In This Review

World in Danger: Germany and Europe in an Uncertain Time
World in Danger: Germany and Europe in an Uncertain Time
By Wolfgang Ischinger
320 pp, Brookings Institution Press, 2020

As a former German ambassador to the United States and the current head of the Munich Security Conference, Ischinger has earned a reputation as a prudent diplomat and a card-carrying member of the post–Cold War global establishment. Yet this book, from its first page (which cites COVID-19 as the greatest international security threat since World War II) to its last (which cites climate change as the major security threat of the future), distinguishes itself as an uncommonly original, thoughtful, and forward-looking analysis of world politics. It represents the view not from Beijing, Moscow, or Washington but from Berlin. Today, with Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States running off the rails, France often contributing more style than substance, Japan remaining insular, and China and Russia tightening their authoritarian rule, Germany is the only major country that consistently articulates and often acts on a genuinely progressive vision of global multilateral order. German leaders view many policies adopted by today’s great powers as shortsighted, overmilitarized, and dangerously ideological—even if their country’s unique history obliges them to speak softly on such matters. They are convinced that regional integration, patient diplomacy, economic assistance, trade agreements, international law, democracy promotion, and other nonmilitary tools of statecraft can make the world a better place. No clearer statement of this pragmatically optimistic outlook can be found than the one elaborated in this important book.