Germans warned against anti-Americanism
BRUSSELS – Anxious about political trends in Germany that are sowing divisions with the United States under President Trump, foreign-policy experts have warned the incoming German government that the trans-Atlantic relationship must be preserved at all costs.
In a manifesto titled “In Spite of It All, America,” the German signatories said: “The liberal world order, with its foundation in multilateralism, its global norms and values, its open societies and markets, is in danger” from the Trump administration because of its “America First” credo. But, the manifesto says, “It is exactly this order on which Germany’s freedom and prosperity depends.”
“If Germany wants to be an effective actor in Europe,” the paper says, “it needs the United States.”
The document, published in Thursday’s edition of the weekly Die Zeit newspaper, suggests that the government should concentrate on the fundamentals of the trans-Atlantic relationship with the United States, like security, and avoid more contentious issues like trade and migration.
The manifesto warning against budding anti-Americanism is aimed at the German political parties negotiating with Chancellor Angela Merkel to form a new government, and also at the Social Democratic Party, now in the opposition, which has criticized Trump.
“The message is designed to hit at those who think that Trump has finally shown the real nature of America, and that it’s time for the Germans and French to free themselves from trans-Atlanticism,” said Jan Techau, who is one of the signatories, director of the Richard C. Holbrooke Forum at Berlin’s American Academy and a former head of Carnegie Europe.
“We are worried about those, mostly from the left, who finally feel liberated to break with America, and we want to say that America is more than Trump, there will be America after Trump, that our strategic dependence on the United States remains,” Techau said.
Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, who directs the German Marshall Fund in Berlin and was an adviser to the former German president Joachim Gauck, said that he and the other signatories were concerned that a drift in German-U.S. relations that began under President Barack Obama could accelerate, especially since the Social Democrats are weaker in opposition after years of being in a coalition government with Merkel’s conservatives.
With the far-right Alternative for Germany and the Left party also in Parliament after recent elections, deputies are more skeptical of the United States, more critical of multilateralism and more pro-Russia than before, Kleine-Brockhoff suggested – even if a government of the conservatives, the liberal Free Democrats and the Greens emerges and remains Atlanticist.
“We argue that Trump is not a symptom of a long-term trend in the United States aimed at the destruction of the multilateral order, but that he is sui generis,” Kleine-Brockhoff said.
While certain trends may outlast Trump, he added, “even with isolationist tendencies and an inward-looking electorate that doesn’t want to see interventionist policies, what won’t continue is an America running through the world order with a wrecking ball.”
The manifesto, a rough English translation of which was provided to the New York Times, says that the United States remains an “indispensable” partner for both Germany and Europe and keeps Germany embedded in the West.
The paper also suggests working with the Trump administration, especially on security and energy policy.