almost a diary, Iraq

The Next Tirpitz?

The older Tirpitz. Ha – I knew it. My gentle readers, I am going to tell you a little secret.

On last new years eve I bet a young German Navy officer for six bottles of Champagne that, in ten years, Germany would have at least ordered a brand new Aircraft carrier… and today – according to Spiegel Online – Roland Koch, the premier of the German state of Hessen and friend of George W. and eternal conservative hopeful in the CDU took advantage of a day trip to the coast to explain that, well, the changed requirements of military interventions might very well include ordering an Aircraft Carrier…

Don’t worry, Roland Koch is not quite the next Tirpitz. This is, above all, funny – for the time being. But yes, the Navy brass will vote CDU next time… ;).

And for the real deal, Harvard’s Andrew Moravcsik shares his thoughts about “Striking a New Transatlantic Bargain” (full text requires subscription) in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs, entitled “After Saddam”.

Here’s Moravcsik’s brief sketch of the current transatlantic reality –

“The Iraq crisis offers two basic lessons. The first, for Europeans, is that American hawks were right. Unilateral intervention to coerce regime change can be a cost-effective way to deal with rogue states. In military matters, there is only one superpower — the United States — and it can go it alone if it has to. It is time to accept this fact and move on.

The second lesson, for Americans, is that moderate skeptics on both sides of the Atlantic were also right. Winning a peace is much harder than winning a war. Intervention is cheap in the short run but expensive in the long run. And when it comes to the essential instruments for avoiding chaos or quagmire once the fighting stops — trade, aid, peacekeeping, international monitoring, and multilateral legitimacy — Europe remains indispensable. In this respect, the unipolar world turns out to be bipolar after all.

Given these truths, it is now time to work out a new transatlantic bargain, one that redirects complementary military and civilian instruments toward common ends and new security threats. Without such a deal, danger exists that Europeans — who were rolled over in the run-up to the war, frozen out by unilateral U.S. nation building, disparaged by triumphalist American pundits and politicians, and who lack sufficiently unified regional institutions — will keep their distance and leave the United States to its own devices. Although understandable, this reaction would be a recipe for disaster, since the United States lacks both the will and the institutional capacity to follow up its military triumphs properly — as the initial haphazard efforts at Iraqi reconstruction demonstrate.

To get things back on track, both in Iraq and elsewhere, Washington must shift course and accept multilateral conditions for intervention. The Europeans, meanwhile, must shed their resentment of American power and be prepared to pick up much of the burden of conflict prevention and postconflict engagement. Complementarity, not conflict, should be the transatlantic watchword.