U.S.-German Relations in a New World

Germany played no role in the U.S. presidential debates in the fall of 2012. Even Europe was only mentioned as a cautionary tale of socialized medicine and the dangers of a prolonged European financial and economic crisis. The U.S., it seems, is rather focused on its relationship with Asia—a fact that led many analysts to coin the phrase “Asian pivot.” The European question, for many decades a source of instability and conflict, now seems to be solved—or at least in the capable hands of the European Union. Many of the issues that preoccupy the Europeans (climate change, European integration) are currently not important to the U.S. One could envision a Europe and Germany leading a comfortable co-existence with the U.S., producing neither strife nor solutions to the current global challenges. Yet, painting this picture of transatlantic decline is neither accurate nor helpful. In a world in which countries are coming closer together, U.S. relations with Asian countries should not be viewed as a move away from Germany or Europe. This project aims at examining the future of U.S. and German relations in a changing world and providing the foundations for using this relationship as a key to solving current and future challenges. By analyzing the questions of political and societal leadership, the transformation of international organizations, and the role of a new generation in transatlantic relations, AICGS provides both countries with opportunities to strengthen their relationship today and in the future.

Project Topics

Political and Societal Leadership

A female chancellor in Germany and an African-American president in the U.S.: Political leadership has changed significantly since the times of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Harry Truman. Additionally, transatlantic relations are not only informed by the politicians governing a country; societal actors and organizations play an increasing role in shaping decisions all around the world. Leadership within and of a country is also continually in flux: Elections provide different domestic leadership that can significantly alter the domestic and international priorities a country pursues. The waxing and waning of international power allows countries to assume different powers throughout history. While many analysts point to Europe and the U.S. as declining and the nations in Asia as rising powers, the values that bind the transatlantic relationship continue to be vital for economic reasons, as well as for societal reasons, i.e., preserving shared cultural values. AICGS aims at providing an analysis of the political and societal leadership styles in Germany and the U.S. The Institute will examine the behavior of each country in terms of its role as a nation and the influence of individual actors. It will then consider and place those leadership characteristics within the context of the global stage, looking at the prospects and likelihoods for each country to act as meaningful partners in an ever-changing, and often hostile, global environment.

International Organizations in Flux

As international relations change, so should the international organizations designed to provide a framework. Developing countries and rising economies such as China and India have long clamored for a larger seat at the table of international organizations, including the United Nations and World Trade Organization. The U.S. and the EU have debated increasing transatlantic economic ties in a more formal way (for example, through a transatlantic free trade zone). Yet, institutions such as the European Union, which has long been heralded as the role model for other countries and continents, struggle to straddle supranational and intergovernmental aspects in a meaningful and effective way. NATO, established to protect transatlantic interests during the height of the Cold War, is grappling with its relevance in a new Europe. What role should Germany and the U.S. play in international organizations such as the EU and NATO? The old roles are increasingly irrelevant, and this project will analyze the changes as well as address strategies on how existing organizations can either be adapted or discarded to fit the new international arena.

The New Transatlantic Generation

Transatlantic, and specifically U.S.-German, relations were cemented by the many interpersonal relations forged after World War II. Now that U.S. troops are being withdrawn from Europe and the U.S. turns its attention to the Middle East and Asia, the transatlantic relationship is changing, and with it the younger generation needed to sustain that relationship. Will the next generation of Germans and Europeans embrace the increasing call from the U.S. for more burden sharing and capabilities? What kind of transatlantic institutions are needed for new challenges and how can the younger generation nurture these institutions?
By bringing experts and especially younger scholars and policymakers together, AICGS’ mission has always been to bridge analysis with networks. By fostering exchanges and networking, this project will continue to provide the younger generations in U.S. and German state parliaments with opportunities to network and discuss current topics.


Building a Smarter German-American Partnership