Sunday, January 15, 2006

Bush and Merkel

After posts in the past months over Angela Merkel's rise to Chancellorship of Germany, I would be remiss in not mentioning her meeting with President Bush in Washington, D.C., this past Friday the 13th.

I don't make any bones about the fact that I do not see eye-to-eye on much of what Bush stands for. Nor am I proud of how the USA stands in the world's eye on his watch, especially as we get the European viewpoint while overseas. But I do attempt to see and hear what are signs of hope whenever they come along.

Merkel may be one such sign! It's no secret that relations were strained between Bush and former Chancellor Gerhardt Schröder. Bush and Merkel are closer in ideology but still have their differences, especially on the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists at the U.S.-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which Merkel has said she would like to see closed.

They both agree on Iran regarding nuclear arms, Israel's right to exist and not describing the Holocaust as a myth. However, Merkel is quicker to ask for sanctions while Bush is still holding back.

There may not be many policy changes in U.S.-German relations going forward, in part because cooperation between the countries is already good in many areas. The improvement may be more in mood and tone, based on Friday's meeting. Here's the text of their conversation with the press, with the following quote:

President Bush: We've got something in common, we both didn't exactly landslide our way into office. (Laughter.)

I'm convinced that we will have a really important and good relationship.

First, I do want to send my best regards to Gerhard Schröeder. We spent a lot of time together, and we talked about issues. Listen, there was room for agreement and room for disagreement. And I do hope he's doing well.

Our job now is to work together. We've got big interests. Germany is a really important country. It's right in the heart of Europe; it's vital that Germany take the lead on a lot of issues. And I look forward to working with the Chancellor on common objectives. And my first impressions, with 45 minutes alone in the Oval Office, were incredibly positive. She's smart -- (laughter) -- she's plenty capable. She's got kind of a spirit to her that is appealing. She loves freedom.

I was particularly touched by hearing about her early life in communist Germany. There's something uplifting to talk to somebody who knows the difference between just talking about tyranny and living in freedom and actually done it.

So we're going to have a very good relationship. And that's important for our respective people. I'm looking forward to consultations, visits, contacts, phone calls, all the things you do. And now I'm going to take her to lunch. (Laughter.)

If Angela Merkel can be a Voice for the European Union to help steer Bush in the right direction, more power to her. No one country can stand or act unilaterally any more in the World as it's evolving today. We need all the help we can get and hopefully Merkel will contribute to Bush seeing/accepting that!


  1. Very Interesting. To me his speech seems very one sided though. Aspirations of what Bush wants and not what other people want. At least Merkel is a bit further on than him in many aspects...It should be interesting.

  2. A lovely post! Succinct and informative and yet soft, not brash or noisy.

    I learn something from you each day :-)

  3. Thanks for your comments, Expat and PG. Politics is such a tricky thing, which I usually steer away from. However, I do find myself "present" in what's going on these days. If we don't pay attention, who knows what will happen, right!