Thursday, December 05, 2019
Trans-Atlantic

Live to debate another day – not having easy answers is a liberal asset, not a moral failing

By Lutz Lichtenberger

Jeremiads about the state of liberal democracy and its institutions have been the dissonant theme of 2019. The West as a whole is in decline; NATO is obsolete; once proud and powerful parliaments and congresses have been rendered superfluous. Autocratic rulers like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un seize the day while Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Jair Bolsonaro seem more inclined to emulate their …

Donald Trump wants Germany to beef up its military spending. But the real numbers underlying the dispute don’t add up

By Johannes Leithäuser

When US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Biarritz, France, in August, it marked the first time the two had ever held a meeting at which the dominant theme was not their dispute over the level of German military spending.

Trump has visited Paris, London and Warsaw twice since coming to office, but has not yet made the trip to Berlin. This, in turn, highlights the …

The German Trade Union Confederation is celebrating its 70th birthday this year at a time when representing workers’ interests is as urgent as ever

By Claus Leggewie

It’s quite possible that the German Train Drivers’ Union (GDL) has made more enemies than friends in recent years. In 2014 and 2015, it repeatedly called for widespread, all-day strikes in an attempt to achieve higher wages and better working conditions for its roughly 35,000 members – locomotive drivers and other railroad personnel. “All engines cease without your elbow grease.” In this case, the defiant workers’ slogan was quite literally …

NATO and the EU were created in a world that vanished 30 years ago. Clinging to that lost era means denying the facts of the present day

By Gregor Schöllgen

If solidarity is a valuable commodity, then the West was heaven on earth. It doesn’t matter that NATO and the various European communities started out as emergency solutions. They were the answer of North American and Western European states to the specific challenges posed by the Cold War. The actions, especially in Eastern Europe, of Stalin and his successors were seen as so dangerous and unpredictable that Western nations were …

Trump’s offer to buy Greenland is a sign that an ecologically destabilized Arctic could become the theater of a new Cold War

By Joachim Müller-Jung

The warming of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans is wreaking havoc in the Arctic, where the summers used to be short and cold and winters prohibited any type of commerce – and any type of war, for the temperature was unthinkably cold and storms punished anyone bold enough or unlucky enough to be there. It used to be unimaginable that the Arctic would ever thaw, but today’s say that it …

The wander years

By Nina Kallmeier

Johanna Röh is one of the very few women ever to take up the old German tradition of the Wanderjahre, a custom that involves spending several years traveling the world as a craftsperson Johanna Röh had a queasy feeling. Just moments before, her friends and relatives had carried her with pomp and circumstance past the sign marking the city limits of her home town of Kassel. Minutes later, she …

He’s no Stauffenberg

By Thomas Schuler

It was almost 15 years ago when Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia announced his return from his birthplace of Bremen to Berlin and Potsdam. His ancestors in the House of Hohenzollern, which the 43-year-old has titularly headed since 1994, had been Prussian kings since 1701 and German emperors from 1871 until the abrupt end of the monarchy in 1918. In 2005, the prince said in an interview with the monthly …

Trans-Atlantic Book Review #05

By Lutz Lichtenberger

ROBUST

There are typically two types of political books that aim to sketch the big picture of the state of the West. The elder statesmen version is full of sweeping generalities – calls for open dialogue, robust diplomatic efforts and a well-intentioned reminder of the common values we all share. The second type is usually written by a foreign policy specialist, and spills over with an abundance of detailed knowledge …

The night my scoop evaporated. Deputy Ambassador James D. Bindenagel recounts the night the Wall came down when he was a diplomat in East Berlin

By James D. Bindenagel

On that fateful night of November 9, 1989, there was no sign of revolution in the air. Sure, change was coming – but slowly, we thought. As the US Deputy Ambassador to East Germany at the time, I lived on the communist side of the Berlin Wall, but I was spending the afternoon in West Berlin at an Aspen Institute reception with leaders from both sides of the divided city. …

Street-smart jump-start: The strategic partnership between Ford and VW is good for both carmakers.

By Carsten Germis

Almost four years have passed since the fall of 2015, and that moment when US environmental protection officials exposed the extent to which the Volkswagen Group had manipulated exhaust emissions in its cars, thereby throwing VW into the largest crisis in its history. Today, however, the German automaker is doing better than ever before.

While its domestic competitors, including Daimler and BMW, have struggled with losses in recent years, Volkswagen …