Election Panic: US Feared Rise of German FM Westerwelle

Concerns Over 'Limited Government' FDP at Center of US Analysis of Vote

While the Obama Administration publicly made much of the shady 2009 election in Iran and scrambled to control embarrassment over the even shadier 2009 election in Afghanistan, the new WikiLeaks documents showed officials were surprisingly concerned with the September 2009 election in Germany.

In particular the documents show a preoccupation with the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a Classical Liberal party of limited government whose key issues are lower taxes, a less aggressive foreign policy, and defense of individual liberties. It is perhaps the ultimate irony that the US government would view a German party centered around personal freedom as a serious threat to its own agenda across the world while seeming entirely comfortable, by all accounts, with the Linkspartei, the thinly veiled Communist Party popular in the former East Germany, whose platform explicitly calls for the destruction of capitalism the world over.

But the FDP in general, and its leader Guido Westerwelle (now Foreign Minister) in particular, were seen in the run up to the election as a danger for the Obama Administration, and even after the election a number of cables show serious antipathy toward Foreign Minister Westerwelle and considerable concern that he might spoil certain hawkish goals of the Obama Administration.

Some of the documents show an odd split in the view of the FDP, simultaneously mocking their lack of political savvy (terming Westerwelle the Dan Quayle of Germany) while bemoaning their unseemly (at least from the State Department perspective) interest in personal freedom as a serious problem.

Interestingly enough, it seems the administration made its hostility toward the FDP and its agenda of individual rights and limited state power no real secret to the rest of the German government, and Defense Minister Karl-Theodur zu Guttenberg, which the US terms the “rising star” of the Christian Social Union, is reported to have provided the US embassy specific warnings about Westerwelle’s opposition to the escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

In the end the documents portray a serious concern with the Black-Yellow coalition and expressed hope that Chancellor Angela Merkel could be convinced to see her “legacy” as so important that she would trash any efforts by the FDP to move Germany toward a more free society.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.