August 7, 2007


PLAYING SECOND FIDDLE: Germany Left Out of Global Policy Loop: Weapons for the Middle East, nuclear power for Gadhafi, nominees to head important international institutions -- and nobody even bothers to call Angela Merkel. The government in Berlin is learning a painful lesson this summer: It stands alone in its multilateralist policies and few seem to care what the Germans think. (Markus Feldenkirchen, Dirk Kurbjuweit and Alexander Szandar, 8/07/07, Der Spiegel)

The news was none too encouraging. The French plan to supply the Libyans with a nuclear power plant and weapons, while the Americans will be selling billions in weapons to countries like Saudi Arabia. Erler read that a Frenchman will become the new chairman of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and former British Prime Mininster Tony Blair, as the West's new Middle East envoy, will soon be negotiating on Europe's behalf.

The worst part of this news was that Gernot Erler and the German government had to read the newspaper to learn about it. No one had asked them for their opinion or advice. In fact, no one even felt it was necessary to notify Germany.

Erler is now sitting at the conference table in his office, facing another vase of fresh flowers. He takes pains to remain diplomatic as he discusses French President Nicolas Sarkozy and United States President George W. Bush. He cannot state his true feelings -- at least not publicly -- about the fact that Germany's friends and partners have taken to going it alone, without consulting Germany. His speech is peppered with expressions like "somewhat misfortunate" or "would certainly have been desirable." But Erler's body language speaks volumes. His arms, locked across his chest in a defensive posture, say all that needs to be said.

The limits of German influence have been highlighted all too clearly in recent weeks. This has come as a shock to Berlin, especially after going through the first six months of the year basking in the warm glow of German-led multilateralism. Under German leadership, a European climate protection program and structural reforms for the European Union were developed and, at the G8 summit in the Baltic seaside resort of Heiligendamm, a climate compromise with the stubborn US on board. [...]

Minor concessions on climate issues are one thing, but accepting advice on matters of security policy is a different story altogether. Once again, Germany finds itself among the powerless who are kept out of the loop, even while its own security interests are at issue.

Nations are only ever multilateralist to exactly the degree that it serves self-interest.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 7, 2007 12:16 PM

Since we are paying for Germany's security, no need to worry their little heads about it. They can concentrate on butter.

Posted by: Stormy70 at August 7, 2007 2:40 PM