Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Germany's Olaf Scholz Is Coming to America on a Salvage Mission Over Ukraine

By Thorsten Benner

04 Feb 2022 · 7 min read

Standing next to then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel last June, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared: “I think it’s fair to say that the United States has no better partner, no better friend in the world than Germany.” When Merkel’s successor Olaf Scholz meets U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington on Monday, these words will sound like a memory from a distant past.

In recent months, Germany’s reputation has declined precipitously given what many decry as Berlin’s wobbly stance vis-à-vis both the Kremlin and Beijing. Last week, Emily Haber, Germany’s ambassador to the United States, sent a cable to Berlin warning that many in the United States see Germany as an “unreliable partner.” Republicans in Congress, Haber telegraphed, see Germany as “in bed with Putin” warning of “immense” damage to Germany’s reputation. Many in the Biden administration share misgivings about Berlin’s stance, although they put on a brave face publicly. Germany’s Eastern European partners are more direct. Last week, Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks called Germany’s stance on Russia and China “immoral and hypocritical.”

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