How Germany Lost the Iraq War

Wars always have winners and losers. Saddam Hussein--dead or on the run--is, of course, the Iraq war's biggest loser. But Germany has also lost much, including the many US troops who will now reportedly be re-deployed to bases in other countries. Despite the announcement of plans to create a European army along with France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, Germany is less relevant in both European and world politics than it was before the Iraq war. Repairing the damage will not be easy.

Every part of Germany's international position has been wounded by the Iraq war. The country can no longer play the role of transatlantic mediator between France and America. It can forget about US support in its campaign to gain a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Instead of forging a "third way" for Europe's left with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder needs Blair to plead his case with President George W. Bush, who feels personally betrayed by the Chancellor's conduct in the run-up to the war.

In postcommunist Eastern Europe, Germany is no longer perceived as an absolutely dependable advocate of the region's needs. Multilateral institutions that served as pillars of German foreign policy for almost half-a-century have been weakened: the European Union's hopes for common foreign, security, and defense policies have been gravely jeopardized.

From an American perspective, flexible ad hoc coalitions of the willing have turned out to be more useful than the established NATO alliance, where Germany led the fight to refuse Turkey's request for support. Even the UN--the institution that Schröder was supposedly defending--has been diminished by his fecklessness.