Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Condoleezza Rice Remembers German Reunification

This month, Germany is celebrating 20 years since the reunification of East and West Germany.

Unlike British and French leaders at the time, the American administration of President George H.W. Bush encouraged the reunification of East and West Germany two decades ago, even if it wasn't sure how the details would all work out, says former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Rice says there was only a short window of opportunity when "the Soviet Union had to be strong enough to sign away its powers and rights but not strong enough to stop it." As a result, when the opportunity presented itself and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl went full speed ahead with plans for bringing together the two parts of the nation separated by the Cold War, the Bush administration supported his fast-track approach.

In fact, there was apparently only one moment of disconnect between the White House and the chancellor's office, when Kohl didn't consult with his American counterparts before he presented a list of 10 points to guide the reunification process. But that speed bump was soon left behind, and Kohl and his plans remained in good standing with Washington.

Read the full Spiegel article for more on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's surprising role, the Bush team's worries about Kohl's re-election chances, the centrality of NATO to American comfort about German reunification, and more.

Condoleezza Rice will speak about her life, work, and family in a special event at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Monday, October 18.


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