Washington. He is fluent in German – as is his Russian. Jeffrey Rathke has represented the USA in many countries around the world as a diplomat for 24 years. He was at home in Germany twice, in the 1990s and from 2006 to 2009. Since 2015, he has headed the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at the famous John Hopkins University in Washington. Rathke spent the election evening in front of the television. In an interview with RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND), he drew a tentative preliminary assessment of the transatlantic relationship.
Six parties, no clear winner, in the end perhaps a coalition of three political forces: How strange are Americans in the German federal elections?
Germany is one of the most important partners of the United States. In this regard, Americans interested in foreign policy recognize Germany’s role and rate German-American relations as good. So there is a positive fundamental outlook. Of course we are not used to the fact that there are tripartite alliances in Germany. But such constellations are not uncommon in other countries such as Sweden, Belgium or Italy.
Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel was much appreciated by liberal Americans. What is the extent of the dispute in German-American relations as a result of the change in the Chancellery?
As Chancellor Angela Merkel, she has always been a figure of integration and cohesion over the past 16 years – as well as in transatlantic relations. This is what the United States appreciates. But I think that both leading candidates who are now trying to form a government will adopt some of Merkel’s directions and want to continue. So I don’t see any problems in our relationships.
What does the United States expect from a new German government?
There are several priorities for the Biden government: On the one hand, there is an economic recovery in times of the pandemic. This also includes climate policy, which is part of the Democrats’ infrastructure package. Internationally, Biden often talks about the competition between democracies and authoritarian governments. This debate is very important to the United States. One would like to see Germany as a partner.
For a while you can get the impression that the top green candidate is Analina Barbock Because of the crucial policies of Russia and China for their party He was a favorite of the Washington Chancellery.
Of course, there is some US overlap with the positions of the Greens, who advocate a values-based foreign policy in their election manifesto. It was viewed favorably in Washington. But this can also be found with other parties. Assuming that the Green Party and the FDP will belong to the next federal government, I am confident that value-based thinking will be represented in German politics.
Global minimum tax as a transatlantic project
Do you see any preference in the Biden government for the Traffic Lights Coalition or the Jamaica Coalition?
I don’t think there are any preferences. There will be overlap with both Federal Chancellor Olaf Schultz and Chancellor Armin Laschet. The two politicians share a desire to work across the Atlantic and both have priorities that align well with Joe Biden’s agenda. In a federal government led by the Social Democrats, this may be the minimum global taxation that Schultz has worked so hard on as finance minister. At the CDU/CSU, the intention to boost German defense spending would be in line with Washington’s wishes.
US midterm congressional elections are scheduled for next year, and experience has shown that there is not much that can be done politically. Meanwhile, months of government formation began in Berlin. Is there now a risk of tailings across the Atlantic?
The United States has its own political calendar, which does not always overlap with operations in other countries. Thus is life. Of course, Washington would like to form the next federal government faster rather than slower so that they can begin to implement the common agenda. You don’t want to waste any time, but you know you can’t speed up the German process. Merkel remains in office as long as there is no new federal chancellor. So the work continues.
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