Transatlantic Forum in Berlin: "We must all do more!"

During the Transatlantic Forum on 1 July 2009 in Berlin, Ambassador Ischinger and distinguished experts discussed the current challenges facing the transatlantic partners.

The Transatlantic Forum took place in the Berlin bureau of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Photo: Maleki Group.

Previously, at this event jointly organized by the Munich Security Conference and the Maleki Group, the new US Permanent Representative to NATO, Ambassador Ivo Daalder, called for greater European engagement in general and by Germany in particular. He praised the support given to date, but said this was far too small given the challenges. The provision of fifty million US dollars for training the Afghan army was a great thing, he added, "but we need two billion." If the Alliance was not prepared to invest more money in building up the Afghan army, more troops would have to be sent in. The "Americanization" of the Afghanistan mission due to the massive increase in US troop numbers, which had led to some concerns, was not the Obama Administration’s intent, he continued. That increase was exclusively a reply to the US assessment of the manpower required to fight the Taliban. Ambassador Daalder underlined that the US was doing its part, and that "Europe and Germany can and should do more."

Daalder also made it clear that, in his view, the additional German troops deployed in Afghanistan to provide security for the Presidential elections should stay there after the elections. Security wasn’t going to magically improve after the elections, he went on. Daalder recognized the scepticism felt by many in the West about strengthening a mission many thousands of kilometres from home. However, he added, the Afghanistan mission also had a bearing on our own security. "A Taliban victory would be a disaster." The Allies had to understand that world politics had changed for good. In the age of global politics, he continued, local events often had global effects, while global threats had local impact. NATO therefore had to see itself as a global Alliance. Today, "out-of-area" missions, Daalder underlined, were to a certain extent “in area”. To be capable of taking global action, NATO, the "most successful alliance in history" and an "alliance of democracies", as Daalder repeatedly emphasized, had to enter into partnerships with democracies in other parts of the world. He pointed towards cooperation with countries like Australia, which already provided major contributions in Afghanistan.

During the subsequent debate Ambassador Bernd Mützelburg, the Federal Government Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, welcomed the Obama Administration’s fresh start in Afghanistan, and particularly its consultation with the Allies. The chances of success had not been so high for a long time, he added. Mützelburg pointed to the efforts and the new commitment of many countries. The group of Special Representatives for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region now numbered 27, he continued.

When asked about Europe’s significance for US policy, Jackson Janes, Director of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, criticized what he saw as the prevailing opinion in Europe that intensified US cooperation with non-European countries was to the detriment of transatlantic relations. This was not a zero-sum game, he said. Transatlantic relations were characterized by "mutual indispensability". However, for the US Germany was today no longer a global-policy issue which required constant attention but rather a country from which the US expected constructive input.

During a conversation with Wolfgang Ischinger, international law expert Anne-Marie Slaughter, the State Department’s new Director of Policy Planning since January, set out the new Administrations’ foreign policy and its focus on a policy of "engagement". Washington was open to cooperation, she said, while pointing out that confidence building needed time. Moreover, she went on, the new approach was in no way without conditions. If, as in the case of North Korea, the US offer of cooperation was rejected, the US had no other option but to pursue a course of confrontation.

Prof. Volker Perthes, the Director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), emphasized how important it was for the West to try to involve rising powers such as Russia or China. A joint approach was essential, he added, particularly in meeting challenges like the Iranian nuclear programme. Sanctions could only be effective if they were imposed by the UN Security Council and were binding on all countries.

On another panel, the CEO of Deutsche Bank, Josef Ackermann, the President of the American Council on Germany, William Drozdiak, State Secretary Bernd Pfaffenbach and Prof. Beatrice Weder di Mauro, member of the German Council of Economic Experts, debated the global financial and economic crisis. Prof. Weder di Mauro criticized the view held by many that the crisis was already over and that it was now time for business as usual. Mr Ackermann also called for further reforms, above all improved financial-market supervisory cooperation. Global rules needed to be created here. Mr Pfaffenbach and Mr Drozdiak also warned against a new protectionism in trade policy.

10 July 2009, by Tobias Bunde