Managing Expectations: Will Merkel’s visit end the transatlantic rift? (Victorino Matus, 01/06/2006, Weekly Standard)

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, there have been repeated attempts to mend the transatlantic rift–with middling success at the state level. (On the other hand, says one German counterterrorism expert, “we have always been close on the working level” in the war on terror.) But it wasn’t until November 22, when the chancellery switched hands, that analysts saw a serious opportunity for diplomatic change.

But what sort of change can we realistically expect? “The issue will be substance versus style,” said Karen Donfried last October at a German Marshall Fund symposium. Donfried, the senior director at GMF, pointed out that “Schröder did one thing and said another. Sure they were helping us out–a lot, even–but by ‘merely’ what he said, he was delegitimizing Operation Iraqi Freedom.” She continued, “If Merkel simply continues doing what is being done but says positive things and explains honestly [to the German people] why they are helping, that would be hugely significant.”

Europe just needs to go to school on Kofi Annan if it wants to heal the rift–the Secretary now does whatever we tell him to and we get along fine.

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