Sunday, March 21, 2004
Underlying Consensus

The 'war on terror' has proved a useful tool for the Bundesrepublik to engineer a rapprochement with the United States. Although the Franco-German dynamo is used as a shorthand to describe the relationship that has powered European integration, this has tended to emphasize the geopolitical ambitions of the French, with the Germans in tow, and understated the separate interests of this declining giant.

German foreign policy has proved to be more inconsistent than many other powers since Schroeder was elected Chancellor. Including the central thread of Europe, foreign policy has been viewed by the German government as an extension of domestic politics. Thus, national stature was symbolically strengthened through the further deployment of German troops under the NATO umbrella and set within a paradigm of 'normalisation'. Furthermore, the anti-war and anti-American positions were set by the election campaign of September 2002, for expedient, domestic gain.

Now the Schroeder government is downplaying domestic pressures, despite the recent Lander defeats, and tacking in support of the United States campaigns. This was usefully highlighted in a recent article by John Vinocur in the International Herald Tribune that detailed the lukewarm response from the German government to the newfound distancing of Spain from the United States.

The Germans recently agreed an understanding with the United States on their role in the future of the Middle East. They did not support France's proposal for a meeting of European foreign ministers to discuss terrorism and have worked for a United Nations resolution that will provide the necessary multilateral support that will underpin the 'coalition of the willing'.

This alliance has detached Germany from the pretensions of the French and widened the range of options that the United States can consider whilst it prosecutes the 'war on terror'. German commitments in Afghanistan and support for the continued occupation of Iraq were confirmed.

(18.07, 21st March 2004)


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