Cablegate: Germany's Next Foreign Minister?: The World

DE RUEHRL #1162/01 2611602
P 181602Z SEP 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BERLIN 001162


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/14/2019


R REASONS 1.4 (B) and (D)


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

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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.


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. XXXXX and XXXXX
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. XXXXX and XXXXX, 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 XXXXX;
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 XXXXX 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

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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.

© Scoop Media

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