Germany 2000: An American Assessment
| Germany 2000:
An American Assessment.
Speech at Bertelsmann Forum, Gütersloh
Ambassador John C. Kornblum
March 30, 2000
Bertelsmann is the first truly transatlantic company to emerge from the revolutionary changes of the past ten years. Bertelsmann's development is the best reflection I know of the new synthesis which now defines the ties among the Euro-Atlantic peoples. Bertelsmann thrives by knowing well how to grasp opportunity in a world of accelerating change
By following your business instincts, you are also helping to define a new sort of Atlantic community. We have grown together organically; as such our relationship can no longer be characterized by two separate pillars. The end of the Cold War has allowed new forms of human creativity and innovation to arise. The disappearance of ideological and military boundaries between East and West helped to remove the invisible barriers between ideas and capital in the western world. Nations, like corporations, can no longer retreat beyond national or even regional borders. Communities of knowledge are replacing geography as a definition of where we live.
This new paradigm requires an ability to harness opportunities and resources, regardless of their origins. Economic and social structures are increasingly intertwined. The very concept of "German-American relations" has been replaced by a more integrated view.
Therefore, this afternoon I would like to address German-American relations in the broader context of the Atlantic community.
Thomas Middelhof (CEO Bertelsmann) said in Berlin a fortnight ago, "Only societies which develop learning skills will be capable of dealing with the future." ("Zukunftsfähig werden nur die Gesellschaften sein, die die Fähigkeit zum Lernen entwickelt haben.")
There is much to be learned from the lessons of the past ten years. But I have a strong feeling that more far-reaching change is ahead. Technological advance and economic integration are presenting difficult choices for our social systems, our institutions, and our political decision-making processes. Nothing is going to stay the same.
The strain of such rapid change can often be read in the debates that take place within our nations, among European partners and across the Atlantic. Our political systems seem not to have caught up with the new paradigms. Europeans are sometimes threatened by "American dominance." Americans retort that their European friends are not moving forward fast enough with reform.
Much of this is the necessary debate which accompanies fundamental change. But too often the actual state of affairs is masked by misinformation, emotion and even anger which arises from the pressures of change. In other cases, fear is stoking the flames of conflict - fear of the unknown, the uncomfortable, and of the loss of influence.
Every successful businessman knows the importance careful analysis and accurate information. Corporate decisions must reflect an accurate picture of the business climate. Above all, we must learn to ask the right questions. Solutions geared to old questions are often worse than no solutions at all.
This old truth is
especially important for our Atlantic community. Challenges facing our
partnership today more resemble those of a large, innovative, corporation
than they are to an alliance among nations. Our market is changing constantly,
our product line is under pressure from evolving consumer tastes, new
competitors arise without warning and technology changes at an ever-increasing
pace. If we don't judge the current environment correctly, false information
-- and fear -- could detract from our success.
I have chosen to present this report at the Bertelsmann Forum, because your company epitomizes the attitudes necessary to deal successfully with the challenges we are facing. The criteria you apply to business decisions fit perfectly into this picture. For this reason, I have sought to prepare for you a detailed "business analysis " on the state of our joint enterprise - the Euro-Atlantic Community Inc.
I. Key Transatlantic Strengths:
I am pleased to
report to you that the bottom line of our Atlantic enterprise is definitely
positive. Our products have revolutionized the world for more than fifty
years. During the last decade our initiatives have unified both product
and market in a fashion unprecedented in the history of the world.
1. A Clear Corporate
· It was this vision, and the courage of Germans and Americans to defend it, which maintained Berlin as an outpost of freedom throughout the years of the Cold War.
· It was this vision, and the commitment of Germans and Americans to achieve it, which led to German re-unification.
· And it is this vision that we are committed to, and will continue to pursue, as the basis for our corporate mission of building a stable, unified, and democratic Atlantic world that is whole, and at peace.
This vision is truly the foundation of our partnership, upon which all other elements build.
2. A Winning
In fifty years of unified effort, we worked together to first rebuild from the devastation of the Second World War, and then to build strong, solid societies and economies. We created strong tools in the form of institutions to help us achieve our goals.
Without firing a shot, we prevailed over a hostile, competing ideology. Today we are ensuring our own stability and prosperity in part by assisting the new European democracies to complete their transitions.
difficulties have arisen, but conflicts within the corporation have
rarely affected our ability to act in concert. Indeed, our open way
of dealing with each other has often resulted in a drive to modernize.
3. Strong Economic
Cooperation through our strategic tool, GATT and its successor, the WTO, has enabled us to lower world tariffs by an average of 90%. World trade has increased fifteen-fold in this period.
Today, Europe and America are each other's largest economic partners. Since the formation of the WTO in the mid-90's, trade between Europe and the United States increased by over 20%. Today, trade in goods and services amount to almost 2 billion marks per day.
The majority of the world's innovation comes out of the transatlantic region. We account for over one half of all goods and services produced worldwide. Transatlantic trade alone supports over 12 million jobs - divided almost equally between Europe and North America. German firms employ 650,000 workers in the United States, and U.S. firms provide 800,000 jobs in Germany.
Further Reductions in Trade Barriers
Due to our strength and our regional and transatlantic integration, the nations of the Euro-Atlantic world have both a responsibility, and an interest in further reductions to trade barriers - whether tariff, regulatory, or standards based.
The United States
remains committed to a new round of trade negotiations within the WTO.
Further deregulation of internal structures in key areas such as telecommunications,
energy and services would give an added boost to our prosperity, as
would further reform and market opening in agriculture.
Strengthening our Financial Institutions
One reason for our success is the network of multilateral financial institutions which has grown up since World War II. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and related institutions have made possible financial stability and a dramatic increase in international transactions.
But changing circumstances have presented new challenges. Maintaining sound development practices and financial stability in all parts of the world requires creative approaches. Protecting the stability of a market-based international financial system is one of the major challenges our community will face in the years to come.
An excellent example of such new and creative solutions is the European Economic and Monetary Union , most widely known through the EURO. The United States welcomed the EURO as an important contribution to sound economic and financial management in a unified Europe.
Its benefits are not limited to lower transaction costs or an increase in intra-European trade. It has already resulted in a European commitment to intensify the drive towards structural reform. On a more fundamental level, it will continue to act as a politically unifying force and a confidence-building measure among European nations and citizens.
4. Secure Operations
And over the last fifty years of cooperation, we have not only maintained our own security through our common strategy, we have taken an active role to spread security throughout all of Europe. The basis of this security is democracy.
NATO has been a keystone of our Atlantic security, and an example of a tool that we have been able to successfully adapt to meet our changing needs. Just as our Atlantic strategy and vision has not changed, neither has NATO's basic purpose. It is a voluntary association of countries that come together to defend common values and interests: our common "corporate vision."
What has changed is the strategic environment that we face. For much of the past 50 years, our goals focused on defending against a well-defined threat from the east. But the end of the Cold War unleashed a whole new set of long suppressed threats to European stability and security- ethnic and religious tensions, corruption and organized crime. Most are not a question of military conflict. Others, such as Kosovo, can disintegrate into armed warfare despite our best attempts to defuse them.
Last Spring NATO celebrated its 50th Anniversary at a summit meeting in Washington. NATO heads of state agreed upon a new Strategic Concept suitable for the new challenges of the post-Cold War era.
The Role of the European Allies
NATO is a cornerstone of Atlantic security, but it is also a foundation of European defense. The integration of European capabilities within the Alliance multiplies the effect of individual countries. Since the Berlin ministerial in June of 1996, the Alliance has also been building a special European structure which will ensure that Alliance capabilities can be used for European operations which do not include the U.S.
In addition, these
allies within the EU are seeking to build European capabilities on the
basis of common EU commitments which are in support of NATO.
The U.S. believes
strongly that these efforts will strengthen our common partnership.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We can truly say that never in their histories have our people been freer, more secure, and more prosperous than they are today. Our German friends have never before lived in such peace and harmony with their neighbors. We should not forget that none of this would have been possible without an Atlantic community. Without the Atlantic tie, this prosperity will not survive.
But we are not without
liabilities in Euro-Atlantic Inc.
not yet harmonized
Our European partners, despite an excellent past 25 years, look back upon a century of conflict, catastrophe and collapse. They are not sure about relations among each other and not always confident that today's prosperity will continue. They are lacking confidence and vision.
Our European partners are facing three revolutions simultaneously - reuniting and integrating Europe, modernizing society and dealing with a worldwide technological revolution. Americans went through many of these strains 15 years ago. We are out of sync in several important areas.
Just as our common vision of prosperous secure market economies affects all of the positive aspects of our relationship, our differences in perspectives for the future are a common thread running through controversies among us. In Europe, fear of change often slows down the major restructuring necessary to meet future challenges.
of our partnership is being undermined by ethnic and religious conflicts
in strategic parts of Europe.
The European experience in Bosnia reminded Europe that neither NATO nor the EU could continue along the same path as before 1990. The discussion over the consequences of the Balkan war will continue for quite some time.
But the pace is
picking up. And whereas change is bringing benefits to our societies,
it is also unsettling, leading to debates and conflicts.
It is important to realize that these conflicts are not split between Europe and America - rather interests and opinions form a mosaic pattern spanning the Euro-Atlantic world. Differences in approach between European nations are every bit as large as are those between America and Europe.
In other words, we have already transcended so-called "foreign relations." We have moved to a sort of "Atlantische Innenpolitik," as you say in German. By this I mean that specific social and economic concerns often jump formal borders and override national policies.
Few have understood this structural exchange - on either side of the Atlantic. Complicated inner-Atlantic disagreements are all too often branded as a "drifting apart." Conflicts are habitually mislabeled as differences in lifestyle preferences or values rather than being accepted as topics worthy of discussion and debate.
4. Basic Infrastructure
Needs to be Refurbished
domestic issues are becoming vital elements in our transatlantic dialogue
as working life becomes increasingly transnational in nature. Our societies
are becoming more mobile. The capability to work remotely and over long
distances is growing.
In Germany and throughout Europe, the pace of change is slower. Most policy makers publicly acknowledge the need for structural reforms. But decision-makers remain unsure about the pace and degree of reform. They don't know how much they can achieve without tearing the social structure apart.
Change is also hampered
by an inability to ask the right questions. Many in Europe are still
arguing about the need to maintain a specific way of life -at a time
when many of these traditions have long since been overtaken by new
Today, many of the
world's most successful corporations are restructuring their operations.
They define their goals to precisely reflect changed circumstances and
create their products using the most up-to-date information and knowledge.
Our task today is to define a wider horizon for the European engagement in our partnership. We need to regain the quality that throughout the centuries made Europe great - outward-looking European universality and a "can do" attitude.
A New Synthesis
In this, Germany
has a special role to play. Germany is America's most steadfast European
partner. It is also becoming a stronger pillar of Europe.
For decades we have been using the image of two independent pillars to define the future of the Western world. But this image should perhaps be updated to fit a new re-structured partnership. In the spirit of the future, I believe we should draw on the world of science to define our community.
We are nations and peoples who share the same heritage, goals and visions. We rely on each other for continued prosperity, security and inspiration. Our old picture of two separate communities building a bridge across the Atlantic is out of date. We need a new image for our community.
It occurred to me recently that this image already exists - in the Reichstag in Berlin. The ramp leading to the top of the new dome is really two ramps - one up and one down which together take the form of one of life's basic building blocks: the double helix.
A double helix cannot be separated without ending life itself. Europe and American can also not be separated without irreparable damage to each of us. Therefore, I suggest that we adopt the form of a double helix - two intertwining threads -- as our new corporate symbol.
Europe and America are a single organism. We have a complex structure, with a multitude of needs. But as with the strands of a double helix, we cannot be separated if we wish to thrive. Working within this new symbol, concentrating on our core strengths, we can ensure that our partnership, which has been so immensely successful over the past 50 years, carries that success into the new century.
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U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany
/Public Affairs/ Information Resource Centers
Updated: August 2001