Germany has become the antithesis to Trump’s America — that much is clear from Grenell’s tweets. The conflict centers on concrete interests and political issues, but of course also on the personal chemistry between Trump and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In no other area are the stances of Berlin and Washington as far apart as they are on the issue of Iran. For the first time in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, the German government has explicitly based a decision not to take part in a military deployment on the fact that the deployment is being led by the U.S.
Germany could face new punitive tariffs in November as part of the trade conflict, and Grenell has even indirectly threatened to pull its troops out of the country in the dispute with Berlin about increasing its military spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in line with the target for NATO members.
Elsewhere, Trump is openly calling for the European Union to split up. He is publicly encouraging the new British prime minister, Boris Johnson, to embark on a hard Brexit. Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, traveled to London last week to communicate that the U.S. would “enthusiastically” support a decision by the UK to leave the EU with no deal.
Trump has shaken the relationship between the Germans and the Americans in ways that extend far beyond politics. The U.S. is more unpopular with Germans than ever before. A survey conducted for the Atlantik-Brücke found that 85 percent of Germans view the relationship with the U.S. as negative or very negative. Now, 42 percent see China as a more reliable partner. “It worries me that it has become popular even among the leading elites of the German business community to bid farewell to America,” says Sigmar Gabriel, the new head of Atlantik-Brücke. “Many now see the U.S. as a bigger problem than China and Russia.” …
Trump is being faced with a German chancellor who clearly wants to go down in history as his opponent. Although Merkel described it as “absurd” and “ludicrous” that she was described as the leader of the free world after Trump’s election, she does like the posture.
In May, she flew to Boston to deliver a commencement speech at Harvard University that can safely be described as an anti-Trump manifesto. She was also accidentally caught by photographers reading an anti-Trump book during her vacation: “Tyrant,” by Stephen Greenblatt, about Shakespeare’s despots - some of whom have an unmistakable similarity to the current U.S. president.
It has now become normal for Merkel not to ask for a meeting with Trump when she visits the U.S. There was no meeting with Trump during the Harvard trip, and when Merkel attends the United Nations General Assembly in New York in mid-September, no meeting with Trump is planned.