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US Think Tanker Considers the German EU Presidency Successful

Wess Mitchell, director of research at the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington DC, grades the German EU Presidency. Merkel gets a B for "re-starting [European] integration and As for "re-calibrating ties with Russia" and "re-energizing transatlantic relations," because:
Many Germans wanted Merkel to do the same on CIA overflights and missile defense. Her decision to downplay these disagreements and focus on common interests has given U.S.-EU ties their biggest boost in a decade.
Perhaps the CIA renditions will create some tension in the US-German relationship in the next few weeks, if (!) the Spiegel article mentioned in the Atlantic Review post Will Merkel Request the Extradition of CIA Agents? accurately reflects the perception in Washington DC.

Wess Mitchell's column let to an interesting discussion on the German-Polish relationship in the comments section. Read it all in the Atlantic Community. Full disclosure: I work for this new Open Think Tank on Global Issues. I'd appreciate your comments here on Atlantic Review and on Atlantic Community. Registration at the latter is real fast.

Personal comment:
Germany has worked hard on reconciliation and a deepening of ties with Poland. Besides, without German support, Poland might not have been able to join the EU in 2004. The German and the Polish people get along much better than our politicians do. I think, the current problem in German-Polish relations are the Kaczyński twins and the obnoxious German association of displaced persons led by Erika Steinbach. When both parties have left the political scene the German-Polish relationship will be much better.

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Zyme on :

"I think, the current problem in German-Polish relations are the Kaczyński twins and the obnoxious German association of displaced persons led by Erica Steinbach." We don´t have to argue about the effect of the Twins here. But you call an association of displaced persons who seek compensation for their losses "obnoxious"? I would like to hear your stance in case you were affected! What a shameful attitude.

Martin on :

Germany started the war. Thus no right to make a fuss about displacements, but this is what Steinbach, daughter of a Nazi, is doing. She was born in 1943 and only a baby when she got displaced. Her comments on Poland are not helpful.

Zyme on :

Not helpful? Their frustration is understandable. These people did not start any war. Maybe you notice that in history rarely any people is held responsible for the actions of its government. But in the german case this is different of course, this is the drum you can beat all the time. No right to make a fuss about? With fellow citizens of your kind we certainly don´t need any enemies.

Martin on :

I am Dutch

Zyme on :

Oh - sry. In this case you have all rights reserved :)

Don S on :

"Germany has worked hard on reconciliation and a deepening of ties with Poland. Besides, without German support, Poland might not have been able to join the EU in 2004." Probably true. On the other hand (in Kaczyński brother land), there are a lot of what-ifs. The ifs extend back 3 centuries or more the basic idea is that absent the big bad Germans (or Prussians for that matter) Poland would have been in the position to be a founding member of the EU. This is not an unreasonable thought; What would have happened had Poland not been divided up among Prussia, Russia, and Austria? Or not been torn into bits by the Germans during WWII and abandoned to Russian hegenomy for two generations? So from a certain POV everything that Germany has done for Poland since the fall of the Berlin Wall has been a small down payment due on the damage German did to Poland over the years! Your statement caused an involutary ironic snort when I read it. It sounds SO much like the aggrieved accusations of ingratitude leveled at Germany by Americans like myself! Memories are short. Germany destroyed Europe (including itself). The US destroyed Germany then helped Germany and Europe to recover, and defended Europe for two generations. But who in Europe cares to remember that today? Very few. So you expect memory and gratitude from the Poles? Why, when most of you are incapable of memory and gratitude yourselves?.....

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Well, memories are selective rather than short. History is used for political gains. The K twins are not the first to play this card. "It sounds SO much like the aggrieved accusations of ingratitude leveled at Germany by Americans like myself! Memories are short." Good points. Well, I don't expect gratitude. This is not what I was hinting at. I just wanted to point out that Germany has done a lot for reconciliation and a deepening of ties with Poland. Germany is even going to finance a new memorial/museum for Jewish Poles murdered by Germans. German and Polish representatives worked hard, but then the K brothers came to power and spoil it. And Steinbach's association is spoiling it as well. I do think that German-Polish relations on the citizens level have improved. And when the K twins and Steinbach leave the political scene, the German-Polish political relationship will be much better. The K twins went a step to far at the EU Summit, when they wanted more votes for Poland because of WWII deaths. Poland's image/reputation suffered not just in Germany, but across the EU, incl. among many Poles. The K twins have not advanced Poland's country's interests. Their foreign policy is meant simply to appeal to their political base, I believe. [b]Don and everybody else, what grades do you give Merkel for "re-energizing transatlantic relations"???[/b] Besides, I am wondering what the perception of the German investigation into the CIA renditions is in the US media and debate.

Don S on :

"Don and everybody else, what grades do you give Merkel for "re-energizing transatlantic relations"???" I don't believe she has done that. My perception is that Schroeder & Fischer tore a great bleeding wound in the relationship and kept sawing away at the edges to make it wider - right until the very end. Merkel removed the knife and applied a tourniquet but has done no more. The patient is still bleeding to death - but more slowly.

Don S on :

"Good points. Well, I don't expect gratitude. This is not what I was hinting at. I just wanted to point out that Germany has done a lot for reconciliation and a deepening of ties with Poland." "Germany is even going to finance a new memorial/museum for Jewish Poles murdered by Germans." Consider how much Germany has done for france in particular - but also other European countries damaged during WWII. Then compare these relatively small thing done for and proposed for Poland with those favors - and with the damage done to those countries. France was the worst affected of course - by the Frano-Prussian War, WWI, and WWII. But the historical record is balanced by what France did to German states over the years. Not only Napoleon but also the centuries of France of France using Germany as her battleground before that. The record versus Poland is much more one-sided. Prussia helped extinguish Poland and then Germany leveled it again in WWI and WWII. The Seven Year War wasn't exactly fun for the Poles either. And wasn't Poland a battleground during the Crimean War? Unlike the French the Polish did next to nothing to Germany or Germans, so there is no rough historical balance. It's pretty much all one way. Now the Germans are doing tremendous damage to NATO - or rather to the US willingness to remain in NATO. NATO no longer is of much interest to Germans - but it's the bulwark against the Russians comping from the Polish POV. If the US pulls out the Pole's shield will be gone. They won't love the US for it - but why do you seem to believe they will feel gratitude toward Germany for the comtrempts? They won't.... And now the German chancellor is challenging the US anti-missile bases, which implicitly denies the autonomy of the Pole's hard-won nationhood. The bases may not be popular in Poland - but Germans telling them what to do in their own country is even less popular I suspect! I suspect that the EU is looking ever more like the Warsaw Pact. Bye to the old Master (Russia) - same as the new Master (Germany). Why are you surprised that they push back?

JW-Atlantic Review on :

I think you are wrong about Merkel's position on the missile bases in Poland. I got the impression that many Poles have second thoughts about the missiles. The Polish government wants something back from the US for the stationing of missiles. It seems that US protection against Russia is not enough for them.

Don S on :

What I wrote was not intended to be an attack upo n Merkel but rather an exploration of what her comments may look like from a Polish perspective. I suspect that the argument between the Poles and the US is not on the principal of payment for the bases but rather upon how much the fee will be. It probhably will be sorted out eventually at more than the Yanks want to pay and less than the Polish want to get. The Poles are pushy with both Germany and the US - but looking at their history do you perhasp see why? I imagine the Poles are grateful to the Us for helping break the hegenomy of the USSR. but that is balanced by various resentments arising from the reduction of US force levels in Europe, over the visa issue, and above all over the questions being raised in the US about remaining in NATO at all. Add that to a sense of abandonment and betrayal many in Eastern Europe no doubt feel over being abadondoned for two generations by the Western powers - most notably the US. How do you suppose Hungarians feel about 1956 or the Czechs and Slovaks feel about 1968? They pribably hate and fear the Russians but let's face it - the US abandoned the Hungarians after raising hopes - and never offered to help the Czechs! Even so - it's nothing compared to the feelings they must hold about the Germans and Russians. Ours was a sin of omission - yours were sins of comission - repeated over the centuries many times. Zyme resents the ejection of Germans from Bohemia - but how do you suppose Slavic Bohemians view the German role in their history?!!!

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ Don Speaking of ingratitude and short memories: Has the US changed its visa restrictions for Polish citizens as gratitude for Poland's participation in the Iraq war? Or: There seems to be some friction between Poland and the US concerning Missile Defense. Poland wants money for having the missile base stationed in their country, but the US still (?) refuses... Is Poland not grateful to the US for defeating the Soviet Union? Wasn't it Reagan rather than Solidarnosc that brought an end to the Warsawa Pact? ;-) I have not followed recent developments in US-Polish relations regarding the visa and the missile base issue. Thus I don't know what the current status is. Related stuff about (in)gratitude and tough talk among friends: [url=http://www.atlantic-community.org/index.php/items/view/Radek_Sikorski_on_Taking_Poland_for_Granted]Don't Take Poland for Granted[/url] [url=http://www.nineoclock.ro/index.php?page=detalii&categorie=worldnews&id=20061108-17434]Warsaw summons US envoy to explain Iraq spat[/url]

Anonymous on :

"the current problem in German-Polish relations are the Kaczyński twins and the obnoxious German association of displaced persons led by Erika Steinbach." As should be obvious I believe the underlying problems are a helluva deeper than that. The Poles had to make nice to Germany in order to get into the EU, but now they are in and have all the rights that Germany or any of the other members have - including the right to defend their corner as viciously as a starving dog defends a bone or the French defend the CAP. But I repeat myself!

Martin on :

[url=http://andrewhammel.typepad.com/german_joys/2007/06/deutschlands-me.html]"Usually it's Americans getting upset over magazine covers in Germany, which use motifs such as a red, white and blue cowboy boot crushing rows of tiny, ant-like German workers (get it?). But now the good old Bild Zeitung is up in arms over the cover of a conservative Polish magazine, Wprost, which features Angela Merkel's head photoshopped onto the torso of a nude woman."[/url]

bob on :

I'd give Chancellor Merkel a straight B. In the black, she refused to add fire to the already over-stimulated German public's anti-americanism, she's broached the idea of a free trade agmt (never goanna happen, but nice thought), stood up to Putin, and re-established Germany as the calm center of Europe. In the red, Germany's being a little pushy at the mo' vis-a-vis other European States which has a knock-on effect for us, no increased military spending, the St. Malo accord on European defense integration continues, 'nie wieder' still does not include black people, wobbly on Iran and Kosovo, and the Bundeswehr is a bad joke in Afghanistan. I believe that the consensus is that Merkel is doing what she can with considerable domestic constraints. However most people just appreciate the change in tone and absence of public vocal opposition. No one expects Germany to offer substantive help on any foreign policy problem; they do expect Germany to stfu, if they arent going to help or proffer constructive advice. Merkel does that.

Don S on :

I agree but with a caveate. I seperate the gardes for Merkel (at least a B+ and perhaps an A-) and Germany as a whole (no better than a C, up from a D- under Schroeder). A C is not a "re-energized Atlantic Relationship". As for France, Sarko has made a good start but he gets an incomplete. It could hardly be otherwise. France has a big hole to dig out of also - though not as large a hole as Schroeder left. This because Chirac clearly saw that he had gone much too far and made certain efforts to make amends over the last two years.

Anonymous on :

"Chirac clearly saw that he had gone much too far and made certain efforts to make amends over the last two years." He might have said nice things about Georgie (which is all that counts for being pro-American), but he has not send troops to Iraq, but even pulled some out of Afghanistan.

alec on :

On Merkel, I agree with the high marks for foreign policy, but otherwise, it's the economy (stupid).

Pat Patterson on :

I agreee with Don S mainly in Pres. Chirac forceful support for the anti-Syrian government and facilitating the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon. He could have taken a much more conciliatory position and argued that preserving the status quo was important as was maintining France's role as being a intermediary that was sensitive to the Syrian point of view. Many Americans might argue to the effectiveness of UNIFIL but would have to credit Pres. Chirac for that force being in southern Lebanon at all. One could argue that Chirac has risked much of France's claim to represent the Muslim world considering that one of the crusader nations (France) now has soldiers in the Islamic Ummah.

Douglas Willinger on :

What about the potential historical role played by Father Wlodimir Ledochowski S.J. Superior General 1915-1942? See: http://continuingcounterreformation.blogspot.com/ http://continuingcounterreformation.blogspot.com/2007/06/wlodimir-vladimir-ledochowski-mission.html http://continuingcounterreformation.blogspot.com/2007/06/wlodimir-vladimir-ledochowskis-goal-via.html http://continuingcounterreformation.blogspot.com/2007/06/wlodimir-vladimir-ledochowskis-goal.html http://continuingcounterreformation.blogspot.com/2007/08/wlodimir-vladimir-ledochowski-war.html

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