German-American relations after the last Gulf War 2003 There is hope for a future rapprochement between Germany and the USA. The relationships to the USA, since 1949 a leading part of the German foreign politics, deteriorated enormously and in March/April 2003 they hit an all-time low since the end of the Second World War. The administration of George W. Bush considered a military attack on the regime of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as an important component for the struggle against the terrorism. The German Federal Government considered the war as an unjustified diversion of the conflict with the terror organization Al-Qaida. The intensity and duration of the German-American annoyance in the course of the conflict in Iraq was surprising against the background of a close political cooperation between the two nations over 40 years.
Germany made good experiences with the transatlantic relationship in the past. We share the same basic values and we have a similar understanding of representative democracy, human rights, constitutional state and market economy. In the time of the Cold War from 1949-1989 West Germany and the USA could be regarded as ideal cooperation partners because they followed the same aims with complementary capabilities. The interests of Bonn and Washington were the military protection of Western Europe against soviet attacks as well as the encouragement of democracy and market economy in Europe. The USA played a very important role for the German unification in 1989. The process of unification was not only a result of American support but encouraged the German-American relationship.
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However, with the end of the Cold War, Germany lost its important role it played for the US-foreign policies. In the 90’s during the Balkan wars the power of the USA and the powerlessness of Europe became clearly expressed. All attempts of the European states to form a united policy on their own continent failed. They could not define a united policy. The USA were frustrated because they did not see in Europe a reliable partner for a security policy. The transatlantic annoyance over the war in Iraq was more than a difference of opinion over the best strategy in the struggle against international terrorism.
The USA, a country with global security interests, view the thread of international acting terrorism organizations, which might possess weapons of wholesale destruction, with greater concern than European governments, including Germany. Instead of using military means, which they possess only in a limited way, the European governments strive for a legal attempt at conciliation by means of international organizations like the ONU and the international Criminal Court, ICC. As a consequence of the events of the 11 th of September 2001 the USA follow new principles relating to international law. According to these, states which support the international terrorism with weapons of wholesale destruction or rather are infiltrated of extremist organizations like the Taliban in Afghanistan, loose the right of existence. S Germany cannot share such views. In the course of the conflicts the German-American relation became estranged since fall 2002.
When there were conflicts in the past between the two states they were mostly interested in a quick and discreet settlement. The German reaction towards the war in Iraq in the summer of 2002 met with contempt on American sides. The US-administration criticized the German policy of Schr ” oder because he used the criticism of the US Iraq policy as a campaign for the electoral battle in Germany. However, it should not be ignored that the current German-American estrangement was for the most part the result of a bad transatlantic conflict management of the last months. Nevertheless, both sides avoided it to question the relation to the partner in principle.
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This way the Iraq war represents less a German-American conflict but points out that the idea of a transatlantic bargain of an international division of labour in the interests on both sides disappeared. It will last now some time until both countries find new areas for future German-American cooperation and cultivate them. Imaginable would be for example an intensive action of the German government for the aim of the non-spread of nuclear weapons. Germany could also send its troops, which are deployed in Kabul in the course of the Afghanistan-protecting-troop (ISAF) in other Afghanis cities to work on a long-term peace in the whole country.
The occupying costs in Iraq run up to four-fife billions of US-dollar each month. Although Germany is neither willing, nor able to take on a significant part of these costs, it could take care in the course of the United Nations of central reconstructions in the areas of basic supply in electricity and water. The USA are interested in internationalizing the occupying troops in Iraq. Germany should support an UN decision, which authorizes the NATO to a stationing of troops in Iraq.
In the transatlantic politics there are many areas where we agree with each other and can learn of the other country in future. One area where we could learn from the USA for example is a high measure of mobilization in the economical and social sector. For the Americans our social insurance system is exemplary, especially the health insurance system. Above all we have to work together in the international security policy for a non-spread of weapons of wholesale destruction, the peace in the Middle East and the struggle against the international organized criminality.
Further, the security and stability in democracy and economy of Eastern Europe and the extension of an international society towards the East are central themes for the German-American cooperation. Germany and the USA are interlocked with each other. They profit from each other as trading- and investment partners. They depend on each other to cope with global challenges. Of course the transatlantic partners have to find agreement over foreign political questions – questions about war or peace and the role of the ONU, questions about the right treatment of the Islam and questions about the right answer to international terrorism.
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The next step is to concentrate on an exchange of opinions on a level of non-governmental organizations and economy- and education institutes because both sides could learn this from each other. Only if we agree with each other, the West can unfold its full weight and protect and defend their worldwide. Today Germany and Europe face the USA sceptic ally but they fear nothing more than a weak America, which is not able for military interventions. Similar the government in Washington has to make up their mind about whether they want to cooperate with an ally having equal rights and to treat them adequately or if they prefer to take over the responsibility alone in future.