Germany Is a Key Piece of the Foreign Policy Puzzle

By Grenier, Richard | Insight on the News, February 8, 1993 | Go to article overview

Germany Is a Key Piece of the Foreign Policy Puzzle


Grenier, Richard, Insight on the News


Germany shall rise again! Or it already has. The united Europe envisioned by the architects of the post-World War II period -- whose main objective was to contain a too powerful and aggressive Germany -- is not on the verge of collapse. It already has collapsed, leaving Greater Germany as the dominant European power.

Half a century of German shame and contrition for the abominations of Adolf Hitler are coming to an end, as are decades of deference to neighboring and patronizing France as a superior, more humane civilization. Half a century is a long time for an economically successful, inordinately dynamic people to accept a humiliating position as a second-class nation, morally disqualified for world leadership by the sins of its Nazi past. In the coming decade, Helmut Kohl's successors as chancellors of a united Germany may demand (with Japan) a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. And why should the dominant power of Europe, its historic defender against the Eastern hordes, be denied nuclear weapons?

This, at least, is the view of Irish writer and diplomat Conor Cruise O'Brien, a man with some credentials as a U.N. representative, as set forth in the most recent edition of the National Interest.

Even O'Brien neglects to recall that Jean Monnet, the French "father" of the European Community, set as its basis two founding principles: (1) Franco-German friendship; and (2) the permanent division of Germany -- a unified Germany being too large and powerful to contain within the "European" framework.

And lo, it has come to pass. Germany is reunited and, following the failure to achieve monetary and political union after Maastricht, the projected United States of Europe has collapsed.

Among American foreign policy cognoscenti, if not the U.S. public, there is fairly extensive recognition of this. At Bill Clinton's recent economic "summit," Rudiger Dornbusch, key- note speaker on international relations, was as categorical as O'Brien on a united Europe's collapse. The project was entirely an instrument of the Cold War, he said, and with the Cold War over it made no sense.

In an unusual display of bipartisanship, outgoing Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, in something of a farewell address to the Council on Foreign Relations, and incoming CIA Director-designate James Woolsey, in an address to the World Affairs Council, agreed that, far from any neat new order, America now faces an international situation of such multifaceted complexity as to make those responsible for U.S. foreign policy almost nostalgic for the simplicity of the Cold War years. Although decisions are for the moment concentrated on Bosnia, Somalia and the Arab-Israeli conflict, nuclear weapons in the hands of a half-dozen new nations less reluctant to use them than the old Soviet Union could become a nightmare. …

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