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Bush and Merkel: Charm and Iran -- War, Sanctions and Diplomacy

Some in the American media hope and a few in the German media fear that President Bush's "charm offensive" will lead to German support for U.S. policy on Iran. However, it is very unlikely that President Bush's kind of charm has an impact on Chancellor Merkel. The importance of the personal relationship between heads of government is often overestimated. Besides, President Bush might not expect a military contribution in a potential war with Iran anyway, because he told the German tabloid Bild (White House transcript) concerning the disagreements over Iraq:
I've come to realize that the nature of the German people are such that war is very abhorrent, that Germany is a country now that is -- no matter where they sit on the political spectrum, Germans are -- just don't like war. And I can understand that. There's a generation of people who had their lives torn about because of a terrible war.
The Bush administration has high hopes in Merkel, because Blair and Chirac are pre-occupied with internal party politics and President Bush's Spanish and Italian allies, Aznar and Berlusconi, have not been re-elected. According to the International Herald Tribune,"Angela Merkel has steadily emerged as the European leader to watch" and "demonstrated a real skill in effective, low-key diplomacy. It worked in Europe, where she brokered a key compromise on the European Union budget last January."
The German government works hard for a diplomatic solution and makes use of its good relationship with Russia and China and considers using its significant leverage over Iran. Commercial sanctions against Iran could prove very effective, as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung points out (translation by Transatlantic Intelligencer):
More comprehensive sanctions [i.e. including commercial sanctions] would be tied to ever higher costs also for the West – and, in particular, for Germany. Should commercial sanctions be applied, it would be first and foremost the EU states that are affected. In 2004, Germany was the most important supplier of Iran (12.3% of all imports), followed by France (8.5%), Italy (7.9%), and China (7.5%). Due to its long-term cooperation with Europe and a lack of local know-how, Iran is particularly dependent upon imports in the automobile and machine-building industries and the oil and gas sectors. As consequence, Iran could be highly susceptible to sanctions.
Part of President Bush's charm offensive -- a term that was frequently used in the media recently -- might have been his remarks about wanting to close Guantanamo, get trials for the detainees and wait for the supreme court; see our earlier post.  Prof. Hammel points out that some reaction in the U.S. media is only now starting to burble up. Slate, for instance, writes: "His statement was surprising for several reasons, not least because it represents a major reversal from prior policy statements about the camp." More at Prof. Hammel's German Joys.

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Atlantic Review on : German-American Relations on the Eve of President Bush's Visit

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Ahead of President Bush's visit to Germany next week, The Economist is concerned that "America may expect too much help from Germany, whether on Iran, the Balkans or Russia." The respected British weekly acknowledges that Chancellor Merkel impro

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Clarsonimus on :

I can't help but think that Merkel is the one who is doing all the charming. And the US government is understandably delighted that they have someone to talk "with" in Berlin again. Schröder made anything but a clean break, but it was definitely a real one (as in final). The relationship between these two countries will never be like it was before this happened, but I think everyone feels that Merkel is trustworthy enough to, if not mend the break, at least start something real herself. It won’t be what the US really wants, of course, but nobody expects that anymore.

Jorg on :

What kind of charming things did she say? Did she catch a glimps of President Bush's souls as well? Did she talk about Texas?

sid on :

interesting

Zyme on :

The younger generation doesnt have a problem with war in general I would argue, as long as it is a reasonable one. Which means: since the taxpayer has to pay for it, he/she wants to see some benefits in it.

Zyme on :

A fine example is the Kongo case. Everyone interested knows that our units are likely to face combat with the warlords losing the upcoming general elections. Various candidates have made it clear that they wont accept a political defeat and are willing to fight for their influence. But since Kongo has very rich mineral supplies and our industry is dependant on them, we need our troops to secure the flow. This costs some money, but is certainly worth the expense.

Jorg on :

Zyme, I would add that in addition to benefits the likelihood of success should play a role as well. I think the likelihood of successful airstrikes is small. Airstrikes against Iran will not stop the Iranian nuclear program, but only delay the nuclear program, while encouraging a rally around the flag effect, increase support for the regime in Iran, and delegitimate all reformers who ever tried to work for reconciliation with the West. Regarding Congo: I am not sure whether the 1,500 EU troops will make a difference, which the 17,000 UN troops couldn't make. Regarding our dependency on the minerals. Perhaps we should be ashamed of our gadgets. The Independent is saying a main reason for the conflict in Conog is getting "control of minerals essential to the electronic gadgetry on which the developed world depends." "This war was launched by nations that sensed – rightly – that our desire for coltan and diamonds and gold far outweighed our concern for the lives of black people. They knew that we would keep on buying, long after the UN had told us time and again that people were dying to provide our mobiles and games consoles and a girl’s best friend. Today, we still buy, and the British government – along with the rest of the democratic world – obstructs any attempt to introduce legally enforceable regulations to stop corporations trading in Congolese blood. They ignore the UN’s warnings that “without the wealth generated by the illegal exploitation of natural resources arms cannot be bought, hence the conflict cannot be perpetuated” and insist that voluntary regulations – and asking corporations to be nice to Africans – is “the most effective route.” (...) In a country the size of Western Europe, a war rages that has lasted eight years and cost four million lives. (...) This is the story of the deadliest war since Adolf Hitler’s armies marched across Europe." [url]http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=863[/url]

joe on :

It would appear there are no alternatives but to surrender to Iran. As the french seem to be very good at this type of activity, I suggest they be placed in charge. This does solve one problem in the EU will not have to define what is a “fair” peace as it relates to Israel. Iran can do that. I am sure Iran will gain the approval and the full support of the UN before they take action. The world will be so much safer with a nuclear-armed Iran. With this issue resolved the world can move on really important things we are more concerned about like the World Cup.

Joerg on :

Joe. [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/308-U.S.-government-is-urged-to-talk-to-Iran.html]Rupert Hunter, a senior adviser at the RAND Corporation, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO (and basically all experts) said the same thing I said[/url]: "A U.S. attack on Iran might temporarily stop the country from going nuclear, but would be the beginning rather than the end of conflict with Iran. The Iranians are a people who pull together when under threat or attack -- very much like Americans. Iran's clerical leadership, however much despised by so many of its people, is not set to topple at the first whiff of grapeshot. Instead, it could count on consolidating its rule -- just as the Ayatollah Khomenei a quarter century ago used Saddam Hussein's invasion to solidify his power." Moreover, even the US does not have the ressources and the will to invade Iran. Apparently only airstrikes are seriously considered. Besides, according to the [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/109-War-against-Iran-Populism-against-the-US.html]US National Intelligence Estimate[/url], we still have time to negotiate with Iran. Meanwhile Ahmadinjad loses support and moderates take over because Ahmadinejad does not improve the economy. Democratization expert Larry Diamond, according to Foreign Policy: "Diamond is under no illusions about what the Iranian regime is up to, describing their current activities as an “obvious, frenetic pursuit of nuclear weapons.” But he is surprisingly optimistic about the prospects for reform in Iran; arguing that there’s a “good probability” that we might see a democratic Iran within the next ten years or so. He believes that if “if we bomb [reform is] dead for a decade.” But if we don’t, he sees real opportunities. He points out that, “Ahmadinejad is less effective and less politically potent internally than he may appear and the key to our strategy, in part, has to be to give him enough rope to hang himself.”" [url]http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/node/390[/url] Joe, do you really want to help Ahmadinejad stay in power?

joe on :

We should leave everything to the experts, OK. I have a degree of respect for the products RAND produces. I also very much think their views should be considered along with those of others who I also respect. Today it was reported the IAEA has found highly enriched uranium at an Iranian site linked to the country's defense ministry. This really shows a lack of trust by the West if one jumps to the conclusion this is part of a weapons program. One comment has already been made Iran does not trust the West and the West needs to show more respect towards Iran. I agree with both of these positions. I am sure in time Iran would have informed the IAEA and the E3 when a better level of trust had been established that this uranium was just part of their on going program to establish a peaceful nuclear energy program. It is their right as a sovereign nation to do so, anyway. I believe I said more or less the same thing; the West cannot prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The use of hard power is not a viable option. This is the conclusion of not only experts but of Europe, their leaders as well as their citizens. The only option the West has is to try to make the very best deal it can for itself. Some refer to this as the “grand bargain”. Other might consider it the effective employment of soft power. I believe there has been a multilateral effort, which has been ongoing, to use soft power. I personally question just how effective this has been to this point. Part my question comes from those who have made a habit of criticizing the US for acting in a unilateral mode are now calling for the US to do just that. If the E3 cannot effectively use soft power, does anyone really think the US can be more effective? Thinking inside the box the statement the US does not have sufficient manpower to both invade and occupy Iran given the current end strength of the military is correct Then again not everyone or every course of action has to be confined to inside the box. If at some point it should come to military action, the US would find little support among its “so called “ allies. I think no one is under any illusions they would. This determination would be based on the position Iran proposes no immediate and direct threat to European nations. Europe sees living with a nuclear armed Iran less costly than trying to disarm Iran through military action. This position will only change should a European city be the target of nuclear weapon launched by the Iranians. Besides the UN would never support such an action. Therefore such an action would violate international law. Israel and other nations in the region might feel differently about this, but they would have to determine their own courses of action and accommodations as it relates to Iran. There is an underlying assumption being made about having rather long time lines or so it would appear – 10 years and some think 20 years before Iran might take some type of warlike actions. In this assumption there is also the element everything else in the region is going to remain more or less as it is now. We are to believe Iran with newly acquired nuclear weapons and delivery systems that will not only reach every nation in the ME but most of Europe, will not try to exert and expand its influence or to obtain additional concessions to improve not only its new leadership position but also its internal economy. That seems to be a large assumption to both made and accept. But again, it is easy to do both given the other options. The idea some form of economic sanctions could be utilized to damage the Iranian economy to bring about an internal change of government appears to be nothing more than wishful thinking. I base this first on the lack of UN approval and secondly on the experience of such sanctions which were imposed on Iraq. So the choices for the West become even more limited. Not only is the use of hard power not a viable option, soft power seems to be having a limited impact and support for the Iranians who oppose the current government would be considered undue outside interference. It would therefore seem the best course of action is to learn to live with it, get france to make the deal and to get ready for the World Cup.

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

The point that bombing Iran facilities MIGHT make Iranians pull together behind their government is a valid one. But why do we hear no ANSWER to the argument for the other side? That's what irks me as an American. There's never a valid argument in answer to a point made by the American government. Europeans just let it in one ear and out the other, sidestepping the issue. They minimize the threat of terrorism and view Americans as seeing a terrorist under every bush. I dare say that if a nuclear bomb went off in Manhatten, two years later Europeans would be saying the same thing again. There's little doubt though, that bombing should be the last resort and at the last minute. Though we naturally wish to see resolution soon, it wouldn't be wise, and the American government seems to be trying to get Iran to take us seriously without giving the impression that we are nervous and about to strike. The fact that a strike would only delay development of nuclear weapons is irrelevant. So what? If they're slow learners, 10 or 15 years later, if necessary, we can just bomb the facilities again. So, that part of the argument is invalid.

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

"This really shows a lack of trust by the West if one jumps to the conclusion this is part of a weapons program." This statement implies some moral obligation trust Iran. Since when did trust become a virtue? Con artists still sell the Brooklynn bridge and property in Florida, sight unseen, to prove that trust is no virtue. It's credibility on account in a relationship. It has to be earned. On what grounds is Iran to be judged trustworthy? It defies common sense to trust Iran at all! I wouldn't believe them about what day of the week it is. Whom one picks to trust and mistrust should make sense with their track record. Iran's sucks. "One comment has already been made Iran does not trust the West and the West needs to show more respect towards Iran." This statement implies that respect is trust. Not. In fact, Iran's suspiciousness is anything but reason to trust it. Indeed, it is all the more reason to mistrust it. It is very dangerous to trust anyone that mistrusting of you. "It is their right as a sovereign nation to do so, anyway." Only if the treaties outlawing it are defunct. If all they want is nuclear power, they can have it. Why aren't they satisfied with the Russian offer? I'd like to hear an answer to that one. "The West cannot prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons." Wrong. And on grounds do you make that statement? "The use of hard power is not a viable option." Wrong. And on grounds do you make that statement? "This is the conclusion of not only experts but of Europe, their leaders as well as their citizens." What experts? Like the experts behind the global warming mythology? Like the experts that estimated 100,000 civilian casualties in Iraq? Like the experts of a few decades ago who predicted doom and gloom via a population explosion? Who checks up on these experts? Who fires them if they decieve or cave in to political correctness? Most important, who ELECTED these experts? Who do they therefore answer to? Oh, so now we let experts make all our decisions for us, not officials we get to elect and thus hold to account, right? Sounds like Big Brother style government (socialism) to me. I don't think Americans will settle for anything less than real democracy. As for the leaders of Europe, which ones do you mean? Prime Minister Tony Blair? More like Chirac & Company, eh? Not the ones with any credibity. As for Merkel, I think she just gets away with whatever good she can and gives in to reflex anti-Americanism on the rest. So, she doesn't have a lot of credibility either -- though she isn't hostile, and that's a big improvement. As for what the citizens of Europe think...is truth determined by popular opinion? Especially in a land where over 90% of the people agree on everything in foreign affairs? Does that indicate free thinking? or cattle herding by cowboys in the media and political class? Have the citizens of Europe (or anywhere) never been ridiculously and horribly wrong about anything? Yikes. Since it takes guts to get out of lockstep there (and on our densely populated coasts) the opinion of the minority is far safer to go by. Soft power has been tried and failed miserably. Soft power by the Big Three has only made Iran more aggressive. You yourself admit it. I agree with you 100% on the "unilateral" game. You essentially said that Europeans don't care how threatened Israel or the United States is. I agree, and therefore ask why they should have any say in the matter? That's a strong statement, but it shows what's wrong with Europe. It has shown time and again that it will stand by and let other people be mass murdered. It has made a virtue of this behavior. In fact, to hear Europeans talk, you'd think that what they did wrong in the 20th century was using force. No, it was in failing to use force where they should have. They were brave enough to go to war, but not brave enough to love their neighbor, their Jewish neighbors. Not brave enough to take action against Hitler for Czeckoslovakia's sake -- not till their own necks were at risk. This attitude is what disqualities Europe as a legitimate party to the decision-making process in any matter that doesn't directly affect Europe (in its own eyes). For, if you have nothing at stake in a matter, and don't even care about those who do, you have no right to any say in that matter. And by the way, "careing" isn't a mere sentiment that anyone can lie about having. It's an action verb. Europe has proved that it doesn't care, through "sins of ommission." "Besides the UN would never support such an action. Therefore such an action would violate international law." There's that international law mythology again. Where is it coming from? What treaty? What charter? What Security Council Resolution? Can it be established by fiat? as papal bulls establish canon law, a purely immanant thing till some lawyer gets around to writing it down every several hundred years? I agree that Europe is whistling in the dark. Europeans seem to think that Islamofascism is after "them" (meaning the Big and Little Satan) not "us." This is very dangerous denial of realities. I also agree that it flies in the face of reason to put much hope in sanctions. Don't forget though that we don't know exactly what the American military is capable of, or will be capable of in 8 or 10 years. What if, say, we have special forces in Iran recruiting intelligence assets and locating facilities? What if (using lessons learned in Afghanistan and Irac) we could simply take out the unpopular government in a fairly bloodless coup-type operation? Or what if a bombing campaign could be so clean as to be effective with very few civilian casualties? In 10 years, we could have custom ordinance for each facility. We just don't know the answers to these questions. So, I see no reason to be so afraid that bombing, if necessary, would be such a disaster. I think a good deal more confidence in our capabilities is called for. Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable. You can't bet a million lives on such a long shot. Nuclear weapons are not just a "status symbol." They are weapons of mass destruction. Iran could deliver them to our ally, Isreal, via ballistic missiles and to any city on the planet via its myriad connections with terrorists. No way. It simply cannot be allowed. I thought Americans were supposed to be the "legalistic" ones.

Fuchur on :

I really don´t know what you want from the Europeans. Last week, Merkel and Bush announced that they were in full agreement over the issue of Iran. Well, that´s good, isn´t it? I don´t see the point of talking up differences when there aren´t any.

Fuchur on :

I guess Kathy missed your sarcasm. Serves you right, joe :-)

Harry on :

Here is an article that describes how the dollar inflation which is exported to the world is in fact a system of monetary imperialism, not so different from the Romans or British who had their colonies pay tribute. However, the system is more concealed, however, it works just as well. To my great relief, other nations are recognizing the U.S. Ponzi scam and start dumping the US Dollar for EUR or gold. In the end, it will leave the US citizens as slaves of the monetary establishment, eternally trapped in debt. Justice at last. 50 years of brainless comsumption and spending must be punished after all. In English: [url]http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/economy/2006/0118oilbourse.htm[/url] In German: [url]http://www.choices.li/item.php?id=163[/url]

joe on :

Fuchur, Sarcasm? Would I use this in a debate about serious topics with serious people? Just look at some of the comments. The thought processes behind these are brilliant. Besides I am not sure what Kathy is all fired up about. I just took the salient points that have been made by many Europeans, UN’ers, and the Left in the US as well as experts and consolidated them into a single post. Many of those who post here take these same positions and made the same points. The only differences in my post was the use of the word “surrender” and letting the french be the lead nation. Of course, the french always think they are the lead nation. This is one time they can be. Based on how Germany’s foreign policy has mirrored theirs I see no franco-Germany conflict on this. I probably could have used a more historical quote such as “Peace in our time” instead of surrender. I did not because I really was unsure how many people might actually remember it. Let’s face it, our collective reading of history does not seem to be very good. We surely seem to learn little from it. It is possible we fail to learn from history because it is in a continued state of revision. An example is it now appears everyone in france in WWII really was part of the resistance. But some have established the hidden and real problem in all of this. It is those Jews again. Kathy, I am so disappointed in your post. You did little to further the debate. In fact, your comments appear to be very stereotypical of the Bush Administration and their supporters. They lack a sense of reality. At the same time in all your ranting you fail to acknowledge the shared values we have with the Europeans. Silly woman, that is why we support each other so much. I am equally disappointed in you lack of knowledge about experts. Experts are everywhere but they seem to be more predominate in academia, M$M and of course non-elected government positions. In Europe they are called elites and can be found in the same places but also in elected positions. They get elected using a system you are unfamiliar with, proportionality. It results in the strong governments you see in Berlin, paris and Rome. It is much more representative than the US because there are lots of political parties. And if as a citizen in Germany or france and you disagree with the policies of the government you have elected you can take to the streets and change those policies. I can also see you really do not follow the current discussion in the M$M very much. If you were you would be able to quickly identify some of these experts such as Madeline Albright, former SecState who brought the US the “grand bargain” with NPK. That is working so well she feels it would work just as well with Iran. There are editorial staffs of the NYT and the WashPo, the only creditable source of news and information about the US. They are a true collection of experts. You will find there an expert on almost any policy issue. Think of Tom Friedman. He has a foreign policy solution for every issue. You can find them among the retired military too. For example Zinni, who has been a media star of late calling for the SECDEF to resign. He knows a little bit about this topic. He was the commander in Somalia. He sent his forces into combat without the proper support resulting in the deaths of 18 Americans. There was such an outcry within the military about the denial of support it resulted in the resignation of the then SECDEF. This is the same Zinni who did not pass on threat warnings to the USS Cole when it docked in Aden, Yemen for refueling, where al-Qaida terrorists blew up the ship. The resulting deaths there were 17 sailors. It is also the same Zinni who may have played a role in an August 1998 leak that tipped off Osama bin Laden to an impending U.S. cruise missile attack - allowing the top terrorist to escape. So yes Zinni knows about incompetence He also know about resignations. He can spot incompetence in others a mile away and as for resignations, an honorable thing for others to do. Kathy there is just so much in your post to address I do not think I can. I only can say you need to stop living in a Hobbesian world. My other suggestion is you also need to stop seeing the world as good or evil. This is just too judgmental. Besides who gave you the right to judge, anyway? David asked if you have ever lived overseas. I missed your answer. I would suggest you do. You will become more enlightened. I suggest either france or Germany. There the citizens will explain to how not only is America a threat to world peace, but how evil it is and how there are all those stupid people there who voted for GWB. I promise it will make you a better person. It did wonders for me. Harry, Think you are on to something. Let us hope at least with the value of the dollar and the euro these trends continue. A weak dollar will close the trade deficit, will make US good cheaper, make imports more expensive, and probably decrease unemployment below the current rate of 4.7%. As the euro continues to increase in value, exports will decline, euro zone goods will become more expensive and unemployment will increase. I am not sure about future generations being slaves however, the US could just default and print new money and the party could just continue. And of course, we all know consumption is bad. Consumption by individuals is incongruous with the principles of the social welfare state. Equally we all also know the social welfare state is government of choice and why so many nations are choosing it. But you do point out a need for the ESDP. A weaken America with enslaved citizens will no longer be a player in the world. I would have to assume the EU is prepared to take over the role the US has played in the world. With role for Europe will come many new responsibilities which I know the citizens of Europe wait eagerly to assume. On this I wish you greater success than the Americans have had. Just remember the 21st Century belongs to Europe.

Zyme on :

Not only will they go bankrupt long before we do, they will also have to worry about a great part of their population being too fat to be of any use anymore. Has anyone read the recently corrected numbers? http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/0,1518,414222,00.html Its a must read - have fun! :)

joe on :

. Finally something America can be first in. Realize it is really an American only problem, if it is a problem or more of a symptom of over consumption. The problem of obesity is immense on both sides of the Atlantic. Azar said 130 million U.S. citizens are overweight and 60 million are obese. In the E.U., with a larger population, 204 million are overweight and 61.4 million obese. The danger, both leaders agreed, was particularly bad for children. E.U. Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said that obesity accounts for up to 7% of direct health care costs. Let us hope Germany’s ally, the french do not take this as something else America leads the world in and feels they must come up with a french challenge just as they have to Goggle, CNN, Boeing, university education and the internet. If they do, it is possible Europe could actually overtake the US given its population size. With a bunch of fat euros who is going to protect the world in the 21ST Century?

Jorg on :

Talking about obesity: Is our homepage getting too fat, i.e. getting slower do load? I installed Amazon advertisements and icons that let you bookmark a post on a social bookmarking site.

Martin on :

Sarcasm is always a great way to criticize others without sharing your own point of view, which might be full of illogic as well. Some people use sarcasm when they are afraid or just don't want to be bothered with criticism for their position. Joe why don't you tell us now what you really think about Iran, American intentions and dettermination???

joe on :

Martin, Would you say this "dettermination" Do you determination? What type of determination? If so by whom? Do you mean all the players - E3, EU, NATO, UN, US, Iran?

joe on :

Martin, You assume I am using sarcasm. All I have done is to summarize the points, which have been made numerous times on both sides of the Atlantic and many of those who post comments here. So other than this summation, you are correct in that I have added little of my personal viewpoint to the overall debate. I probably should not have used the term “surrender” as some might take this to be too provocative. Maybe a better word would have been diplomatic solution. However if one looks at results, then surrender very well could be the correct word choice. Martin, how serious should one take most of the comments being made here? How serious should one even consider the articles selected for comment? Given the level of critical thinking displayed by most of the comments, I find it difficult for me personally to do so. And let me define the term “critical thinking” so there will be no misunderstanding of what I mean. Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. But critical thinking is not what this blog is about or at least it is not what its stated purpose is. Jorg states the purpose of this blog is “We strive for a critical, but fair and multifaceted coverage of US policies. The first definition I find of the word “critical” is inclined to judge severely and find fault. Another definition, which seems to apply, is marked by a tendency to find and call attention to errors and flaws. So in fact most of the comments are in keeping with the purpose of this blog. They are critical but reflect little else.Then it gets a bit confusing because Jorg also states as a goal “We hope to contribute to mutual understanding . . .” To critical thinking, I would add the need for some form of analysis. Analysis to be effective must result in some conclusion and it should be comparison of a set of alternatives. If you want to reach a level of mutual understanding, not to be confused with mutual agreement, then you really do have to do these two things, critical thinking and analysis when you construct a comment. Just as the Jorg frames the topic with comments as “charm offensive”, it establish a tone of where this discussion will go. I would be interested if the Frau Fuehrer’s visit to the US was also considered a “charm offensive” and if so what purpose did it serve. I would request you review the comments made on this topic. Bush interview with German TV about Merkel's soul, transatlantic cooperation on Iran, Guantanamo, climate change. They do meet the purpose of the blog in that they are critical. Are there any that really warrant a comment? Did you read any which addressed anything the POTUS said? Of course, I would like to think most of this has to do with the messenger and not with the message. At least, I would hope so because if they do not then the rift in trans-Atlantic relations is much greater than anyone will ever publicly state. Then I might suggest you read the interview the POTUS did with Bild. You can find a transcript here. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/05/20060507-2.html It was much more informative. One comment, which the POTUS made during the interview, is worth noting here. It was. “And when Ahmadinejad speaks, we need to take it seriously, and when he says he wants to destroy Israel, the world needs to take that very seriously. It's a serious threat. It's a threat to an ally of the United States and Germany. But what he's also saying is, if he's willing to destroy one country, he'd be willing to destroy other countries. And, therefore, this is a threat that has got to be dealt with in a way that -- where the world -- this is an important moment for the world to come together and deal with this in a way that's diplomatic, so that the next person who thinks, or the next country that thinks they can threaten, will understand that there is an effective response. “ In fact, the next exchange between Bild and the POTUS is equally as interesting. I view these as serious statements made by a serious person on a very serious subject. That particular part of the interview might be worth discussion or comment about if someone really said something that was not fantastical, naïve or pensive. I find Dr Dean’s comment to fall into that category most of the time. Still I enjoy his comments because they reflect a lot about his values, thought process and his ability to arrive at a point of what he believes. He did say one thing, which I thought was quite thought provoking. He made a comment about when evil is identified it should be addressed. He really did not expand that very much beyond that point but it was from my perspective a very excellent comment. So Martin, it seems more appropriate to post “drive by comments” such as those posted by David or Thomas. Oh, and my use of sarcasm is usually saved to point out demonstrated hypocrisy.

The Editors of the Atlantic Review on :

Although we appreciate open discussions on our blog, we do not consider "Frau Fuehrer" an appropriate choice of words when speaking about Chancellor Merkel. We prefer thoughtful comments with arguments that give a different perspective. Name-calling is not helpful. More here: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/316-Merkel-is-politically-Europes-strongest-leader.html#c2532[/url]

Fuchur on :

@joe In other words: This silly little blog and its silly commenters don´t merit a serious comment from someone as erudite as yourself. Charming. [i]Just as the Jorg frames the topic with comments as “charm offensive”, it establish a tone of where this discussion will go.[/i] So now you´re accusing Jorg of giving the whole topic an anti-American spin!? Nonsense. But it´s quite telling that you consider the idea that Bush might be interested in good relationships with Germany as insulting. [i]Then I might suggest you read the interview the POTUS did with Bild.[/i] Um, joe: Actually, that´s the interview Jorg´s talking about in his post... [i]Frau Fuehrer[/i] Well, you´re in good company: Some fuming Iranian official said something similar after Merkel had rather clearly expressed her opinion about Iran´s current policy at the Munich Security Conference... Merkel´s charm offensive lies already some years back: At the height of the Iraq war debate, she decided to fly over to the US to openly show her pro-American position. Boy, did she get clobbered by the German media for this. Spiegel (or Stern) ran a charming cartoon reminiscent of Monica Lewinsky... But I think this gained her a lot of sympathy from George Bush.

Dr. Dean on :

@Joe Dear Joe, you said:[quote]The use of hard power is not a viable option. This is the conclusion of not only experts but of Europe, their leaders as well as their citizens.[/quote] My point of view is: 1. [b]General[/b] statements about "Europe" or the "European citizens" do not fit well - in general... Compare it with your country. There is no homogene blcok of neocons. For example there are ultra militaristic necons, there are real fasists of the [i]"Nuke mecca!"[/i]-type and most of them are moderate neocons. The GOP includes all of this types of neocons and additonally some types of "bible belt"-conservatives, moderate conservatives, old school conservatives, "strong republicans", christo fascists like Ann Coulter, many types of libertarian conservatives and so on and so on. Additionally: GOP is only a part of America. Really fasczinating and inhomogene. Same as "Europe". 2. I think a more appropriate "general" statement would be: [i]The use of hard power is [b]NOW[/b] (and for the next five years) not a viable option. This is the conclusion of not only experts but of Europe, [b]most[/b] of their leaders as well as [b]most[/b] of their citizens.[/i] The important word here is NOW. Hey Joe, this would be a really good start point for you for a an anti-"appeasement" rant (now)!

Joerg on :

Thanks, Fuchur. I appreciate that. I remember that I promised you a better post on German immigration policy, because the last one was not fair and quoted Zakaria's referenc to the old policy. I just want to let you know, that I have not totally forgotten about it. My fellow blogger Sonja found something good concerning the debate in the US. More later this week.

joe on :

Thank you for bringing to my attention the unacceptable usage of the word Fueher of this blog. I found the translation of this word meant leader. I assumed it was an acceptable usage in this form as it is used by some German M$M when referring to the POTUS. There must be background information that I missing.

Fuchur on :

Well, thanks for your interesting blog! As they say: Commenting is the sincerest form of flattery :-) .

Joerg on :

You are referring to Spiegel Online. Very well explained and criticized at [url=http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2006/02/spiegels_karen_.html]Davids Medienkritik[/url] You write: "I assumed it was an acceptable usage" Well, it seems you have not read the Davids Medienkritik piece. Moreover the Atlantic Review is not Spiegel Online. You will not find a single word of praise for Spiegel and Spiegel Online in the Atlantic Review. To the contrary: For example here: [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/285-Why-is-Abu-Ghraib-a-cover-story-again-but-not-Darfur.html]Why is Abu Ghraib a cover story again, but not Darfur?[/url] Now, please stop the provocations and get back to reasonable arguments.

Dr. Dean on :

Hey Joe, don't worry! You wrote:[quote]There must be background information that I missing.[/quote]No! No! Indeed, [i]you[/i] are [i]not[/i] missing background information. The usage of the word "Fuehrer" for a common german chancellor is typical e.g. for some simple minded Britishers. No problem with that, Joe! I am sure, its just your usage. Just one of your favorite words. It gives you a good feeling? Therefore i suppose you will use the word "Fuehrer" for Mr. Walker Bush, Romano Prodi or whatever. In [i]your[/i] case: No problem! It makes clear that you are a perfect follower of the ideology behind "Davids Medienkritik" and all that stuff. They will welcome your way of thinking very much. Sure! You are a [i]very[/i] good pupil!Ggallantly using ot this word! Great! Sincerely yours P.S. You are exaktly behaving and argueing in the way simple minded German loony lefties think: this is [i]typical[/i] for Americans. In fact you are not...

joe on :

Fuchur Actually, I did not say this blog is silly. I said some comments posted did not warrant a comment or even serious consideration. I have to assume you take all these comments seriously. And yes from time to time, you probably did notice I made some erudite comments, which were usually challenged by someone with an emotional outburst because it challenged there self-perception, their beliefs, values and their view of reality. I said the discussion is framed by both the topic and the introductory comments. I make no such claims that you attribute to me about Jorg or the webmasters. I accept what they have stated as their purpose. I said I found it to be confusing between the method used and the goal. I have always had a degree of difficulty with trying to understand what was meant by “critical”. Critical in relationship to what? It becomes an open-ended statement. One can criticize anything and everything. Most people find that to be very easy. It is also very lazy. Equally I do not find it insulting that the POTUS would want good relations with Germany. I think it is the desire of both the POTUS as well as the American people to have good relationships with all nations. I am not sure how you made the leap from my comments to idea that having good relationships with Germany is some how insulting. The logic behind your statement baffles me. Jorg commented about part of the POTUS “charm offensive” was a desire to close Gtimo. This is not really a new position by POTUS if one has actually been following this issue since the question of what to do with those captured. It has always been a difficult policy question. Just because it was presented in a different way so the M$M could understand does not make it new. I would suggest you recall the briefing the US Army gave about Abu Ghraib months before it became a media issue. At the time it was a media non-event. By the time it did become a media event, an investigation was near completion and a course of action in accordance with the code of uniformed military justice had already been put into motion. This was not as many believe some great press discovery. The debate about Gitmo within the Administration has been on going since the time it was first established. It will continue until such time as it is closed. Actually it will probably continued even after then. But the question about Gitmo is really about what are the realistic alternatives. If the alternative is to declare these individuals EPOW’s, I have no problem with that. They can remain at Gitmo or some other location till the end of the war. Your Chancellor prior to her first visit to WDC called for the closure of Gitmo, a reasonable position for her. I might have missed this as it was not reported in the M$M in the US but what was her alternative? And did you consider her alternative to be realistic? So if I am to understand your position, the Chancellor of Germany comes to the US for frank diplomatic discussions and the POTUS engagement with Europe is a “charm offensive”. If this is how you view this, and it is apparently how this blog does, then I think we both might agree that the POTUS should stop wasting his time. I am sure many here would agree with this also. But at the risk of being considered provocative, I shall reform my comments to conform to the greater collective harmony. I would request if you see that I am straying from this that you will immediately point out the errors of my ways. Thank you.

Jorg on :

"Critical" means that we are not singing childrens songs about transatlantic relations ("I love you, you love me, we are happy family") as some organizations devoted to better transatlantic relations do. Moreover, when you describe yourself in Germany as proAmerican or a supporter of the US and transatlantic relations and you state that you want to improve transatl. relations, then many Germans assume you are a war mongering neocon Bush apologist, who loves everything from America, because it comes from America. We are not like that. That's why the word "critical". Please, stop making some ideological issue out of a single word. You sound like one of those theorists, who waste their time with words. ================== I pointed out that the term "charme offensive" was frequently used in the German media. "Harmony" as well. Perhaps because Pres. Bush was just too nice to Merkel. Taking about her soul and at length about her growing up in an unfree society was too much. Merkel did not praise Bush. You do not improve bilateral relations by praising the character of the head of state, but by working on issues of mutual importance. Substance counts. Not just words. To have good relations it is not enough to say "I love you, you love, me are a happy family". Have you seen a different account of the meeting? Merkel did not bring up the Gitmo detainee from German. And Bush did not bring up the "World Cup Brothels". Congressmen Smith pressured Bush to do so. He said that Bush would feel strongly about sex trafficking. German complicity etc. More about this soon in the Atlantic Review. Pres Bush's statement on Gitmo mark a change. Did you read the Slate article mention in this post? [url]http://www.slate.com/id/2141396?nav=wp[/url] Or our earlier post [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/169-The-struggle-for-the-rule-of-law-Guantanamo-and-torture.html[/url] If he really wants to close Gitmo, then he should say how he wants to go about it rather than spending $30 million for a new Gitmo prison: [url]http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/world/14483606.htm[/url] However, apparently Merkel and Bush had a good debate on Iran. And agreed on some common policy on Iran. At least for a while. Listening to their statements, I see a lot of room for both of them to disagree and pursue different policies. It remains to be seen if transatlantic relations and cooperation have improved. Perhaps the visit made a major contribution. Who knows?

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