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Parting Ways

Parting Ways: The Crisis in German-American Relations

Stephen F. Szabo
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    Parting Ways
    Book Description:

    Germany and the United States entered the post-9/11 era as allies, but they will leave it as partners of convenience -or even possibly as rivals. The first comprehensive examination of the German-American relationship written since the invasion of Iraq, Parting Ways is indispensable for those seeking to chart the future course of the transatlantic alliance. In early 2003, it became apparent that many nations, including close allies of the United States, would not participate in the U.S.-led coalition against Iraq. Despite the high-profile tension between the United States and France, some of the most bitter opposition came from Germany, marking the end not only of the German-American "special relationship," but also of the broader transatlantic relationship's preeminence in Western strategic thought.

    Drawing on extensive research and personal interviews with decisionmakers and informed observers in both the United States and Germany, Stephen F. Szabo frames the clash between Gerhard Schröder and George W. Bush over U.S. policy in Iraq in the context of the larger changes shaping the relationship between the two countries. Szabo considers such longer-term factors as the decreasing strategic importance of the U.S.-German relationship for each nation in the post-cold war era, the emergence of a new German identity within Germany itself, and a U.S. foreign policy led by what is arguably the most ideological administration of the post-World War II era.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-9666-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 A “Poisoned” Relationship
    (pp. 1-14)

    “How can you use the name of Hitler and the name of the president of the United States in the same sentence?” demanded the U.S. national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. Only a few days earlier, on September 18, 2002, just before voters were to go to the polls in the most closely contested election in German history, Germany’s justice minister, Herta Däubler-Gmelin, had compared the methods of Bush with those of Hitler, charging that he was deliberately manufacturing a foreign crisis in Iraq to divert the American people’s attention away from domestic economic problems. Rice continued: “An atmosphere has been...

  5. 2 From Unlimited Solidarity to Reckless Adventurism: Responding to 9-11
    (pp. 15-33)

    The Bush-Schröder relationship got off to a rocky start. On the chancellor’s first visit to Washington after Bush’s election, on March 29, 2001, the new president embarrassed him and his Green Party coalition partners by having the U.S. national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, announce half an hour before their meeting that the Kyoto Treaty on climate change was dead. That was followed by a series of blunt declarations from the new team in Washington denouncing a series of multilateral initiatives to which Germany was party, including the Chemical and Biological Weapons Treaty, the International Criminal Court, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile...

  6. 3 Partners in Contradiction: From the Election to War
    (pp. 34-51)

    When it became clear that Schröder had been reelected, Bush sent no congratulatory message. This break in the normal protocol, a staffer in the chancellor’s office later recalled, “had a snowball effect that resulted in a period of noncommunication at the top.”¹ The day after the election, the chancellor met with the left wing of his parliamentary party and told its foreign policy spokesman, Gernot Erler, that his decision on Iraq was fundamental and unshakable. To change his approach would cost him all credibility with his party and the voters, and he had no mandate to do so.² That promise...

  7. 4 Kulturkampf: A Clash of Strategic Cultures
    (pp. 52-78)

    The dispute between Germany and the United States over Iraq was part of a deeper clash of strategic cultures. A nation’s strategic culture is that aspect of its general political culture that relates to national security policy, including beliefs about national identity, national interest, the world and the nature of the international system, causes and effects (including the consequences of state policy and the instruments of policy), and such normative dimensions as ethics and the legitimacy of state authority.¹ Strategic culture focuses on the relationship between defense strategy and culture in describing and explaining national strategic style. It is the...

  8. 5 Is It Bush or Is It America? German Images of the United States
    (pp. 79-103)

    The dispute between Germany and the United States over the war in Iraq raised broader questions about the nature of German public sentiment toward America. Henry Kissinger worried that Schröder’s critique of the Bush administration’s approach did not represent a simple divergence over policy but rather the opening of a new era in which “a kind of anti-Americanism may become a permanent temptation of German politics.”¹ In contrast, public opinion polls indicate that the mainstream view in Germany holds that the split is primarily a matter of policy and personality and does not reflect a deeper anti-Americanism. Anti-Americanism can be...

  9. 6 Welcome to the Berlin Republic
    (pp. 104-130)

    The election campaign of 2002 was conclusive proof that the Berlin republic had replaced the Bonn republic, the republic of West Germany. Centered in the Rhineland and facing west, Bonn was close geographically and culturally to Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. It was small, even cozy, and it reassured rather than frightened both the German people and their neighbors. It was a town—and a republic—without much history. Its scale was modest, as were its pretensions.

    The seat of the Berlin republic, in contrast, is a city of 3.5 million inhabitants, located within an hour of the Polish border. The...

  10. 7 From Alliance to Alignment
    (pp. 131-153)

    On September 24, 2003, months after the United States declared the end of military action in Iraq, Gerhard Schröder and George W. Bush met at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, where both were attending a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The mini-summit was the first since their meeting in Berlin in May 2002, and it lasted forty minutes, longer than the half-hour originally planned. Every minute carried symbolic weight. AsDer Spiegelcommented, “the entire fate of the German-American relationship hung on this half hour.” The meeting went well, and the president referred to the chancellor...

  11. Appendix Chronology of German-American Relations from September 11, 2001, through March 20, 2003
    (pp. 154-158)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 159-186)
  13. Index
    (pp. 187-195)