In times of global upheaval, talking about new faces in government and other institutions from a European capital may be more relevant than in quieter times. This is especially the case for Germany and its political center Berlin, which faces relentless assaults from a new U.S. president. The way the German political, economic, and cultural elite that was brought up under the postwar "Pax Americana" feels these days is captured very well in the forthcoming issue of Der Spiegel magazine: "With his decision to blow up the Iran deal, U.S. President Trump has thrown Europe into uncertainty and anxiety... Trump has humiliated Europe to a greater degree than any U.S. president before him... To complete Europe's humiliation, Trump's new U.S. ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, sent out a tweet this week demanding that German companies immediately begin winding down their operations in Iran. It sounded more like the words of a colonial power issuing orders than those of a diplomat in an allied country."
A timely YouGov survey, commissioned by the American Council on Germany and Atlantik-Brucke, found that "about half of the respondents are convinced that the foundation of common values is eroding" (see box).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel--now beginning her fourth term--and her new Grand Coalition government team with many new political faces are confronted with a breakdown of the postwar international world order. Most of them, on both sides of the party spectrum, hope that the new American president has served as the great unifier of Europe.
As Europeans continue to struggle with the trade war threat under Trump's banner of "America First," the emerging deeper implications of Trump's decision to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran and impose unilateral secondary sanctions on European companies and banks are causing deep economic uncertainties, challenging European governments to protect their companies and banks.
Merkel presides over a coalition between her conservative Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union and the center-left Social Democrats, in which key ministries such as finance and foreign affairs went to the Social Democrats.
Never before in German history have two large governing parties been led by women. The new SPD leader is Andrea Nahles, 47, who joined the party at the age of 18, had a spectacular party career, and became the first women at the helm of the SPD in the party's 155-year history.
Instead of entering...