It was an awkward date. Both recognized they had to get to know each other, but neither one was particularly keen to do so. Nevertheless, they went through the motions with a sense of obligation that was painfully obvious to everyone. Trump and Merkel are not going to be friends, and they may not ever …Read More
German leadership has been crucial to the efforts to hold the EU together—while also trying to articulate Berlin’s vision without alienating its neighbors. The domestic debate over German foreign policy has been impacted by calls for Berlin to assume more engagement in dealing with a world permeated by crisis. Responding to these calls has generated …Read More
The American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once stated that the essence of statecraft is locating the point of concurrence between the parochial and the general interest, between the national and international common good. Niebuhr emphasizes that realism implies an obligation to see the world as it actually is, not as we might like it to be. He warned that hubris can blind realism, finding expression in outsized confidence in both the power as well as the values of a country as being universal. Any country is susceptible to such temptations.
There is a well-known warning to all politicians seeking to sound convincing to their audiences: if you have to explain too much, you are losing them. If there are too many ambiguities in a message, you trip yourself up justifying them. The platform of the Munich Security Conference is a tough testing ground for all politicians given the enormous concentration on what is discussed there. This year’s meeting was no exception.
The Munich Security Conference has had many memorable milestones over the last half century; I have been privileged to experience several. The famous “I am not convinced” exchange between Joschka Fischer and Donald Rumsfeld in 2003; the gauntlet directed at the U.S. by Vladimir Putin in 2007; Joachim Gauck’s challenge to Germany for it to rethink …Read More
It is said that Mark Twain once commented, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” Maybe a more accurate version is that history doesn’t repeat itself, but people often do—for better or for worse. Over the past seventy years, German and American leadership has been defined by shared interests and objectives. Despite any number …Read More
After the events of 2016, the future of the transatlantic relationship at times seems tenuous, fraught with national interests and publics that seem tired of looking beyond one’s own borders. As leaders in the U.S. and Europe navigate through uncertain waters, they will do well to remember two important milestones in transatlantic relations: the announcement …Read More
When Barack Obama meets with Angela Merkel in Berlin next week, it will be the last time they will meet as President and Chancellor. Not only is it an opportunity for him to say farewell to one of his closest partners over these past eight years, but it is also a chance to prepare her for …Read More
There is a German expression describing the continuous competition in the soccer world: nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel. The last game is right before the next. The rules, the desire for competition, and respect for the rules all don’t change, and the outcome is always the same: win or lose. In democracies, there …Read More
In the months and weeks before the Berlin Wall fell twenty-seven years ago, there were moments of fear and anxiety in the streets of East German cities—and there were moments of courage and hope. Even without knowing how close to the dream of German unification they really were, the triumph of solidarity among millions of …Read More