14.07.2021 – 08:31
Merkel, who has held office since 2005 but plans to retire after Germany’s September 26 national election, will come to Washington on Thursday for a meeting with President Biden – and perhaps a farewell to many American liberals who considered her “the defender of democracy and human dignity that has stood by her beliefs,” as the president of the Harvard alumni association said in 2019.
Having a zigzag direction through various crises, it has brought its country to a new position that is strong and in line with what German voters want – but a little further away from the United States.
Merkel ran for chancellor for the first time in 2005 for deregulation and tax cuts; The US Conservatives saw her as a young Margaret Thatcher: “The ideal candidate,” the Weekly Standard reported.
This faded after she accepted the chancellery in a parliamentary coalition with the left-leaning Social Democrats.
Instead, Merkel pursued the balance of old-fashioned budgeting, both at home and abroad, by imposing debt-ridden Southern European nations – despite their own and Washington’s grievances – in exchange for German aid during the global financial crisis. .
In 2010, Merkel vowed to overturn a previous government’s promise to give up nuclear power. Germany temporarily had to burn more coal, one reason for per capita carbon emissions in Germany decreased more slowly during Merkel’s stay than those in the United States.
After saying in 2010 that multiculturalism had “completely failed”, she agreed in the summer of 2015 to accept 1 million refugees fleeing the wars in the Middle East, instead of keeping them away.
This was by far her most courageous blow – and, politically, the most dangerous.
In 2016, as Germany struggled to cope and a far-right anti-immigrant party strengthened, Merkel, through the European Union, essentially paid Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan billions of dollars to stop people.
Merkel can argue with conviction that all these episodes have had a happy ending. Europe’s common currency has survived; Carbon reductions in Germany have accelerated; immigrant integration is improving; support for right-wing parties has reached about 10 percent. In same-sex marriage, she took credit for allowing her to become lawmaker, which probably helped her 2017 re-election campaign.
The perspective is more ambiguous in German relations with the United States.
Merkel is an essentially pro-American politician who grew up in East Germany under a Russian-dominated communist regime that she hated. However, she found herself saying, after Trump clashed with him and other Europeans at the Group of Seven 2017 meeting, that the days when Europe could “completely depend on others are, to some extent, over. ”.
For many Germans deeply hurt by US mistreatment of Iraq and Afghanistan even before Trump, a transatlantic alliance once based on shared values and interests is now subject to partisanship between Republican and Democratic administrations.
A new survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations, in fact, shows that 39 percent of Germans consider the United States “a necessary partner… we need to work together strategically”, compared with 19 percent who see it as a “Ally”. (Meanwhile, a combined 22 percent consider the United States either a “rival” or an “adversary.”)
Accordingly, Berlin has refused to give up a lucrative pipeline connection to Vladimir Putin’s Russia and pursue an investment deal with China, despite opposition from the United States and even other members of the European Union.
Merkel has made the most of her country’s soft power – its financial strength; its democratic prestige – but, by bowing to Germany’s semi-pacifist public opinion and taking refuge under the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization, it has done little to strengthen German power through higher military spending.
How long they can continue to tolerate Biden and future U.S. presidents, without offending the electorate of the United States itself, is a crucial question that Merkel is undoubtedly very happy to leave to her successor. answered!
Translated and adapted by The Washington Post / konica.al