Gerhard Schroeder has an interesting op-ed in today’s NYT. He notes that Germany has been helping out in Afghanistan and elsewhere and says he’d like to do more,
In addition to its current military involvement in Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere, Germany is willing to provide humanitarian aid, to assist in the civilian and economic reconstruction of Iraq and to train Iraqi security forces.
When we gather in New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly, we will underline that Germany and the United States are linked by a profound friendship based on common experiences and values. For Germans, the 2003 general assembly is very special. It was exactly 30 years ago that Germany was admitted to the United Nations, a milestone in our postwar history. Back then, Germans were still forced to live in two states, divided by a wall and a dangerous border. Today, Germany is united.
We Germans will not forget how the United States helped and supported us in rebuilding and reuniting our country. That Germany is living today in a peaceful, prosperous and secure Europe is thanks in no small measure to America’s friendship, farsightedness and political determination.
Beginning with President Harry S. Truman, all American presidents have supported and encouraged European integration. This remains a wise policy, for a strong and united Europe is also in the interest of the United States. With the adoption of a European constitution and the enlargement of the European Union, Europe is opening an important new chapter in unity. Germany, as a civilian power in the heart of Europe, knows from its own history that cooperation and integration are conditions for security and prosperity.
Not until after the fall of the wall and unification did Germany fully regain its sovereignty. Today we are a full member in the international community–with all the rights and obligations this entails. Germany’s role in the world has changed and so has our foreign policy. My country is willing to shoulder more responsibility. This may entail using military force as a last resort in resolving conflicts.
However, we must not forget that security in today’s world cannot be guaranteed by one country going it alone; it can be achieved only through international cooperation. Nor can security be limited to the activities of the police and the military. If we want to make our world freer and safer, we must fight the roots of insecurity, oppression, fanaticism and poverty– and we must do it together.
Quite a nice statement and one that doesn’t surprise me, since I’ve often noted that our friendship with Germany is much more deeply-rooted than that with France.
The obvious question, though, is what to make of the closing paragraph. On the one hand, it’s a statement of the obvious. On the other, it could be a very diplomatic, “But we’ll only help under conditions that are likely to be unacceptable to the Bush Administration, so I get credit for being nice but don’t actually have to do anything.” We shall see.