June 20, 2007
USA v. Germany
Posted by Gordon Smith

I am nearing the end of a two-week Fulbright German Studies Program in Brussels and Berlin. It has been a fabulous learning experience, which has brought me into contact with many people associated in one way or another with the European Union or with the German government. Unfortunately, I haven't had much spare time or internet access for blogging, but I hope to share some insights over coming months. In the meantime, here are two quick items from earlier today.

This morning, we visited the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (a think tank of sorts for the German Parliament), where I asked the head of the Americas Unit if he expected any material changes in U.S. foreign policy after the next presidential election. The short answer was "no," though he thought that a Democrat might be slightly more European in style. That is, "Bush acts unilaterally when he can and multilaterally when he must. Europeans act multilaterally when they can, unilaterally when they must." That captures, in a nutshell, my impressions, too.

This afternoon, several members of the German Parliament turned up the heat on the U.S., expressing their deep frustration with the U.S. decision to go into Iraq. We were told that the drawings of the supposed mobile weapons lab in Iraq, used by then Secretary of State Colin Powell before the UN Security Council, were first shown to the German Parliament, which decided that they were an insufficient basis for invasion. Somewhat later in the program, one of the MPs observed, "American politicians act without thinking, and German politicians think without acting."

Right now, I am blogging from an Internet cafe in the Dunkin Dounuts on Potsdamer Platz. This is my first trip to Berlin, but based on the photos I just saw on a street display, it would be hard to find a more striking portrait of the effect of the fall of the Berlin Wall than Potsdamer Platz: before and after. If you are coming to Berlin for Law & Society in July, you are in for a treat.

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