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Americans Consider Germany Their Fourth Most Important Partner

Robert Gerald Livingston, a senior visiting fellow at the German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C., writes in The Atlantic Times about an image survey commissioned by the German embassy in Washington:
In the ranking of a thousand Americans, Germany is one of the most important international partners for the U.S. – following Great Britain, Canada and Japan. Germans, like Americans but unlike the French, care a great deal about what other nations think of them. This should cheer them up: For Americans, Germany ranks ahead of all European countries except Britain, well ahead of France or Spain and, surprisingly, even farther in front of Italy, Poland, Ireland and Greece, the countries of origin of many immigrant Americans who retain links to their native lands and support active political lobbying on their behalf. (...)
Only l5 percent of survey respondents consider themselves very or well informed about the EU, even fewer today than during the last survey in September 2005. This should be a bit worrisome for a Germany which makes the EU so central to its policy-making. Also worrisome is how much the Nazi past still afflicts the German image among Americans. When asked what the top interest about Germany is, 44 percent answered “history,” by which, clearly, they mean the Third Reich. Very few Americans (13 percent) consider Germany a reliable ally of Israel and only a third say that it has taken responsibility for what it did to Jews in the past.
I hope the other two thirds responded "I can't answer this question, because I don't know anything about Germany." I wonder whether Japan's refusal to confront its own history is of any concern. Please don't interpret this snarky comment as a comparison of German and Japanese crimes. It is only a comment on confronting history (Vergangenheitsbewältigung).
Americans probably consider Japan a more important ally than Germany because Japan has sent tens of thousands of combat troops to fight in Southern Afghanistan...
The article about this survey ends on a positive note:
Those Americans who have actually been in Germany have a far better opinion about it than those who have not.


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Axel on :

Interesting analysis. The problem always is the great number of people who simply use cues or information shortcuts when answering questions about political issues they aren't familiar with. I'm pretty sure that if an institute had asked Germans about the percentage of people in the US who favoured an Iraq invasion during the run-up in late 2002 and early 2003 the number would have been unrealisticly high (according to Gallup, it was 57 to 37 percent). So the results often change dramatically if you restrict your analysis to people who are typically more interested and better informed. The Bertelsmann Foundation released a study about Germans and Jews ([url=]English version, PDF[/url]) in February and they asked both Jews in Israel and the US. Just two results: The relationship between Germans and Jews has improved significantly over the past 15 years. The majority of Israelis and American Jews now have a positive opinion about Germany - 57% of Israelis and 70% of Jews living in the USA have an opinion of present-day Germany that ranges from excellent to fairly good. When it comes to the relationship of Germany and Israel, a relative majority of 42% of Israelis consider German foreign policy to be more pro-Israel whilst a mere 11% believe it is more anti-Israel than that of other European countries.

Kevin Sampson on :

"Americans probably consider Japan a more important ally than Germany because Japan has sent tens of thousands of combat troops to fight in Southern Afghanistan..." ROFLMAO! As far as I can tell, Japan has not deployed any troops to Afghanistan. They have a contingent of around 1,000 support troops in Iraq, mostly engineers doing CE stuff.

Zyme on :

Britain is their most important partner because its government serves at a "role model" for the other partners: Blind obedience - who doesn´t enjoy that :D

Don S on :

Joerg, Since 1985 or so there is a steady trend in German behavior. Whilst Germany's actual contributions to the mutual defense have dropped precipitously, the volumn of verbal advice and criticism of what which they not longer much participate in has increased just as dramatically. I'd prefer more boots on the gound and less bullshit, but am willing to put up with the bullshit if the boots came with it. As it is one has to wonder whether the minimal German contribution is worth the price.....

Pat Patterson on :

Or perhaps PM Blair was consistently calling for regime change in Iraq while that good ol' boy warmonger GW Bush was still in Texas just beginning his second term governor after winning 69% of the popular vote. Numbers candidates in parliamentary democracies would sell their mothers, if not already, for. Even earlier than 1998 PM Blair and eventually Pres. Clinton were calling for either complete and unfettered inspections or a involuntary change of Iraq's leadership. "But let me be clear. If Saddam does not comply with the will of the international community, we must be prepared to act--and we are..." Pres Clinton While the supposedly obedient PM Blair promised that, "In view of the situation, we in britain have been looking at our own military readiness in case a diplomatic solution does not in the end provide." Which sounds consideably more bellicose that the Presidents comments, maybe PM Blair missed the "blind obedience..." memo. [url][/url]

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"Even earlier than 1998 PM Blair and eventually Pres. Clinton were calling for either complete and unfettered inspections or a involuntary change of Iraq's leadership." The phrase "calling for" indicates to me that they were not serious. It's just like President Bush today "calling for" the United Nations to stop the killing in Darfur. Or it's like me "calling for" sunshine. Or it's like Merkel calling for North Korea to give up their nuclear program and calling for Mugabe to free all political prisonsers and calling for Saudi Arabia to let women vote...

mbast on :

"Or it's like me "calling for" sunshine." I absolutely second that. We're in the middle of June and it's raining cats and dogs. It's all Bush's fault again. Bugger can't even get global warming right :-D.

Pat Patterson on :

"Calling" is indeed ambivalent and it was my choice of wording. Whereas PM Blair said, "I told the House [Parliament] on 16 November [1997] that if he [Sadam Hussein] again obstructed the work of the inspectors we would strike. No warning. No wrangling. No negotiation. no last minute letters." This seems a much stronger statement than a boilerplate call for suffrage. [url][/url] While Pres. Clinton said in June of 1997, that the United States would use, "...whatever options are neccessary." And reiterated that threat in the Summary of HR 4655 which, "Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government." [url][/url] There are many things that can be argued about the war and that is as it should in any democratic society. But it is obvious that PM Blair not only was not blindly obedient but was actually ahead of the US in bellicose language and in securing the support of Parliament and in later watching Pres. Clinton receive that same support from some of the same people today that are engaged in misleading games of I-told-you-so!

David on :

There he goes again - blaming it on Clinton. Pat can't seem to grasp that this is Bush's war. Americans know this: they hate the Iraq War, and they hold Bush accountable.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

But many Democrats voted for the war as well. Isn't this also Hillary's war? After 9/11 they were too afraid to be accused of being soft on national security. That's why Hillary and co voted for the Iraq war. They were political cowards. This is the problem in US politics: Too much macho nonsense, which makes the US less safe. You are the only left superpower. The most powerful country in the world and yet your politicians have to worry about being soft on defense. Good politicians would have double checked the intelligence briefings they received. That's Congress' constitutional obligation. Senators with many years of political experience should have been suspicious about the Bush drive for war in 2002. They should have realized that they received cherry picked intel. How many Democrats were suspicious? Did not they have connections to the intel professionels? 2002 the Democrats were just out of power for a year. They should still have plenty of ties to intel professionels. Well, how many leading Democrats even bothered to attend those briefings? Recently some Republican candidates admitted in a presidential debate that they haven't read intel briefings before the Iraq war. How about the Democrats?

David on :

Yes, Hillary voted for the war, which is why I volunteer for the Obama campaign. Still, it was not Hillary who constantly appeared on TV during the run-up to the war warning of "mushroom clouds" and "uranium from Niger". It was Bush and his inner circle that used deception to launch the war; most Americans realize this now (many of us realized it back in 2002 and were branded as "traitors" and "terrorist sympathizers" for speaking out).

Pat Patterson on :

I most certainly did not blame Pres. Clinton, in fact he supported the war until some of the blame for its failures started to come his way, but rather pointed out that implying that PM Blair and the UK were some kind of obedient tools of US policy flew in the face of the facts. Such as that Blair had called for action against Iraq and Clinton had agreed while Pres. Bush was still in Texas and that as Joerg pointed out both Republican and Democratic congressmen in the US agreed with both presidents. And that on at least two separate times Blair had asked the Labour Party in Britain to officially support moves against Saddam as early as 1997. And as they did so the question would be also of why didn't Labour read any of these contrary reports about whether these weapons were still in Iraq. I'm sure that, just as Sen. Clinton was shown to have not read the NIE, many politicians in the US and Britain did not do their homework and voted solely because the wind was strongest in the direction of war. With Joerg I would agree that it appears that both the Senate and the House was populated, as usual, by members more interested in their own incumbency than opposing the war. So if, as many in Europe see, America's involvement in this war as being hip deep in garbage than there is plenty of blame to go around. Joerg raises an interesting point concerning the Democrats brief control of the Senate due to some party switching. The Democrats ran the Senate from June of 2002 until the end of the 106th Congress in Jan. 3, 2003. The vote authorizing the President to move against Iraq was voted and signed on Oct 11,2002 which would absolutely require Democratic Party support as a bill could only be introduced if the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Daschle, wanted to do so. The Democrats were not out of power at this time but ran the committees that held sessions on this resolution. There are hundreds of parliamentary manuevers that could have delayed or stopped the war but neither party chose to do so. If I wanted to blame Pres. Clinton I probably would for not acting sooner considering the multiple Iraqi violations of the US and UN treaties. Clinton's feckless foreign policy attempts at that time were mainly in an attempt to shift the focus away from his impeachment and near conviction. His actions served merely to delay the increasingly likelihood of war with Iraq since the US started withdrawing support for Saddam's regime in 1987. But he is merely a footnote while both parties and the President that authorized force and used it are responsible.

Pat Patterson on :

Then the question must remain for opponents of the war. Why weren't they opposed as early as 1997? That is when the President instructed his Cabinet to prepare the country for war or was this opposition only visible after a Republican was in office? And as far as the mushroom clouds and uranium flake then look no farther than Sec. Albright, Sec. Cohen and Pres. Clinton. But then I notice that most of these arguments are predicated on a refusal to read the linked citations. As it appears to be so here again; [url][/url] Since our decade's George MeGovern/Eugene McCarthy wannabe is sinking in the polls and in fund raising efforts the opponents of the war are faced with the very real possibility that the Sen. Clinton who stated , "But where we stand right now, there can be no doubt that is is not in America's interests to fail. So I hope that Americans understand that and that we will have as united a front as is possible in our country at this time to keep our troops safe, make sure they have every thing they need and try to support this new Iraqi government," could become our next war president. Sounds like this closet Thatcherite will resume touting her ideas on how to win in Iraq just as soon as those pesky primaries are over. [url][/url] Plus it would be nice to see a link and citation that proves Pres. Bush's deception where the charge is something more than a difference of opinion.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"Then the question must remain for opponents of the war. Why weren't they opposed as early as 1997?" Because the president was not seriously considering war. Clinton and Blair were just authorizing some air strikes and were preparing their countrymen for the worst case, i.e. some retaliation by Saddam, I assume. It's like Bush or Rice now saying that we must stop the Sudanese army and help the folks in Darfur. Nobody assumes that Bush and Rice will take the US to war with Sudan, thus nobody expresses opposition.

Pat Patterson on :

Obviously we will have to agree to disagree but the President's comments to Sec. Cohen about preparing the country for war sound much more serious than missile and bombing raids, which are still considered acts of war under any definition. Unless of course Pres. Clinton was not sincere. I think that is the more likely reason that the American public was not ready for war. Pres. Clinton basically had damaged his credibility and was a lame duck looking to enhance his legacy.

David on :

Hey Pat. I was around in 2002. I had to listen to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice talk about the "grave threat" Saddam posed to America nearly every day, while Tom Ridge raised the threat level to orange. It is hard for me to understand how otherwise intelligent Americans are willing to act as apologists for an administration that engages in torture and preemptive war based on deception. Are you so traumatized by Clinton's blowjob?

Pat Patterson on :

No, but I'm beginning to wonder about your obsession with it. Plus again I see absolutely no attempt to respond to what I actually said. Where, as I already noted, did I blame Clinton and where did I post anything except the actual chronology of events leading up to the 3rd Gulf War. How am I supposed to respond when I suspect that the person making the charges has neither followed the links or actually read what I wrote? This Gulf War did not spring fully former from either the thigh of Zeus or President Bush. It is the entire country's war unless one has joined some seperatist cult living in Idaho or Vermont with neither radio, polling stations or lithium.

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