Germany Can Protect the Liberal Order

Damage Control After Trump's Election

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, June 2011. Jesco Dezel / Bundesregierung / Pool / REUTERS

As U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Berlin for a farewell visit on Wednesday, German policymakers were scrambling to develop a road map for dealing with the presidency of his successor, Donald Trump. Last week, in a congratulatory note to the president-elect, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gently conditioned Germany's future cooperation with the United States on both countries’ adherence to a set of shared values: “democracy, freedom, [and] respect for the law and dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political beliefs.” It was a remarkable role reversal, and one that may set the tone for the relationship between Berlin and Washington in the years ahead: the leader of a country that owes its democracy to U.S. intervention was compelled to remind a U.S. president-elect of the fundamental principles of liberal government.

Some commentators have already declared Merkel the

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