The flaws of some of Germany’s top leaders were exposed to the world this week. Meanwhile, Germany’s defense minister came through unscathed.
One of the more accurate ways to measure the reputation of a politician is to listen in on what is said about him or her among peers in private.
This is partly why the recent WikiLeaks dump is so absorbing. Parsing the torrent of secret dossiers and memos, we get a glimpse into the well-informed and unfettered observations of foreign leaders by U.S. diplomats. WikiLeaks is a nightmare for U.S. foreign policy, and is trashing the residue of respect that existed in some circles for American power. Still, this treasure trove of intelligence provides unique insight into the machinations of other countries—and even the political fortunes of some important individuals.
On Sunday, the world learned that the U.S. State Department considers Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister, “neurotic” and an “angry old man.” We also learned that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is “risk averse and rarely creative” and is “insincere” in her dealings with the Obama administration. Apparently, Merkel is so desperate to avoid conflict, some U.S. diplomats have dubbed her Angela “Teflon” Merkel. If you think that’s harsh, consider the characterization of Guido Westerwelle, Germany’s vice chancellor and foreign minister. According to various memos, Westerwelle is “opportunistic,” “arrogant” and “too fixated on maintaining his ‘cult of personality.’” In one dossier, he’s painted as a novice, a man “learning the ropes” of foreign policy and still trying to prove himself to his chancellor.
Most of these memos were written on the ground in the thick of German politics. They’re well-informed, honest and devoid of spin. Labeling Germany’s finance minister as “neurotic” might be impolite, but that’s how U.S. diplomats in Germany—men who have their fingers on the pulse of German politics, who spend their days mixing and mingling with Schäuble’s counterparts—see him.
Point is, the WikiLeaks trove provides some refreshingly candid insight into the character, reputation and political future of some of Germany’s leaders.
By now, regular Trumpet readers are probably wondering what WikiLeaks reveals about a certain German politician: Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.
Truth is, Guttenberg, as Time observed this week, “is virtually the only German minister to emerge from the revelations untainted” (emphasis mine).
That’s telling. Chancellor Merkel and Mr. Schäuble can attest to the fact that U.S. diplomats in Germany are not afraid to critique and criticize German politicians. Yet when you scan WikiLeaks, there’s barely a negative word about Guttenberg. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite: Guttenberg is revealed as a likable, highly regarded politician, both at home and on the international stage.
Now that’s impressive!
In a memo written from Munich in February 2009, U.S. officials recognize Guttenberg’s “youth, charisma, foreign-policy experience and upward momentum.” The same document notes Guttenberg’s “record of beating the expectations of politicians and the public,” and that he is prone to employing “warmth, charisma and direct engagement to win over” those who might be skeptical of his “cool and aristocratic bearing.”
The same memo also records that the 38-year-old from Bavaria is a “man of considerable rhetorical skills.” Ever since he became a member of the Bundestag in 2002, the memo notes, Guttenberg “has proven a quick study, making himself a name as foreign- and security-policy expert.” When Guttenberg became defense minister in October 2009, U.S. officials sent a memo home reporting that they expected him “to improve the Defense Ministry’s image, prestige and weight within the cabinet through his popularity and public relations talents.”
This is exactly what the Trumpet has been saying for more than a year: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is the rising star of German politics.
Another noteworthy tidbit revealed by WikiLeaks is Guttenberg’s willingness for Germany and the United States to forge a strong relationship. As one dossier put it, Guttenberg is a “transatlanticist and well known in Washington.” In another instance, he was called a “strong transatlanticist.” Another memo notes Guttenberg’s stint living and working in New York, where he developed a “rich network” of contacts. Other memos reveal Guttenberg supporting U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, and actively working to beef up Germany’s military presence there.
In a November 2009 memo, U.S. officials explain that although Guido Westerwelle had been made foreign minister, Guttenberg would emerge as a major player in German foreign policy: “Defense Minister zu Guttenberg will be a serious competitor to Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on the diplomatic parquet. In foreign and security affairs, zu Guttenberg is better connected in Washington, fluent in English, and more experienced in the key issues.”
In another memo designed to brief U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for an impending visit to Germany in November 2009, U.S. Ambassador Phillip Murphy notes that Westerwelle was still “learning the ropes,” and that, “alternatively, Merkel may look to new Defense Minister zu Guttenberg (csu) to play an alternative role on foreign policy.”
The more memos you study, the more you see Guttenberg’s fingerprints on German politics and on German foreign policy.
A handful of documents also supply evidence of a special connection between Guttenberg and former Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber. In a December 2008 memo, for example, a U.S. diplomat in Munich reports on a speech by Guttenberg in which he explained that he intended to make the Christian Socialist Union more like the way it was “under Edmund Stoiber and Franz Josef Strauss (both legendary former minister presidents).”
In December 2009, U.S. Ambassador Phillip Murphy reported on a visit he had just had with Edmund Stoiber. During the meeting, Stoiber confessed that “he had much confidence in Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (csu), who was politically well-connected, an expert on foreign policy, and sensitive for what had to be done.”
If you’re unaware of the legacy of Edmund Stoiber and Franz Josef Strauss, read The Grand Design. In short, Strauss and his protégé Stoiber envision a future in which Germany emerges as the leader of a federal European superstate—one powerful enough to compete with the United States. Today, Strauss is long dead and Stoiber is on the fringes of German politics—for now.
But Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is carrying Strauss’s torch—and he is one of the most influential politicians in Germany!
For those willing to sift through the recent WikiLeaks dump—and specifically what it reveals about German politics and the meteoric rise of Guttenberg—in the context of Bible prophecy, the discoveries become all the more riveting. Guttenberg’s affinity for the U.S., for example, is important in light of the prophecy in Ezekiel 23, which reveals that in the end time the United States (as well as Britain and the Jewish state) will “dote on her lovers,” the Germans. Regarding this prophecy, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has explained that the U.S.-Germany relationship will appear to improve. He has warned: “The U.S. trusts Germany—our lovers, as Ezekiel calls them (Ezekiel 23:4)—more than we trust God! That could be the worst foreign-policy mistake we have ever made—or ever will make.”
Isn’t it logical that Guttenberg, a man the U.S. State Department considers a “strong transatlanticist,” might attempt to forge such a relationship?