Saturday, January 21, 2006

Brief Review of US-German Talk

Last time, I mentioned that new German chancellor Angela Merkel criticized US treatment against prisoners at Guantánamo naval base. Some people worried that US-German relations would not improve as they had expected just after the election. I argued that the US-German relationship would improve rapidly in my previous post “Bush Foreign Policy: Improving with Europe, Straining with Asia”. I have to admit that this viewpoint was too optimistic. It has become apparent that America and Europe disagree with each other about the balance of counter terrosism and human rights. To understand this perception gap, I would suggest you to read a wellknown book, “Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order.”

How should we evaluate the consequence of Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Washington to talk with President George W. Bush? The Atlantic Review, the bolg I mentioned before, tells as follows.

Most newspapers believe that Chancellor Merkel's warm welcome in Washington D.C. will not lead to a "new transatlantic romance," but to improved, business-like relations based on more hard-headed practicality and reliability. The U.S.-German relationship is expected to be less tainted by populist abuse of political disagreements.The chancellor and the president disagreed on Guantánamo, but agreed on a common approach towards Iran. President Bush did not mention the military option, but stressed UN Security Council negotiations. Chancellor Merkel said that as many countries as possible should be persuaded to ally themselves with the US and Germany and not be intimidated by Iran.

The Atlantic Review concludes the effect of this summit, quoting top media from the US, Britain, and Germany. For detail, please see the link.

Shortly after meeting with President Bush, she visited Moscow to see Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although Iran was the top agenda at the summit, she requested more democracy in Russia as well. Former chancellor Gerhard Schröder was not willing to talk about the latter issue. Chancellor Merkel impressed stark difference from her predecessor.

A chacellor from former East Germany, Merkel is likely to advocate democracy and human rights issues much more enthusiastically than any postwar German chancellors. The centerpiece of German foreign policy will shift from De Gaulle-Adenauer partnership to the transatlantic alliance. However, she will advocate European position that human rights issue cannot be dismissed under the name of war on terror. In any case, Germany will play a key role in transatlantic relations.