The German American Relationship: An American's Perspective

by David C. Gompert

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The German-American relationship, a constant for 50 years, has become less vital for both countries. Shared institutions no longer provide the glue they once did between the two countries and politicized security relations in both countries have inflamed very real differences in their security perspectives. Americans believe that Germany must be an active, assertive agent; Germany is diffident about accepting a major security role. Germany's stand against the United States in the Iraq crisis laid bare the divergent U.S. and German views on the dangers of weapons of mass destruction. The two countries disagree on means even when they agree on ends: For Americans, strength serves and usually delivers peace; for Germans it once served aggression and brought destruction. America and Germany must forge a new relationship in which practical cooperation on common interests is intensified and mutual trust and confidence are restored. A viable new relationship must be based not on American power and German timidity but on American humility and German responsibility.

Originally published in: Atlantik-Bruecke eV, Jahresbericht 2002/2003, pp. 17-21.

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