The transatlantic rift between Germany and the United States is deep and cannot be glossed over by glib appeals to 'universal values' or 'common interests.' Even though the rift was caused by the Bush administration's inept diplomacy and doctrine of preemptive war, the fissure cannot be overcome simply by electing a new president on November 2. This week the bad feelings were even extended into cyberspace when the official Web site of t George W. Bush denied access to European visitors. As noted in Telepolis:
Eine Stellungnahme der US-Regierung oder der Bush-Wahlkampfleitung dazu gibt es bisher nicht. Daher bleibt es vorerst ungeklärt, ob die Sperre an Bushs sinkender Beliebtheit außerhalb der USA liegt oder lediglich auf den ungeheueren Ansturm wegen des US-Wahlkampfes zurückzuführen ist.
Richard Berstein has a piece in today's New York Times about Europe and the United States that examines the rift and speculates on how the US election will effect But no matter what the outcome is, it is clear that both sides will have to change their approach:
"The animating idea here is that whoever is elected, the future of the world depends on a continuation of healthy relations between America and Europe and a common appreciation of the bedrock values of their alliance. To effect a reconciliation, the thinking goes, European leaders have to show a willingness to take some political risk, while the United States has to stop seeing the development of Europe as a threat to its interests."
Berstein quotes Die Zeit editor Michael Naumann's prescription for restoring the alliance, which is very much centered on Iraq and a possible German military participation. Naumann has four conditions:
"Europe will come to the aid of the United States in Iraq if the United States can fulfill four conditions:
¶That in the aftermath of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, it reaffirms its commitment to the Geneva Convention's rules on the treatment of prisoners.
¶That it recommits itself to nuclear nonproliferation at home, reducing its own weapons stockpiles and not just preventing countries like North Korea and Iran from obtaining them.
¶That it enters into serious ecological discussions, including the Kyoto treaty on global warming, which was rejected by the Bush administration.
¶That there be what Mr. Naumann calls "a return to a less arrogant tone of conversation," meaning that leaders on both sides of the Atlantic need to desist from the demagogic posturing of past months.
This last point presumably means there should be no warnings about "countries like France" from the president of the United States, and no talk of a "multipolar world" - code meaning that American power is a danger and needs to be contained - from the president of France.
In return, France and Germany have to find a way to help the country that saved Europe in two hot wars and one cold one in the last century and that now finds itself militarily and diplomatically isolated in a violent conflict in Iraq.
One way, proposed by Mr. Naumann, would be to get serious about the long-proposed but still mostly unbuilt European military rapid reaction force and to deploy some of its detachments to places like Falluja and Sadr City."
In the original Zeit editorial, Naumann warns that Germany must resist the temptation to respond to US hegemonist behavior with "preemptive abstinence."
Amerika ist schlecht gefahren mit seiner neuen Sicherheitsdoktrin des »präemptiven Kriegs«. Deutschland allerdings wird genauso schlecht beraten sein, wollte es angesichts der Malaise am Persischen Golf festhalten an seiner Politik der präemptiven Abstinenz.
I don't see any constructive steps being taken until the US agrees to abandon its disastrous doctrine of preemption. And that would only occur if there is a regime change at the White House.