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Media roundup: Barack gives Angie a push

The Local · 8 Jun 2011, 13:57

Published: 08 Jun 2011 13:57 GMT+02:00

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President Obama's reception of Chancellor Merkel was conspicuous for its pageantry and fanfare, especially in view of the mutual irritation the US and Germany have shown for one another lately.

But as foreign affairs analysts point out, the United States is facing a rising China, a rapidly changing Middle East and a eurozone debt crisis that it hopes won't further contaminate its own fragile economic recovery.

It needs a strong partner in Europe and Germany is the obvious choice, pointed out Stephen Szabo, executive director of the Washington-based Transatlantic Academy, who was visiting Berlin this week.

“We'd love to see (EU Foreign Minister) Lady Ashton be a real leader of foreign policy but that's not going to happen,” Szabo said. “Who do you have left? The Brits are the most reliable ally and most important militarily … but they are still kind of marginal and they don't have as much influence in Europe. The French? I don't think so. Who does that leave?”

The US believes it's time Germany stepped up and started acting like a regional and even a global leader – that was the subtext widely read by the German press as Merkel received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and wrapped up her two-day visit to Washington.

The centrist Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel noted that praise always has a purpose and in this case, Obama's praise of Merkel meant to raise expectations of Germany.

“Those who receive praise will soon face the expectation that they act accordingly,” it wrote.

It noted that Obama had urged Germany not to hide behind its history – a reference to the nation's military reluctance and its hesitation to take charge of Europe – and the grasp the mantle of global leadership.

“The world today does not fear a strong Germany. It is, rather, disappointed when Germany is too reserved.”

Naturally Obama wants something in return for his praise, but that is nothing to be concerned about. according to the paper. “Obama trusts the Germans. That is no reason to be alarmed.”

Noting that Merkel is the “undisputed number one” in Europe, Der Tagesspiegel urged her to start acting like it.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that although the US-German relationship had changed since the Cold War, the two countries still had a lot in common and this should be the basis for new co-operation.

“If protocol is the measure of the quality of the relationship, then one clearly doesn't need to worry about the German-American relationship. It couldn't be better,” it wrote.

“The reunited Germany remains for the United States the most important, if sometimes unwieldy and self-righteousness-prone, partner in Europe. If it were up to the Americans, Germany's leadership role in Europe and beyond couldn't be great enough.”

Germany's Switzerland-like reluctance on the Libyan intervention clearly annoyed the United States. Germany is no longer the old security client of the Americans it used to be. But that means the partnership must establish new ground: “A co-operation based on mutual interest, for example in Afghanistan, the Middle East, the response to the rise of new superpowers.”

“That President Obama courted the Chancellor like this in the White House was therefore an investment in the future,” it concluded. “Mrs Merkel should be aware of this. One can quickly lose one's standing.”

Business daily the Financial Times Deutschland noted that the present relationship was not nearly as bad as some critics made out. It was nothing, for example, like the broken relationship between George W. Bush and Gerhard Schröder after the invasion of Iraq.

Merkel and Obama don't have a warm relationship, they have a working relationship – a fact that the gushing reception of Merkel in Washington could not hide.

“Obama flattered her, because both sides are important to one another, above all economically,” it wrote.

The right-wing Berliner Morgenpost wrote that Obama was trying to reset the relationship after the tensions of late and this would only be good for both countries.

“The Angie-fest must truly be understood as a new start being driven by Obama,” the paper wrote. “In the face of global shifts in power, the president doesn't want to let a partnership proven over decades simply run down.

“In sensitive situations, a reliable line of communication between Washington and Berlin is indispensable.

“Even after Obama's elegant appraisal of the German chancellor, it remains doubtful whether the old axis is still enough to move the world. But divided, Germany and the US will always be weaker.”

The centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung urged the chancellor to accept the US challenge to become more engaged in foreign affairs, beyond simply looking after its own interests in issues like the euro.

“You wouldn't be far wrong if you get the subtle impression that behind the VIP treatment of the German chancellor, Washington actually expects more from Berlin: more foreign policy and security engagement; a greater German presence at international hotspots; more engagement in North Africa; more in fact in the Middle East generally; more in Europe.

“That may be the message for Merkel. The previous level of engagement will not do.”

The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:57 June 8, 2011 by lunchbreak
The US is on the ropes economically and Germany is riding high so it only makes sense that the West would expect the germans to start acting more responsibly by accepting a larger role. The world is changing and the West will be increasingly under siege as the emerging nations find their footing. Every country in the EU, even Greece, will eventually have to play their part if we are all to keep our heads above water in europe and america.
17:19 June 8, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
A larger role in what?

Under siege how?

What parts need to be played?

And lastly what do you mean by "keeping our heads above water?"
17:20 June 8, 2011 by Major B
From the article above:

"The US believes it¦#39;s time Germany stepped up and started acting like a regional and even a global leader ­ that was the subtext widely read by the German press as Merkel received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and wrapped up her two-day visit to Washington".

Overall this is good for Germany, aiding its progress toward full normalization status as a sovereign nation. In a way it needs this validation and support to step forward more confidently and forcefully from its New World offspring. Watch the hate mail flow on this comment.

Another part of the article to note.

"It noted that Obama had urged Germany not to hide behind its history ­ a reference to the nation¦#39;s military reluctance and its hesitation to take charge of Europe ­ and the grasp the mantle of global leadership."

This doesn't mean Germany is expected to "cow tow" to every U.S. demand. The disaggreements are often good and give both nations political cover at home and abroad.

¦quot;The reunited Germany remains for the United States the most important, if sometimes unwieldy and self-righteousness-prone, partner in Europe. If it were up to the Americans, Germany¦#39;s leadership role in Europe and beyond couldn¦#39;t be great enough.¦quot;

Again I say a reunited Germany firmly planted in the West, albeit conscious of its Central European heritage and leanings, is perhaps one of the greatest achievements of the often horrific and terrible 20th Century. Despite its problems, that Century ended on a good note. May Germany focus on making the 21st Century the greatest in mankind's history, offering hope and healing from the past.
17:30 June 8, 2011 by bernie1927
Angela, stick to your guns. No more kowtowing to the US, which starts something and then wants others to finish it. I think that Germany should be working a lot closer with the Russians. What has the US ever done for Germany that wasn't done for strictly selfish reasons? And don't quote the Berlin airlift, which was not done to help the Germans but to keep the Soviets away. Starting with Vietnam, we have managed to lose every war, and haven't learned a thing. Oh, I forgot, there is this fierce victory in Grenada. I admire Obama but he got himself into this mess. He does not want to own this war and I don't blame him but why should Germany do it? If we want to change governments every time human rights are being trampled on, why not start with China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran etc.? I'll give you three guesses.
20:11 June 8, 2011 by ErickDDiaz
She's my hot Cougar. Rawwow..
20:37 June 8, 2011 by Major B
@ Bernie1927

Sir I so respect you, most of the time. I can't EVEN believe I am reading what you just wrote: "what has the US ever done for Germany that wasn't strictly for selfish reasons?"

I am just flabergasted. Sir, I will just resign it to you are getting on in the years and sometimes get cranky. There are Americans in the graves in Europe right now withering at your words. Careful my friend!!!!! But just to remind you of a few little selfish American contributions.

1) I most certainly WILL mention The Berlin Airlift(still celebrated in Germany) I mean your family was in America by then and they weren't cold and hungry like millions of Berliners were so easy for you dismiss this effort.

So, those brave American pilots, confined to a narrow air line by the Soviets and flying in horrible winter weather were beind selfish?

2) The Marshall Plan_ Which rebuilt Western Germany and launched one of greatest economic recoveries anywhere ever

You say you are proud of your German heritage and that your grandfather fought in WWI for the Kaiser. Well, if you think the Russians will EVER again totally trust the Germans you are turning into a foolish old ......... Will resist the urge to be insulting but you have just gone over the top.

Tell you what. Get out of here and re-immigrate to Germany. See if your children will follow. See if your grandchildren will come. And when your beloved Russians again threaten Europe be strong in your beliefs and stay.

By the WAY, EVERY country operates in its self-interest, just as every person does. That is not uniquely American, which didn't start either of the Great Wars of the 20th Century.
20:39 June 8, 2011 by 9900lawre
Caption competition.

1. "Shall i give the senile old girl a push in the right direction?"

2. The puppet master seen from another angle.

3. Ventriloquist act exposed!

Humour aside it sums it all up i think.
22:44 June 8, 2011 by bernie1927
@Major B

My dear friend - and I sincerely mean that - maybe you're right and maybe I am getting cranky in my old age, but seriously: The Marshal plan was the right way to handle the end of the war. Just look what happened when the defeated enemy was treated as a slave with the treaty of Versailles. It led to Hitler and it was far better to help Germany to become a valid partner and retain some dignity. The Luftbruecke was a smart PR job, combining the need to stop the Russians with a lot of Goodwill. I have a big axe to grind with the Russians but I am a realist. Unfortunately, the reckless behavior of the many US governments, has led to corruption and mismanagement of its assets. Borrowing these incredible amounts from the Chinese has to lead to greater and greater dependence on China and will ultimately replace America as the leader of the world. Would it not be logical for Germany, which is located right next to Russia, to partner with them to develop a large untapped market? That has nothing to do with love for Russia. I still love the American people but I am disgusted by our runaway debt and irresponsible behavior.
23:58 June 8, 2011 by wxman
Hey Bernie, "No more kowtowing to the US, which starts something and then wants others to finish it." You mean like WWI and WWII? Screw you.
07:00 June 9, 2011 by derExDeutsche
She wouldn't DREAM of it. Who and where and what is next in the middle east? where does this all end? its going to take more than a one term president to drag Germany into this quagmire
08:31 June 9, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
wxman- Although I live in fear of you cursing at me as well (I might never sleep again), and regardless of whether Bernie needs the help or not, I think it necessary to point out a common misconception or two among my fellow Americans on the subjects of WWI and WWII.

WWI - American helped (and when I say helped I mean assisted) to win the war and then promptly lost the peace. It was America's abrogation of responsibility and leadership that led to the failures at Versailles and the League of Nations. And it was American Businesses that led the charge into the maw of the Great Depression. Not good for us, actually. Comparisons to modern Germany here are as welcome as they would be incorrect. They are not us, and they will never be us.

WWII - America supplied the Allies, lent them money, joined the war and fought. None of this is in dispute. But we were one ally of many. The US casualties in WWII number around 400,000. Soviet Casualties run around 8 million. Nationalist China - 5 million. Britain had a third of the population of the US but their military casualties are around 400,000 as well.

The US was part of the mightiest coalition the world had yet seen. And participants have a right to be proud. But we (and I use the term loosely because I did not fight in that war) did not win that war alone. We could not have won that war by ourselves, and thank God that we didn't have to try.

Lastly, those wars are almost a century ago, I don't think "we" deserve too much credit today because "we" didn't win or help to win them, our grand or great grandfathers did. The "we" of today are involved in numerous wars, which "we" are fighting with a professional army, and for which "we" do not have the money, because the actual "we" as a nation, are staggeringly in debt.

Hence the need for "them" i.e. the Germans to sally up and take up their (financial) responsibilities. But when we look at what their responsibilities are, the right to decide on whether to get involved or not as an example, they need to decide for themselves. And I hope they stay the hell out of it.

The US needs to learn some hard lessons. That won't happen if Germany steps in to foot the bill for our largess.

I await, either a crass invective or a thoughtful response, equally nonplussed. .
08:49 June 9, 2011 by Bearish Tiger
The takes of USA:

Ireland: Its the Irish people who defeated the Brits and won America its independence which laid the foundation of usa.

Britain: Brits and America will lead the world together in 21st century

Germany: Brit influence in Europe waned and is sidelined. Germany is the new rising and only ally worthy in Europe

now that is Smart Diplomacy.
09:19 June 9, 2011 by ND1000
The best policy for the US would be to go to isolationism. Europe becoming New Arabia is not the American taxpayers problem nor are other problems in the world.
10:11 June 9, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Isolationism is too strong a term. But, the idea that America needs to look more than a little bit inward is long overdue. Power projection is worthless if the country is allowed to crumble from within.
10:39 June 9, 2011 by Thekla
I certainly hope Angela holds her own and lets Obomba fight his 4 wars himself. Germany doesn't need to finance America's meddling. It doesn't need to send troops. Germany needs to be a leader and separate itself ideologically from the US's failed policies.

I left the US for a reason, I voted with my feet.
12:31 June 9, 2011 by ChrisRea
Hat off to ryhntyntyn! Again she/he posted a balanced, informative and feet-on-the-ground point of view. It is always a pleasure to read her/his postings.
14:45 June 9, 2011 by XFYRCHIEF
@Thekla - Thank You! I am glad you chose to leave, at least you had the strength of your conviction. I only wish you had taken a few thousand with you.

NOTE: Sarcasm follows:

I agree - it is time for us to start looking out for ourselves and stop worrying about everyone else. Withdraw all of our European military bases and let the Europeans look to their own defense. Start imposing high duties on goods from countries that we once protected as repayment for our services. Tax foreign tourists who love Disneyland but hate the U.S. Certainly this will help foreign relations - but, then, we won't care what others think, so it won't matter.
16:34 June 9, 2011 by Major B
@ Bernie,

Now that's more like it. I don't disagree with anything you said in post # 8. Thanks for that perspective, sorely missing from most of our seniors. Was watching a movie last night, which did a partial take on the early 1930's when there was a socialist movemnt in America. Now, we've been bought out by corporate interests...........

No rhyntyntyn(gosh this name is hard), we can't get away from the two Great Wars of the last century. They are too intstructive and will give us signposts for maybe another century or more Bernie is so right. The casue of the First World War Was unjustly blamed on Germany. The unfair Versailles Treaty set in motion the hatred and resentments that led to the Second World War. After U.S. Congress investigations saw the immense profiteering that went on, it made major moves towards "isolationism" and legally prevented Roosevelt from getting into another European entanglement. Boy we were close.

But alas Bernie. I just bet the corporate boys cheered after Dec 7,1941. Now they had the legal excuse to shape the world in the way they wanted.

They tried the same after 9/11/01 in Iraq but with some push and unity just maybe we can prevent another 60 years of the issues that burn within you Bernie.

Thus here we are today.
19:42 June 9, 2011 by ngwanem

thank God there are people like you to infuse sense into those, who despite seeing their government gamble away with the fortunes of the lower and middle class, while helping the 1% get richer with heavier tax cuts, still jump into the bandwagon and sing insignificant songs and are imploring germany to foolishly partner with them, on a so-called debt of WWII liberation!

isn't it strange that the descendants of the brits, canadians, free french forces, burmese ghurkas, the russians, chinese are not holding germany ransom to demands of gratitudes of WWII? why would the americans always claim they were responsible for the victory... are those other ally groups insignificant?

i'm just wondering when the cold war relics on this forum either bury the past honorably or sing their looney tunes to themselves.
13:41 June 10, 2011 by Berliner Mauer
Hmmm... Perhaps the pomp and circumstance was merely a guilt trip by Obama because Merkel refused his campaign speech at Brandenburg Gate...
23:39 June 10, 2011 by Zlik
You maybe Correct Sir Mauer. As I know his 2008 speech in Berlin now has left a bad taste in my mouth. BTW I hope This US administration does more too. Additionally, I have not doubt that Real Germans , Turkish, Slav's residing in Deutschland Can adopt a mensch Attitude. And steer the future also.
13:57 June 13, 2011 by rumcajs
too many people here still talking about WWs. US and DE are not the same anymore.

US now is a country that just keep telling others what to do only for its own interests and (good or bad) doesn't do anything just for pity or solidarity. DE is a country that wanna be ok without getting into trouble. All this nice words from Mr Obama now translated in plane street english mean: "You should be our troyan horse in the EU". Yes, maybe DE should be more influent and do "more", but for what DE and Germans believe is right, NOT for what another country believes is right.
18:32 June 13, 2011 by Freeman
Us telling other countries how they should go about things, raising no obstacles. What's this????
16:58 June 14, 2011 by tonilton
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
19:23 June 14, 2011 by bross74
Something about WWII: At first time after 1933 Hiler got a lot of money from USA and England, but according as Germany will do «Drang nach Osten¦quot;. And then…Do you remember these words? ¦quot;If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible (Harry S. Truman)

Before WWII the USA had the crisis like the present one, but after WWII the USA had nearly 70% of worlds gold fallbacks. Furthermore becomes Dollar the World Currency…Not bad, isn¦#39;t it?

The War is for America only business!!! And a big blood - for other nations, wich only a Gun fodder for yankees…
03:34 June 19, 2011 by SayNoToUS
Deutscher und Deutscherin:

A century ago, your fine nation was on track to becoming THE leading economic and industrial nation in all of Europe. In 1917, the USA inserted itself into the "Wilson War" for reasons that even JFK found flimsy, and lacking validity, (see 'The Illusion of Victory' by Frank Fleming). Most USA'ns today have no clue as to why the country entered that conflict. The resluts of the "Wilson War" turned out to be catastrophic for the entire world a generation later.

Because of that intrusion into European affairs by the USA, your nation endured a nearly 80 year detour in the fulfillment of its destiny. Your nation should do whatever suits IT's best interests today.

The Marshall Plan made up in some part I hope for the cruelty of the Treaty of Versailles (1919).

Beware of the "New Romans".
14:08 June 25, 2011 by jbaker
Remember - These are Politicians (Actors that can read Teleprompters better than their election opponents). The people that run these countries are behind the scenes and are NOT Known to the general public.

Time to Wake Up and See the Truth.
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