A New Map for American-German Relations: Memorandum to the New U.S. President


Building a Smarter German-American Partnership

In January 2009, you—Mr. President—the United States, and the world will be facing numerous challenges of enormous importance ranging from the crisis in the global financial markets to the global climate crisis. As you prepare to take office, you will have to make choices about the priorities for your first term in the White House and decide the short-term and long-term goals for your administration. You will also have to decide which of the U.S.’ allies will be able to help you in realizing these foreign policy goals you set.

This Memorandum will help you with these monumental decisions. It provides a map of the political and economic landscape in which relations with a key American ally—the Federal Republic of Germany—can be most effectively understood and managed.

You might ask: Why single out Germany? Why not deal with the European Union instead of individual members?

The reasons are manifold.

The European Union is a powerful group of states seeking to pool their resources. But it remains a work in progress, uneven in its economic and political consensus and in its ability to steer its capabilities. As long as Europe continues the process of defining itself, the U.S. will need to be in direct communication with the key national leaders in European capitals, such as Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Although the U.S.’ focus is no longer on Europe as it was during the Cold War, the transatlantic partnership—and Germany— continues to play an important role.,

As in all bilateral relations, there will not be synergy on all fronts. But by virtue of its economic weight, its political influence, and its critically important role in many highly volatile areas of interest to the U.S., you and the United States will be better served by engaging Germany in shaping the world you will confront in your first term. This Memorandum examines selected challenges you, Mr. President, will be facing and analyzes the possibilities of where you can use Germany as an opportunity or where Germany might present pitfalls. The Memorandum defines congruent policy areas and analyzes where conflicting interests already exist or might emerge.

Under your leadership, the American-German partnership must transcend the fraying thread of gratitude and rather reestablish itself as a strategy to address the challenges of the world with clear standards of success. Engaging pivotal allies such as Germany on the challenges at hand will be the key to your successful foreign policy, Mr. President.

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German Executive Summary