Partners in Leadership

BRASILIA/BERLIN | | brasilienmexiko

BRASILIA/BERLIN (Own report) - The German foreign minister is using his current trip to Latin America to implement a new strategy for Berlin's policy as a global power. The strategy foresees Germany forging closer partnerships with so-called regional leading powers throughout the world, to expand Berlin's global influence. In Latin America - the focus of the German foreign minister's current visit - Germany sees Brazil and Mexico in this role. According to experts in Berlin, Brazil is the subcontinental country with "a clear leadership aspiration," which it will be able to fulfill, in the long run, thanks to its "hard power" and its very effective foreign policy. Therefore, it is a highly suitable ally for Germany. Mexico is viewed more skeptically. It places too strong an emphasis on the "doctrine of non-interference" in the affairs of other countries and is too dependent on the USA, according to the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). Therefore, extensive groundwork will be necessary. As usual, Berlin camouflages its power policy ambitions with feigned apolitical initiatives. As the foreign minister announced, next year Germany will initiate a "Year of Germany" with comprehensive cultural and scholarly activities.

Economy and Military

Brazil, the first stop on German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle's current Latin America tour, had been the subject of a detailed analysis published in 2009 by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) that is financed by the German Chancellery. The study systematically investigates that South American country from the standpoint of its capacity to project its power beyond its borders, based on the central factors of "hard power" (natural resources, economic power, military) and "soft power" (international political as well as economic initiatives and alliances) as well as particularities of the Brazilian state apparatus. The report affirms, for example, that Brazil has "a diplomatic service that is professional, well organized, with a longstanding tradition," which, even though it has lost some of its "extensive bureaucratic autonomy" in "the course the country's democratization," it is still considered "one of the most competent foreign policy sectors in all of Latin America." At most, Brazil's economic and political strength is hampered by a lack of "human capital." An enhanced cooperation with that country would be conducive in "the fields of education, science, technology and innovation" to further developing the political partner.[1]

Partner of the North

In principle, the SWP sees good chances for Berlin to gain more influence in Latin America with Brazil's help. The German-Brazilian relations are "mutually considered to be 'excellent'." "No other Latin American country" offers Berlin "better prerequisites for developing its bilateral cooperation." Brasilia clearly demonstrates its ambition to intervene as a hegemonic power on the subcontinent and to intervene globally. According to the study, the country shows "a clear leadership aspiration," which is "firmly rooted in national self-confidence that is reflected in its foreign policy activities." Germany is explicitly supporting "Brazil's efforts to develop a leadership role in the South American realm." SWP does not see a great danger that Brasilia would one day turn against its current supporter. Even though the country is clearly seeking to create a powerbase "as a representative of the threshold and developing countries," it is also "seeking to be considered as a reliable partner of the northern hemisphere in the resolution of global challenges to stability policies" according to the political technological terminology of the Berlin-based think tank.[2]

Latin America's Powerhouse

The foreign minister's recent remarks and action in Brazil reflect this study's analysis. Westerwelle wooed the country - that has become the world's sixth largest economy - as "Latin America's powerhouse." Yesterday, Westerwelle inaugurated the German Innovation and Science Centre (DWIZ) in São Paulo, the largest German industrial site outside of Germany. The DWIZ is due to enhance the two countries' cooperation in the fields of science and economy and help create "human capital" in the partner country, Brazil, to foster its use for German businesses. In 2013, Germany will also inaugurate the "Year of Germany in Brazil", aimed at intensifying relations between the two countries' elites - and also win Brazil's support for German global policy.[3]

Only Limited Autonomy

The German foreign minister will conclude his current Latin American tour with a visit to Mexico next week. SWP's analysis of that country is much more skeptical. Mexico's ambitions for regional leadership are based particularly on its economic development. Experts estimate that Mexico - ranking today 14th among the world's economies - could rise to eighth by 2050, surpassing France.[4] According to the SWP, the country can today hardly live up to its "ambitions as a medium-sized power," also because it has not yet "abandoned its traditional non-interference foreign policy doctrine," but above all because of its being so strongly dependent on the USA. This dependence limits Mexico's "autonomy of action." Because of Mexico's economic potential, Germany should nevertheless "support" the country's "efforts to play the role of a medium-sized power." This necessitates that certain "national and conceptual prerequisites" be met.[5]

Triangular Cooperation

The German so-called development policy is currently aiming to do just that. Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz, State Secretary of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) returned from Mexico just a few days ago. According to the Ministry, the Mexican government last year passed a law allowing an independent so-called development policy, thereby providing the country new possibilities for exerting foreign policy influence. The newly inaugurated Agency for International Cooperation and Development (Agencia Mexicana de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo, AMEXCID) serves this objective. "Germany is advising its partner, Mexico, in setting up this new agency," reports the BMZ [6] and has helped to pioneer a so-called "triangular cooperation," which is shaping Mexican "development policy" in impoverished third countries. This offers Germany two advantages: It is strengthening Berlin's influence via foreign means and marginalizing the USA in a sector of Mexican foreign trade, where it had, up to now, held a hegemonic position. In the long run, a "strategic partnership" is being sought with Mexico, according to the BMZ - a cooperation that deliberately puts Mexican assets to use, to enhance Germany's position in the global competition.

Strategy toward Policy-Making Powers

The German government has standardized Berlin's efforts to use cooperation with the so-called regional leading powers, such as Brazil and Mexico, to strengthen Germany's influence around the globe in its new "Strategy toward Policy-Making Powers" doctrine. German-foreign-policy.com will report tomorrow.

[1], [2] Claudia Zilla: Brasilien: Eine Regionalmacht mit globalen Ansprüchen, in: Jörg Husar, Günther Maihold, Stefan Mair (Hg.): Neue Führungsmächte: Partner deutscher Außenpolitik? Internationale Politik und Sicherheit Band 62, herausgegeben von der Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Baden-Baden 2009 (Nomos Verlag)
[3] see also Herausforderer der USA
[4] see also Teil der Lieferkette
[5] Günther Maihold: Mexiko: Ein Partner mit Potential zwischen Mittelmachtambitionen und Regionalmachtillusionen, in: Jörg Husar, Günther Maihold, Stefan Mair (Hg.): Neue Führungsmächte: Partner deutscher Außenpolitik? Internationale Politik und Sicherheit Band 62, herausgegeben von der Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Baden-Baden 2009 (Nomos Verlag)
[6] Staatssekretär Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz reist nach Mexiko; www.bmz.de 31.01.2012