The American Enigma: Berlin Unsure about a Possible President Romney

November 3rd, 2012

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Severin Weiland, Nov. 1, 2012 (Photo-Galleries: four years with Obama).

Germans like US President Barack Obama, but what if his challenger Mitt Romney wins next week’s election instead? The Republican politician is hard to read when it comes to foreign policy matters, and politicians in Berlin are asking what it would mean for German-American relations.

Germans have long since made up their minds about Mitt Romney. Only 5 percent would give him their vote if they had one, they say. 

The result of the most recent poll by Forsa is far from surprising. When America votes, the German heart traditionally beats for the Democratic candidate. To many, the Republicans are suspect: cocky, Christian-conservative, narrow-minded and often hawkish — at least according to the widespread cliché. Some 92 percent of Germans, the poll found, would vote to return incumbent Barack Obama to the White House … //

…  More Military Demands?

Rolf Mützenich, the foreign policy spokesman of the opposition Social Democrats in parliament, believes that a Romney victory would result in an “initial standstill and uncertainty” while the administration went through the drawn-out process of making new appointments. What’s more, he fears that if Romney chooses to rely on former advisers from the Bush era, “disagreements could arise regarding not only the issues of Iran and Russia, but also when it comes to respect for the United Nations, international law and disarmament.” Likewise, he holds that a Romney administration would most likely not see eye to eye with Germany and its fellow European Union nations when it comes to the global regulation of the financial markets.

Braml, the DGAP expert and author of the book “Der amerikanische Patient” (”The American Patient”), champions the thesis that American’s poor socio-economic condition and growing isolationist sentiments will lead it to try to shift the burdens of military actions onto its allies. This view is shared by many in Berlin. Leibrecht, Chancellor Merkel’s coordinator for German-American relations, has said that one of the possible consequences of a Romney victory would be calls for augmenting defense budgets. “That is not particularly popular with us,” he said, “and we also don’t support this request in light of the consolidation and cost-cutting course that has been pursued in Europe.”

In any case, whether Obama or Romney wins, CDU politician Missfelder says that Germans will have to get used to one thing: “When it comes to global military actions in crisis zones, the Americans will definitely be coming to us and demanding more in the years to come.”
(full text).

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