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Have a Nice Day Der -Schröder

How will these bruises mend?


"On the agenda of the meeting in Washington are discussions of the situation in Iran after presidential elections during the weekend brought a hard-line conservative to power, the military commitment of both countries in Afghanistan and the Balkans, and the future of the European Union after the recent failed summit meeting.

Schröder is also expected to use the occasion to lobby the U.S. administration for support for Germany's campaign to win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The United States, however, has so far only supported Japan's candidacy.

The decades-long special relationship between Washington and Berlin was punctured during the run-up the U.S.-led attack on Iraq when Schröder used his opposition to American policy in his campaign to be re-elected in October 2002.

Even after his election victory, Schröder kept up the rhetoric. Together with France and Russia, Germany formed the anti-war camp in Europe, causing some of the sharpest tensions and disagreements inside Europe and in the trans-Atlantic relationship for many years.

"Schröder had put himself in a corner over Iraq," said Kamp. "Bush does not forget easily."

But one man who has spent years trying to redefine and rescue the relationship between Washington and Berlin, says the tensions between both countries go well beyond personalities. They are about a fundamental shift in how the two countries perceive each other.

"It is always easy to see the relationship in terms of personalities," Karsten Voigt, Germany's special U.S. envoy said in an interview. "But the reality is that the German-American relationship is today a relationship operating in a different strategic environment."

"What we are living through is the birth pains of a new type of Atlanticism. In the old one, Germany was at the center of a global crisis which was the Cold War. We would have always been part of the action. Now we are in the center of an area of stability. Early on, we were a consumer of security. Now we are asked to be an exporter of security. We have to decide. We have global values but limited interests and limited military capabilities."

As part of this changing definition of Atlanticism, Voigt says the United States cannot afford to take its allies for granted."

I would agree - to a point. Schröder, while helping in Afghanistan really hung us out to dry over Iraq, and,then used that reluctance to go to war with us to get himself re-elected. As Karen Donfried, director of policy programs for the German Marshall Fund in Washington, said: "He will be able to go back to Germany and say, 'I stood up to Bush on the Iraq war, but nonetheless I can still go to the White House and have serious discussions with the President,' "

"The fact is that you simply cannot trust Schröder on anything he says. He wouldn't support our efforts in Iraq and yet like Chirac wanted some of the spoils. He came here today to "get something" - support for a seat at the UN; and support to help him win the next election.

Schröder is in real political trouble. Germany's has serious economic issues. With a 12 percent unemployment rate and an overextended defense budget, Germany simply doesn't have much clout internationally at this time.

However, Bush on the other hand is going to need Germany at some point if Iran becomes a flash point. The recent sham election in Iran is just another example that diplomacy isn't going to make them stand down from their nuclear ambitions.

My guess is that Bush smiles, takes pictures and then politely tells him "auf wiedersehen", for now and waits for the new elections to see who is running Germany after September.

How it the meeting viewed in German Press? Headline says it all: "Germany's 'Lame Duck' Goes to Washington."


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