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German Government Split on President Bush's Climate Policy

Chancellor Merkel (CDU) welcomed President Bush's invitation to the world's 16 worst polluters for climate talks, despite his continuing opposition to mandatory targets on global warming. German Foreign Minister Steinmeier (SPD), however, thinks that it would be more productive to negotiate with individual US states rather than with the US federal government. He recently met with Governor Schwarzenegger, see Casey Butterfield's op-ed "For Transatlantic Future, Look Beyond Heads of State" in Atlantic Community.

And Germany's Environment Minister Gabriel (SPD) got real angry with Chancellor Merkel's and President Bush's proposal to expand nuclear energy to fight climate change. He is quoted by DW World:

First you urge people to expand nuclear energy and then you send in NATO to bomb the nuclear power plants because they did the wrong thing -- that isn't particularly intelligent politics.

Well, that is quite a populistic statement by the former SPD commissioner for pop-culture. After all, the IAEA found indications that Iran's nuclear program is not for civilian use only. Besides, it is very unlikely that NATO would agree to bomb Iran.

Angela Merkel Annoys China by Meeting Dalai Lama

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have invited the Dalai Lama to the White House in 1994 and 2001. German chancellors have avoided upsetting the Chinese. Until now. Angela Merkel hosted a "private meeting" with the Dalai Lama in the chancellory on Sunday, September 23rd.

It was about time! Germany's federal president von Weizsäcker met with the Dalai Lama in 1990 and German foreign ministers Kinkel and Fischer agreed to meetings as well, but Merkel is Germany's first head of government to dare what US presidents have done in the past.
AFP reports that "Merkel signalled that she supported the Dalai Lama's quest for cultural autonomy for the Himalayan region, sticking to the course she steered during a visit to China in August in which she readily tackled human rights issues." Now China has cancelled two top-level meetings in retaliation.

China, however, seems to be doing some good work as well. Like many other papers, The Guardian writes: 

There are reports that China is pressuring Burma to avoid a crackdown. "The Myanmar government is tolerating the protesters and not taking any action against the monks because of pressure from China," a diplomat told The Associated Press. China wants to be seen as a moderating influence ahead of next year's Beijing Olympics.

Related post in the Atlantic Review: Olympics 2008: Only Americans Remind China of its Responsibility for Darfur

ENDNOTE: Merkel is not the only one who is dares to meet a foreign leader despite negative repercussions. Barack Obama says he would be willing as president to meet with President Ahmadinejad of Iran as a way to protect U.S. interests, reports Breitbart. The NY Daily News considers Ahmadinejad as the personification of evil. See graphic to the right.
Well, Saddam is gone and there is not much interest in catching Bin Laden. They need someone else. Kim Jong-Il still runs North Korea like a Gulag, but who cares? He agreed to dismantle his nukes, so he is not all that evil anymore for the NY Daily News.

Merkel is the World's Most Powerful Woman, but What About Gender Equality?

The BBC has the list of the top ten most powerful women according to Forbes Magazine. What I find interesting is that there are so many Asian women at the top. Emancipation is certainly not a Western thing. (Via Erkan's Field Diary)

A German expat living in the United States had a closer look at the Forbes list of the 100 most powerful women and noticed: "Depressingly, Angela Merkel is the only German woman in that ranking. There are eight women from China, four from France, three from the Netherlands, seven from the UK, and fifty from the US."

I think there are plenty of studies that show that more women rise to the top in business, academic and political careers in the United States than in Germany. As usual, Scandinavia is at the top.

Will Brown's Dinner With Merkel Leave Bush Hungry?

UK US FlagTraditionally, the British prime minister's first foreign visit is to Washington, but Gordon Brown chose dinner with Angela Merkel instead. Is this the beginning of the end of the special relationship between the UK and the US?

Gordon Brown's "Mini-Me", the Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander, gave a controversial speech in Washington DC on Thursday. He was talking about forming "new alliances." He expressed his preference of a "rules-based international system" and of multilateralism over unilateralism. For some reason, many observers got the impression that he was not just talking about the fight against global poverty. His speech was interpreted as "coded criticism" of the Bush administration... Really? Isn't that an over-interpretation of the tea leaves?

Meanwhile, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung predicts that French President Nicolas Sarkozy will fill the "vacuum" that Blair left in Washington. Yeah, right...

More about all this in my post in the Atlantic Community.

The Suspected Pakistan-Germany Terror Connection

"Indications that terrorists may be planning attacks on Europe are growing following a slew of arrests of Islamists in Pakistan," writes Spiegel International:
In June, for the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the German Chancellery (Angela Merkel's equivalent of the White House) even summoned the so-called Security Group, a government round that meets only in periods of crisis, and which was this time attended by the state secretaries of the Interior, Foreign and Defense Ministries.
The reason for the special meeting -- which was chaired by Thomas de Maiziere, Angela Merkel's chief of staff at the Chancellery, was a secret CIA analysis that presents a list of reasons why Germany is currently particularly at risk, in the United States government's opinion. Besides Germany's participation in NATO's Afghanistan mission, the reasons include the high number of German Islamists with contacts to Pakistan and the good opportunities for traveling to Western Europe that people returning from the Hindu Kush region enjoy.
Pakistan is going to extradite a German terror suspect, but then there is another suspect:
As for Hussain al-M., President Pervez Musharraf's diplomats have signaled that the German government could choose whether it wants him or not. The case of the stateless Lebanese man al-M., who holds a permanent residence permit in Neunkirchen, in Germany's Saarland region, is considered especially delicate in Berlin. Government officials still remember all too well another Pakistani detainee for whom Berlin took no responsibility (more...) -- that of German-born Turkish citizen Murat Kurnaz. Kurnaz ended up at Guantanamo.
Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
The Guantanamo detainee from Germany
Twists and Turns in the Murat Kurnaz Affair

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.

Germany Confronts the United States and Russia

The Moderate Voice quoted the New York Times earlier this week:
In unusually harsh language, Bush administration negotiators took issue with the German draft of the communiqué for the meeting of the Group of 8 industrialized nations, complaining that the proposal "crosses multiple red lines in terms of what we simply cannot agree to."
This "unusually harsh language" apparently does not stop Merkel: "Germans prepare to fight U.S. on climate change," writes the International Herald Tribune on May 27th:
Germany and some of its partners in the Group of 8 leading industrial economies are bracing for a major conflict with the United States at a summit meeting next week, with the Bush administration expected to block a declaration on global warming, European officials said over the weekend. (...) Merkel will hold talks with the U.S. House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, on Tuesday in Berlin in which climate change will be one of the main issues. Pelosi, who recently established a new House committee on energy, said she wanted to find "common ground" over energy with the Bush administration. Pelosi, making her first trip to Europe since her election, said she wanted "to keep the door completely open to working with the president on the issue of energy independence and global warming," according to The Associated Press. The Europeans have great hope that the Democrats in Congress will take a much more aggressive attitude toward climate warming.
Is the above mentioned hope in the Democrats justified or wishful thinking?

"Germans enter new phase in relations with Russia," headlines the International Herald Tribune:
But Merkel's tense exchanges with Putin over human rights and other contentious issues at a Europe-Russia summit meeting last week underscore how much has changed - at least in tone.
Continue reading "Germany Confronts the United States and Russia"

UPDATE: "Germany Rediscovers the US as a Partner"

"Chancellor Angela Merkel has reoriented Germany away from Russia and toward the United States. Expanded economic ties are just one area of renewed cooperation. But could Germany get burned like the British did?" is the teaser of Spiegel International's article "Merkel's Pact with America," which first appeared in the German print edition. Quote:
It is virtually unprecedented in German history for a chancellor to be so unreservedly aligned with the US. Adenauer, the first chancellor of West Germany, saw America as a guarantor of freedom, but also perceived it as an occupation force. Helmut Schmidt and Willy Brandt, both Social Democratic (SPD) chancellors, were pro-American but innately skeptical.
Merkel, on the contrary, wants to expand Germany's close ties with the United States and is on the verge of making a pact with America the cornerstone of her foreign policy. Indeed, the resoluteness with which she has pursued this goal stands in conspicuous contrast with her government's lack of political progress back home in Germany.
A new beginning in trans-Atlantic relations? Out of consideration for her SPD coalition partners, Merkel has elected not to shine the spotlight too brightly on recent improvements in US-German relations -- indeed, her political modesty is one condition for the policy's success. Should she toot her own horn, she would likely alienate the SPD, her party's partner in Berlin's governing coalition.
UPDATE: There is a lot of bad journalism at Spiegel. And this article is no exception. The Atlantic Review's reader and friend Bill points out that the old America map was not "an especially generous gift" as Spiegel claims. The US paid $10 mio for it, as Bill explains in detail. This is what Spiegel claimed:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will present an especially generous gift during her trip to the United States this week. At a Monday ceremony in the Great Hall of the US Library of Congress, she will hand over to the Americans something Germans would normally be barred from even taking out of the country: a piece of Germany's national cultural heritage. The item in question is a world map drafted by Freiburg native Martin Waldseemüller in 1507. It is a map which shows a rough outline of the new continent, and for the first time uses a name that the immigrants in the New World would eventually adopt for their own: America.