Another Near-Miss in US-German Relations

Wednesday, May 7th, 2003

Europe is being rude to the US again, it seems – but thankfully this time only a few of our English friends noticed.

Strangely enough, my regular forays through the American and European press had led me to believe that Chancellor Schröder’s government in Germany, above all, was eager to to mend relations with the US after the rather serious difference-of-opinion about Iraq. Nonetheless, we apparently have one Jürgen Chrobog, State Secretary of the German Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office), instructing a regularly-scheduled meeting of all German ambassadors that the US is becoming a “police state,” as it is “restricting more and more its civic liberties at home.” (more…)

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The EU Gang of Four – Part III

Friday, May 2nd, 2003

Germany was the odd-man-out at the recent defense summit between the German and French presidents and Belgian and Luxembourgian premiers: Chancellor Schröder’s government has been the one trying the hardest for a rapprochement with the American administration after the divisions caused by the War in Iraq. Indeed, as Anke Bryson notes in the Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung Weekly, both Schröder and his foreign minister Joschka Fischer wanted to keep this “mini-summit” a low-profile affair, out of respect for the sensibilities of the Bush Administration – “but the publicity damage had already been done.”

We’ve seen how elements of the French press took this meeting seriously, while the Belgian press was more cynical, doubting that anything would ever come of this summit taking place on its own soil. Whatever the sotto voce protestations of German officials, they did accept the invitation to attend the Brussels meeting and did show up there. It’s time to check the German press’ reactions. (more…)

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The EU Gang of Four – Part I

Wednesday, April 30th, 2003

The heads of state of France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg met yesterday in Brussels to launch a new European defense initiative for a multinational force to flesh out the European Union’s foreign and security policies. Presidents Chirac and Schröder and Prime Ministers Verhofstadt and Juncker took pains to emphasize that they were not acting against NATO nor against that alliance’s senior partner, the United States.

Of course, besides Luxembourg, it is true that these were the European countries in the forefront of opposition to America and its “coalition of the willing” as they undertook their assault on Iraq. And many do intrepret this as an anti-NATO gesture – the Times of London‘s foreign editor Bronwen Maddox speaks of a “direct hit on Nato” and “payback time” for these four countries. What do the countries involved have to say for themselves? (more…)

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France vs. US: The German View

Friday, April 25th, 2003

In the run-up to the War in Iraq Germany joined Russia and France in what the Economist has termed the salon des refusés in opposition to the US hard line. Now, as yesterday’s entry showed, a deep split between the US and France has arisen on lifting economic sanctions and the legal basis for proceeding with Iraq’s reconstruction generally, while Germany has downplayed its differences with the Bush administration. What is the German judgment on the Franco-American tiff? (more…)

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