Mars vs. Mercury: Germany, America, and the Global Order
Germany and the United States rank as the two most influential and powerful Western liberal nations in a world challenged by the rise of non-Western and authoritarian powers. It is not an overstatement to argue that the future of the liberal world order will depend to a large degree on Washington and Berlin. Yet both have become reluctant leaders and both represent very different types of powers. Moreover, the publics in both countries are increasingly inward-looking and eschew a larger international role.
America has increasingly come to rely on Germany as its key partner in Europe, both due to Germany’s rise and to the decline of other potential partners. The old special relationship with the United Kingdom (UK) has become weaker with the decline of Britain’s military role and the fading and reluctant role of London in the European Union (EU). France is also regarded as a country to be taken seriously in regard to its strategic role in Africa, but one also in decline. Both Britain and France have had to make substantial cuts in their militaries, reducing their strategic importance to the United States. The EU is seen as an important economic power and a key player in trade and competition policy but hopes that it would take on a larger foreign and security policy role are low given the clear preference of the large countries (including Germany) to conduct foreign policy on a national level. This leaves Germany as the default partner in leadership for American policy.