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Think Tank essays on US-German relations

The German Council on Foreign Relations has published a special edition of the Internationale Politik Transatlantic Edition: Richard Herzinger writes about "German Self-Definition Against the US," while Joachim Krause assesses the red-green foreign policy over the last seven years: "The good news is Germany's participation in international intervention. The bad news is a lingering desire to thumb its nose at the United States."  Constanze Stelzenmüller concludes from a German Marshall Fund survey: "In Germany, left and right both reject George W. Bush's foreign policy. But young Germans favor 'regime change' more than US Republicans do." Alan Posener argues that "the EU looks today much more like an empire than the US." And William Drozdiak calls the transatlantic alliance an "indispensable partnership." All these and some more essays are in English and can be downloaded as pdf files.

The American Institute for Contemporary German Studies profiles Chancellor Merkel, discusses her warm welcome in Washington and the "Germany-fever."

In the latest edition of Foreign Policy, Michael Mandelbaum's writes not only about Germany's relationship with the US:
The rest of the world complains that American hegemony is reckless, arrogant, and insensitive. Just don't expect them to do anything about it. The world's guilty secret is that it enjoys the security and stability the United States provides. The world won't admit it, but they will miss the American empire when it's gone.

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David on :

I finally got around to reading the Mandelbaum piece. Thanks for the link. I don't imagine there are too many people on the planet who view America as a "Benign Hegemon". I note that the title of Mandelbaum's book is "The Case for Goliath". Goliath is a good metaphor (unintentional) for America under its current leadership: a giant brought down by its own hubris and arrogance.

joe on :

David, You might be right in your assessment. I for one would like to see the US withdraw too. It would be very beneficial to Europe and the EU. For the US not be members of such organizations as NATO, IMF, WTO, UN, etc would be positive actions for all nations.

Tom P on :

joe, Given how Russia is behaving these days, do you think the Poles or the Eastern Europeans want the US out of Europe?

Thomas on :

Has there ever been a hegemon who could be considered more benign (or less evil) than the US? Let's assume for a second the US is a benign hegemon. Hardly anybody would admit it. Does any employee or any kid consider his boss or his father a benign hegemon, if he is one? It's against the pride. Besides, nobody likes the number one. Having said that, I do not consider the US "benign." Just less evil than past hegemons. I prefer to have the US rather than France, China, Russia, Iran, Zambia, or Argentina etc to be the hegemon. However, Iceland or Finnland would not be so bad...

Tom P on :

How countries behave is more illustrative than what they say. Look at Canada. Very anti-American of late but yet they allowed their military to deteriorate, even with all that yummy oil in Alberta.

joe on :

Tom P, My short answer would be no. My longer answer would be they would adjust as would Europe. The Poles could look to the Germans, French and the rest of Europe to provide them with security. These nations of course would face some hard choices such as to fund for their defense or fund their social welfare states. By reducing the US's commitments to the global community, the US then could provide more than just secuirty to its own citizens. It would seem the security which has been provided and is being provided is both unwelcomed and unwanted.

Tom P on :

joe, I don't think isolationism is a viable foreign policy but that's just my opinion. I'm curious where you got your observation that US security guarantees were "unwelcomed and unwanted." It seems to me that Eastern Europe want closer military ties with the United States. This is why Polish troops are in Iraq. They want points with the USA. Am I misreading things?

Elizabeth on :

No, you aren't misreading things. I have done some research on NATO, and can tell you the U.S. has paid about 2/3 of NATO's budget during every single one of the post-cold war years. This is largely because we have paid about 3/4 of NATO's equipment budget every one of those years. We are also providing all the air lift capacity and a majority of the ground transport in the peace-keeping missions in the Balkans, especially Kosovo. And paying for it. This information is not difficult to find. Also, it explains why European governments are not eager to disassociate itself from NATO, no matter what rhetoric they enjoy uttering in public.

Zyme on :

@ Elizabeth Na wenn das so ist, dann bleibt uns die Nato hoffentlich noch lange erhalten! Ich meine .. bei unserer Haushaltslage ? :D

joe on :

Tom, Am not sure if you are around to read this or not given your latest comment. There have been periods in history that such a policy has served the US well. I would present to you had it not been for Germany and Japan, it would be the policy that would be in effect today. While I am might agree with your comment about some of the Eastern European nations, they are a minority within the EU. If you look at the members of the “chocolate summit” and add to this group Spain, Austria, Ireland, and the Netherlands, you are approaching a majority of EU members who are at best ambivalent toward the US unless they can see a direct linkage to their own security or well-being. For much of Europe there is a burning desire for the EU to become a major player in world affairs. This certainly is true of their elites. To do so will require a much more integrated Union than now exists. This means they must come up with a European Security and Defense Policy. The UK is moving in this direction now under NL and Blair. The members of the chocolate summit have made it very clear this is their goal. In Germany, it is also the policy of the Merkel government. The ESDP should effectively be the end of NATO or at least it should be. This would have several positive effects. The first being to release both the US and the Europeans from an arrangement, which serves no current purpose. It will if done correctly give the US a strong partner in those areas where there can be common agreement. It would also force Europe to share more of the responsibility and costs of maintaining peace in the world. Equally if done incorrectly it could cause a fracturing of the entire EU process if the US decides to walk away from underwriting the security of Europe. It then becomes something more along the lines of selecting allies, which can be trusted from the US perspective and for the Europeans the forming of collective and individual mutual defense treaties with each other, nations outside of Europe and with the US. These agreements would reflect the updated world we live in and not the world as it was in 1949, 1989 or 2001. So Poland might have a choice of joining a bilateral security alliance with the US or decide to trust france and Germany to defend them within the framework of the ESDP. Of course, these would probably be mutually exclusive choices given to Poland. For some nations this might be a very difficult choice. For other nations it would be relative easy. I would put the Eastern European nations in the difficult choice column. For members of the chocolate summit given their current attitudes toward the US, it would be an easy decision to cast their security with the EU/ESDP.

ROA on :

Joe, Members of the "Chocolate Summit" may want to be independent of the US, but are they willing to pay the cost that entails? Several articles in the GCFR special edition indicated that Europeans were not willing to spend additional funds on defense. W/o additional money how are they going to become independent of the US?

Tom P on :

Hi, joe Joerg Wolf was nice enough to email me your reply, which deserves to be answered. I think you're overestimating the solidarity among the Europeans, a term I use in its geographic context. As a political identity, the European does not exist. Germans are still Germans. Poles are still Poles. And the French are still detested by both. I'm being a little bit facetious, of course. I'm merely making the point that Europeans still define their interests, values, and self-identity on the national level. You needs only to look at the EU referendums last year to see how united the Europeans are. Until this change, the EU will easily to be the victim of the divide-and-conquer tact exercised by the USA (re: Iraq), China (re: arms embargo), Russia (re: Ukraine), and Iran (re: nukes). I think you're confusing the ambitions of European elites with the willingness of the European populaces to subordinate their own self-interest and to accept the cost and burdens of a unified superpower. I don't see this happening. It's too easy and fun for the Europeans to sit on the sideline and snipe at the US. You must credit the Poles for being realists. They don't have the luxury of being otherwise. Whatever the current attitudes of the members of the chocolate summit towards the US, they don't have Russia next door. Given how militarily weak Europe is and how unformed and divided their strategic thinking is, I think you're asking a lot of the Eastern Europeans to accept the ESDP on face value. Consider the reaction to Chirac's declaration that Paris would retaliate with nukes in response to terrorism on French soil. Also note that he didn't offer to extend the French nuclear umbrella over the entire EU. Neither did the Brits, for that matter. Compare this to American policy during the Cold War. Even if the French did make assurances, can they be trusted? Clearly, the Poles don't think so. Luckily for Warsaw, they don't have to choose between the ESDP or NATO.

joe on :

Thomas, Of course I do not think Europeans are anti-American. I view Europeans acting in their own self-interest. Because those interests do not coincide with the interests of the US does not make them anti anything. A good example of this is the desire of france and Germany to sale advanced technology weapons to China. This surely would not be in the interest of the US given the US security comments to SEA. While this would not be constant with the actions of so called allies, it surely did not make them anymore anti-American. This desire by these two nations did not make Americans anti-french or anti-German. In fact, I would tell you this was a healthy disagreement. It established where the various nations involved stood on an important issue. Equally it resulted in at least a particle frank dialog on the results and consequences such an action would have. Just as the EU acted without UN authority to intervene in the Balkans because it was in their self-interest to do so. I am not sure what you mean when you use the term liberal Americans. It is even more confusing when you compare the term to Europeans. I am not even sure I have ever met a liberal American. Who I have met are Americans who hold a wide array of opinions on issues. The wonderful thing about being America is there are so many different opinions on almost any given topic. These can be debated in a very vigorous manner. Yet when you look at the goals or desired outcome, they are remarkably the same. Most disagreement among Americans are more centered on the means and methods to achieve them. Think of regime change in Iraq. It was the policy of a Democratic President and was implemented by a Republican President. Equally how to deal with Iran could very well be a policy developed by a Republican Administration and implemented by a Democratic one. If you consider Kerry to be a liberal, then I would tell you the substance actions of his Administration would be little different than the substance actions of the current POTUS. And I would not consider those to be anti American. Would you?

James Versluys on :

Something odd is happening, and Canada, for once, heralds’ its coming. Countries like Canada are expected to be surrogates to American kultur; that they define themselves as what we’re not is given. What has not been expected is that countries with fully formed and truly great character like Germany now define themselves as what we’re not. My first thought is a rather banal and obvious “well, this is bad”, but then the slightly less obvious additional thought occurs, “but only for you”.

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