Leading article: A German bridge across the Atlantic

Share

It took Angela Merkel the best part of two months to become German Chancellor after her party narrowly won the election. And it has taken her another two months to get round to paying her first visit to Washington as German leader. Left to herself and her atlanticist leanings, Ms Merkel might have gone to the United States sooner. The delay says as much about the constraints Ms Merkel is under at home as it does about her own and her party's politics.

In the event, the timing may have been to Ms Merkel's advantage. Her ratings at home have soared since she took office, thanks to some clear priorities and her sure-footed handling of the coalition. Her contribution to brokering the European Union budget deal in the last weeks of the British presidency elevated her almost instantly into a regional player. For the time being, at least, she looks like a leader in the ascendant.

President Bush, by contrast, gives every appearance of being a leader in decline. His troubles at home multiply by the day. The conflict in Iraq shows little sign of abating. The hopes Mr Bush once nurtured for a compliant bloc of allies in the western hemisphere have been frustrated; Ariel Sharon's illness has put further progress in the Middle East at least temporarily out of reach.

No wonder the White House rolled out the red carpet for Ms Merkel yesterday. Mr Bush's interest in ending the freeze in relations that marked Gerhard Schröder's last three years in office was as great, if not greater, than hers. At their press conference yesterday, the two leaders banished the rift to the past and spoke of inaugurating an important new relationship.

Ms Merkel prudently signalled, however, that she will be no US stooge. She made known in advance that she would not reverse Germany's refusal to sent troops to Iraq and called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre. When Condoleezza Rice called on her last month, she elicited a rare admission of US error for the abduction of a German citizen.

For German-US relations to be back on an even keel can only benefit both countries and US-Europe relations as a whole. The bigger question is whether Ms Merkel could soon become the honest broker between Europe and Washington that Mr Blair had aspired to be. The European Union stands in need of such a person; so, too, does the United States.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Systems and Network Support Analyst

£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Support Analyst

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker / Trainee Broker / Closer - OTE £250,000

£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality

Farhana Khan
 

Daniel Craig needs to get over himself – there's a reason 007 isn't a right-on geography teacher

Jane Merrick
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests