by Marie-Louise Arlt, Julian Clayton, Connor Kennel, Margaret Mullins, Lisa Schmechel
The key actors in maintaining and promoting transatlantic relations
The exercise of stakeholder mapping aimed to identify and examine the network of established relationships that were developed over the past 70 years of bilateral relations between Germany and the US. This memo provides a high level overview of the organizations and individuals that have been operating in traditional roles to promote and maintain transatlantic relations while briefly analyzing the current state of the relationship.
Today’s close bilateral relations between Germany and the US are based on common values and a shared vision for the future. After the devastation of World War II, the US financially supported Germany in state-building and civic development. This laid the foundations for a close relationship among strong partners turning Germany into a major ally in a politically divided Europe.
Thanks to that close alliance, a close partnership developed which surpassed the diplomatic sphere: Trade and economic relations were intensified, a remarkable number of students have enjoyed exchange during high school years, and researchers in both countries are collaborating to achieve scientific advancement, among other benefits. While it would be naive to say that US-German relations have been without disagreements, what makes this relationship strong is support from a broad network of stakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic who have intense personal and professional interests in moderating misunderstandings and pursuing a positive long-term strategy.
Within this increasingly complex and integrated relationship there are a number of stakeholder groups that look to make use of the existing relationship framework to produces beneficial outcomes both for those within their own group and at times for the betterment of the transatlantic relationship as a whole: (1) academics, (2) business, (3) civil society (4) media, (5) military, and (6) political/diplomatic. These groups encapsulate all those on both sides of the Atlantic that leverage their personal and professional interests to create lasting benefits.
In the following memo, we present stakeholders in each of these groups and analyze their role and attitudes towards bilateral relations. In the annex, we provide a stakeholder handbook: a list of important stakeholders and their role in the US-German relations.
The academic relations between both countries reach back to the 17th century when the first US universities were founded with an eye towards European institutions. Later, they committed themselves to the humanist ideal of education developed by Wilhelm von Humboldt, a Prussian academic and public official. During World War II, many Jewish scientists like Otto Stern or Hannah Arendt migrated from Germany to the US. These individuals went on to significantly shape the culture currently found at US academic institutions such as Harvard, MIT or the University of California where they played an important role in establishing today’s academic excellence while maintaining the connection to German academic institutions.
After World War II, the US government recognized the importance of academic exchange and established the successful Fulbright Program that supports scientists in going abroad. The German division of the Fulbright program has become the biggest one, having supported more than 45.000 Germans and US Americans. On the German side, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supports about 6.000 students and professors in German-US exchange each year.
The success of these programs has led to many German and US American students and scholars collaborating on innovative projects and taking temporary or full-time residence in the countries of their exchange.
Since the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation in 1954, the free movement of capital has led to innovation and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. There is over $363 billion of bilateral foreign direct investment between the US and Germany and over 1 million people are employed by German firms in the US and US firms in Germany.
Private sector stakeholders have perhaps the most to gain from increasing their engagement in the transatlantic relationship. The automotive industry serves as a great example of the mutual benefits brought about by commercial partnership. German auto manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen have all expanded their manufacturing bases in the southeastern US over the past several years. US auto manufacturers such as Ford have also chosen Germany as their European manufacturing base. German auto manufacturers use the US market to sell their high-end luxury vehicles that are less popular in Europe. US auto manufacturers in Germany use the European market to sell their smaller more fuel-efficient vehicles, which are less popular in the US.
Encouraging more private sector stakeholders to find synergies across the Atlantic and invest in mutually beneficial partnerships is vital to enhancing the transatlantic relationship. Equally important is publicizing success stories of when the cooperation of transatlantic stakeholders in the private sector leads to the creation of jobs or economic growth for all involved parties.
People engaging in communities and organizations outside of governmental structures, for local or international initiatives tied to a variety of topics make up a diverse, active civil society in both countries. In Germany, 3.6 per cent of Germany‘s resident population 14 years of age and older engage in volunteering in 2014, while the volunteer rate in the US was at 24.9 percent in September 2015.
After World War II, a number of new organizations with a focus on transatlantic relations were established. While some, such as Atlantik-Brücke in Germany and its counterpart American Council on Germany, have focused on business relations and security policies, others such as Amerikahaus or the German American Institute offer cultural events and engage with the immigration histories of German and US American communities.
As Anti-Americanism seems to be growing in Germany with a low confidence in President Trump by the German public, and Trump’s open criticism of Angela Merkel and the large trade gap between the US and Germany, it is increasingly important to engage civil society to concentrate on shared values.
Media is shaping public opinion in major ways, especially in fields where audiences require expert knowledge. In Germany, the most watched news program is Tagesschau on the public channel ARD. In the US, market-oriented channels such as Fox News, MSNBC and CNN maintain the highest audience. Although the US media landscape was non-partisan, emerging competition has driven media outlets to show more partisan views.
Both US and German media has been favorable towards transatlantic relations since World War II. In Germany, the biggest daily newspaper BILD, and also Die Welt, both of Axel Springer SE publishing house, have been known to be advocates of transatlantic relations. In the US, the New York Times reports favorably and in depth on transatlantic issues.
Recently, there has been a falling out of some groups’ trust in traditional media on both sides of the Atlantic. Moreover, the emergence of Russian news channel Russia Today has brought the Russian world-view more into the spotlight. With social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter becoming the main source of information for many individuals, power has been shifting considerably within the media world. It puts individuals at the heart of publishing and makes it easier than ever to engage with audiences who are interested in transatlantic relations.
Military cooperation between the United States and Germany was formalized with the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949. Since then, the two nations have developed and maintained a robust military-to-military relationship centered on large, multinational exercises with NATO allies and partners. The relationship was invaluable throughout the Cold War and since the fall of the Soviet Union has continued to play an important role in the response to terrorism and humanitarian crises.
However, transatlantic cooperation in the defense realm cannot only be observed on a macro level – individuals and their transatlantic personal ties play a crucial role as well, as stated by US General Curtis Scaparrotti, who is an important promoter of transatlantic relations within the US military community as the commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces.
The US and German militaries are important stakeholders in the aim to strengthen transatlantic relations. Indeed, the foundational mission of their joint cooperation within NATO is to guarantee freedom and security for all citizens within the transatlantic region.
POLITICAL AND DIPLOMATIC
In the decades of cooperation following WWII, a number of political figures rose to become emblematic of the relationship that was dreamt up during post-war rebuilding. From Harry Truman’s support for the Marshall Plan, to Helmut Kohl’s push for German reunification to Angela Merkel’s support for the Transatlantic Economic Council, each leader used their political stature to leverage positive outcomes beneficial to both nations.
Since 2014, Peter Wittig, the German Ambassador to the US, has been advocating to protect the partnership and chronicling his journey on social and traditional media, in academia, and at the United Nations. Additionally, US Senator Todd Young of Indiana has been a vocal supporter of stronger transatlantic ties even going so far as to help found the Congressional Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Caucus during his time in the US House of Representatives to further develop the trade relationship.
Recently, both nations have developed a growing undercurrent of anti-global engagement that has made it difficult for political leaders to take bold steps toward strengthening the relationship. Decisions made by leaders of both nations have compounded this trend and have strained the relationship, souring public perception. Most notably, the George W. Bush/Barack Obama era NSA-scandal and Gerhard Schröder’s decision to withhold German troops from the 2003 US invasion of Iraq served to create wedges between the two nations regardless of what the political motivation was at the given time. Currently, Donald Trump’s nationalistic stances and criticisms of Germany stand to continue pushing both sides further apart. As such, the need for deeper ties and cooperation within the political and diplomatic arenas are required now more than at any time in the past decade.
CONCLUSION: FUTURE STAKEHOLDERS
The stakeholders described here play a very important role in shaping US-German relations. However, they have recently been complemented by new stakeholders which are much more heterogeneous and less institutionalized. The rise of these new stakeholders has been enabled by an increasingly pluralistic society as well as new communications technologies, which make the expression of, thought easier and expand the reach of grassroots initiatives. Although this memo does not cover them, they very well influence the decisions made by traditional actors. Please consult the memo “New Actors & Allies” for a more detailed insight.
US-German relations have been significantly shaped by the close alliance of both countries after the Second World War when the US helped to rebuild Germany and thus democracy and an emancipated civil society. Germany became a strong political and economic partner with an unconditional commitment to Western values of democracy and human rights.
While the political ties between these two nations are important, they have enabled a closer cooperation in other important fields of interest such as the military, education and academia, business, and the civil society in general. Today, US-German relations rely on a dense network of stakeholders and personal relations. A diverse collective of stakeholders in the transatlantic relationship helps to ensure its persistence in times of distress. More details can be found in the Stakeholder Guidebook that describes the existing variety of stakeholders and provides information to anyone interested.
Annex – The Stakeholder Guidebook:
The Stakeholder Guidebook is a collection of stakeholders active in German-US American relations, including a brief description of the stakeholder, contact details and potential points of interaction and can be accessed via http://bit.ly/2AtmhAj. We invite everyone to collaborate and add additional stakeholders to the online working document.
 See Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend,Volunteering in Germany: Key Findings of the Fourth German Survey on Volunteering, https://www.bmfsfj.de/blob/115604/2606f2c77c632efddd61b274644c2f06/vierter-deutscher-freiwilligensurvey—englisch-data.pdf, p.7, last accessed 5 December, 2017
 See United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Volunteering in the United States, 2015, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/volun.nr0.htm, last accessed 5 December 2017
 see Pew Research Center: Global Attitudes & Trends, http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/06/26/worldwide-few-confident-in-trump-or-his-policies/ , last accessed 5 December 2017.
 See abc News: What Trump and Merkel have said about each other, http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-merkel/story?id=46198767, last accessed 5 December 2017
 see AmCham Germany Newsboard: Business After Hours with General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO, https://www.amcham.de/newsboard/news/business-after-hours-with-general-curtis-m-scaparrotti-supreme-allied-commander-europe-of-nato/, last accessed 5 December 2017.
 See Streit Council for a Union of Democracies: The Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), http://streitcouncil.org/index.php?page=the-transatlantic-economic-council-tec, last accessed 5 December 2017.
 Compare Handelsblatt Global: Why Germany has lost faith in America, https://global.handelsblatt.com/politics/why-germany-has-lost-faith-in-america-774332, last accessed 5 December 2017.