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What a Difference 10 Years Can Make

French foreign policy has not changed that much in the last decade, but some prominent US opinions about Paris have.

I am surprised to read the headline "Can the E.U. become the world's policeman?" in the Washington Post. Anne Applebaum's latest op-ed about French policy in Mali concludes that Americans should "stop giggling about cheese-eating surrender monkeys and start offering logistical and moral support. Europe may not be the best superpower. But it's the only one we've got."

Wow. Thanks. But that's too much praise. Of course, the EU will not, cannot and does not even want to become the world's policeman or a superpower in the foreseeble future.

Still it's nice to read this as we approach the 10th anniversary of the transatlantic quarrels over the Iraq war. On January 24, 2003 the NY Post published the “Axis of Weasel” cover story about France and Germany and a play on George W. Bush’s denunciation of the “axis of evil”. And then there were the Subway ads, which SuperFrenchie campaigned against.

Anne Applebaum assumes that Europe has changed so much since the Libya operation and makes a big deal out of the French intervention in Mali and its context. I think she exaggerates, but she also makes important observations, which will change American perceptions of France:

In other words, the French are in Mali fighting an international terrorist organization with the potential to inflict damage across North Africa and perhaps beyond. Not long ago, this sort of international terrorist organization used to inspire emergency planning sessions at the Pentagon. Now the French have had trouble getting Washington to pay attention at all. Some U.S. transport planes recently helped ferry French soldiers to the region but, according to Le Figaro, the Americans at first asked the French to pay for the service - "a demand without precedent" - before wearily agreeing to help.

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A Tale of Two Cities

I was not that impressed by Obama's speech yesterday, but I strongly believe that Europe can learn a lot from the inauguration. Take for instance today's German/French celebrations of the Elysée Treaty.

The French parliamentarians and many ministers commemorated the 50th anniversary with their German counterparts in the Bundestag. That's a great gesture. I listened to Lammert and Hollande during my lunch break. It was okay, but rhetorically far from the level of Obama. And I missed the hope and vision thing. My main criticism, however, is the lack of big public celebrations.

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Davis Hanson: Poking Germany Leads to War

French President Hollande suggests that intervention might be required in Syria, but Germany's political leaders don't like the idea, explains the Christian Science Monitor. Germany is extremely reluctant and cautious of any military intervention. Libya last year was not an exception, but the rule.

Despite all this, Victor Davis Hanson, a historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, warns in the National Review that Germany might go to war against its EU neighbors:

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Germany's Lost Credibility at NATO

The Spiegel article "Germany's Reputation in NATO Has Hit Rock Bottom" by Ulrike Demmer and Christoph Schult is the most convincing criticism of Berlin's role at NATO I have read in a while. And there were soo many articles recently.

When reading the usual attacks on our vote on Libya, the Afghanistan mission and the low defense budget, I am often drawn to defend my country's policies. This article, however, argues convincingly with many examples that our government does not care about NATO's future. Berlin lacks the will to staff senior positions with Germans and is not committed to making Smart Defense work.

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GUTS instead of BRICS

"The West is not in decline, at least not in its entirety. Rather, the financial crisis has created a two-speed West. Four large countries -- Germany, South Korea, Turkey, and the United States -- are actually increasing their international influence." write Bruce Jones and Thomas Wright in Foreign Policy:

Germany stands apart as a rising power amidst a weakened Europe. Its unemployment rate is at a post-Cold War low and its timely market reforms have allowed it to export its way out of the recession. The euro crisis is Germany's greatest challenge but, ironically, it has also made Germany the continent's preeminent diplomatic and geoeconomic power: For better or worse, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has won argument after argument about the future direction of the EU, often despite deep reservations from other member states. Francois Hollande's election in France will complicate but not erode Merkel's position. And even if she loses power next year -- an unlikely prospect despite her recent setbacks in regional elections -- a different German leader will continue to profit from Germany's economic strength within Europe.

A new Atlantic Council report states that "Germany must match its economic power with the strategic ambition and military capability to contribute more strongly to Alliance operations worldwide."

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US Nukes in Europe

The removal of US nukes from German soil is an official German government goal. Westerwelle is also keen on changing NATO's nuclear policy. Both goals met resistance from our allies, but the government made decisions that support such a development anyway.

Brookings on the future of the US nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey:

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"We have become the Americans of Europe"

Although Germany approves one aid package after the other for Greece, "hardly a day goes by without Chancellor Angela Merkel being depicted in a Nazi uniform somewhere. Swastikas are a common sight as well," writes Jan Fleischhauer in both the German and English Edition of Der Spiegel.

He does not blame the imposed austerity measures for our lack of popularity, but rather Germany's success, self-confidence and strength. He concludes that Germans have become "the Americans of Europe":

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Johnny Cash: 80th Birthday

The Man in Black was born 80 years ago today. From About: "In 1950, Johnny Cash was stationed in Landsberg, Germany as a radio operator with the U.S. Air Force. While in Germany, his hearing was permanently damaged by a German girl who had playfully stuck a pencil in his left ear. But it was also in Germany that Cash bought his first guitar and put together his first band, the Landsberg Barbarians."

Below is a video of his performance at Wetten Dass 30 years ago. 

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