Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Is that Poodle becoming a Dobermann?

Just as certain parts of the Left can only view the role of Britain as an airstrip and nothing more, there is increasing evidence that the assertiveness of Germany in foreign policy over recent months may have been unrecognised due to the mystique wrapped around France's key role and Schroeder's media-prescribed role as Chirac's bag handler. This perception may be quietly changing if we do not take Schroeder's call for other channels of transatlantic communication apart from NATO. Critics immediately viewed this as support for the Paris-Berlin axis where foreign policy flows through the European Union.

An alternative viewpoint, corroborated by Germany's campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council (Not for the European Union), is that Schroeder was calling for Germany to take a greater role in transatlantic diplomacy, a role drowned out by the emnity of France and the loyalty of Britain. This is a role of greater independence, distanced from the United States and channelled through the European Union though the potential of bilateral ties and independent action lie within its scope:

In his Feb. 12 speech (delivered by German Defense Minister Peter Struck because the chancellor was ill), Schroeder said NATO was "no longer the primary venue where trans-Atlantic partners consult and coordinate strategic ideas. The same applies to the dialogue between the European Union and the United States, which in their present form do not correspond to the increasing weight of the (European) Union nor to the new demands of trans-Atlantic cooperation."

Germany's own perception of its role in international affairs had changed too, he went on: "Germany today considers itself as co-responsible within the European framework for stability and international order."

In the transcript of the interview, the same tone of minimal substance, maximum verbiage that has guided Bush throughout his visit to Europe remained very clear. No doubt the feelgood course of action on technology and climate change proved more productive than recriminations over Kyoto. (This may be a pointer to a post-Kyoto treaty based upon technological transfer and incentives for poorer countries to shift away from fossil fools as the emissions model has failed).

The only firming up on the diplomatic front was Germany's agreement that Iran should not have nuclear weapons. Even this was not accompanied by a promise to refer the case to the Security Council. All in all, a charm school without content.


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