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Germany and the United Nations (July 7, 2005)

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Anyone who wages a campaign as ambitious as the federal government should be reasonably confident that he’ll win in the end. Otherwise the campaign is nothing but a gamble whose end could bring a dramatic loss of prestige for Germany. The chancellor is schmoozing with the Russians and the Chinese to win their votes. Germany also bases its strategy on a coalition of the willing. Four wannabes want to combine their forces, but instead they are only multiplying the forces of opposition. Japan’s major adversary is China; India has Pakistan as a counterweight, and Brazil’s opponent is its neighbor Argentina. And Germany is openly opposed by Italy. Other European skeptics include Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, and Spain. Some countries are remaining quiet and hoping that others will block the bid. Thus, the federal government’s unilateral move is endangering a first-class goal of German foreign policy (European unity) in order to pursue a second-class one (a Security Council seat).

Three major projects have charted the course of German policy since World War II: Western integration, détente [Ostpolitik], and German unification. All of them succeeded America supported them. The federal government is pursuing the fourth major project without and even against America. The federal government argues that the United States has only one vote and that it isn’t terribly popular on the world stage today. Semi-distance, not closeness to America will secure the majority, or so the government hopes. This seems to be motivated by more than mere election strategy. A permanent seat could easily lead to the next step in the parting of ways with America. That would be the gravest of all misreadings of German interests. The Federal Republic became secure and prosperous in the convoy of our Western alliance partners. Wise self-restraint has been, until recently, the secret of German foreign policy. What has suddenly changed?

The price for a seat for the new German self-confidence is very high indeed. If only Jeannie, the genie in a bottle, could wish it away.

Source of original German text: “Soll Deutschland im UN-Sicherheitsrat sitzen? Pro: Matthias Nass; Con: Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff,” Die Zeit, July 7, 2005.

Translation: GHDI staff

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