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It's Business, Not Personal

Chancellor Merkel's first trip to Washington after President Obama's inauguration more than five months ago comes at a time of growing transatlantic tension.

Apparently, the tension is not just based on policy disagreements, like Washington complains about Germany's lack of support for the global stimulus, for the closing of Guantanamo and the for the war in Afghanistan. Rather both US and German journalists describe a strained personal relationship between the two leaders.

How severe is that lack of chemistry? Does it affect German-American cooperation or will the two leaders' pragmatic style of governance be more decisive and lead to improved collabortion? Join the debate on Atlantic Community.

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Don S on :

Lack of chemistry? Perhaps, but it's not that lack which is important. For that matter Obama hasn't exactly lit it off well with Monsieur le Charme (Sarkozy) either, has he? I think the explanation lies in other factors. Firstly, I think Obama is a cold fish, possibly the coldest character, the hardest bargainer, in that office since Franklin Roosevelt. If you're not willing to offer concessions of significant value to the US he's going to make you wait while he does diplomacy of higher value to the US. He's young. To some that means he is unseasoned (and that may be true) but it has another significance more relevant to the US-German relationship. It means he is in no sense a traditional Atlanticist. He is too young to be sentimental about the great days of yore when Germany stood arm in arm with the US against - who? And that was at least 30 years ago, perhaps more. Ancient history, or so I have been repeatedly assured by Germans who didn't feel any warmth or gratitude toward the US. No, Obama's adult life has been spent with a less than friendly Germany. So he's cool toward Merkel, who typically wants large concessions from the US while bewailing her inability to offer anything substantial. I suspect that until Germany is willing to offer a lot more, the German Chancellor will stand in line.

Marie Claude on :

you're very optimist about O, he is rather driven by the wind

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