Building the Future...
Student Text Page No. 3: "In Today’s World"
Container ships the length of football fields are commonplace
in Hamburg. The Elbe River flows right through the city. And its deep
channels allow huge ocean vessels to glide within yards of shoppers on
the riverfront. Those who stop to watch may not realize it, but they’re
gazing at one of Germany’s oldest lifelines to the rest of the world.
Founded in 810 by Charlemagne, Hamburg is Germany’s No. 1 port
today. Each year, millions of freight-packed containers are shifted between
railways, trucks, and ships, as they move through this great old city.
Millions of tons of German freight — autos, ores, and high-tech
goods — depart Hamburg for distant continents. Heading toward the
North Sea, they pass inbound cargoes of coffee, tropical fruits, and spices.
Globalization. Actually, German exports often include imported
goods. For example, among the 10,000 parts in a late 1990s Mercedes-Benz
model, 22 percent came from 15 countries outside of Europe. The Mercedes
model was recognized as "German-made." But it was "global,"
too. Germans understand that this is part of globalization — a series
of transactions linking workers, firms, and investors who may be oceans
apart. The evidence is compelling. As the world's second largest trader,
Germany imports from — and exports to — nations on every continent.
Global relations. World trade binds nations. But countries develop
non-trade relations, too. Take Germany and the USA, since World War II.
Under the Marshall Plan, America earmarked $1.4 billion for the Germans'
post-war recovery. When West Berliners were blockaded by the Soviet Union,
U.S. planes air-lifted food to them for 462 days. Americans supported
West Germany's new democracy in 1949. And today, Germany and the USA cooperate
on issues ranging from human rights to the war on global terrorism.
German-Russian relations, by contrast, roller-coasted
in the post-war era. Germans were distressed by the Soviet role in their
nation’s division and by the "Iron Curtain" the Soviets
dropped between Europe’s communist and democratic nations. But when
the USSR broke up in the early 1990s, Germany was quick to assist the
new democracies that emerged. By the late 1990s, German aid to Russia
had reached more than $70 billion.
Global role. In 1955, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
invited West Germany to join its ranks. (NATO is a group of European nations
— plus the USA and Canada — who have pledged themselves to
one another's defense.) Recently, Germany itself sponsored the admission
of new eastern democracies to NATO. But Germans know that military might
does not build peace. Thus, their focus on the United Nations.
German diplomats play key roles in UN organizations. And German taxpayers
fund a major portion of the UN's peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia. Indeed,
Germany has long been the third biggest contributor to the UN's budget,
Looking Ahead. Will Germany fulfill its potential as a global
partner for peace and prosperity in the new century? And if its responsibilities
within Europe and the world keep expanding, how might that affect its
A clue…. In 2002, Germany joined the
Netherlands in accepting command of the International Security Assistance
Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan. Why is that significant? Since World
War II, Germans have been reluctant to send troops abroad. But in the
wake of "9/11," Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder knew it was more urgent to support "international alliances"
against the "privatized violence of … terrorists." One
place to do that: post-Taliban Kabul. See "More German Troops for
Afghanistan" at this URL: