Sunday, May 4. 2014
Ahead of Chancellor Merkel's US trip I had the pleasure to be on the TV talkshow "Agenda" at Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster.
Continue reading "Discussing Transatlantic Relations on Deutsche Welle TV"
Sunday, November 27. 2011
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Transatlantic Relations on Sunday, November 27. 2011
American and German Youtube users are most interested in asking their respective heads of government about the legalization of marijuana. This seems to be another indication that US and German social media users think much more alike than the political elites do. I am disappointed that more important questions are much less popular.
Last week, Chancellor Merkel responded on the government's Youtube channel to ten questions from citizens. She responded negatively to this questions about the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana which had received the most votes on Youtube:
For Merkel it was the first Youtube Q&A, while President Obama has been conducting three YouTube question-and-answer sessions already. According to CBS News, the session in January 2011 was "as always" dominated by marijuana:
Continue reading "Transatlantic Unity on Marijuana"
Sunday, November 28. 2010
According to Spiegel, Wikileaks reveals that US diplomats consider Foreign Minister Westerwelle to be incompetent and Chancellor Merkel to be risk averse. So what? Most Germans think the same. Of course, US diplomats are more candid in secret cables than in public statements. Everybody is.
I refuse to join the media's hyperventilation over these revelations caused by WikiLeaks' "information vandalism." The Guardian opines that the leaks have already created a "global diplomatic crisis." They used that headline right after publishing the cables. That sounds like we are at the brink of war. All of a sudden it is 1914 and Franz Ferdinand has just been assassinated.
Okay, for a few seconds, I was hyperventilating, when I read in the September 2009 cable published on Spiegel:
Continue reading "Wikileaks Hyperventilation or "Transatlantic Brainwashing""
Thursday, June 24. 2010
We all need more team spirit. Obama's Afghanistan team is in disarray. Their egos seem to be as bloated as the ego's in the French soccer team.
While President Obama is angry with McChrystal's frank comments and perhaps insubordination, President Sarkozy is reportedly furious over the national team's behaviour inside and outside the soccer stadiums. It was not really a "team." He even cleared his schedule for a one hour meeting with the captain on the day of a general labor strike. That shows how important the soccer team is for France as a symbol of national integration and unity.
Germany's coalition government has been in disarray for months as well with some calling each other "wild pigs" and "gherkin troops" (rank amateurs). (There are also rumors that one cabinet member called the defense minister "rumpelstiltskin.") Though, thanks to the national soccer team's victory over Ghana today, Merkel's government won't collapse yet. ;-)
If Germany had failed to make it into the round of sixteen for the first time in history, it would have been a national fiasco. Let's do not forget that the German coach is not called "Trainer der Nationalmannschaft," but goes by the official sounding name "Bundestrainer," just like the top government titles "Bundeskanzler," "Bundespräsident" etc.
On Sunday, we will play against England. One British fan said on TV that the world cup was invented for England and Germany to play against each other. Good point. Still, it is regrettable (but not at all surprising) that the British tabloid The Sun uses military language to describe the upcoming match. Come on, guys. It's just soccer. The real war is in Afghanistan.
Continue reading "US, France and Germany: Divisions and Lack of Professionalism Everywhere"
Wednesday, April 14. 2010
Chancellor Merkel is traveling across America this week. She loves the United States, but she is still having trouble connecting with Barack Obama, writes Spiegel International (HT: David). The media loves to personalize politics. I think at the end of the day the problem is not the personal relationship between Obama and Merkel, but its structural. After long descriptions of the well-known differences in Obama's and Merkel's style of politics, Spiegel comes to the same conclusion in the end:
Monday, April 5. 2010
President Obama thus far has failed to strengthen relationships with historic allies, focusing instead on a fruitless search for improved relations with adversaries, writes Robert Kagan in the Washington Post (via Atlantic Community):
Before you dismiss these observation because the author is a neocon, check out the Roger Cohen's NY Times article, which describes Obama's disconnect with traditional allies in much stronger words:
Continue reading "Obama Does Not Have International Friends"
Tuesday, November 3. 2009
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Transatlantic Relations on Tuesday, November 3. 2009
I wonder what the Obama team is asking the Merkel team right now.
The German election campaign is over. So is the grace period for tough demands for more German support, which the Obama administration probably gave the German government due to the unpopularity of the Afghanistan war.
Angela Merkel also had her big day at Congress calling upon US lawmakers to sign up to internationally binding obligations that global warming must not exceed two degrees celsius. (That's good and brave, but won't help to win friends at Congress.)
Addressing a joint session of Congress was a great honor that comes at a price, says Josef Braml of the German Council on Foreign Relations: "It is a gesture where a service is expected in return: the German government should do more to help shoulder the burden of international commitments." Braml said according to AFP that "the grace period is over -- now we need to deliver."
The AFP article also points out that Merkel's new foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, managed to insert a passage into the coalition agreement calling for the estimated 10 to 20 US nuclear warheads in Germany to be removed.
I wonder how team Obama is responding to all that. Are they having tough and frank talks with team Merkel right now? Will anything happen? Reinvigoration of transatlantic cooperation?
Endnote: And the American people? Is Merkel's speech getting noticed and discussed by anyone but the policy wonks and a few bloggers? After all, Merkel is supposed to be "Europe's quiet leader" is according to Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum:
Thursday, September 24. 2009
The election campaign in Germany was pretty boring, but it got a bit more interesting in recent weeks as the opinion polls show some movement. Merkel will most likely remain chancellor, but its open whether she will govern with the Liberal Democrats, or have to continue to work with the Social Democrats. The latter gained a few percentage points in the polls in recent weeks.
And now, a German "Obama girl" has appeared. She sings that she has a crush on German Foreign Minister Steinmeier ("Steini") from the Social Democrats. Will everything change now? Is Steinmeier going to become chancellor after all? Nah, I doubt it. It's just funny that pretty cheap versions of Obama type campaigning are appearing now in Germany.
For a bit more seriousness have a look at the The Obama Check by the TapMag blog ranking German politicians' Obamaness.
Related post on Atlantic Review: Germans Learned Nothing from Obama
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