German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s relationship with Donald Trump seems to be worse than she had with his predecessor Barack Obama.
In comparison in 2013 when Merkel published her election program, she referred to the US as “Germany’s most important friend.” However, in the latest version published ahead of this September’s vote she merely referred to the US as a “partner.”
RT: Some critics say Merkel is not tough enough on Trump. Why have there been different attitudes to the two US administrations of Barack Obama and now Donald Trump?
Rainer Rothfuss: First of all, we have to take into consideration that Angela Merkel has to look after the voters’ attitudes, and with an anti-Trump policy program. This is the first and most important point, and I would say it should also lead us to the consideration that it is not a policy shift that may last very long. But on the other side, it is also a considerable shift in foreign policy terms, because the US has, through their policy changes, brought along through the administration of Donald Trump, made clear that they have their own national interests also in the field of economic policies. Germany is one of the main targets of these policy changes. So the export surplus of about €250 billion that Germany has toward the US shall be reduced. This will hurt Germany. So Germany has to reorient itself toward other partners – maybe also Russia in the future.
RT: Does this change in terminology in Merkel’s election program represent a policy shift toward the US?
RR: Obviously. The change in terminology has just taken place in the election program of the CDU, the governing party. So this means that it is a policy shift, then only afterwards we will see if the policy changes are implemented on the ground. If Germany really seeks a leadership role of a group of Western countries rivaling with the Trump administration as leader of the Western world.
But I would say that Germany would be on a rather risky path, if the country thinks it could lead the Western world instead of the US. If we look at the military power of Germany in comparison to the US, Germany is negligible and is always dependent on the US, and will also be quite vulnerable in the future to any attacks of the US against German companies around the globe. We should not think, as Germans, that we could take over a great part of the leading role of the US anytime soon in the Western world. This would be a total deception and will not be successful at all.