Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Germany's relationship with America has experienced highs and lows. The current debate on a UN resolution for Iraq shows how much the transatlantic relationship has changed.
A German police officer looks at the tributes in front of the U.S. Embassy shortly after the atttacks.
In a few weeks, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder will speak before the United Nations General Assembly in New York at a time when his and other countries are pushing for a greater role for the world body in postwar Iraq.
A security council resolution on cooperation between the United States and the United Nations in the war-torn country will likely top the agenda. But a planned meeting between Schröder and American President George W. Bush on the periphery will also be given particular importance in Germany.
The one-on-one meeting between the two leaders, which U.S. Ambassador to Germany Daniel Coats told German radio Thursday is "very likely" to happen, will be the first since Bush visited Berlin in May 2002. Back then, Bush praised Schröder's government for their commitment to rooting out terrorist cells in Germany and sending troops to Africa and Afghanistan as part of America's "War on Terror."
Back then Schröder was still talking of "unlimited solidarity" with the United States following the devastating terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001.
But the niceties and promises by Bush to take Schröder fishing one day quickly evaporated as the German chancellor came out hard on the Bush administration's planned invasion of Iraq. His election campaign vow in August 2002 that no German troops would set foot on Iraqi soil as part of a U.S. military invasion apparently shut down communication between the White House and Chancellery.
An injured U.S. soldier being evaucated from Iraq
Until recently. The daily guerrilla and suicide attacks against U.S. and British troops in Iraq have led the Bush administration to appeal worldwide for help in stabilizing postwar Iraq. Germany still refuses to send soldiers and politicians have said the country won't practice the sort of "blank check" diplomacy that saw the Kohl government spending 17 billion German marks ($9.7 billion) in 1991 to finance America's first desert campaign. "Redefinition" of the relationship
Talk instead is of increasing the €75 million ($84 million) financial aid package to Iraq and offering German law enforcement expertise to train Iraqi policemen, perhaps in Germany.
It is part of what German politicians, like Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, are calling a "redefinition" of the transatlantic relationship. "We need to meet in the middle," he said in an interview with Stern magazine this week.
Germany is no longer an unquestioning ally to the United States. The two years since the September 11 attacks have proven that. The Bush administration's invasion of Iraq damaged not only the relationship between the two leaders but also largely erased the vast pool of sympathetic feelings many Germans harboured for Americans following the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York.
Berlin teenage students protest against war in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Thursday March 20, 2003.
A poll by the transatlantic organization the German Marshall Fund released September 4 revealed that one in every two Germans thought U.S. world leadership was "undesirable." Such sentiments were even stronger in Italy and France, which announced Wednesday it had drafted a new security council resolution for postwar Iraq together with Germany.
Iraq resolution defines relationship
The resolution calls for the United Nations to take over political responsibility in postwar Iraq, a point to which the Bush administration remains opposed. Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview with Arabic television channel Al-Jazeera this week that the U.S.-appointed Civil Administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, should continue to play the dominant role.
"Suggestions that all we have to do is get up tomorrow
morning and find an Iraqi who is passing by and give him the government and say, 'You're now in charge and Ambassador Bremer and the American Army are leaving,' that's not an acceptable solution," Powell said, according to Reuters.