Monday, June 05, 2017

Vox Sentences: Angela Merkel is tired of this shit

Dylan Matthews · Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 8:42 pm

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn’t usually make sweeping declarations about policy. So when she declared during a speech on Sunday in Munich that “The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over. [...] We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” observers sat up and took notice. [The Guardian / Jon Henley]

Merkel didn’t mention Donald Trump by name. But her speech was clearly a reaction to having dealt with Trump at the NATO and G7 summits last week, as well as dealing with British Prime Minister Theresa May (as Britain prepares for Brexit negotiations). [ / Paul Taylor]

Merkel’s foreign minister was even more pointed on Monday: “The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union.” [CNN / James Masters]

It’s worth noting that these are statements being made by politicians during a campaign season (Germany has parliamentary elections in September). In particular, Merkel’s call for Europe to start standing up for its own defense is a jab at her rivals on the left, who object to her belief that Germany should move toward the NATO guideline of spending 2 percent of its GDP on defense. [The Economist / J.C.]

But Merkel is also bolstering her pro-European cred — she and newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron (who’s facing parliamentary elections of his own this summer) are leaning into a Franco-German alliance to bolster both Europe and their own political viability. [Politico / Paul Taylor]

The Trump administration appears entirely pleased with these developments. The president tweeted some angry things about Germany after returning to the US over the weekend, but press secretary Sean Spicer spent Tuesday making it sound like Germany was now doing exactly what the US wanted. [NYT / Alison Smale and Steven Erlanger]

And while after previous Trump contretemps with allies, the State Department has stepped in to smooth things over, Rex Tillerson appears to be contentedly silent on the matter. [Washington Post / Dan Drezner]

To be sure, you don’t have to be a Trump supporter to believe it would be a good thing for the US to spend less money defending some of the world’s richest countries. [Reason / Matt Welch]

But the political message here is arguably more important — and worrisome for Trump. As Seth Masket points out, Merkel appears to believe that maintaining a close alliance with the US is a political liability for her. If other allies start to conclude the same, that’s an extremely bad sign. [Pacific Standard / Seth Masket?]


No comments: