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The Need for a New Transatlantic Ostpolitik

Ronald D. Asmus of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMFUS) calls for "a debate across the Atlantic about a new Eastern policy:"
The Russia we face today is a different one than what we hoped for. EU and NATO policy toward an enlarged Europe's new neighborhood needs to be rethought. And the United States and Europe need to get their act together on energy policy. With leadership changes coming up in Paris, London and Washington, the time is ripe to get out our laptops and debate the framework for a new policy.
Historically, there is no area where the United States and Europe have worked more closely and accomplished more historically - both during the Cold War as well as in the 1990s. Americans and Germans do often have different policy impulses. Americans have traditionally been more committed to democratic transformation -- in part because we are more powerful, more distant and have a different foreign policy ethos. Germany - weaker, closer, more dependent on Russian energy and burdened by history - errs on the side of stability. But if we can't bridge differences like these, what can we do together?
Given the different geographical position of Germany and the US, I am not sure if a preference of stability over transformation should be seen as "erring." An instable Russia could be worse than a stable, authoritarian Russia. Transformations can go into the wrong direction.
Continue reading "The Need for a New Transatlantic Ostpolitik"

New Fulbright Documentary and Fulbright Discussion on Iraq

The J. William & Harriet Fulbright Center has a new homepage and presents a new documentary highlighting Senator Fulbright's "role in the founding of the United Nations, his opposition to the McCarthy investigations, and his questioning of American policy in the Vietnam War."

And Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith questioned American policy in the Iraq war in a speech to Fulbright Alumni at Harvard last week. According to the Harvard Crimson, Galbraith predicted that Iraq would not be able to weather the ongoing civil war and would eventually split along sectarian lines:
Galbraith—who was never a member of the Fulbright program—was invited because of his support for the program during his 14 years as a senior advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The Iraq war has not served a single national security purpose,” Galbraith said. “Iraq cannot be put back together again—there is actually no way to stop the civil war in Baghdad.”
Despite the fact that most of the assembled scholars strongly backed Galbraith’s comments, one Iraqi woman took issue with his prediction that Iraq would fracture along ethnic lines. She said that the fault for Iraq’s divisions lies with politicians who are dividing people for their own ends, and that the populace is less divided than Galbraith claimed. "We are all Iraqi,” she added. But an Iraqi Kurd said that he supports autonomy from the Baghdad government for the Kurd-controlled region in the north.

State Department Report on Human Rights in Germany

The State Department issued its annual Report on Human Rights Practices in Germany on March 6, 2007 with many statistics and some descriptions of individual cases. This year's conclusion is:
The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens. However, there were reported instances of mistreatment of prisoners and detainees by police, and there were limits on freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association aimed at groups deemed extremist. Extremists engaged in intimidation during the electoral process; there was governmental and societal discrimination against some minority religious groups; and cases of societal harassment of asylum seekers and other foreigners occurred. Violence against women, trafficking in persons, and harassment of racial minorities were problems.
A former Foreign Service officer criticized "the overuse" of these mandated State Department reports as making the United States look "judgmental, moralistic and bullying." See the Atlantic Review post: "Foreign Policy by Report Card" Blamed for "Nurturing Seething Resentment Abroad"
Personal comment:
I don't think Germans care much about these reports, but some newspapers do take notice.

From the American Institute For Contemporary German Studies

• "In light of the upcoming fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Executive Director Dr. Jackson Janes discusses the need for repaired relations across the Atlantic and argues that both sides need to step up to the plate: the U.S. needs to take the EU more seriously as a partner, and the EU needs to better recognize its global responsibilities."

• Dr. Janes and Research Director Professor Stephen Szabo analyze "the potential that Chancellor Angela Merkel has in leading Europe and argue that understanding Merkel and the political and economic context in which she operates is important for anticipating what to expect from her chancellorship. To read this article, please click here (PDF)."

• Eric Heymann examines the controversy surrounding governmental subsidies to aircraft makers: "Boeing vs. Airbus: The WTO Dispute Neither Can Win." (PDF).

• Dr. Janes and Prof. Szabo talk to current DAAD/AICGS Fellow Dr. Gunther Hellman about German and American foreign policy developments. Podcast

The Flaws of Some Anti-Anti-Americanism

Andrew Hammel has reviewed Andrei Markovits' latest book "Uncoth Nation," which identifies "three pitfalls of anti-anti-Americanism:"
1. Defensive denial/Complete identification. The anti-anti-American becomes so fed up with the supercilious tone of European anti-Americanism (or so afraid of "giving the other side ammunition") that he defends U.S. policy even against spot-on critiques.
2. Tit-for-tat. For every flaw identified by the anti-American, the anti-anti strikes back with an analogous shortcoming of modern European societies. Don't get me wrong; a bit of tit-for-tat is satisfying, and sometimes administers a needed corrective. But it rarely illuminates causes and nature of anti-Americanism, and often destroys dialogue.
3. Contempt. Just as many European anti-Americans do not care to remedy the defects they mock in American society, many anti-anti-Americans are motivated by a mirror-image of contempt for Europe. On both sides, these critics don't want to understand; they want merely to score points and bolster fragile egos.
Andrew Hammel's excellent review is at German Joys. The Atlantic Review has written about Markovits' new book in the posts Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism and How Widespread is Anti-Americanism? Stay tuned for more comments and reviews of Prof. Markovits' new book in the next few weeks.

AFRICOM in Germany

The US military's new "Africa Command" is starting from scratch at a Germany facility, writes Charlie Coon in Stars & Stripes:
AFRICOM, located at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, is going to grow steadily in people and resources, even though it might be located at Kelley for just a few years. The military hopes to establish a permanent headquarters on the African continent.
The Atlantic Review has previously reported that Stryker Cavalry Regiment Moved to Germany and that the Rhein-Main Air Base (famous since the Berlin Airlift) was closed, but Ramstein and Spangdahlem were upgraded. Contrary to many assumptions after the disagreements about Iraq in 2003, the US military is not pulling out of Germany.

A World Free of Nuclear Weapons?

UPDATE: Britain's parliament backed Prime Minister Tony Blair's plans to renew the nuclear arsenal, reports Reuters: "Eighty-seven politicians from Blair's Labour Party voted against his plan to spend $42 to 55 billion on new nuclear-armed submarines to replace ones that go out of service in about 2024. It was the biggest rebellion against Blair since a 2003 vote backing war in Iraq and the largest rebellion on a domestic issue in Blair's decade in power. The revolt could have overturned Blair's 67-seat majority in the 646-member lower house of parliament, but backing from the opposition Conservatives helped Blair secure a 409-161 vote in favour of renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system."

The Bush administration moves ahead with plans toward building the first new nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War. On March 2, the military and the Energy Department selected a design developed by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The new generation of atomic warheads will replace the existing arsenal.

An AP article published on MSNBC refers to advocates, who argue that the new nukes would "give military commanders greater assurance of reliability and could speed the reduction of the deployed number of nuclear warheads from 6,000 to fewer than 2,000 by 2012." The article also refers to the criticism that it would send "the wrong signal at a time when the United States is assailing attempts at nuclear weapons development in North Korea and Iran and striving to contain them."
Should the goal of a nuclear weapons free world be pursued?
The common myth is that only left-wing idealists and some governments without their own nukes call for a nuclear weapons free world, for example Germany.
Think again after reading "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons" written by Sam Nunn, George Shultz, William Perry, and Henry Kissinger for The Wall Street Journal (8 January 2007) and republished by YaleGlobal. The former chairman of the Armed Services Committee and the three secretaries of state and of defense argue:
The end of the Cold War made the doctrine of mutual Soviet-American deterrence obsolete. Deterrence continues to be a relevant consideration for many states with regard to threats from other states. But reliance on nuclear weapons for this purpose is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.
Continue reading "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons?"

Europe and Missile Defense

Peter Zeihan writes for the private intelligence agency Stratfor about "The New Logic for Ballistic Missile Defense:"
The Czech Republic and Poland are not the only European states to have changed their thinking about BMD either. A number of countries not only are responding warmly to U.S. overtures regarding facilities, but in some cases actually are initiating the siting requests. For central European states, the benefits of such deals are obvious. Most of the political elites in these states fear a future conflict with the Russians, and anything they can do to solidify a military arrangement with Washington is, to their thinking, a benefit in and of itself. But even in Western Europe, further removed from the Russian periphery, opposition to the United States' BMD programs seems to have relaxed considerably. The United Kingdom has specifically requested inclusion in the system (though Washington so far has declined), and the German government has called for the United States to address the issue of BMD in the context of NATO.
The interesting analysis is for premium subscribers only, but Stratfor grants free access, if you visit their homepage via Google. Just google for the headline and then click on the Stratfor link.

Ulrich Speck has written an excellent post in his Kosmoblog (in German) about Stratfor's analysis concerning Europe and missile defense.

Related post in the Atlantic Review: Munich Security Conference: "Clear Messages Instead of Icy Silence"