If this were any other year, the upcoming federal election in Germany would be like every other German election: humdrum and focused almost exclusively on domestic issues. Despite their country’s size and economic power, Germans resist seeing their nation — or their chancellor — as a potential world leader. More than seven decades after the Second World War, Germany is still uncomfortable with anything implying leadership, which makes some sense when you consider the German word for it: Führung. Over 80% of Germans want their country to participate in fewer military missions; 60% say Germany should be more reserved in international affairs more broadly.
But this is not any other year. By electing Donald Trump, America has abdicated its traditional role as leader of the free world. Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, blatant disregard for international law, attacks on the European Union and NATO, coziness toward Russia, and fundamental indifference for the liberal world order constructed and sustained by the United States mean that Washington will no longer be able to steer the community of democratic nations.