US-German Alliance In A Post-Cold War World

G8 Concludes With Agreements On Syria, Tax Evasion
At the conclusion of a contentious G8 summit that was overshadowed by the war in Syria, the global leaders did manage to release a policy statement on Syria. They expressed support for a transitional government in Syria that would be agreed upon by “mutual consent.” However, the agreement left out the thornier issue of the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because Russia refused to sign on otherwise.

On another issue, the G8 agreed to act on a ten-point plan, known as the Lough Erne Declaration, that includes measures to combat tax havens. Among the proposals, the declaration urges nations to automatically share information, enact prohibitions on rules allowing companies to shift profits across borders in order to avoid taxes, and agree to new trade deals.

In Germany, Obama Lays Out Plans To Cut Tactical Nuclear Weapons
Syria is just one area in which there is disagreement between the US and Russia. Obama plans to announce plans for the US to cooperate with NATO allies on further cutting tactical nuclear weapons that are not covered by the existing treaty. However, Russia, which possesses more tactical nuclear weapons deployed than the United States and Europe, has so far resisted such cuts.

In his speech before the Brandenburg Gate, Obama expressed his belief that security can be ensured while also reducing deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third, and he added, the US will “seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear
postures.”

Obama Visit To Germany Emphasizes How The World Has Changed
It was hard to ignore how much the world has changed since Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan made their historic remarks. To an extent, their speeches symbolized two bookends to the Cold War, while Obama delivered his address at a much different time.

Sudha David-Wilp, a senior program officer at the German Marshall Fund, asserts it is the US who needs the Germans, not vice versa.

“Five decades ago, Germany was a trusted partner and a protectorate of the U.S.; today it is Washington that needs Germany’s support in taking transatlantic relations to the next level. With the UK dangling threats to opt out of the EU and France struggling to jump start its economy; the U.S. should encourage Germany to reignite the European project in order to show the world that Europe can be an essential partner when it comes to confronting challenges around the world,” David-Wilp suggests.

US, Germany Appear Stuck In The Past
Others believe that both Germany and the US have failed the call to leadership and seem more comfortable relishing in the “glorious past.” Germany is the dominant power in Europe and the US remains a global power, yet neither Merkel, nor Obama seem willing to rise to history’s call, argues Josef Joffe, author of the book, The Myth of American Decline.

“Invoking a glorious past, in which the U.S. brought Germany back into the community of nations, the president and the chancellor will profess undying amity. But the reality is one of friendly indifference. Mr. Obama has been flirting with self-containment and Germany won’t shed it. The two countries’ macroeconomic policies have been at odds since the 2008 crash. America’s strategic ken is shifting to the Pacific, the key arena of the 21st century. Washington is struggling with ungovernability, and Berlin is happy to outsource politics to Brussels and the ECB in Frankfurt,” laments Joffe.

Call For A Reinvigorated US-German Alliance
Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff of the German Marshall Fund says it is imperative that President Obama do more than make a speech at the Bradenburg Gate. It needs to adopt a “broader strategy to help Europe recast itself in a transforming world, because the circumstances that created and maintained the transatlantic relationship – a cold war and a divided continent – are no more.”

What is needed, he writes in the Christian Science Monitor, is for America to embark on a “new political engagement that realizes [the US-European] relationship is no longer primarily about a common threat and a common defense. It is about engineering an economic rebound, about securing regional stability in Europe, and about shaping the global system of rules and treaties – and the bodies that decide them.”

 

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