COMMENTARY | Kommentar
Redefining the Indispensable Relationship There is no doubt that the transatlantic relationship that has contributed to peace, stability, and prosperity for more than 70 years is at a critical juncture. The United States and Germany have numerous Knackpunkte – sticking points – which include defense spending by NATO member states, tariffs and trade, and climate change. There are also policy differences on how to bring stability to the Middle East, policy toward Russia, and energy – most notably regarding Nord Stream 2. There is a danger that these tensions can create fissures in the relationship, allowing strategic competitors like China and Russia to fill this vacuum. And with Germany and the United States both inwardly focused on a variety of issues, it is harder to address the common challenges in a constructive way. But, just because it is difficult does not mean it is not worthwhile. At the American Council on Germany (ACG), we certainly believe that Germany is our most important strategic partner. It is a valuable relationship – not just for historical and sentimental reasons stemming from the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, historic speeches by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, or America’s role in facilitating German unification. We have common interests and share common challenges.
practices, we can develop solutions to common challenges. But, we can also deepen our mutual understanding, overcome differences, address common challenges, and pursue new opportunities. Our governments will always have political differences from time to time, but our mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation will endure because of the shared values and close personal, social, business, and cultural ties that have been forged over the past 70 years. We must not, however, take the relationship for granted, nor refrain from being critical or questioning certain aspects of the alliance from time to time. That should be a part of every friendship and partnership. The tensions to the transatlantic partnership that has defined the West for decades may be daunting, but they also create opportunities. Organizations like the ACG can play a key role in shoring up transatlantic ties and in strengthening German-American bonds at this critical time. The ACG has served as a vital forum for dialogue and engagement across the Atlantic for more than 65 years – and our mission is more important than ever. This relationship is indispensable, but it is not indestructible. To find out more about our work, visit www.acgusa.org. Best,
The United States may not work with Germany on every issue, but if one looks at the strategic issues the U.S. faces and at all the countries that we collaborate with to address these challenges, Germany is – or at least should be – a critical partner on most issues. Our two countries support one another, learn from one another, and provide important leadership within the European Union and the global community. As the tide of globalization peaks and the global security and economic orders show new signs of strain, many of today’s challenges simply cannot be contained by national or geographic boundaries. Migration, urban sustainability, cyber security, digitalization, workforce preparedness, and climate change are just a few of the pressing issues requiring joint action because they impact all of us in our local communities. To tackle these challenges, the U.S. needs allies – and Germany is an indispensable partner in helping find solutions to these complex issues. Through a range of programs and activities, the ACG invests in the German-American relationship, striving to build and strengthen transatlantic networks in business, government, the media, academia, and other fields. Particularly when there are tensions between Washington and Berlin, it is important to bring together thought-leaders and practitioners from the state and local level. Through the frank and open exchange of ideas and best
Dr. Steven E. Sokol
Dr. Steven E. Sokol is the President of the American Council on Germany (ACG). He previously served as President and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and before that as the Vice President and Director of Programs at the ACG. Dr. Sokol has more than 20 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations in Europe and the United States on a range of domestic and foreign policy issues. HEIMAT abroad | SPRING 2019 | 7