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Merkel and Germany Are Not Turning Away from America

Many headline writers are blowing Merkel’s statement about US and UK reliability out of proportion. Putin will be happy about the display of transatlantic division. I think Merkel’s comment could be very good for transatlantic relations in the mid-term.

She was speaking in a beer tent in Bavaria. Federal elections in four months. Merkel was making the case for a stronger EU and a more active German foreign policy. Her party is in favour of increasing defence spending and working towards NATO's goal of spending 2% of GDP on defense by 2024. The second biggest party is questioning this goal, although they have been part of the coalition government which made this commitment in 2014.

Merkel needs to convince voters of a more active foreign and defense policy because Germans tend to be lazy in defence matters and rely on US, UK to do the heavy lifting and the dirty work, risking lives and spending taxpayer’s money. Yes, I think it’s mainly laziness, not so much pacificism or an intellectual analysis concluding that military solutions aren’t working.

Trump (and Bexit) make it more urgent, but the need for more strategic thinking and spending and less dependence on the US and UK to bail us out when the shit hits the fan has been apparent for a long time. It’s part of growing up, we have been sovereign for a while now.

That was in my opinion Merkel's basic message. Not criticizing the US and UK for being unreliable. Besides, she was careful to use the qualifiers “completely” (“völlig) and “to some extent” (“ein Stück weit”): "The times in which we could completely depend on others are to some extent over”

Not such a big deal. Even during the Cold War there was some doubt whether the US and the rest of NATO would really come to West Germany’s and West Berlin’s defense. There was never full certainty, but strong reliance.

I think sensationalism in headlines and social media is hurting public discourse, esp since many people only read headlines, but not the full articles.

A stronger German defense policy even the mythical “EU army” could be very good for transatlantic relations because this would make us a better and more attractive partner for the US.

US and UK don’t have the most confidence inspiring political leaders in both of their main parties at the moment, but politicians come and go. No need to give up on the alliance with Washington and London. And Merkel was definitely not giving up.

Did you know that Trump has asked Congress to increase funding for the European Reassurance Initiative from $3.4 billion last year to $4.8 billion next year? A 40% increase.

Categories: German Politics, Transatlantic Relations | DISQUS, 0 Trackbacks
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