Hope for the Future of American Leadership Dies Hard

Hope for the Future of American Leadership Dies Hard

Few countries outside the United States have as much at stake on November 3 as Germany. If the Democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, wins the U.S. presidential election, the badly bruised transatlantic relationship can yet be reconstructed. But if President Donald Trump wins a second term, the United States might take an even more hostile attitude toward Berlin and Brussels than it did during his first.

The last three and a half years have sobered Germany’s relationship with the United States. Sentimentality and nostalgia have gone, and disappointment has turned to shock as Germany has absorbed Trump’s wrath. Certainly, the U.S. president resents the German trade surplus and strongly believes that Germany should shoulder more of NATO’s burden (indeed, many political figures in Berlin believe that these concerns merit serious debate). But such points of contention do not explain why the U.S. administration has shown contempt for and sought to humiliate an erstwhile close ally.