Saying Farewell to the Transatlantic Academy

Last week marked the closing conference of the Transatlantic Academy.

Last week marked the closing conference of the Transatlantic Academy. For the last nine years, the Transatlantic Academy has brought together scholars and policy experts to explore different dimensions of the transatlantic relationship. For the final year, we focused on the relationship between Germany and the United States. The launch of the Transatlantic Academy’s report Suspicious Minds: U.S.-German Relations in the Trump Era comes at an interesting moment.

The report’s timing is auspicious for two reasons. First, we had an election in the United States last November, which led to a president who has a nontraditional view of the relationship with Germany.  Second, this September’s election in Germany will likely lead to a change in government — even if Angela Merkel remains as chancellor, the coalition is likely to look different.

I was thinking of this report last Thursday when GMF, together with CSIS, hosted Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to reflect on the seventieth anniversary of the Marshall Plan and lessons for today. I asked Foreign Minister Gabriel how he sees Germany's relationship with the United States, having just met the secretary of state, the secretary of the treasury, and the national security advisor.

"We were not really sure what is the perspective of the new administration in the U.S. toward Europe and toward Germany. Sometimes we had the feeling that enemy number one is China, and then we can choose number two or number three: Mexico or Germany or the other way around,”  Minister Gabriel said. “But it’s changed completely. To be very honest, I was asked by many journalists, and they always waited for a sentence from me that it was a horrible situation. But it was not.”  

In contrast to the relative optimism expressed by Germany's Foreign Minister, the Transatlantic Academy report states that the “U.S.–German relationship may be headed toward a breaking point.”   

The report’s title, Suspicious Minds, comes from the Elvis Presley song and captures different dimensions of being trapped in a relationship. Most people remember the opening lyrics and refrain of this Elvis classic: “We’re caught in a trap/I can’t walk out/Because I love you too much, baby.” Later in the song, though, Elvis laments, "We can't go on together with suspicious minds/ and we can't build our dreams on suspicious minds." Elvis can neither leave the relationship nor be fulfilled within it. That is the conundrum the report sets out to resolve.

* * *

Read Executive Director Stephen Szabo's piece on the conclusion of the Transatlantic Academy here. 

A German-language summary of the report can be read here.

2016-2017 Transatlantic Academy Paper Series and Policy Briefs

Berlin's New Pragmatism in an Era of Radical Uncertainty – Stefan Fröhlich

Whither Germany? Why France Matters – Frédéric Bozo

The New Parameters of German Foreign Policy – Hans Kundnani

Political Communications in the "Fake News" Era: Six Lessons for Europe – Heidi Tworek

Wake Up, Berlin! To Save the Transatlantic Alliance, German Foreign Policy Needs to Change Radically – Yascha Mounk

Populism, History, and Identity in German Politics and Foreign Policy – Anna Sauerbrey

Can Germany Make Globalization Work? – Harold James

Multilateralism in One Country: The Isolation of Merkel’s Germany – Gideon Rachman

Getting Beyond Minsk: Toward a Resolution of the Conflict in Ukraine – Michael Kimmage

Countering the Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Germany: German-American Policy Options – Christopher S. Chivvis and Guido Steinberg

Surplus Germany – Wade Jacoby


The United States, Germany, and the Challenge of Dealing with Russia – Mary Elise Sarotte