one, single, hugely successful trip in July was Obama's primary (some would say, only) foreign policy credential. And now, there he is asking another favor...meanwhile it is unclear whether he can control his own party's self-destructive "Buy American" wing. Merkel is 100% correct to take a reserved view.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Also, thanks to josh57 who posted "British and German press react to Clinton's meetings with foreign ministers" on the "Tips from our Readers" sidebar. In that item, I found quotes from [url=,1518,605457,00.html]a Spiegel special report[/url]: "[Steinmeier] wants to position himself with German voters as the country's chief Atlanticist and a passionate friend of the new American government." Joerg, perhaps you can invite Steinmeier to define Atlanticist for us :-) "And during an address given at Harvard last year, he promoted the idea of a trans-Atlantic agenda so often that one could have been forgiven for thinking he was applying for the post of university president." Spiegel seems to agree with you that the concept is a little vague.

Joe Noory on :

Seeing things through a prism of one US president after another in looking for something to love or hate? Focus action or ination, etc. Or any number of outside movements... European politicos need to get a life.

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