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More Germans in Harm's Way

For you foreign-policy types out there, here's Michael F. Harsch and Calin Trenkov-Wermuth on what Obama will want from Europe:

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently stated that he does not believe the Obama administration will make any unrealistic demands once it comes into office.

Steinmeier is likely to be disappointed. The first item on Obama's wish list will most likely be greater European burden-sharing in Afghanistan. The danger of a NATO failure in Afghanistan is real, and this issue will dominate the NATO summit's agenda... [Obama] may also insist that NATO allies like Germany, Spain, Italy and Belgium remove "national caveats" that limit how their forces can be used. These restrictions prevent the commander of the international forces in Afghanistan (ISAF) from permanently deploying their troops in the more dangerous south and south-east of the country. Supported by those NATO members operating in the south, like Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands, Obama could make it clear that disparate national rules bring into question the principle of solidarity on which the Alliance is based.

The second issue likely to come up concerns transatlantic strategy towards Iran's nuclear program. Obama has indicated that he is willing to talk to the Iranian leadership if this would help to keep the US safe. European leaders would welcome such a policy change in the United States, which broke diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980. However, before starting any negotiations, Obama will expect the Europeans to agree on more than just 'carrots' promising rewards if Iran should abolish its nuclear program. The new administration will also demand agreement on credible 'sticks' in case the Iranians are not ready to compromise. These could be simply tougher economic and political sanctions but Obama has also made it clear that he will not put the military option off the table.

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