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Viewing cable 09BERLIN1162, GERMANY'S NEXT FOREIGN MINISTER?: THE WORLD

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BERLIN1162 2009-09-18 16:04 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Berlin
VZCZCXRO9293
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHRL #1162/01 2611602
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 181602Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5243
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BERLIN 001162 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/14/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GM
SUBJECT: GERMANY'S NEXT FOREIGN MINISTER?: THE WORLD 
ACCORDING TO FDP CHAIRMAN GUIDO WESTERWELLE 
 
REF: BERLIN 594 
 
Classified By: MINISTER-COUNSELOR FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS GEORGE GLASS FO 
R REASONS 1.4 (B) and (D) 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1.  (C//NF) Free Democratic Party (FDP) Chairman Guido 
Westerwelle may be on the verge of becoming Foreign Minister 
and Vice-Chancellor in a Christian Democratic Union 
(CDU)/Christian Social Union (CSU)-FDP government after the 
parliamentary elections on September 27.  He has a strong 
craving for political power and recognition after spending 
eleven years in opposition.  Westerwelle previewed his 
foreign and security policy objectives and views in a major 
speech at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) on 
May 4, a speech for which the media nicknamed him "Guido 
Genscher," playing on Westerwelle's ideological leanings and 
close relationship with former FDP Foreign Minister 
Hans-Dietrich Genscher. 
 
2.  (C//NF) Westerwelle's DGAP remarks provided us with a 
glimpse of Westerwellian thought.  They were short on 
substance, suggesting that Westerwelle's command of complex 
foreign and security policy issues still requires deepening 
if he is to successfully represent German interests on the 
world stage (see REFTEL).  While he is a Transatlanticist, 
Westerwelle questions the breadth of U.S. power and U.S. 
calls for stronger German engagement.  He also harbors 
resentment that he has not been taken more seriously by the 
Washington political establishment.  (NOTE: Embassy will 
report SEPTEL on more detailed foreign policy implications 
for the U.S. of a Westerwelle-led MFA).  END SUMMARY. 
 
WESTERWELLE'S FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES 
--------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C) Westerwelle's most important foreign policy 
priorities will be focused on global disarmament and arms 
control.  In remarks in Schwerin on September 17, Westerwelle 
called again for the removal of all U.S. tactical nuclear 
weapons -- within the context of negotiations with NATO -- 
from German soil.  He was very critical of the Bush 
Administration's Missile Defense plans but was quick to 
praise President Obama's recent announcement on Missile 
Defense, saying "this move created additional international 
confidence."  Westerwelle remains a committed 
Transatlanticist but he has been consistently cautious of 
committing German troops to out-of-area deployments. 
Afghanistan was the exception.  Westerwelle continues to 
support Germany's ISAF mandate, but he has also indicated 
that the FDP wants to bring German troops home from 
Afghanistan as soon as possible provided the mission has been 
successfully completed.  Westerwelle and the FDP support 
close engagement with Russia and see it as a "strategic 
partner.  Westerwelle has pursued close ties with Russia's 
leadership during his eleven years in opposition.  On Iran, 
Westerwelle has talked about the need for dialogue but his 
party's pro-business orientation makes him particularly 
skeptical of sanctions and resistant to unilateral efforts to 
cut back trade. 
 
THE UNLIKELY FOREIGN MINISTER 
----------------------------- 
 
4.  (C//NF) By his own admission, Westerwelle has never 
seriously harbored a fascination for international affairs. 
FDP Bundestag member Marina Schuster told PolOff recently 
that foreign policy is not Westerwelle's "true love," but 
that he will take this position due to its high profile and 
as it is tied to the position of Vice-Chancellor.  FDP 
contacts tell us that he plans to remain a foreign policy 
generalist, which suggests he will have plenty of time to wax 
lyrical on domestic politics - to the potential detriment of 
political harmony in a possible future CDU/CSU-FDP coalition. 
 He also finds very appealing the prospect of being one of 
the only cabinet members besides the chancellor who can 
choose his media advisors, which suggests that Westerwelle 
will continue to place great emphasis on cultivating his 
public image. 
 
5.  (C//NF) There is a contrast between Westerwelle's 
increased public support and successful leadership of the FDP 
versus the continued skepticism, often bordering on contempt, 
shown by much of the German foreign policy elite toward him. 
Opinion polls show that Westerwelle's public image has 
improved substantially in the last year in particular. But, 
as one well known foreign policy analyst in Berlin told 
PolOff, he lacks the gravitas and is seen as too 
 
BERLIN 00001162  002 OF 004 
 
 
opportunistic to be trusted as foreign minister.  At the 
conclusion of his DGAP speech, several MFA desk officers 
remarked to PolOff that they were not yet persuaded that 
Westerwelle had the "foreign and security policy expertise 
necessary" to become a successful Foreign Minister, although 
they had no doubts about his ability to get up to speed 
quickly.  There was a consensus among desk officers -- 
driven, perhaps, by political bias -- that Westerwelle was 
arrogant and too fixated on maintaining his "cult of 
personality."  Negative reaction to his DGAP speech reflects 
the foreign policy community's skepticism of Westerwelle. 
 
HE'S NO GENSCHER 
---------------- 
 
6.  (C//NF) Like Dan Quayle in 1992, Westerwelle wants to 
compare himself to his mentor, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, but in 
the eyes of the foreign policy community, he is no Genscher. 
Nevertheless, Westerwelle's world-views have to a large 
extent been shaped by "Genscherism."  British academic 
Timothy Garton Ash described "Genscherism" as an attempt "to 
maintain and improve Germany's ties with a wide range of 
states, which were themselves pursuing quite different and 
quite contrary objectives.  This complex balancing act 
involved saying somewhat different things in different 
places."  Genscherism also embraced a foreign policy "culture 
of restraint," while emphasizing the models of "cooperation" 
and "continuity" in German foreign policy, which Westerwelle 
discussed in his May 4 speech at the DGAP.  Genscher's 
"culture of restraint" had a profound influence on 
Westerwelle's thinking, thus making him very skeptical about 
committing Germany's armed forces to overseas military 
operations  (NOTE: Afghanistan was an exception, although 
with the caveat that Germany's area of responsibility there 
would remain limited to the north and would concentrate on 
police training and civil reconstruction efforts (SEPTEL). 
END NOTE). 
 
A TRANSATLANTICIST WITH A TWIST 
------------------------------- 
 
7.  (C//NF) At the June 30 meeting, Westerwelle quickly 
confirmed his Transatlanticist credentials.  Westerwelle's 
views on the United States' role in the world, however, also 
defines his brand of Transatlanticism.  According to 
Westerwelle's political biographer Majid Sattar, Westerwelle 
has never been able to shake his skepticism about how the 
United States wields power in the world.  Citing an exchange 
with former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Burt 
(1985-1989), Sattar recalls how Westerwelle forcefully 
intervened in a discussion the Ambassador was having on U.S. 
foreign policy during the Cold War to say: "But you are not 
the police of the world."  Sattar comments further that 
Westerwelle was immune to any "transatlantic brainwashing." 
Although Westerwelle used his DGAP speech to criticize the 
United States under the Bush Administration for its excessive 
focus on the War on Terror and unilateralism, saying that the 
United States had lost its compass more than once, 
Westerwelle quickly changed his tune when he talked about the 
positive impact that President Obama has had on U.S. foreign 
policy since his election. 
 
8.  (C//NF) Westerwelle also made clear that he believes 
Germany needs to be more engaged in U.S. policy-making.  He 
criticized Chancellor Merkel for not having been more engaged 
with Washington on issues of mutual interest, especially arms 
control, when Washington has been engaged in extensive policy 
reviews.  He suggested that the FDP would quickly fill the 
vacuum should they enter government. 
 
WESTERWELLE TO WASHINGTON: WHAT ABOUT ME? 
----------------------------------------- 
 
9.  (C//NF) Westerwelle has found it hard to conceal his 
resentment toward Washington based on his feeling that 
neither its top leadership nor the Embassy in Berlin had 
courted him during his time in opposition.  At a June 30 
meeting between the former CDA and Westerwelle, he criticized 
the Bush Administration for its failure to seek a political 
dialogue with him.  Also revealing was Westerwelle's slight 
edge on his sense of humor, first charming us by inquiring 
about Secretary Clinton's health after her elbow injury and 
next joking that he would ask the Secretary if the Embassy 
had conveyed his best wishes. 
 
10.  (C//NF) Partially due to his insistence on only 
high-level meetings in Washington (and therefore limited 
contact), Westerwelle remains a relatively unknown political 
figure in the U.S., although he has traveled there many 
times.  Unlike his future potential cabinet colleague, 
 
BERLIN 00001162  003 OF 004 
 
 
Christian Social Union (CSU) Economics Minister Karl-Theodor 
zu Guttenberg, Westerwelle has little professional experience 
in the United States since he never made extensive efforts to 
introduce himself to the Washington policy community. 
Unfortunately, our attempts to reach out to Westerwelle were 
often rebuffed with the excuse that he would only meet the 
Ambassador.  Only after extensive Embassy negotiations with 
Westerwelle's staff were former CDA and PolOff able to secure 
the June 30 meeting. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
11.  (C//NF) One week before the parliamentary elections, 
polls indicate that Westerwelle stands a good chance of 
becoming Germany's next foreign minister, a position he has 
been preparing for since 2002.  If Westerwelle becomes 
Foreign Minister, we can expect tough love diplomacy from 
someone who prides himself in being our "close" friend, but 
who in reality remains skeptical about the U.S. and its 
foreign policy objectives.  Westerwelle will be a friend, but 
he will not hesitate to criticize us if vital German 
interests are at stake or being challenged.  Westerwelle's 
prickliness toward the United States would likely be 
neutralized by the long-sought attention from Washington he 
would receive if he becomes foreign minister.  Germany's 
foreign policy elite will continue to view him with 
skepticism.  The factor that assuages some of this concern, 
however, is that no one expects him to be able to match 
Chancellor Merkel if he does become Foreign Minister, and 
policy experts tell us that foreign policy influence is 
likely to shift even further to the Chancellery.  END COMMENT. 
 
BIO NOTES 
--------- 
 
12.  (U) Dr. Guido Westerwelle was born on December 27, 1961 
in Bad Honnef (near Bonn) to Dr. Heinrich and Erika 
Westerwelle.  Family members note that Westerwelle inherited 
the unbridled, aggressive temperament of his father and the 
calculated, deliberate, and hesitant cleverness of his 
mother.  His parents divorced when he was 8 years old, which 
according to Westerwelle himself, left a scar on his 
educational and physical development.  After the divorce, 
Westerwelle was raised by his father -- a lawyer -- and he 
maintained a close relationship with his mother, also a 
career lawyer, who lived nearby.  Stefan and Henrik, Guido's 
half brothers, one from each of his parents' previous 
relationships, were older and soon left the house to live on 
their own.  Westerwelle grew up with his younger brother Kai; 
they were very similar and both were considered active 
extroverts who enjoyed debates.  Westerwelle enjoys horses 
and to this day he is an avid equestrian. 
 
13.  (SBU) Westerwelle is openly gay.  He has said that this 
was not a problem at home since he was raised to be 
self-confident and his family was very liberal.  In addition, 
Bonn, where Westerwelle went to university was a liberal 
town.  Westerwelle officially came out rather quietly in the 
political world in 2005 at Merkel's 50th birthday party when 
he brought his partner, Michael Mronz, a sports manager, to 
the party.  Mronz is currently a steering board member of the 
2009 Berlin World Track and Field World Championships. 
Ironically, Westerwelle is conservative on gay rights.  He is 
keen to protect the special status of marriages and families 
under German law.  He opposes adoption by same sex couples 
but says that he wishes he could have children. 
 
14.  (U) Westerwelle developed an early taste for politics, 
being the editor of his high school newspaper.  He caused a 
school controversy when he named teachers who he felt did not 
respect students who had transferred into the secondary high 
school system from the grammar school system.  As a result of 
his story, many teachers developed a dislike for Westerwelle. 
 He further developed his political thinking when he attended 
an event with Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Otto Graf Lambsdorff 
during the 1980 parliamentary elections.  It was at that time 
that he decided to join the FDP and form an FDP youth group 
in Bonn.  Westerwelle eventually became a lawyer but his 
younger brother Kai once said he had the impression that 
being a lawyer was never his brother's real goal.  His 
understanding of the media and their use for his own 
political purposes is envied by many politicians.  He takes a 
pro-active approach to overseeing his party's media 
operations.  In front of the camera, Westerwelle comes across 
as serious, sharp, and calculating, and almost comical at 
times with what is perceived as a very exaggerated presence. 
In person, people say Westerwelle is very gallant, funny, and 
sarcastic. 
 
 
BERLIN 00001162  004 OF 004 
 
 
15.  (U)  In his free time, Westerwelle enjoys attending 
concerts and reading.  He enjoys running, beach volleyball, 
sailing, horseback riding, and mountain biking.  He collects 
paintings from New Leipzig School artists such as Neo Rauch 
and Tim Eitel and is a fond collector of works by Norbert 
Bisky and Joerg Immendorff.  He enjoys vacationing in Italy 
and Spain. 
Murphy