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Transatlantic Free-Trade Zone as "NATO for the World Economy"

Gabor Steingart makes "an argument for a trans-atlantic free-trade zone" in the English version of Der Spiegel:
The role NATO played in an age of military threat could be played by a trans-Atlantic free-trade zone in today's age of economic confrontation. The two economic zones -- the European Union and the United States (perhaps with the addition of Canada) -- could stem the dwindling of Western market power by joining forces.
"I find the idea fascinating," Chancellor Merkel told the EU committee in Germany's parliament, according to another Spiegel article in early October. The enormously difficult project of creating a Transatlantic Free Trade Area would be her backup plan, should the Doha trade talks ultimately prove untenable.
Related Atlantic Review post: Will Germany Promote the Creation of a Transatlantic Free-Trade Area?

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EconWatch.com on : Transatlantic Free-Trade Zone as "NATO for the World Economy"

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[Source: Atlantic Review - Analysis of U.S. foreign policy and transatlantic relations] quoted: The role NATO played in an age of military threat could be played by a trans-Atlantic free-trade zone in today's age of economic confrontation. The two economic zones -- the European Union and the United States (perhaps with the addition of Canada) -- could stem the dwindling of Western market power by joining forces.

Atlantic Review on : Thomas Friedman: Energy Cooperation Will Unite the West

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"Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Western allies have been asking: What will replace the threat of communism as the cement that holds together the Atlantic alliance? Some have argued terrorism, but I don't think so. I think my German friends ha

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Zyme on :

I know this is off-topic: Today there is a documentary on ARD at 21:00 about Schröder´s era as chancellor. It might be interesting :)

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Thanks, Zyme. We appreciate such recommendations. Off-topic is not a problem. If anybody wants to recommend a news articles or anything else that's on the internet, then either send us an email or by just writing a comment as Zyme did. Writing a comment is a faster way to share something, since it takes some time until I get around to writing a new post. Besides, I will not write a new post about every link we receive. Thus feel free to use the comments section to recommend news articles and other interesting stuff. I don't have a problem with off-topic suggestions as long as they are about transatlantic relations in one way or another.

Don on :

Does Germany really wish to be in a free-trade zone with a bunch of revolting fascists? Or with a group of unreatrained capitalists? Perhaps if the US government can be 'regulated' to force German levels of taxation u7pon the US. It't the only moral thing to do, after all....

joe on :

An awful idea for America whose time let us hope never comes. Besides, I thought the Germans were more interested in Russia with whom they share much more in common than the US.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Even Schroeder would not say that. "The Germans" certainly don't. In January 2006, Merkel told Spiegel that Guantanamo should not exist in the longer term. We wrote about it here: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/247-German-Chancellor-calls-for-closure-of-Guantanamo.html[/url] In that same interview Spiegel asked her about the German-American and the German-Russian relationship. I think most Germans agree with Merkel: [quote="Merkel Interview"]SPIEGEL: In the past, your party in particular emphasized the German-American friendship. Now you're just talking about relations. A deliberate downgrade? Merkel: Oh, please! I can just as well call it "friendship." The German-American friendship! Is that better? We're splitting hairs here. I want to improve the quality and substance of the German-American relationship. SPIEGEL: Does the word friendship also describe the German-Russian relationship? Merkel: It's more of a strategic partnership. I believe that we do not share as many values with Russia yet as we do with the United States. On the other hand, we have a strong interest in Russia developing in a reasonable direction. SPIEGEL: Do you consider Vladimir Putin "a flawless democrat," as your predecessor once called him? Merkel: I would like to see Russia develop as democratically as possible. But when we judge Russia we must also consider where the country is coming from. Our concepts of democracy can't just be schematically transferred. However, I do admit that I'm concerned about some recent developments, such as the new laws against non-governmental organizations."[/quote] [url]http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,394180,00.html[/url] And this is what happened when Putin visited recently: ABC News about Putin's visit to Germany: President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday denounced the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and vowed to bring those responsible to justice. Questions about the contract-style killing, which has drawn condemnation from round the world, dominated a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that also touched on business and energy issues. (...) Putin was heckled by a man in the crowd over the murder as he got out of his limousine in the eastern city of Dresden, where he served as a KGB agent in the 1980s. Waving a banner with "Murderer" on it, the man shouted: "You're a murderer, you're not welcome here." http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2549759 Business Day - News Worth Knowing "Andreas Schockenhoff, foreign policy expert for Merkel’s conservatives in parliament, said Politkovskaya’s murder was “a serious setback for the development of democracy in Russia.” He urged Russian authorities to do everything in their power to track down the journalist’s killers." http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/topstories.aspx?ID=BD4A287114 The German press was very critical of Putin and his responses to questions about the murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Of course, Medienkritik is not writing about that. For them and US blogs, the entire German media consists of Spiegel and Panorama only. And for them Schroeder is still chancellor. And for them all Germans are crazy leftists.

joe on :

I thought you were all socalistS to varying degrees. It surely is difficult to tell the parties apart even with their color coding.

Zyme on :

The discussion of a transatlantic free-trade zone should not be overestimated. There are free trading zones also considered with the southern american countries and russia. The only meaning behind this is the fact that the EU has obviously given up hope on the WTO. Bilateral agreements are preferred now. It was very unlucky to see this russian journalist being murdered while Putin visits germany. Whoever was behind this will probably have to work on his timing, next time :) All in all, this will not do any harm to the german-russian relationship. The russians are just building up an air defense conglomerate and both sides own considerable amounts of shares of each other for example. They are already working together on manufacturing military transport planes - there is no reason to assume that this partnership won´t also cover offensive military equipment in the future. Also the german airforce is the only foreign military that may cross the russian territory. This proves the enormous amount of trust between our countries. Compare that to the nervousness of poland, when a few german warships entered their sea zone two months ago :D http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,433447,00.html

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Yes, a transatlantic free trade zone should not be exaggerated. Though such a free trade zone would be more significant than free trade zone with South America, Russia etc due to the much bigger amount of trade with the US. I don't want exaggerate the repercussions of the murder of this Russian journalist either. However, combined with many other troubling developments in Moscow, I do have the impression that the German-Russian relationship is getting much cooler and more realistic. The wishful thinking towards Russia is over. That's my impression from reading the newspapers. EU leaders realized that at their recent summit, when talking about Russian energy exports and democracy etc. And newspaper editors realized that as well. The murder of the journalist was just the tipping point. The buddy relationships between Helmut Kohl and Boris Yeltsin are over. And the Schroeder-Putin relationship will not happen again either. Schroeder is a lost case. You mentioned the ARD documentary. Who was it??? I did not watch it, but I read this about Schroeder: [quote=Ex-leader of Germany finds fault in religious bent of United States - Europe - International Herald Tribune]Schröder said he was "anything but anti-American, even though he openly challenged U.S. policy in Iraq. In the Der Spiegel interview, he described how he had tears in his eyes as he watched the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on television. "It was important to me that Germany fulfill its requirements as an ally," he said. But when it came to the planning for the Iraq war, Schröder, referring to Bush, told Der Spiegel that "if a person adopts a policy based on what he gleans from his prayers, in other words, a personal talk with God, it can lead to difficulties in democracy." Schröder went on to criticize the growing role of religion in U.S. politics. "We rightly criticize that in most Islamic states, the role of religion for society and the character of the role of law are not clearly separated," he said. "But we fail to recognize that in the U.S.A., the Christian fundamentalists and their interpretation of the Bible have similar tendencies." When asked by Der Spiegel if he still believed Putin was an "impeccable democrat," as Schröder himself called him during one of his several meetings with the Russian president in 2005, he replied: "I have nothing to correct." The interview with Schröder coincided with the murder of the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya outside her Moscow apartment over two weeks ago. Putin said her influence had been exaggerated.[/quote] [url]http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/10/23/news/german.php[/url] Schroeder seems to be pretty much the only one who thinks so highly of the Putin. Not even Steinmeier says anything close to that. (Steinmeier is the only one who suggested a free trade area with Russia, I think)

Zyme on :

In the documentary there was an interesting piece of information on the time shortly after september 2001: Schröder announced germany´s solidarity at a time when the american administration strictly ruled out the possibility of an invasion in iraq. The american government only intended to invade afghanistan at that time - and based upon this Schröder announced german support. So when the american administration suddenly admitted to prepare for invasion in iraq, this was what we would call a "Wegfall der Geschäftsgrundlage" between Germany and the USA. Besides, Germany always had the strongest economical ties with Iraq of all western nations, plus the state had acted as a guarantor for the german industry in this country (via Hermesbürgschaften). Facing the threat of having to pay billions because of the suretyships to the german industry as a result of the destruction, no one having this information could expect germany to support such a war.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Translation: "Wegfall der Geschäftsgrundlage" is the legal term for "Frustration of Contract" "Germany always had the strongest economical ties with Iraq of all western nations" But not during the sanctions regime between 1991 and 2003. Are you sure about those government guarantees (Hermesbürgschaften)?

Zyme on :

The Hermes-Bürgschaften have been issued in the 1980s. At that time the minister of economy was Jürgen Möllemann :) This included the suretyships for deals in the chemical weapons sector - but obviously also for other deals. http://www.nahost-politik.de/irak/giftgas.htm I couldn´t find a source for the german economical ties to iraq before the latest gulf war :/ Clearly we had more influence on the former iraqi government than on the current one though, so it was not in germany´s interest to overthrow it.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Möllemann was an undersecretary in the foreigen relations ministry in the 80s. He was only minister of the economy from 1991-1993. For those who don't know and might blame the "Socialists" again: Möllemann was a member of the Free Liberal Democrats party, which has been running the ministry of foreign affairs and the minstry of economics throughout the 80s and much of the 90s. This party is what comes closest to the two US parties in terms of their policies. In my opinon, the German government should not have issued those export guarantees in the 80s. Germany has sold a lot of stuff to Iraq that should not have been sold. Though, other Western countries have armed Iraq as well in the 80s. For the US, Germany and the rest of the West Saddam was the secular Arab nationalist, who was fighting those evil religious Iranians. And he was considered to provide stability... All of that ended in 1990. As far as I know Germany did not sell much at all to Iraq after 1990. No more Hermesbürgschaften (government security guarantees), no weapons etc.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

There was not much legal and illegal trade between Germany and Iraq between 1990 and 2003. Certainly not any security guarantees anymore. Because Germany's relationship with Iraq totally changed in 1990 (as did the US relationship with Iraq), it is incorrect to claim that Germany did not support the Iraq war in 2003 due to economic reasons. Though this is what you said earlier: "Besides, Germany always had the strongest economical ties with Iraq of all western nations, plus the state had acted as a guarantor for the german industry in this country (via Hermesbürgschaften). Facing the threat of having to pay billions because of the suretyships to the german industry as a result of the destruction, no one having this information could expect germany to support such a war."

Zyme on :

Hmmm there was little information I could gather on the era between both gulf wars. Considering the situation today though, the former iraqi government was indeed able to provide stability. Pracitcally it is hard to imagine any kind of government providing LESS stability. But hey, now that they are free, they are finally free to shoot each other whenever they happen to disagree :D

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"Considering the situation today though, the former iraqi government was indeed able to provide stability." Yes, indeed. I wonder whether Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice etc now wish that they did not attack Iraq. Do they admit in private that President Bush senior was right in 1991, when he decided against regime change, because he preferred Saddam? A couple of months ago I saw an article claiming that most of the pundits, who said in 2002 that Saddam must go and that democratisation is needed, claimed in 1991 that regime change should not be attempted because only Saddam can keep Iraq together.

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