Merkel, Sarkozy, and Brown: The potential for a Grand Alliance

Brittany M. Coskery

September 2007


          ?The concept of a Grand Alliance as presented by Pelanda is something that can be seen as potentially achievable. In order to make such an alliance possible, it will be necessary for a convergence of sorts between the major European powers and that of the United States. In particularly, the role of new governmental leadership within these nations will be critical in ensuring such an alliance. In examining the current foreign policies of leaders like Angela Merkel of Germany, Nicolas Sarkozy of France, and Gordon Brown of Great Britain, the likelihood of a Grand Alliance within the next few years must be considered.

          ?An obvious factor in such an alliance between Europe and The U.S. is clearly that of administrative change through the American elections in 2008. This will be necessary before any type of alliance can form, as Bush has made clear with his foreign policy. Whether or not the next administration will play into such an alliance remains unknown—however, given the political climate taken by three of the leaders in Europe previously mentioned, such an alliance is clearly possible, and would likely benefit those involved. The current political climate in the U.S. could in fact help such an alliance—with Bush’s approval ratings in recent months, it is clear that the general consensus is ready for a shift in power and approach to key issues, like the war in Iraq and the potential threat that Iran poses. Because of the approach taken by some European leaders, the latter could be a key negotiation point in the formation of an alliance.

          ?Angela Merkel, the first female chancellor of Germany, has the ability to play a major role in negotiations towards an alliance. Since her election in 2005, her stance towards German- U.S. relations has been firm. As she said in her March 2007 speech to commemorate the anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, ?/span>A common Foreign and Security Policy in Europe is therefore absolutely vital. But, of course, this policy should not be isolationist but must be based on cooperation with partners outside Europe. I firmly believe that close, amicable relations with the United States of America and a strong NATO are and will remain in Europe's fundamental interest?( In making such a statement, she has attempted to repair the damage created by her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder towards Washington.

She has developed good multilateral diplomacy, delicately balancing Germany’s relationship with countries like France and Russia, as well as the U.S. “Her maxim is as simple as it is effective: Serve your own interests by serving those of others?(Joffe). Her foreign policy thus far has proved somewhat compatable with that of the U.S—atleast in terms of Iran. She made this clear during her recent appearance at the United Nations General Assembly, shortly after Ahmadinejad addressed the issue of monitoring Iran’s nuclear development through the IAEA.During her upcoming meeting with Bush in November, this topic will likely be at the foremost of their discussions.

Merkel’s ability to help lead Europe into a grand alliance is evident. In making a concertated effort to maintain stable relations with both Russia and the United States, in addition to that of the new leadership in countries like France and Great Britain, she has managed to balance Germany’s position within Europe. As Pelanda mentions, in 2005 she “consolidated bi-lateral relations with the United States, keeping them lukewarm in view of the anti-American sentiment of the electorate? (123).

Nicolas Sarkozy, the recently elected French President, also stands a chance at contributing largely to a grand alliance. His clearly pro-American approach will aide him in this endeavor, something far from the views of his predecessor, Jacques Chirac. Such an attitude has already proved effective in relations with President Bush, whom he met with over the summer. Given his conservative stance on most issues, he seems to be on better grounds with America and its foreign policy than Chirac ever was.

Sarkozy, similar to that of Merkel and Brown, has clear views on Iran and the goals of their nuclear program. His views, however, seem to be even more rigid than his counterparts—he is openly pro-Israel, and though he refuses to “choose between a nuclear armed Iran and the use of force?(Sciolino), he has made his view towards Iran abundantly clear. He is quoted as saying that he is not determining his position on Iran based on the U.S. position, though it appears to be a position both countries share.

The biggest issue concerning Sarkozy and the potential of a grand alliance is that of his elitist views. He has clearly stated his beliefs that both France and the United States are on ?/span>equal footing and somehow better than many others, because they believe that their values are universal and therefore destined to ‘radiate? throughout the world?(Sciolino). This attitude stands to aide the French-American relations, however in calling out his European counterparts, he is doing little to build stronger relationships with them. His comments regarding France’s need to take the European lead due to lack of other potential leaders must clearly have not set well with the likes of Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown. His promise to never behave in an arrogant way like that of Chirac towards the United States in the prelude to the Iraq war seems already contradictory—perhaps he has yet to exert such arrogance towards that the U.S, however he has clearly illustrated such towards his fellow European leaders.

Despite his obvious interest in America and his new found friendship with President Bush, the likelihood of Sarkozy taking a similar approach to current U.S. foreign policy is unlikely—rather, he may attempt to “emulate America’s domestic dynamism?(Hoagland). This relationship, like that of Merkel, is clearly contingent on a new U.S. administration in the next year and a half. However, given his fascination with American domestic policies, there is a likelihood that he too could help Europe in forming a grand alliance with the United States—if he is able to first form closer alliances at home, in Europe.

Gordon Brown, the newly elected Prime Minister of Great Britain, will perhaps be the most watched leader in this potential alliance. Given Blair’s relationship with Bush, one that was clearly not favored by the majority of Europe, much less his own country, Brown’s position towards an alliance with the U.S. will be crucial. Though he has only been in power a couple of months, he has made efforts to maintain the strong relationship between the two states, though not on the same level of his predecessor. He has showed little warmth towards Bush like that of Blair, while discussing options for Britain’s position in Iraq. Brown has stated that he will follow the advice of his commanders in Iraq, while continuing Blair’s “transition to over-watch?process. An obvious factor that will affect this transatlantic relationship is the 2008 U.S election—the newly elected President will have his or her hands full when dealing with the situation in Iraq, and such an alliance with Great Britain has the ability to prove either helpful or harmful, depending on a new President’s stance.

Brown is clearly favored by most Britons over Blair, which will be key in building a grand alliance between his country, the continent, and the United States. In regards to Iran, like his European colleagues, he too feels that toughening sanctions are necessary. However, unlike that of Merkel and Sarkozy, Brown has been less vocal on this issue, leading some to wonder if he may follow others?lead in this foreign policy issue, like Blair so frequently did with the United States. Calling Britain’s relationship with the United States its “singular most important bilateral relationship? Brown seems to perhaps be exactly what a grand alliance needs in all its potential leaders—one who is keenly aware of the importance these relations play, considering his predecessor’s role and it’s effectiveness on such an alliance, and using both to help form a new relationship with at least one key member of the alliance—the U.S.

There appears to be a new kind of leadership within Europe—one that knows the importance that such an alliance could play for both their states as well as others involved. Additionally, these new European leaders seem to have a different approach to the United States than that of their predecessors. Merkel, Sarkozy, and Brown all seem to be aware of the importance of such multilateral negotiations and discussions, and have illustrated this most recently with their stances towards Iran. With such powerful leadership within Europe, the formation of a grand alliance is absolutely possible—in fact, depending on the change of leadership within the United States, one could almost venture to state that such an alliance is quite likely. As Pelanda points out, there would likely be clear economic benefits for all parties, in addition to a buffer of sorts, against China and potentially Russia, should there be a need for such.

The three European leaders—Merkel, Sarkozy, and Brown, all have their own agendas for their states. However, given their current positions on foreign matters, and how far they’ve come from their predecessors, it appears that a grand alliance is vital for each. In building such, it will be essential for all three leaders to come together in efforts to work towards common goals within Europe. Perhaps then they can focus on the bigger challenge: that of convincing the new American leadership that such an alliance would prove beneficial to the U.S, despite its years of unilateralism. While it would undoubtedly be a huge task, both Europe and the United States seem ready for such a shift—if anything, issues like Iraq, Iran, and the threat of a Chinese superpower have clearly illustrated the necessity for some sort of common ground between the two. If any European leaders seem posed and ready to make such an alliance happen, it is absolutely Angela Merkel, followed closely by Nicolas Sarkozy, and potentially Gordon Brown. All three have the ability (and a general consensus within their own countries) to initiate and maintain positive relations with the United States, in what could surely lead to a grand alliance in years to come.








                                             Works Cited

Germany 2007- Presidency of the European Union. 3 March 2007. <>

Hoagland, Jim. ?span class=SpellE>Sarkozy’s Dangerous Strengths.?Washington Post 7 May 2007: A19.

Joffe, Josef. “Call her Angie von Bismarck.?Washington Post 5 August 2007: B04.

Pelanda, Carlo. The Grand Alliance. Milan: FrancoAngeli, 2007.

Sciolino, Elaine and Alison Smale. ?span class=SpellE>Sarkozy, a Frenchman in a Hurry, Maps his Path.?New York Times 24 September 2007.