The Myth of a Mighty Germany

Berlin Isn't as Powerful as You Think

Balloons made by the 'ONE' campaign depicting leaders of the countries members of the G-7 are seen in front of the Frauenkirche cathedral, May 27, 2015. The balloons show Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R), British Prime Minister David Cameron (5th L), French President Francois Hollande (2nd R), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (4th L), U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L), Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (3rd L) and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (L). Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

This June, the G-7 will meet in an opulent castle near Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze. It was initially built, according to the host’s website, for an “egocentric zealot” who sought to convert Jews to Christianity. Schloss Elmau has since become a spa and cultural center, but the lofty location seems somehow like an appropriate reflection of the inflated discussion in recent years about Germany’s role in the world.

Many observers have rushed to proclaim Germany’s rise to prominence. U.S. academic Walter Russell Mead recently ranked Germany as the second most powerful member of the G-7. A survey by the British magazine Monocle determined that Germany’s “soft power” rivals that of the United States. Most recently, Germany’s own renewable energy transition has prompted columnist Tom Friedman to praise the country as the world’s first “green superpower.” 

It is indeed a good time

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