Monday, April 16, 2012

Does The Middle East Cause A Strain Towards U.S.-German Relations?

Since 2010, the pro-democratic uprisings and revolutionary movement that swept the Middle East known as the Arab Springs called for the attention of NATO to intervene and put an end to the corruption of government and violence taking place in many of the countries occupying the region.  Countries such as Tunisia, where the uprising began, are making strides towards a democracy but there are still some countries in desperate need for assistance to end the brutality of civilians and restore both the government and economy.  Libya for example, after the fall of Muammar Gadaffi, is still suffering.  Much of the suffering revolves around the civil war between militia groups and civilians in Libya. There is currently no hope for a democracy and a strong economy in the near future.  After a survey implemented by Oxford University was published displaying that only 29% of the 2000 people surveyed want a democracy in the next year and 35% want strong leadership from one person or a group in a five years time, it is very likely that democracy in Libya will not happen. Despite the poll, many countries have called for the help of the United States to assist in Libya, but after heavily scrutinized by the American people, President Barack Obama decided to let Europe take the lead so he could focus more on the issues affecting America such as economic stability and military growth. According to the Centre for European Reform, The United States is taking a new approach called “Leading From Behind” and President Obama stated “The nation that I am most interested in building is our own”.  With this in mind, Europe is worried how much the U.S. and their military will back out from assistance which could possibly put some strain on transatlantic relations, especially since there are opposing feelings in regards to the Middle East. 
Germany is one of our strongest allies, especially regarding our economies because both countries sustain a large trade relationship according to President Obama in a joint press conference with Chancellor Merkel.  Even though American and Germans agree on developmental issues and restructuring in the Middle East, there are opposing perspectives regarding how to deal with countries in the Middle East such as Israel. In March 2011,  Germany voted in favor of the United Nations Security Council when they declared that Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory illegal. The United States was not in favor of the resolution.   According to Der Spiegel, a German online publication, the only thing Germans and Americans have together is their “mutual annoyance”.  According to the article, “Chancellor Merkel resents Obama for having initially spoken out against intervening in Libya and then allowing pressure from Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and other advisers to change his mind.” The article then goes on to state that “She believes that Obama did not give enough thought to the consequences of intervening in Libya and the doing so ended up putting Germany in an awkward position.”  Could the opposing ideals in regards to handling the Middle East hurt the transatlantic relations between the two countries?

Before President Obama came into office as president of The United States, the Bush Administration was not exactly favored in Germany according to the Hamburg-Review. People around Europe became optimistic that President Obama would change the relations between the two countries, especially since German’s often felt Americans demonstrated an arrogant attitude in regards to respecting international law and agreements such as climate change.  Times are changing of course and both President Obama and Chancellor Merkel recognize this.  In the joint press conference with President Obama and Chancellor Merkel, President Obama highlighted how The United States and Germany are in complete agreement upon stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.  However, according to Christian Martin, assistant professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Hamburg, states that German’s Minister of Defense, Franz Josef Jung, proclaims “there is no war in Afghanistan”, which could be viewed very negative  by Americans. He then goes on to say “Germany would be ill advised to ignore American concerns about sluggish allied support for the war in Afghanistan[…] by taking an ‘anti-war’ stance,  the damage to transatlantic relations could be severe” . Although there are opposing ideals in regards to handling the Middle East and the issues prevalent in many of the countries, there seems to be some trust between both th United States and Germany that transatlantic relations will be restored as long as they remain to agree on the "greater good for poorer countries" especially in the Middle East. 


Aisha Hicks said...

This is supposed to be in group 3 sorry for the confusion but I am unable to move it

Linda Esch said...

For the impact on the Middle East on US-Germany relations I feel it is also necessary to incorporate not only the US backing of Israel in the Security Council but also the complex relationship Germany has with Israel. Basically the world cringes when Germany does not back up Israel...
In terms of recent development there is also the Atlantic Cruiser, a ship owned by a German shipping company, rented to a Ukrainian company and operated under the flag of Antigua and Barbados, which is suspected of transporting Iranian weapons to Syria, undermining the blockage implemented against Syria by the International community.