“Iran Will Be the Litmus Test”
The extent to which teamwork can be reestablished will soon be tested by dealings with Iran. Gary Smith, Director of the American Academy in Berlin, speaks of a “litmus test for German-American relations.” Berlin is on the lookout for even the slightest hint that Washington is seriously thinking about following a diplomatic course to get Tehran to desist from producing an atom bomb. The German federal government immediately regarded it as a very good sign when Rice said on Friday afternoon, after an hour-long conversation with Schröder – twenty minutes longer than planned – that there is a chance of resolving the crisis through diplomatic means. But off the record, no secret was made of the fact that no one would put it past the U.S. government to take non-diplomatic action against Iran.
Another topic will also be on the German-American agenda, presumably already this year: Berlin’s request for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. When Rice met with Schröder on Friday, the chancellor broached the topic with extreme reserve and spoke of it only very generally. Up to now, Washington has responded only vaguely to plans for reforming the Security Council and has said nothing at all about Germany’s wish. Rice stuck to general statements in her conversation with Schröder in Berlin as well, stressing only that America wants the United Nations to play an important role.
But Washington hasn’t failed to notice that a permanent seat has long since become a major foreign policy aim for Schröder, that German diplomats painstakingly record every comment made by a U.N. member state on the reform issue, keeping lists to determine the majority view. As voting procedures would have it, the American delegate will cast the deciding vote on the fulfillment of the German dream. The permanent seat – albeit less politically charged than Iran’s nuclear ambitions – will soon be another test for the renewed German-American friendship.
Source of original German text: Eckart Lohse, “Deutschland ist kein Ja-Land mehr” [“Germany is No Longer a ‘Yes’ Country”], Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, February 6, 2005, p. 3.
Translation: Allison Brown