Skip to content

"Merkel is politically Europe's strongest leader"

In addition to President Bush, the US media has been praising Chancellor Merkel as well. The International Herald Tribune (HT: Cuppapolitics) believes that Merkel is the leading mediator in the Iran dispute:
Since taking power last November, Merkel has failed to push through substantial economic reform at home, but she has burnished her foreign policy credentials. This is her second visit to Washington this year; she has also had two meetings with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and six with President Jacques Chirac of France. Her advisers say she discussed Iran at length with Putin last week. (...)
"Merkel wants the Bush administration to consider direct talks with Iran," said a top German official. "She is not sure if Bush will agree. But she wants to try, because how can you talk about exploiting all diplomatic channels when the U.S. and Iran are not talking directly to one another?" (...)
With Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain and Chirac looking to the ends of their terms in office, and Italy still in governmental transition after a tight and contentious election, Merkel is politically Europe's strongest leader. (...) Also last week, Germany's finance minister, Peer Steinbrück, paid an unusual visit to the U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. German officials said the two discussed the issue of sanctions.
Since Germany is one of Iran's major trading partner, sanctions would be meaningful.
Meanwhile, Newsweek wonders about Merkel's Long, Strange Honeymoon: "Germans seem to prefer inaction from their not-so-new chancellor."

UPDATE: T
o get a different perspective concerning the calls for direct U.S.-Iranian talks mentioned above and in an earlier post, reader Joe recommends Amir Taheri's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about "The Perils of Engagement." Taheri does not totally reject direct talks, but opines "It is important to say what the proposed talks should be about." Sure. Interestingly he also perceives:
Something interesting is happening with regard to the crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Slowly the blame is shifting from the mullahs to the Bush administration as the debate is redirected to tackle the hypothetical question of U.S. military action rather than the Islamic Republic's real misdeeds.
American Future recommends this op-ed too, as part of their extensive coverage on Iran.

Trackbacks

No Trackbacks

Comments

Display comments as Linear | Threaded

Dr. Dean on :

Maybe the quick discussion about U.S. military action was a big strategic mistake. Maybe it works to weakon Ahmadinedschad. The weakoning of Ahmadinedschad must be the main intention in the next three years. If you aks me we should help the Iranian opposition.

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

Yeah sure, as usual: Let the US do it so Europe can sit on the sidelines and dish out blame. Then Europe gets to blame the US for what wild IRAN does. Perfect. On two things we told useless Europe to go ahead with its "soft power." Darfur and Iran. We gave the ball to "older, wiser, Europe to show us how the world works." Europe sure did a bang-up job. Germany blamed the US for Germany's failure with Iran. It served Iran by demanding that the option of force be taken off the table, sabatoging the negotiations. And Chirac threatened the United States with France's nuclear weapons in the same breath he threatened Iran with them. Smart. Really, really smart. France and Germany should at least have tried to camouflage the setup a little. Europe has done nothing except make Iran more aggressive and get Isreal threatened with annhilation. Now, it shifts the blame, as usual, by saying the problem is that the US isn't negotiating. It's just the usual game to be able to dodge repsonsibility and put all the blame on us...for what somebody else does. Europe is cooperating with Iran by making it an issue between Iran and the US, instead of an issue between Iran and the world. It's a trap. Just like sandbagging Colin Powell in the UN Security Council was. It's also the good, old "unilateral" trap. As they're trying to get us in with North Korea. There's no trust left.

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

I missed something the first time. So, Germany is disgussing the possibility of sanctions against Iran? Ha! Another good one. Another thing that requires something more than zero trust of Germany and Old Europe.

Jorg on :

You seem to be very convinced that Germany would not support sanctions against Iran. Do you want to bet about this?

David on :

@Kathy, Have you ever been to Europe? Do you know any Europeans? As an American, I'm just curious where this anti-European hostility on the part of my compatriots comes from.

Thomas on :

I guess it was something personal

Dr. Dean on :

To give Kathys antieuropean rant three words: Stereotypste hostility. Useless. Make a test! Change the stereotypes and names of "europe" and "american" in her antieuropean rant... "At the Zoo. Yeah sure, as usual: Let the Europeans do it so US can sit on the sidelines and dish out blame. Then US gets to blame the Europeans for what wild IRAN does. Perfect. On two things we told useless US to go ahead with its "strong power." Darfur and Iran. US sure did a bang-up job. US blamed the Europeans for US's failure with Iran. It served Iran by demanding that the option of diplomacy be taken off the table, sabatoging the negotiations. And US neocons threatened the Europeans with US's nuclear weapons in the same breath he threatened Iran with them. Smart. Really, really smart. America should at least have tried to camouflage the setup a little. America has done nothing except make Iran more aggressive and get Isreal threatened with annhilation. Now, it shifts the blame, as usual, by saying the problem is that the Europe negotiating isn´t quick enough. It's just the usual game to be able to dodge repsonsibility and put all the blame on us...for what somebody else does. America is cooperating with Iran by making it an issue between Iran and the Europeans, instead of an issue between Iran and the world. It's a trap. It's also the good, old "unilateral" trap. As they're trying to get us in with North Korea. There's no trust left.Voilà! What i want to show here: A chauvinistic attempt to international politics does not work. Maybe stereotypste hostility works for the finding of followers, but in fact it is: Useless.

Dr. Dean on :

[size=8]I suppose i will never learn the BBCode... Again:[/size] To give Kathys [b]antieuropean rant[/b] three words: Stereotypste hostility. Useless. Make a test! Change the stereotypes and names of "europe" and "american" in her antieuropean rant... [quote]"At the Zoo. Yeah sure, as usual: Let the Europeans do it so US can sit on the sidelines and dish out blame. Then US gets to blame the Europeans for what wild IRAN does. Perfect. On two things we told useless US to go ahead with its "strong power." Cuba and Iraq. US sure did a bang-up job. US blamed the Europeans for US's failure with Iraq. And it served Iran by demanding that the option of diplomacy be taken off the table, sabatoging the negotiations. And US neocons threatened the Europeans with US's nuclear weapons in the same breath he threatened Iran with them. Smart. Really, really smart. America should at least have tried to camouflage the setup a little. America has done nothing except make Iran more aggressive and get Israel more threatened with annhilation. Now, it shifts the blame, as usual, by saying the problem is that the Europe negotiating isn´t quick enough. It's just the usual game to be able to dodge repsonsibility and put all the blame on us...for what somebody else does. America is cooperating with Iran by making it an issue between Iran and the Europeans, instead of an issue between Iran and the world. It's a trap. It's also the good, old "unilateral" trap. As they're trying to get us in with North Korea. There's no trust left.[/quote] Voilà! What i want to show here: A chauvinistic attempt to international politics does not work. Maybe stereotypste hostility works for the finding of followers, but in fact it is: Useless.

Thomas on :

@ Dean, that's funny. Works very well! Sagt man dazu nicht: Turning the tables at Kathy? Kathy's blog is full of anti-European rants. She is doing exactly the same what she accuses Europeans of.

joe on :

I have read the comment “we should help the Iranian opposition.” several times. As this was written by a German, this has caused me to wonder just what is Germany doing to support the Iranian opposition. Is this part of the formal foreign policy of Germany? What resources are the German government putting into this support of opposition? What has been the effct of this foreign policy and utilization/allocation of resources? I look forward to leaning something new.

Dr. Dean on :

"is Germany doing to support the Iranian opposition. Is this part of the formal foreign policy of Germany?" I am not the german government. My wish is that we (not only Germany) help the Iran opposition. I just want to discuss the best way tho help the Iran opposition. What do you think? Is the neoconservative "nuke them!" or "War!!" a good help? Please consider: I am open minded and non-ideological. I don't have many ideas about this topic and therefore i welcome any input.

Bernhard on :

I feel not directly addressed by this question, but would like to reply: as Iran is (apart from Hamas) the most democratic government of the Middle East, I don't think any exilants will be able to remove them. And I don't think this should be desired... I agree it makes perfect sense to spread democracy and human rights, but not "regime change". I see a solution in more serious peace talks and disarmament, also verbal disarmament. Since I've been to the ME several times, I am not afraid any more of these Islamic guys - I have lost this "concept of an enemy". We have to understand that they are more afraid of the west than we of them, and I think they have good reason. The real threat is terror, and as things currently go, it is only a matter of time when they strike with WMD in Israel or so. Maybe only in 20 year, but how do you want to retaliate then? We have to treat the Islamic world more respectfully, and build up trust. In this context, I am shocked that Ahmadinedjad's speeches were seemingly systematically wrongly translated, interpreting them in a way that an attack on Israel is imminent. In fact, this is bullshit - attacking Israel with WMD's would be suicide on the one hand, and also kill the Palestinians on the other hand. I personally believe that there is no imminent threat to Israel - except terrorism (these guys don't care). But here comes the point: our daily misinformation carries a hidden message, which is that all Islamics are terrorists and Iran will give them the WMD's. But this would certainly not happen, or only if they are absolutely desparate. I am sure about that. So here is my proposal: start trust-building with the Iran and the other Islamic nations, finally condemn Israel's insufferable occupation of the west bank in the U.N. security council, and give more support to the peace groups there. Once a fair peace is enforced in Israel (yes!), 90% of our problems with the Islamic world are solved and Israel's long term existence secured (make a real peace with Hamas and there's nothing left to worry about - and yes I believe this is possible). Finally withdraw troops from Iraq, become independent from oil, and let them have some prosperity and quietness so civil societies and democracies can be established. And our conflicts with the Islamic world will be gone once and for all, including terrorism. It could be so easy without our western warlords. Bush = Rainald de Chatillon, I'd say.

joe on :

Dr Dean, So by your reply it would appear Germany is not doing what you suggest or even considering it. I find it not surprising. I am however disappointed.

Jorg on :

The German government practiced a so-called "critical dialogue" with the Iranian regime in the 90s. Not that much *visible* success. It is considered a failure by most experts because apparently it was not as critical as promised. In addition government-funded poltical foundations have engaged the Iranian opposition, NGOs and some reformers in the establishment. That was primarily in the late 90s. In 2000 one foundation screwed up, when they brought secular and religious moderates together in Berlin to discuss reforms, because this conference gained some TV coverage, then the Iranian moderates got jailed, when they returned to Iran. Since then the foundations and others try to keep a very low profile. Many Middle Eastern regimes discredit democratic opposition movements by accussing them of being supported by the West, i.e. of being an outside plot to meddle with sovereignty and internal affairs. People in the Middle East are proud and remember colonialism and other interferences from abroad very well. For most Americans, the US support for the Shah and the CIA coup are apparently ancient history. For Iranians it feels like yesterday. Any support for the Iranian opposition has to be clandestine, if you want them to succeed. Deutsche Welle Radio has a Persian news service that is supposed to be quite good and popular.

joe on :

I just knew I was going to learn a lot from this discussion. By using democracy in Iran as both a standard and a definition, then one could say the Soviet Union was one of the most democratic nations ever to exist. It would also seem Syria is equally a democratic nation. It is interesting that both Freedom House and Human Rights Watch do not agree that Iran is a democratic nation or that it is free. Again, this does cause some confusion. Of course, being equally confused about what the E3 have been doing now going on almost 4 years, I really thought some where in all of this was an effort to quote “build trust” unquote. But it was good to learn the problem is Iran does not trust the West. I would have to assume the West does trust Iran. Iran has done a lot to instill trust by the West. But the real cause of the problem is once again the Jews. I should have realized that. I thought that part of our collective history was behind us and something was learned. It appears we have learned nothing. It will be interesting to see how a “fair” peace is determined and just who is going to impose it. The EU probably has some idea of just what is “fair” and once the ESDP has been fully implemented then the ERRF can be deployed to enforce this “fair” peace. Problem solved.

Bernhard on :

you might want to have a look at the [url=http://www.democracynow.org/finkelstein-benami.shtml] Finkelstein - Ben-Ami discussion[/url] it provides a very good background about the Iraeli-Palestinian peace process and why it failed. This was only partially the fault of the Palestinian... and I think it is an evil myth if some groups tell us that a peace deal is not possible any more, but only uniliteral action. Israel claimed also after Arafat's death that there is no "partner" to make a peacedeal with, so I wonder why the Palestinians should elect somebody who wants to negotiate. Peace was very close in 2000 - I firmly believe it is still not out of reach. But the point is, the stronger side in this conflict seemingly always wanted it all. Which is very sad, because I think if things go on as they currently do, it will end up in another big mass slaughter. One has to understand that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the key problem for our relations with the Islamic world. I advise you to take a bus in Syria, buy Falafel in Egypt or go for shopping in one of the refugee camps in Jordan, and you will feel how tensions increase day by day. Just talk with people and they will tell you why. And no, it is not dangerous, although Americans will pay more. The story is very sad, because I believe Israel could be a great chance for the region, mediator between Orient and Occident and a catlysator of development in the Middle East. Instead, they turned it into a crusader castle. To judge from my visits to Israel, I'd say the great majority is very willing to give something up for peace and wishes nothing more than peace. But they are trapped in their fears and security needs. With good reason, sure - but this is why foreign help (and pressure on both sides) is needed. Sorry about this long comment - but if you have not been to the area, I advise you to go soon (before the next war or terrorist strike?), because it is a very intense and teaching experience. Maybe I'm a little too emotional so I can't sit quiet while things are going horribly wrong from my point of view...

joe on :

Kathy, Jorg seems to bet only on sure things. Since either Russia or China or both will block any meaningful sanctions against Iran, there will not be a test of German will. What would be interesting is once sanctions fail at the UN will the E3 made an effort to organize sanctions against Iran outside of UN authority. Kathy that might be a better bet for you to take but I am not sure Jorg would offer it. I am sure such actions would somehow violate either international law, or some EU regulation.

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

Sanctions are useless when European nations undercut them. What do you expect anti-Americanism to produce? Love? What do you expect duplicity to produce? Trust? Just call it bad karma.

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

"You seem to be very convinced that Germany would not support sanctions against Iran. Do you want to bet about this?" I won't bet that Germany won't pay lipservice to sanctions. But I will bet that it will then undercut them. Negative nationalism (of which anti-Americanism is an example) is chauvinism. Just as much as positive nationalism is. And patriotism has nothing in common with it, which is easy to see if you think a little. Read George Orwell for an explanation, and then be careful with that word. The blog is full of examples of European anti-American rants. How come you got it backwards? I take them and show how they are projection. Not that we have no faults, it's just that Europeans' myth about America accuses us of all THEIR faults, not ours. Shame on me from answering all the mud hurled at us from over there. Typical, self defense is evil, right? "Have you ever been to Europe? Do you know any Europeans? As an American, I'm just curious where this anti-European hostility on the part of my compatriots comes from." Cut the elitist cliches. They are no substitute for facts and reason. You wonder where it comes from? OMG. You see no anti-Americanism, you hear no anti-Americanism, and you speak no anti-Americanism, eh?

Jorg on :

Fine. Why don't you write down the specifics of this bet and then we are in business.

Jorg on :

We all failed so far. The US has tried isolate and demonized Iran for more than two decades. Germany (and other European countries) has tried to engage Iran with "critical dialogue" and trade. The hope was that dialogue and trade would lead to a change in thinking and an opening up etc. None of these approaches worked. The blame game in Europe is: If the US had only helped us in the dialogue and trade with Iran, then we would have succeeded. Sure, got a point there. The US got some issues with Iran due to the common history, but abc, xyz and etc. The blame game in the US: If only the Europeasn had put sanctions on Iran as well, then the regime would have been toppled. Sure, got a point there. EU trade with Iran is big, but there is also Russsia, China and don't forget abc, xyz and etc. Ergo: If Europeans and Americans had pursed a common strategy on Iran in the past -- one way or the other -- we might not have the problem we are in right now.

Dr. Dean on :

I am asthonished about this "good guy" vs "bad guy" arguments. Mister A. is - no doubt - a bad guy. Fine. Thera are about 40 or 60 bad systems around the world. Nuke them all? I do no think taht international politics is a place where we can relate to this themes like in other policy fields. The regime change posture is idealistic - and dangerous. The militaristic regime change posture is expensive - and latent fascistic. Some of you say: "the German critical dialogue do not work". Sure? I dont know, how much impact our small country has in Iran, but let me talk about some cute effets: 1. When the German soccer team came to Iran this was a big demonastration (i suppose: against the regime) and a small climate change. I believe in the cultural powers of dialogue. Some of our American friends, for example the american fascist Gedmin, say, that our soccer team shouldn't go to Iran, but i am sure that Gedmins brain do not work very well. Does "no dialogue!" (the neocon docrine) has [b]more[/b] power? No, this extremely lazy style of international politics is very comfortable and selfish - and the result would be precisely: zero. Great deal, Gedmin etc. ...! 2. It is easy to say that critical dialogue never works, especially without any information about the process and results. I know some details of the visits of Angelika Beer. Believe it or not (hey, you can read it!): IRNA wrote about her visits INCLUDING HER OPEN CRITICS. I know it from people of the Iran opposition: Things like this help. [b]Hostility does not.[/b] It would be a great deal to discuss [b]how[/b] to help the Iran opposition. Oddly enough, american neocons just want to talk about war. Are these ultra militaristic neocons just crazy? To make some of the neocons more happy with my text: Merkel is [b]nit[/b] a "strong leader". So and now there comes the bad news: It is completely unimportant, if she is a "strong leader" or not. Her job is not to be a "strong leader" but to do a good job, good cooperation and good team play. [b]Leadership is the most overrated characteristic of a politican.[/b] With "strong leadership" you will get a bunch of selfish bias like in David's Medienkritik. Take it as an example...

Bernhard on :

Hey Dr. Dean, thank you for this very balanced and helpful comment. I think I got your first comment wrong, assuming "help the opposition" means "regime change" like in Iraq. What I wanted to stress it that we ("the west") are to a great deal responsible for deteriorating relations with the Islamic world, the rise of terrorism and election of guys like Ahmadinedjad. Again, the key for improving the situation would be the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we cannot reduce the current tensions (and talking about war does definitely not help), public movements supporting the radicals will only grow stronger. And still, one can talk even with these radical guys, disarm verbally, and take a lot of the tension out. Since about 10 year I now live in East Germany, and what I learned there is that the Soviet Union was not only brought down by "hard" power. While I believe that is was right to re-arm Nato in face of the Soviet threat, Brandt's "relaxation policy" was at least equally important. It was only this which abolished the "concept of an enemy" and brought Gorbatschow to power... and without him, we may have faced a desparate, agressive Eastern Empire armed to the teeth and presenting the choice world war 3 or give us way. So maybe it still would not be "easy" to solve the conflicts with the Islamic world (as I wrote a little bit emotionally in a former comment), but it is possible - dialogue is the only way. Let us not forget that double standards are applied: India did not sign the non-proliferation treaty, but may have nuclear weapons - Iran signed this treaty, but may not even have the reactors. When Israel repeteadly violates international law, nothing happens, but if the Palestinans elect a democratic government, sanctions are imposed. This is not suited to create any kind of trust or basis of a fair dialogue with the Islamic world...

Dr. Dean on :

@Bernhard To get back to real dialogue... You wrote:[quote] And still, one can talk even with these radical guys, disarm verbally, and take a lot of the tension out. Since about 10 year I now live in East Germany, and what I learned there is that the Soviet Union was not only brought down by "hard" power. While I believe that is was right to re-arm Nato in face of the Soviet threat, Brandt's "relaxation policy" was at least equally important. It was only this which abolished the "concept of an enemy" and brought Gorbatschow to power... and without him, we may have faced a desparate, agressive Eastern Empire armed to the teeth and presenting the choice world war 3 or give us way.[/quote] [b]Good idea to compare the Iran conflict with stalinistic Soviet Union![/b] There is much truth in your word i believe. An additional factor is the impact of the "Friedensbewegung" ("peace movement"??) which reduced the block confrontation together with the intensified human rights dialogue. This influenced the way of thinking of Gorbatschow and helps to "open the gate". For example, look at the famous and great Berlin speech of president Reagan. The international politics climate got less confrontative, less hostile. As far as i can see it: An underestimated factor is the economic crisis in eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union. As an ordoliberal it is no surprise for me that the soviet economy must collapse. Than you wrote:[quote] So maybe it still would not be "easy" to solve the conflicts with the Islamic world (as I wrote a little bit emotionally in a former comment), but it is possible - dialogue is the only way. Let us not forget that double standards are applied: India did not sign the non-proliferation treaty, but may have nuclear weapons - Iran signed this treaty, but may not even have the reactors. When Israel repeteadly violates international law, nothing happens, but if the Palestinans elect a democratic government, sanctions are imposed. This is not suited to create any kind of trust or basis of a fair dialogue with the Islamic world... [/quote] What can be done to open the dialogue with Iran and to give dialogue more power? More hostility? Or maybe (scary option?) less hostility? If international politics has an influence to national politics "less hostility" would automatically look like [b]"no strong leadership".[/b] Am i right? If i am right (i am quite unsure), that would eventually signify an important relationship between internal national political marketing and international politics. [b]What can be more helpful for success in the political business of the America of today than "strong leadership"?[/b] (not to myself: maybe i am not an idiot at all - now i have learned the use of the "in reply to"-field!!! Wow!)

The Editors of the Atlantic Review on :

Although we appreciate open discussions on our blog, we do not consider "Fascist Gedmin" an appropriate choice of words when speaking about the Aspen Director. We prefer thoughtful comments with arguments that give a different perspective. Name-calling is not helpful. Coincidentally a few hours after your comment "Joe" called Chancellor Merkel "Frau Fuehrer" in a comment another post: http://atlanticreview.org/archives/318-Bush-and-Merkel-Charm-and-Iran-War,-Sanctions-and-Diplomacy.html#c2529/ Tone it down, guys. Please! Ad-hominens against Americans or Germans or anybody else are not appreciated. So far the level of debate in the comments did not involve adhominens. We would like to keep at that way.

joe on :

Kathy, You might ask David the same question about ever been to Europe, how long, etc, Would be interesting.

Dr. Dean on :

@Gedmin To describe his (the director of the promilitaristic Aspen institute) style of international politics more appropriate we should call this style of international politics as: Deeply chauvinistic, hysterical ultra militaristic neocon combined with [i]very[/i] special style of "scientific" discourse technigues, promoting a new "democratic" world order. (a "dchum neocon" or just: "ultra") In the future i will call Gedmin just an "ultra". Okay, no problem. @Bernhard I will never make in political discussions balanced statements. I promote [i]my[/i] political ideas, listen to other ideas, compare - and as a result i will improve or change my ideas. Then it works. In the transatlantic dialogue i will never use "talking points" or stereotypste ideas about you, you or you. Just because: I don't know you, but it is a big fun to talk with you. I am perfecty the kind of a German that can be best described as a "misunderestimated German" (hey, there is a proamerican blog with that (!) name). See the good side: I am a perfect object for the hate and fun of American chauvinistic neocons or christo fascists. Its not a trick, its a service. And hey: I am really looking like a German left wing ordoliberal (there is nothing in your country - i suppose - which can be compared with a German left wing ordoliberal). I love Amerika. And Germany. Great countries with important and interesting differences. For some of you it might seem that i am a cartoon, but i am perfectly true. Isn't that great? Sometimes you will hear, that i do not like fascist. Yes! Or that i do not like people like "Davids Medienkritik" which ar no fascists (okay: their comment policy... [url=http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2004/12/our_comment_pol_1.html]Comment Policy Davids Medienkritik[/url] ...is a nearly perfect (!) realization of fascistic theory - but this does not mean anything i suppose), but they are deeply bieased and heavenly militaristic. I am biased, too. I am German left wing ordoliberal biased. Heavenly proud about that. (the German part of it is not that important...!) As a result of my biased thinking i really love unfiltered and upright international dialogue. (even if my english language knwonledge is scantily bad - as a result i am drawing pictures which are lacking the grey scale: Big sorry for that!) If unbiased points of views are the final results of an open dialogue: I wellcome that very much.

Add Comment

E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.
CAPTCHA

Form options