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Support for the Transatlantic Partnership on the Rise

The German Marshall Fund released its 2008 transatlantic trends poll yesterday, which shows a thaw in transatlantic relations. From the press release:

“Based on common values and shared interests, the survey shows that Americans and Europeans want closer relations,” said Craig Kennedy, president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “Whether it’s the result of world events, a new U.S. administration on the horizon, or insecurity on several fronts, a new American president will have the opportunity to not only improve the United States’ standing in the world, but perhaps also to ask more of European leaders.”

However, despite perceived common values and a general interest in the same topics, Europeans generally feel that Europe should act more independently, although the number of Europeans who want closer relations with the US is increasing. Interestingly, though, few Europeans think that Europe should take a 'go it alone' course, with the majority favouring partnership with the US in addressing threats. This could be taken to mean that Europeans want Europe to be more assertive in such a partnership, or simply that the general population hasn't thought this through and exhibits a well-known but surprisingly extreme differential response to differently phrased questions (31% want closer relations, 67% want to address international threats in partnership).

Continue reading "Support for the Transatlantic Partnership on the Rise"

Arrogant Germans See Their Country as a World Power

When Bavarian born Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as Pope, a major German tabloid declared: "We are Pope." Germany is also "Export World Champion" and damn proud of that title as long as we have it; China is likely to defeat Germany in 2008. And we are also Soccer World Champion of the Hearts, just like Lady Di was Queen of the Hearts.

Against this backdrop it might not be so surprising that nearly half of Germans see their country as a world power. The just released international Bertelsmann survey (PDF, in German, HT: Jan) indicates that Germans' views of themselves as a world power increased from the 2005 study by 8 percent to 49 percent in 2007.

Personal comment: Megalomania seems to be on the rise. After all, Germany's foreign policy commitments have not increased in the last two years to justify this change of perception. I am not very appreciative of Germany's participation in the Lebanon and Congo mission.

The survey indicates that Germans, more than other nations, do not see military strength as an important quality of a world power, but rather "political stability and economic strength." Surprisingly many respondents from other countries (30%) believe that Germany plays a leading role on the world stage. Thus, it is not just Germans, who overestimate the federal republic's foreign policy influence.

Besides, the United States' role as a global power is diminishing according to respondents from around the world. Spiegel International reports:

To complete the study, released on Wednesday and entitled "Who Rules the World?", Bertelsmann commissioned pollsters Gallup International and TNS-EMNID to survey 9,000 respondents in the United States, Russia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Germany, France and Britain. According to the survey, Germans believe there will be a shift in the global constellation of power that will be to the advantage of China, India and Brazil and to the disadvantage of the US. It's an assessment that, the survey showed, is shared around the world.

In the view of respondents, the US will be the future's major "loser," according to the study. Today, the US, with an 81 percent ranking, still stands far ahead of China with its 50 percent ranking in the list of global powers. But respondents said America's standing as a world power would fall to 61 percent by 2020. During that time, China is expected to rise to 57 percent, just a few points below the US's ranking. (...)

Forty-six percent of Germans responded that their country would play a leading role in the world. Apparently the only other country that takes Germany as seriously as it takes itself in its global role is Britain -- a position that owes itself to history and Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent performance as the European Union's rotating president and chair of the G8. Worldwide, though, only 30 percent of respondents considered Germany to play a leading role in international politics. When asked if they think Germany will play a leading role in 2020, that figure dropped to 25 percent.

Commentary at Observing Hermann.