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Angela Merkel in Washington DC

I wonder what the Obama team is asking the Merkel team right now.

The German election campaign is over. So is the grace period for tough demands for more German support, which the Obama administration probably gave the German government due to the unpopularity of the Afghanistan war.

Angela Merkel also had her big day at Congress calling upon US lawmakers to sign up to internationally binding obligations that global warming must not exceed two degrees celsius. (That's good and brave, but won't help to win friends at Congress.)

Addressing a joint session of Congress was a great honor that comes at a price, says Josef Braml of the German Council on Foreign Relations: "It is a gesture where a service is expected in return: the German government should do more to help shoulder the burden of international commitments." Braml said according to AFP that "the grace period is over -- now we need to deliver."

The AFP article also points out that Merkel's new foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, managed to insert a passage into the coalition agreement calling for the estimated 10 to 20 US nuclear warheads in Germany to be removed.

I wonder how team Obama is responding to all that. Are they having tough and frank talks with team Merkel right now? Will anything happen? Reinvigoration of transatlantic cooperation?

Endnote: And the American people? Is Merkel's speech getting noticed and discussed by anyone but the policy wonks and a few bloggers? After all, Merkel is supposed to be "Europe's quiet leader" is according to Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum:

She is, if you like, the anti-Obama: zero charisma, zero glamour, beige pantsuits and a spouse who rarely appears in public. And yet, partly by default and partly by design, Merkel is now the de facto leader of Europe. (.) Under her watch, Germany has continued to grow more powerful, more influential, more dominant than ever before. Yet not only has no one noticed, they applaud and ask for more. If a bull-necked Helmut Kohl or a flashy Gerhard Schroeder were running Germany, there would be rising anxiety and mumbling about the Fourth Reich -- just as there was 20 years ago, at the time of German reunification, when Kohl was still in charge. But Merkel provokes no jealousy or competitiveness among the alpha males who run large countries, and she inspires no fear among the citizens of smaller ones.

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Zyme on :

"But Merkel provokes no jealousy or competitiveness among the alpha males who run large countries, and she inspires no fear among the citizens of smaller ones." Not so sure about the former. Sarkozy may easily bemoan his Mediterranean Union, which was the last try in a long time of constructively trying to counter Germany's influence in Eastern Europe. The latter is indeed a masterpiece - I read that had the Polish people the choice of who should become EU president, they would favor Merkel! I mean seriously.. the Poles ?!

Marie Claude on :

"Not so sure about the former. Sarkozy may easily bemoan his Mediterranean Union, which was the last try in a long time of constructively trying to counter Germany's influence in Eastern Europe" not really, we are more involved with northern Africa than any of our EU partners, this Mediterranean union would solve many problems due to economical agendas, as many factories delocalised their work there, and also illegal immigration wouldn't be so a important deal, as people would get subventions to create their jobs at home. The problem was that Frau "Stand-by" didn't want that Mediterranean union, that she had not theenvision, but Sarko, initiated it without her permission, cuz of the Baltic alliance that Germany made before, and of which none other EU members had to discuss, just seat and see ! Otherwise Sarko and Merkel run a "perfect love affair", one is quiet, the other one is energized, they are complementary ! :lol:

Zyme on :

As far as I can remember the Mediterranean Union was first intended to include (quite naturally) only countries with a coast to the Mediterranean. And due to the fact that this was considered to be a power grab from Paris at the expense of Berlin, this Union was changed to include all EU members and into a meaningless symbolic forum. Correct me if I am wrong ?! Only in response to these French ambitions plans arose in Berlin to create an Eastern European Union. It was only brought up to get Paris back in line. As far as I know these plans have been mostly dropped after the Mediterranean Union was "disarmed".

Marie Claude on :

the Baltic alliance was "initiated" before the Mediterranean's, as far as I have read ! But the Mediterranean project isn't burried, just in stand bay waiting for more favorable economical situations otherwise, name one northern African country where France wasn't/isn't involved ! Of course Spain, Italy, Greece would deal with it too, since traffics existed on Mediterranea, we dealt with each others !

John in Michigan, US on :

Any vision of the Mediterranean Union is incomplete, until we mention Turkey. One theory is that the Mediterranean Union was created to prevent Turkey from joining the EU. Anti-Turkish feeling is stronger in Germany than in France (I think), so perhaps France was doing Germany a favor? But perhaps "prevent" is too strong a word? Maybe it is more correct to say that the Mediterranean Union was created to keep Turkey facing West, while giving it more time to prepare to join the EU.

Zyme on :

It was nothing like a French power grab, if I ever saw one. Easily recognizable by the fact that the French President was highly supportive of the idea right until he met the German Chancellor - afterwards the Union suddenly was open for ALL EU members, and Sarko's enthusiasm gone.

Marie Claude on :

Hmmm, right after the 14th of july meeting with these ME and Maghrebin presidents, happened the MONEY crisis, priorities were changed, uh since Frau Stand-by didn't acknoledged them for Germany, hmm, too big to fall ! until one german bank collapsed !

John in Michigan, US on :

Zyme, help me understand why you use the phrase "French power grab". [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1338-Angela-Merkel-in-Washington-DC.html#c20363]Here[/url] you seemed to be saying that the Med Union was originally a French power grab. But [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1338-Angela-Merkel-in-Washington-DC.html#c20369]here[/url] you say it was "nothing like" that.

Marie Claude on :

Turkey would of course be part of it, but I would rather welcome Israel and Lebanon first Anti-Turkish sentiments are strong in France,Chirac acknoledged the armenian genocide as a major humans catastrophe, and UNdeniable (our armenian communauty is strong too) I don't think that Sarko was doing a favor to the Germans, but he rather thought of the possible economical developments between our divefferent mediterranean countries, good for our employment rates !

Zyme on :

Personally I would consider closer relations to the northern African states as vital. Basically all states which illegals pass on their way to Europe. Current steps towards a united refugee defense are promising, but far from being satisfactory. Only when those transit countries are able to keep refugees from leaving to the north and no longer need to re-accept them we have a real basis for cooperation.

Pat Patterson on :

Any link on that as I can find many on Merkel jawboning the Poles but none on her acceptability as the EU President?

Zyme on :

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/292511,polish-poll-on-eu-presidency-merkel-before-blair-barroso-sarkozy.html Oh and I guess all interested readers have already heard what happened shortly after Merkel left Washington? Just the kind of news the transatlantic relations needed ;) Let's see how the Opel employees celebrate her glorious visit to the US.

Pat Patterson on :

Zyme-Thanks. I still wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Merkel's ascendency.

John in Michigan, US on :

"what happened shortly after Merkel left Washington?" Do you mean Cameron and Klaus' concessions re Lisbon? Or are you just talking about the apparent collapse of the Opel deal? Your Opel question is difficult. Are Opel employees supposed to be happy because now they don't have to agree to cost cuts? Or are they supposed to be angry because their Union and their Government are angry and solidarity is important? :-P Consensus is so confusing!

Zyme on :

"Do you mean Cameron and Klaus' concessions re Lisbon? Or are you just talking about the apparent collapse of the Opel deal?" Opel. Klaus and concessions? His role in the stageplay has passed, do not bother me with that person again. :)

Marie Claude on :

I'm with Luxemburgers around here in south Portugal, and they say the same thing about Santa Klaus

John in Michigan, US on :

"Juergen Ruettgers, governor of North Rhine-Westphalia said GM's decision "shows the ugly face of turbo capitalism," and pledged to fight for the Bochum plant in his state." [url=http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20091104-710316.html]Source[/url] Huh? General Motors (GM) hasn't been capable of achieving "turbo capitalism" for at least a decade!

John in Michigan, US on :

Nice link, Zyme.

John in Michigan, US on :

"And the American people? Is Merkel's speech getting noticed and discussed by anyone but the policy wonks and a few bloggers?" No. Sadly, most average Americans cannot discuss German foreign policy without copious violations of [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_Law]Godwin's Law[/url]. The way to get average Americans talking about any speech by any European is for that European to be the President of Europe. And it will help if that speech has a lot of the "Vision" thing, we relate to that a lot. We simply don't have the background (or patience) to decode all the cryptic diplo-speak that is generated by your consensus style of politics. Indeed, we imagine that the average European is similarly alienated from European politics these days. Of course, that's not how I feel, but I am both a wonk and a blogger...I think sometimes my fellow Americans, and myself, need to be reminded that Europeans do manage to actually show up and vote (when permitted), while too many Americans skip their own elections...

Joerg Wolf on :

Thanks, John! Yeah, that vision thing. Merkel was praised for her speech by the German press. Because she spoke about her childhood and some vision (breaking down "the wall in our heads", climate change etc). But I admit that was not much of a vision. But for Merkel that was quite a move. In Germany she does not talk about childhood, youth and Levi jeans. Obama praised her vision: "And on economic issues, on issues like nuclear proliferation, consistently I found Chancellor Merkel to be thoughtful, to be energetic, and to have a strong vision of how we can move forward in the future." Merkel hardly ever gets praised for vision...

Joerg Wolf on :

@ John "Europeans do manage to actually show up and vote (when permitted), while too many Americans skip their own elections..." Yeah, but voter turnout is going downhill, at least in Germany. Just 70% at the last elections. It used to be around 80% And elections for the European Parliament are extremely low.

Pat Patterson on :

Obama may be having his own Camelot moment right now! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6blsCGdDI4&feature=related

John in Michigan, US on :

Wow - is it me, or does Richard Burton look a lot like Ahmadinejad in that first shot? Agreed it is a setback for Obama, but it is also a setback for the Palin wing of the Republican party. The "real" conservative that she endorsed failed to win a district that should have been a win for them. Of course, it is possible to read too much into these things...

Pat Patterson on :

There has been repeated claims that this was a solidly conservative district. But since the Depression there have been eleven Democratic congressmen and only four Republican. The last congressman, McHugh was a Republican, but was admired and probably could have won as a Democrat. I noticed the Ahmadinejad resemblance when I watched the video again.

Zyme on :

Now who is still debating Merkel's honor to speak in front of both the American congress and senate? Well, nobody. Tens of thousands of Opel workers have been on strike today and demand "freedom from Detroit" for the "Adam Opel GmbH". The German unions have the opinion that (unlike Magna) GM will restructure its European car makers at the expense of German plants and are anything but amused. The whole political class fighting for Magna for the sake of both German jobs and greater European integration has lost its face and is out for revenge, while our media zeroes in on the ugly beast of capitalism. In the meantime GM currently intends to publish its restructuring plan not before late March 2010. The company wants the German tax payer to contribute 3 billion of extra euros for Opel and threatens to put Opel into insolvency if not, while they "promise" to pay back a 1.5 billion loan they received for selling Opel to Magna. People, this is going to get ugly. And if you don't want to miss the beginning, look at the pictures of today: http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-48536.html (just click on the picture for further ones, my favourites are No. 4, 8 and 10)

John in Michigan, US on :

That [url=http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-48536-8.html]photo #8[/url] makes me think of a scene that might be in a Paul Verhoeven film. I think there is a scene with banners like that in [url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120201/]Starship Troopers[/url]. I can't seem to find a clip online for this scene, I'll keep looking so you can judge for yourself. In photo #8, what are those black circles in the upper-right corner of the IG Metall (IGM) banner? They look like bullet holes from a machine gun burst. Am I crazy? Does Magna talk much about "that vision thing" for the auto industry? Here in Michigan, everyone has to pretend that the future belongs to electric cars. One day that might be true, but not for another 10+ years, right now there is no electric car that can match a petrol (or turbo diesel) platform on price and performance. When I say 10+ years, I am thinking of the glacial pace of corporate behemoths such as GM. A lean, mean company, practicing turbo capitalism, might be able to get it done in 5 years. The [url=http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssAutoTruckMotorcycleParts/idUSN0619080620091106]stock market[/url] seems to think Magna is better off without Opel. Magna [url=http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20091106/autos_magna_technologies_091106/20091106?s_name=Autos]seems to think it is better off without Opel[/url]. Magna's CEO actually goes on record stating they were doing the German government a favor. Germany should ask him if he purchased carbon offsets before burning that bridge. And of course, Magna does the mandatory electric dance. "European integration has lost its face" [url=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1225499/Putin-slams-scornful-General-Motors-workers-stage-protests-Opel-U-turn.html]Putin has also lost face.[/url] GM is practicing turbo politics, not turbo capitalism.

Zyme on :

The lesson Putin spoke of will be remembered among German politicians as well, only they won't tell it this clearly. No idea on the IG Metall banner, I was wondering too. No wonder though that the picture struck me as a lovely one, as Star Ship Troopers is a movie I enjoyed to view several times ;) Electric cars, well apart from Auto fairs I don't think you can hear much about it. People here want real cars, no self propelled vacuum cleaners :)

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