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Wikileaks Hyperventilation or "Transatlantic Brainwashing"

According to Spiegel, Wikileaks reveals that US diplomats consider Foreign Minister Westerwelle to be incompetent and Chancellor Merkel to be risk averse. So what? Most Germans think the same. Of course, US diplomats are more candid in secret cables than in public statements. Everybody is.

I refuse to join the media's hyperventilation over these revelations caused by WikiLeaks' "information vandalism." The Guardian opines that the leaks have already created a "global diplomatic crisis." They used that headline right after publishing the cables. That sounds like we are at the brink of war. All of a sudden it is 1914 and Franz Ferdinand has just been assassinated.

Okay, for a few seconds, I was hyperventilating, when I read in the September 2009 cable published on Spiegel:

According to XXXXX Westerwelle has never been able to shake his skepticism about how the United States wields power in the world. Citing an exchange with former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Burt (1985-1989), XXXXX recalls how Westerwelle forcefully intervened in a discussion the Ambassador was having on U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War to say: "But you are not the police of the world." XXXXX comments further that Westerwelle was immune to any "transatlantic brainwashing."

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The Increasing Importance of the Transatlantic Alliance

"The transatlantic alliance is likely to become more relevant as new powers rise." That is the conclusion of the report "The Transatlantic Alliance in a Multipolar World" (pdf) by Thomas Wright and Richard Weitz, which was just published by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The most interesting argument in the report is IMHO: "The future appears likely to bring multipolarity without multilateralism. It will thus fall to the United States and Europe to act as a convenor of like-minded countries to ensure that the integrity and effectiveness of the international order is preserved."

This is of great relevance because:

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Stop Reading Tom Friedman: Reason #354 and #355

I am sure, I am preaching to the choir here: Friedman is totally overrated..

Dan Drezner: "Psssst... Tom Friedman... texting is really not the problem"

Salon: "The War Room Hack Thirty is a list of our least favorite political commentators, newspaper columnists and constant cable news presences, ranked roughly (but only roughly) in order of awfulness and then described rudely. Criteria for inclusion included writing the same column every week for 30 years, warmongering, joyless repetition of conventional wisdom, and making bad puns." (HT: Andrew)

ENDNOTE: Needless to say, the Economist is always a great read and the best adult magazine. So many English language publications wrote this week that Germany "ended" the military service. The Economist's newsletter got it right: "Germany is to suspend military conscription from next July. It will remain in the constitution but the move ends what has been a cornerstone of post-war German identity."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blaming Each Others Financial Policies

From a Washington Post editorial:

ABOUT TWO weeks ago, Germany's finance minister described U.S. economic policy as "clueless." We don't want to sound childish, but after yet another bailout for an insolvent European country - about $137 billion for Ireland - we are inclined to ask: If the United States is clueless, what does that make Germany? The de facto leader of the crisis-ridden, 16-nation eurozone, Berlin has not performed its role brilliantly over the past year.

A good defense of German policy against US criticism of its "export-led growth model" can be found on Atlantic Community: Stop Lecturing and Do Your Homework, America!

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff: America's argument about the Chinese currency manipulation may be valid but it is also a distraction. It is America's own lack of competitiveness that is hurting the US more than anything. America will be able to revive the credibility of its global economic leadership only when it stops blaming its democratic peers and instead starts doing its homework.

NATO has a New Strategic Concept

The Strategic Concept for the Defence and Security of The Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation adopted by Heads of State and Government in Lisbon today is very concise. Just eleven pages. Let's see how substantial it is. And how it will be implemented.

At the Open Think Tank, my day job, we have created some policy recommendations for the New Strategic Concept over the summer and are currently running a Policy Workshop on Russian-Western Relations, another big issue at the Lisbon summit.

NATO features a summary of my survey of Russian experts in a special Lisbon summit edition of NATO Review, which is layouted in Portugal's national colors. Lovely!

False Terror Alert: 80-Year-Old American Suspected of Scaring Germans ;-)

From Deutsche Presse Agentur via m&c:

A suspicious suitcase found at an airport in Namibia and bound for Germany contained a fake bomb that proved Friday to have been made as a security training device by a tiny US manufacturer. (.) The device was made by US-based Larry Copello Inc, a three-person company manufacturing a range of security devices in Sonora, California, 180 kilometres east of San Francisco. The company owner, Larry Copello, said he estimated the case was made four years ago by his then-80-year-old mother-in-law. (.)

Germany remained on a heightened state of alert due to possible terrorist attacks, unrelated to the suitcase in Namibia, authorities said.

Nothing for UnGood, but don't scare us this way, please. Halloween is over. Besides, we are not very fond of this attack on Christianity anyway ;-)

Transatlantic Time of the Year

Get ready for two busy days: The NATO summit starts tomorrow, followed by the NATO-Russia summit, followed by the EU-US summit.

President Obama started the charm offensive by naming Chancellor Merkel one of fifteen recipients of the 2010 Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor." Moreover, he published an Op-Ed in the NY Times: Europe and America, Aligned for the Future

And Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, argues in Politico: Critics write obits, but NATO focuses on new threats

Do you think NATO will succeed in revitalizing itself?

Is Lisbon going to open a new chapter in NATO-Russian relations?

Are you optimistic regarding improved EU-US cooperation? Or do you expect nothing more than photo-ops?

Let us know.

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Like America, Germany Needs More Sanity, Less Hysteria

I would like to call for a "war on hysteria," if that would not be so hysterical in itself. Where are the German Jon Stewarts, who could restore some sanity over here? The whole debate in Germany about multiculturalism and Muslims, immigration and integration is full of hysteria. It's gotten so hysterical, that this debate now includes Halloween and nuclear energy.

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