October 04, 2003

Germany Rising So France is

Germany Rising

So France is in decline. Tony Blair is sorta busy shoring up his domestic support.

And the estimable German Chancellor? Holding court with Dubya, reasserting an Atlanticist foreign policy, significantly involved in Afghanistan, and looking to replace Blair as umpire between the U.S. and Europe on Iraq.

Who would have thought? Sure his electoral position is weak, but he's not done too poorly for himself all told.

So don't be surprised that middle power Germany is eager to start suggesting that it's ready to start punching a little bit more above its weight:

"Chancellor Gerhard Schršder said Friday that Germany had been right to oppose the American-led war in Iraq, driving home his defiant message by repeatedly using the German word for power, which leaders here have long eschewed because of its associations with the Nazi era.

In a speech marking the 13th anniversary of German reunification, Mr. Schršder described the country as a "civil power" and an "economic power," responsible for fueling the growth of the European Union.

The word macht, or power, has been laden with meaning since Hitler used it to describe a Germany bent on dominating its neighbors. But Mr. Schršder talked about Germany's "civil power," which he said manifested itself in a peaceful foreign policy that could be spread throughout the world.

"German peace polices are policies for Europe and beyond," he said in a nationally televised speech in Magdeburg."

I don't know about you, but I get a bit spooked when German leaders start talking about spreading their policies "for Europe and beyond"--whether "peace" policies or other. And, believe me, veteran diplomats in places like Paris and London likely don't like the rhetorical muscle-flexing emitting from Berlin too much either.

Have you read John Mearsheimer's "The Tragedy of Great Power Politics" lately?

If you haven't, here's a little teaser. The U.S. pace Mearsheimer, plays the "American pacifier " role in Europe. Were the U.S to pull out all its troops from Europe--"Europe would go from benign bipolarity to unbalanced multipolarity, the most dangerous kind of power structure. The U.K., France, Italy and Germany would have to build up their own military forces and provide for their own security. In effect, they would all become great powers [ed. note: ie, within Europe], making Europe multipolar. And...Germany would probably become a potential hegemon and thus the main source of trouble in the new Europe."

Don't buy the (very transient) Franco-German love-in born of jealousy (and some shock) that the U.S. decided to, from a European view, show that it is willing to seek "conquest" outside the Western Hemisphere (among other factors). Nascent talk of a Euro-defense corps remains more farsical than serieux (see the inclusion of Luxembourg and Belgium). Deep in the bowels of the Quai D'Orsay (far from de Villepin's fanciful notions and dreamy neo-Napoleonic musings) and Whitehall the professional diplos are still keeping Mearsheimeresque realities well in mind. And they're wise to.

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