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April 18, 2008 |  6 comments |  Print  Your Opinion  

Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Yes, We Can! Our New Transatlantic Agenda in a Changing World

Frank-Walter Steinmeier: For the past 60 years the transatlantic relationship has been the world’s transformative partnership. America’s relationship with Europe - more than with any other part of the world - enables both of us to achieve goals that neither of us could achieve alone.

This is what makes the transatlantic relationship unique: When we agree, we are the core of any effective global coalition; when we disagree, no global coalition is likely to be effective.

"Smart power" - as Joe Nye so appropriately called it - is the synonym for what we need today: new concepts, a revitalised alliance and particularly renewed American leadership in the world.

"Smart power" is George Marshall's vision in a nutshell. "Smart power" is the key to serving America's interests, to serving Europe's interests and - I would argue - to serving the world's interests. To use "smart power," America - with its global reach - needs allies; and Europe - for its global contributions - needs America.

In that sense, to redesign the transatlantic agenda for a global age, let me look at three main elements for our common future:

  • a more sustainable world
  • a safer world
  • a more just and open world.

In all three areas, I see "modern Germany" and "modern Europe" as America's ideal partner:

First: creating opportunities for a more sustainable world.

Climate change and energy security are the keywords here - topics which directly determine whether we can live safely in tomorrow's world.

Here, the US and Europe can and must be pioneers. We are among the most innovative economies; we have top technology, top researchers, top universities; we have the two most integrated markets worldwide. Together, we must turn the tide and jointly tackle the twin challenges of climate change and energy security.

My vision is a "transatlantic climate bridge" that brings together like-minded people and institutions here and in Europe. The "MIT Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems" is an excellent example of joint action.

Element number two: seeking opportunities for a safer world.

The new world order - or: disorder, for that matter - sets one very clear task: we must define security much more broadly than we have ever done before.

We must strengthen common global awareness of ever increasing interdependence - and therefore of the constantly increasing need for more cooperation.

Of course, the EU's ability to project stability is interlinked with the efforts of NATO. EU and NATO are working closely together to stabilise the Balkans, especially Kosovo. And NATO's Bucharest summit last week reaffirmed that the door remains open to those willing and able to join.

A safer world also means that America and Europe must engage with Russia.

Without Russia's cooperation, many pressing issues we are facing around the world will be harder to resolve - Iran, the Middle East, arms control are just a few examples.

Modern Germany's and Europe's responsibilities do not end at Europe's borders. As a nation and as a continent in an ever more interdependent world - and as a partner of America -, we must do all that we can to tackle the world's problems.

I have talked about a sustainable world, a safer world. But if we proclaim these visions for our new transatlantic global agenda, we must add a third element as a vital ingredient: a more open and just world.

It is true: our values as democracies, the openness of our societies and our economies remain the foundation of our success. Together we stand for the rule of law and respect for human rights - at home and abroad, and especially in the fight against terrorism.

We also share a major interest in further advancing a rules-based system of open global trade through the reduction of barriers to trade and investment - amongst ourselves and with the rest of the world. This is a core transatlantic project.

But let's not deceive ourselves: In Europe and in the United States, there are siren songs of protectionism coming from left, right and centre. I see this with great concern. As we all know: Siren songs are very tempting - and very dangerous.

Nonetheless, cooperation pays off, politically and in the bank accounts of the people. This is the right course: engagement, dialogue, institution building, global governance.

On a broader scale, globalisation with all its benefits and challenges needs rules and regulation - like it or not. This is the only way to break the divide between winners and losers.

We must enable the key institutions to provide effective global governance. Global governance must be good governance! Global governance must also be just governance.

Do transatlantic relations still matter? Can we make a difference together? Without interfering in your current election campaign: let me just say - yes, we can!

I have tried to give you some of the reasons why I think we can.

In this new world - 60 years after George Marshall's speech - perhaps more so than ever. Yes, different circumstances require new concepts and new leadership. But one truth remains: Together, we as transatlantic partners and friends - the United States, Canada and Europe with modern Germany at its heart - together we can make our world a more sustainable, a safer, a more just and open place!

This is a shortened version of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's speech which was given at the "Conference on Germany in the Modern World" at Harvard University on April 12, 2008. The full text is available here.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been German Federal Foreign Minister since November 22, 2005 and Deputy Chancellor since November 2007.

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Donald  Stadler

April 18, 2008

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Reminds me of an old joke I once heard:

Tonto and the Lone Ranger are surrounded by 100 Indians who are circling them on horseback, making threatening gestures, and obviously up to no good. The Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and asks 'Faithful Indian Companion, what do we do now?'.

Tonto replies 'What do you mean, "we", white man?!'

So my answer to Herr Steinmeier might be: 'What do you mean, "we", European?'

Show us something to the advantage of the US and we might have ground to talk. One thing I learned the past decade is that 'In God We Trust; All others pay cash' applies to NATO. The Brits, Canadians, Polish, and Nederlands paid cash; Germany bounced a check sky high.
 
Ilyas M. Mohsin

April 20, 2008

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Donald sounds unduly harsh about his EU partners. He appears to forget that in the US'there is no rree lunch.'
Smart power etc is history. To translate 'yes we can' in to something substantive in the uni-polar world, new thinking is required by all democratic people, paricularly the Americans because they are calling the shots. While Iraq is facing a gnocide, despite the removal of Saddam, and under US 'occupation' ; Afghanistan is festering in to a quagmire much worse than was Vietnam for the US. NATO input is, almost, ambivalent despite the brave words of the German Foreign Minister.
Mr. Grono, Deputy President of the International Crisis Group Brussels/ Washington DC addressed the NATO Parliamentary Assembly seminar on “Stabilising Afghanistan: Developing Security, Securing Development” held on April 17. He has tried to be candid in his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan. Those who talk of ‘tipping point’ etc are either using spin for furthering some political agenda at home or they suffer from misperception about the ground realities. It is a tragic fact that most Americans tend to keep blissfully ignorant of such crises in other countries. That is why it is so easy to manipulate the public opinion there despite the widespread education in advanced countries. If a brave lady like Cindy Sheehan starts questioning the justification for losing American lives, including her young son, in the Iraq-fiasco, she is cheered by many. However, such actions do not dictate any change of policy which is made keeping in view, generally, the interests of what President Eisenhower defined as “Military Industrial complex’ and the richer sections of society. Some marginal difference occurs if Democrats assume power after winning national elections and the ‘poor’ are also mentioned and, at times, accommodated by small gestures.
The US/NATO forces have scant intelligence beyond Kabul. No wonder they shoot human beings like they shoot bad guys in video games as children in the US. More often than not, their indiscriminate bombing/ missiles kill more innocent civilians and, at times, only these hapless people. As per local culture and belief, it is incumbent on the survivors to avenge such deaths while the enemy lives. Only on this account, US etc are regularly creating hundreds of aggrieved parties against themselves among the local population. This helps the Taliban in a big way as they can easily mobilise such a dedicated force against the enemy. By their tradition, the Afghan can wait for a century quite easily before wreaking Revenge.
The article describes in detail the sufferings of the Afghan people due to tribal, ethnic etc divides which is aggravated by the excesses committed due to the ‘culture of impunity’ in the country. I wish he had highlighted the outstanding features of Afghan history. If the same is understood and if it has any relevance, Vietnam would end up as ‘picnic’ for US as compared with the Afghan expedition.
The Afghans, despite all kinds of funny divides, hate occupation. Soviet Union broke after it was bundled out of Afghanistan by MUJAHIDEEN WITH ACTIVE SUPPORT FROM US/Pakistan. The British Empire cut their losses after suffering 16 thousand dead in the Second Afghan War by withdrawing forces from that difficult country. As a friend of the US/EU, one would urge them not to overlook these facts. A Trojan horse like Karazai can’t deliver peace or victory over the Afghans. Bold statements do not make much difference. One night before US forces left Vietnam on the quiet, the Ambassador in Saigon was talking of US victory despite knowing of the hasty retreat planned for the next day.
The US has ‘outsourced’ ‘misgovernance’ to the local war-lords in the North but in the South/East, the Taliban have tremendous influence now. It is a question of time when most of the Afghans would join hands to take on the ‘enemy’. The asymmetry of power is always there but it does not deter the Afghan from freeing his land from ‘occupation.’
No wonder, the Taliban have repeatedly spurned US offers of talks insisting that ‘occupation’ must end first. On one occasion, some Taliban leader is quoted by BBC as having said, “The Americans have the watches and we have the time.”

 
Unregistered User

April 20, 2008

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"Together, we as transatlantic partners and friends - the United States, Canada and Europe with modern Germany at its heart "

"Germany at its heart", I expect some difficulties with the other counties at the heart ; seems that Germany wants to take the leadership in EU affairs, a re-centralisation on the EU interests ? or Germany's ?
 
Ilyas M. Mohsin

May 3, 2008

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It is in EU' best interest to forget the past misgivings/ disappointments. After the world war 11, Gen De Gaulle rose to the occasion and hence the Franco-german relations registered an upward trend in terms of goodwill/ cooperation. However, local culture in most EU countries still leaves much to be desired.
Sometime back, on my return journey from Geneva to Bonn, I had to spend the night in the French area of Switzerland. It was a weak-end so there were many people in a small town in to which I drove. I was wanting to find out the location of some good hotel. As I talked in English, guys would give me bad stares without talking back. Then I tried to address them in Deutsch and the response was matter-of-fact.
on getting to the hotel we were greatly welcomed as my daughter spoke French, thanks to her language -course done in Bonn.
It is time the EU countries became more cosmopolitan.
 
Unregistered User

June 7, 2008

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A government is the most dangerous threat to man's rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims. --Ayn Rand

This article reads like a totalitarian justification to form a one-world government.
 
Unregistered User

October 8, 2008

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Troy, what you think, what is this organisation working for? They threat us like two legged domesticated animals. It is finished with the "hope" part as in Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley. People and nations did not bow head fast enough to the NWO, so now is time for the "tragedy" part. Armor yourself with knowledge. Soon will be thoughtcrime to speak against the system. Read on here:
>We've been pushed and dragged through the entire hysterical hocus-pocus
>of inflation, hyperinflation, systemic banking collapses
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10430
 

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