The BBC has gone all-in for Angela Merkel as Germany prepares for an election in the autumn:
The German chancellor caused a storm this Sunday, particularly in the English-language press and Twittersphere, when she declared: “The era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent.”
That this comment should come immediately after the US asked Germany to cough up more for its defence obligations was, if the liberal press is to be believed, purely coincidental.
Mrs Merkel is now on the campaign trail and not at all above injecting some populism into her politics.
President Trump is hugely unpopular among German voters and his failure to commit to the Paris climate accord, at the G7, and to Nato’s Article Five last week angered many Europeans.
I think it speaks volumes about the state of German politics that Trump-bashing is a central platform of all potential candidates. When is Germany going to address some of its own problems, instead of complaining about the US president? Or don’t they think they have any?
Mrs Merkel’s pointed comments about no longer being able to rely fully on allies were delivered to rapturous applause while on the campaign trail in the (conservatively) pumped arena of a Munich beer hall.
If not being able to rely fully on allies is something to cheer, then why the insistence on these alliances and agreements in the first place? If Germany wants to go it alone, nobody is stopping her. Indeed, the issue seems to be Germany’s insistence that the US commits to doing what Europeans want – with them picking up the bill.
Campaign Trail Merkel, as we’ll call her for the moment, is also aware that German voters aren’t just partial to a bit of Trump-thumping – but also to a full-on promotion of Europe.
Liberal Europeans have felt immensely frustrated at the constant Brussels bashing by nationalist politicians over the past couple of years.
Or, put another way, Liberal Europeans are looking to German leaders to promote something an awful lot of their own countrymen don’t like. Apparently this is a healthy state of affairs.
Resentment has built up, too, over Russia seemingly being able to do whatever it wants in Crimea, Syria and the cyber-sphere despite supposed international norms.
Like the shooting down of MA-17? What was the German reaction, again? A barely-audible squeak. Did the likes of BASF and Siemens have anything to do with that, perchance? If Europeans are hoping Germany will confront Putin more than Trump will, they are seriously deluded.
And there’s real anger and fear about Donald Trump the Unpredictable, a man many in Europe judge to be ignorant about world politics, diplomacy and the workings of a democracy.
They said the same about Bush, Jnr. too. Yes, we get it: Europeans prefer Democrat presidents and they think all Republicans are thick rednecks. Americans know this, and are getting a little fed up with it. Hence they are only too delighted to hear Germany isn’t going to be relying on them any more. If I were Trump, the American troops based in Germany would be on their way home already. Bush should have pulled them out years ago.
Germans believe more than ever now that Europe needs be assertive; to stick together and be strong together.
They are feeling more confident, too, with pro-EU, pro-Merkel Emmanuel Macron as French president.
Good for them! Now what does this have to do with Trump?
Enter Chancellor Merkel’s emotive language à la “take back control’, except what she says is “Europe needs to take its fate into its own hands”.
The Bavarian beer hall loved it, as do many Germans, giving Mrs Merkel that edge over her political rivals.
When Brits do this they are deluded Little Englanders. When Germans start bashing foreigners and making assertive, nationalist remarks in Munich beer halls, progressives go all giddy with delight. Perhaps Germany doesn’t have such a chequered history in this area as Britain, or something?
She believes Europe must co-operate more on defence: pooling resources, spending military budgets more intelligently and bolstering itself as much as it can.
But not increasing military budgets to meet Nato commitments.
Britain leaving the EU means the bloc only has one military power left – the French one – and one seat on the UN Security Council.
The French military power? Bwahahahahahahaha!
Nato is now more important than ever for EU safety.
How best to safeguard the alliance than by insulting the American president and those who voted for him?
Chancellor Merkel has been around the political block more than a few times, and she is not now biting the hand that feeds
No? Well, let’s see, shall we?
Donald Trump may not be so sure about Nato, but the US vice-president and the defence secretary say they are fully committed.
Was this before or after Merkel threw her toys out of the pram when the Americans asked her to cough up a bit more?
When Angela Merkel says Europe needs to be take its fate in its own hands, she means keeping transatlantic links open and strong, but being politically, emotionally and – if possible – militarily prepared if it all falls apart.
Presumably this nuance got lost in the original German.
Rather than closing the door on the US, she hopes very much the US isn’t turning its back on Europe.
And with articles like this appearing in Der Spiegel, I’m sure the Americans feel so very appreciated in Germany and are keen to stick around.