AerospaceFan
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Germany's Foreign Policy

Wed May 24, 2006 4:55 am

I read recently that Germany's Chancellor has stated that Germany and China are united in opposing nuclear arms for Iran.

See, e.g.,

http://www.dispatch.com/national-sto...tch/2006/05/23/20060523-A5-02.html

For those who are familiar with German foreign policy, how has it changed under the new leadership, and do you believe that the pro-American policies of Chancellor Kohl, for example, will ever return?

Thanks in advance for your considered answers.
What's fair is fair.
 
UH60FtRucker
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RE: Germany's Foreign Policy

Wed May 24, 2006 5:03 am

Alright... enough is enough AerospaceFan.

I don't know what is worse: Flooding Non-Av with endless thread topics, or the posts being so damn wordy/verbose/20 paragraphs long.

Why don't you just stick to one topic a day? And then you can focus all of that wanna-be intellectualism on one subject.

Either way - chill out and lay off posting topics with a shotgun.

-UH60
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
TheSonntag
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RE: Germany's Foreign Policy

Wed May 24, 2006 5:09 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):

For those who are familiar with German foreign policy, how has it changed under the new leadership, and do you believe that the pro-American policies of Chancellor Kohl, for example, will ever return?

German foreign policy tends to be very predictable and constant, and is usually not that much affected by changes of governments.

The two main pillars are good relationships to France and the USA. As France and the US, while being allies, certainly have different positions on many issues, this sometimes lead to balancing issues, some governments were closer to France, some were closer to the USA, but all tried to have good relations to both partners.

Since 1990, Germany is starting to focus more on their own international policy, which especially is visible in the intensivied relations to Russia. The Schröder government went extremely far in this respect, and Merkel will not be that open to Russia as Schröder has been, but Russia will continue to be an important partner.

The main German positions since WW2 are strengthening of multinational institutions and european integration, and this is one of the main conflicts between German and US foreign policy, as the US prefer unilateral or bilateral actions, while Germany prefers multilateral initiatives.

About the relations to the US, they are good, and will remain good. While Schröder used a lot of Anti-US rhetorics, the real relationship to the US was, in fact, very good, even at that time. Germany gave the Americans full acces on German airspace, Germany used troops to protect US military installations in Germany, so, in fact, the indirect support of the US was very big in the Iraq conflict, something which the German government of course did not present to the public.

However, I do think Merkel will focus more on the US than Schröder, so I think the relations might get more weight, but I do not expect so many changes.

It is one of the good things of German foreign policy that it remained stable und subtle for decades already. So Germany is, and will remain, one of the biggest allies of the USA. However, it is expected from the USA that they remain open to multilateral cooperation. Unilateral initiatives are seen very sceptical in Germany.

[Edited 2006-05-23 22:10:50]
 
NoUFO
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RE: Germany's Foreign Policy

Wed May 24, 2006 5:59 am

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 2):
German foreign policy tends to be very predictable and constant, and is usually not that much affected by changes of governments.

Absolutely correct. When Fischer, after his inauguration, was interviewed by an English journalist, he said there would be no such thing like "green foreign policies" but only "German foreign policies", and despite Schroeder's rant against President Bush's stance on Iraq, he was right.
I support the right to arm bears
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Germany's Foreign Policy

Wed May 24, 2006 6:32 am

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 2):
It is one of the good things of German foreign policy that it remained stable und subtle for decades already

I'm very happy to see that there is a foundational stability to German foreign policy. I think that we've come to see Germany has a reliable partner, which is why some of us were so surprised to see the previous government's skepticism concerning U.S. foreign policy objectives in the Middle East.

The major factor in American Middle Eastern policy appears to center around the protection of, first, American interests, then, Western interests, and third, global interests. I think that we've always counted in the realization of our stronger allies -- Britain, Japan, Canada, Australia, Germany, and others -- that the protection of American interests is usually coincident with the protection of Western interests. As it did not appear to conflict with German interests for the United States to proceed as it did in Iraq, many of us were surprised that the previous Chancellor did not fully support our mission there.

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 1):
Why don't you just stick to one topic a day? And then you can focus all of that wanna-be intellectualism on one subject.

UH, I think that you will find that I average just about one or two new threads a day. Further, there are dozens of topics that interest me simultaneously, and many of them seem worthy of discussion.

[Edited 2006-05-23 23:34:49]
What's fair is fair.
 
TheSonntag
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RE: Germany's Foreign Policy

Wed May 24, 2006 7:23 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 4):
. As it did not appear to conflict with German interests for the United States to proceed as it did in Iraq, many of us were surprised that the previous Chancellor did not fully support our mission there.

Well, in fact the US mission DID interfere with a lot of vital German interests, so, while I am not a fan of Schröder at all, I think that he raised a lot of valid points.

Fundamental values of Germany are especially rules which were set up because of the German aggression in WW2. For example, the German constitution forbids attack wars (Angriffskriege), and requires them to be put as a criminal offense (life sentence!).

Secondly, Germany thinks that the world can only be a safer place by strengthening mulilateral institutions, like the UN and an unified Europe. Multilateral cooperation tends to preserve peace, a vital stone of the German foreign policy: War is to be avoided whenever possible, as it should NOT be an appropriate way of achieving goals. A world under the rule of law should only use weapens when there is no other choice.

These positions were harmed by the US invasion in Iraq. I do not want to make this discussion a discussion about the pros and cons of the Iraq war, so I will only rise some issues:

First of all, the Iraq war was an unilateral move by the USA, basically saying "we want to start a war because we want to get rid of that guy sitting there". Regardless of the question whether the motives were good or not (I do think it was good to remove Saddam Hussein, but I would have preferred a better concept for the time after), this is unacceptable, because it creates a dangerous precedence for future operations. Whats next? China saying: "We want to get rid of Taiwan, so lets invade them?"

In the existing system of the UN, there shall only be one world police, the UN security counsil, which itself authorizes forces like the US troops or NATO to take appropriate actions. This was only ignored once, in 1999, when NATO acted in Kosovo despite Russian Vetos. That situation already was a very dangerous move. I do think that was necessary in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster, but already this situation created a dangerous precedence.

These acts threaten to undermine the fundamental principle of the public international law, that violence is forbidden and not to be seen as an appropriate way of solving conflicts. Germany is afraid of the US going back to an isolationistic policy ignoring the world and the UN system, because the functioning of the UN system is vital for Germanys security interests.

The basic reasoning of Angela Merkel would not have been much different than the one of Schr�der, only the rhetorics would have been different. More or less, the critics were not about the Iraq war itself, but about the way the US did it, by not listening to its allies and using a "if you are not for us, you are against us" rhetoric.

Fortunately, it seems that the USA are also getting increasingly focused on listening again to the European allies, which also is a good move for the future.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Germany's Foreign Policy

Wed May 24, 2006 7:32 am

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 5):
These acts threaten to undermine the fundamental principle of the public international law, that violence is forbidden and not to be seen as an appropriate way of solving conflicts.

Perhaps this is a reflection of my age, but when I was taught the nature of international law, it was strongly emphasized that international law was only as good as the mechanisms that enforced it. It was very much a realpolitik analysis that viewed -- rather cynically -- the idea of multilateralism as often a convenient fiction.

From what I've read here, Germany takes multilateralism very seriously and believes that consensus-based action is supreme in many matters of international import. I would agree with you that the quiescence of German policy, ranging from Adenauer to Brandt to Kohl, appears to be a consequence of this approach, which places a premium on discussion and law rather than action.

I think that it would be a very useful comparison to look at how different the German and Japanese approaches have been, in the last sixty years, from that of the United States. The Japanese have been criticized as being too deferential, too passive; yet despite a certain similarity, I rarely see German politics criticized for quite this reason. It may be that Germany often acts in concert with a larger European interest, and has that the European policy (other than France) has been long dominated by a transatlantic consensus that affords the United States a "natural" leadership role. The relative pacificity of German policy has been taken for granted, accepted, and given a high degree of praise.

Your comments are most welcome and I believe you are quite expert in the matter of German politics.

[Edited 2006-05-24 00:35:53]
What's fair is fair.
 
TheSonntag
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RE: Germany's Foreign Policy

Wed May 24, 2006 7:51 am

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 6):
Perhaps this is a reflection of my age, but when I was taught the nature of international law, it was strongly emphasized that international law was only as good as the mechanisms that enforced it. It was very much a realpolitik analysis that viewed -- rather cynically -- the idea of multilateralism as often a convenient fiction.

I do not disagree here, but despite the fact that the US certainly ARE able to do whatever they want, wherever they want, there is still a consensus that there are rules which all countries accept. This status quo could be in danger if the USA would continue their unilateral tendency too much, because I fear that it reduces the reluctance of other states to use military solutions instead of diplomatic solutions...

Because if the US can do, and DOES whatever they want, wherever they want, why shouldn't China be able to do the same, as well? They are not in that shape yet, but, as you have put under question in another thread, they certainly are growing stronger, and I would not be surprised to see them being a new superpower soon.

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 6):
Here, from what I've read, Germany takes multilateralism very seriously and believes that consensus-based action is supreme in many matters of international import

You are correct here. That was more or less the common sense of all German governments since WW2, but it would be too short to find the reasons for this position in WW2. In fact, the reasoning in this position can already be seen in the development after WW1. In fact, a US president proposed the foundation of the predecessor of the UN right after WW1, but unfortunately he could not convice the US Senate to join the organisation he had proposed himself, which was one of the reasons that a UN like system did not exist before WW2.

Instead of going the way of cooperation after WW1, something which, for example, was proposed by people like Aristide Briand, the way of repressions was chosen by the Versaille Treaty. The continued nationalism in Europe was one of the reasons for WW2. After WW2, another system was chosen: Marshall help instead of dismantling the industry, a montan union instead of occupying the Ruhr area, cooperation instead of confrontation.

The story of the European cooperation after WW2 is a story of its success. The same can also be said to the non-political parts of the UN, the political system is still flawed, but also this is much better than the system before WW2.

So I think it can be said that the main goal of the German foreign policy is to avoid that the things which happened between WW1 and WW2 happen again. Cooperation is the key to peace in Europe. Whether a political integration or an economical cooperation is the right way, is certainly something to be discussed, but I am generally very thankful for the German policy after WW2, I think people like Konrad Adenauer, Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Helmuth Kohl were great statesmen in their foreign policy.
 
AerospaceFan
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RE: Germany's Foreign Policy

Thu May 25, 2006 6:21 pm

I think I will add only this: No one likes to be taken for granted.

It seems to me that the Bush Administration either took the support of the German people for granted relative to Iraq, or was unable to convince former Chancellor Schroder of the need for action.

At this point, I am not yet convinced that it was the Administration's fault for failing to bring Germany on board.

(France, being France, is a different matter, as I would suggest that nothing but an act of God would have convinced Chirac to set aside his country's interests in Iraq to join us in our efforts.)

[Edited 2006-05-25 11:22:49]
What's fair is fair.
 
Klaus
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RE: Germany's Foreign Policy

Thu May 25, 2006 10:03 pm

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 8):
At this point, I am not yet convinced that it was the Administration's fault for failing to bring Germany on board.

There has always been and still is a strong consensus in Germany that the Iraq invasion was dead wrong. There was no chance of dragging Germany into it short of direct force (and the corresponding civil unrest).

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 8):
(France, being France, is a different matter, as I would suggest that nothing but an act of God would have convinced Chirac to set aside his country's interests in Iraq to join us in our efforts.)

US interests have suffered massive damage due to the Iraq invasion. The foreign policy under Schröder/Fischer primarily and consistently tried to prevent that foreseeable damage from happening.

In the end US foreign policy has had to progressively turn around towards this course.

The biggest change in german foreign policy after the war has been the forced emancipation from more or less total subordination to US policies during the pre-invasion dissent. Today Germany sees its interests within multiple contexts: European, transatlantic and global.

I think it would be a weakness to stop listening to friends, allies and even perceived opponents; This unwillingness to listen has been the weak point of US foreign policy of late, and it is not an example worth to be followed.

Listening does not mean obedience; But a functioning communication is the basis for any successful foreign policy. Germany sees itself as a constructive cooperation partner; And I think that is as it should be.

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