Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff is the Guido Goldman Distinguished Scholar for Geostrategy, based in GMF’s Berlin office, which he led for five years. With an earlier stint at GMF in Washington, DC, he has served on the organization’s executive team for a decade. 

Between 2013 and 2017, Kleine-Brockhoff served as an advisor to German President Joachim Gauck, overseeing policy planning and speechwriting. He started his career as a journalist with DIE ZEIT, Germany’s intellectual weekly, and became its Washington bureau chief. 

Kleine-Brockhoff is a longtime expert on transatlantic foreign and security policy, and works on various aspects of the emerging global order. He is the author of The World Needs the West – A Fresh Start for a Liberal Order (2019) and a co-author of the GMF study, Designing Ukraine’s Recovery in the Spirit of the Marshall Plan (2022). 

Media Mentions

PiS is instrumentalising guilt and using reparations as a tool in a shockingly anti-German election campaign. They are working hard to erase the positive results of Polish-German reconciliation.
There is also an effort to give Germany the diplomatic "cover" it needs to make uncomfortable policy decisions. Most recently, Biden publicly complimented Chancellor Olaf Scholz for his "steadfast commitment" to Ukraine and credited Germany for having "stepped up." Behind closed doors, however, the debate over the recent issue of battle tank deliveries took on a different tone.
I think we should be looking beyond the cartoonish (Polish policy) that this (election) campaign has put in front of us. It's the moment for Germany to look into the mirror.
I think we should look beyond the cartoonish Polish politics that this campaign has shown us. It is the moment for Germany to look in the mirror.
Translated from German
But Trump is unpredictable to an uncomfortable degree for everyone. A second Trump term would be different from the first, and much worse. Trump has experience now and knows what levers to pull, and he’s angry.
The war has made it plain to everyone in the country that the armed forces are in a state of disrepair. Given the dire state of things, it has been remarkable what the Bundeswehr has been able and willing to give Ukraine after all.
It took a war for the Germans to shift course on long-simmering "irritants" in the US-German relationship
We know his professional character traits, we know his experience, but we don’t know his views on any key issues of the day. This set of open questions is an issue, in and of itself
Putting yourself into such a dependency with your eyes open - that was not a side effect, that was the desired goal. The interdependence was politically desired: more gas from Russia was better than less gas; Russian investment in our storage facilities was good, not bad.
Translated from German
The critique comes from all sides: from inside the coalition, from the expert community, from public opinion left to right, from a significant swath of public opinion, and from most, but not all our allies.
This is all about investment in hardware, because we've been under-serving and under-equipping and underfunding everything that flies, swims and moves. I would say the 20% [benchmark] is probably a minimum.
Europe didn’t go wrong, Germany and France did. France and Germany tend to speak for the rest of Europe. But these miss-assessments were made in Paris and Berlin, not elsewhere. Eastern Europe didn’t go wrong, northern Europe didn’t go wrong. Not only is the post-Cold War order crumbling in front of our eyes, so are the strategies deployed by Germany and France.
Never in my life have I seen an about-face quite like that in German politics. This represents the moment Germany has become comfortable with being a military power in Europe and Europe has become comfortable with Germany as a military power.
There is a mixture of amazement, disappointment and anger in Washington about the German government. Germany is seen as the weakest link in the chain of NATO allies and the ones who are just trying to do as little as possible.
There has to be a visible sign of commitment to the alliance. That’s what other allies are doing: The Spanish, the Baltic countries, the Poles, the Brits — everyone has offered something to strengthen deterrence on the eastern flank.
Germany is perceived - in this major Putin crisis - as the weakest link in the chain of NATO countries.
Translated from German
When you sit in the US the question is 'Is Germany a reliable ally?' The question over in Europe is 'Is America going to be a reliable ally?'
Such statements promote the suspicion against Germany that it is best to do nothing at all and to keep possible sanctions as small as possible. And enthroned above it all is a silent chancellor. This pays into an account that the new federal government has reopened, where doubts about Germany are managed.
Translated from German
Anyone who doesn't have any hard power to bring to bear won't be taken seriously by an autocrat. Europe plays no role for Putin. He wants to divide Europe, and part of the attempt to divide it is not to talk to Europe at all.
Translated from German
This is going to be the real battlefield for this administration. Ms. Baerbock has demonstrated she is not going to be a pushover. But the whole building is full of Social Democrats. You could say she is walled in.
But with so many fires burning on the international stage and some structural geopolitical shifts underway, circumstances — and his more hawkish coalition partners — might force [Olaf Scholz]’s hand.
The German position will get tougher on China for structural reasons. Mr. Scholz is no hawk. But he is not Merkel either and he will face pressure from the other parties in his government.
It’s so unprecedented that it’s not even clear who talks with whom on whose invitation about what, because the Constitution does not have guardrails for a situation like that... [Merkel] was the steady hand at the helm, the steady presence.
Merkel acted as mediator when there have been a lot of centrifugal forces weakening Europe. It’s less clear how the next chancellor will position himself or herself and Germany.