[The current steps by the German government to cut energy dependence from Russia, and overturning policies against supplying weapons to conflict zones] is a disruption that is going to take years and that is already forcing change, and it is going to continue to force change. The problem with implementing change is that the German system is designed to prevent disruptive change.
I don't think it's a problem for [Germany] to become a hard power when we're seeing what the Russians are doing in Ukraine. [So far, the changes under way in Germany have] been nothing short of astonishing.
[NATO's response to Putin in Ukraine has been] the most considered, forceful and effective Western response to any crisis that I’ve seen. But events on the ground may still show that what we’re doing is not enough, because Putin is clearly determined to test us. And we may have to change our definition of what we can do.
Putin has just threatened us with the use of nuclear weapons if we attempt to help Ukraine. That is effectively the end of the post-Cold War arrangement, [...] We have to understand this attack on Ukraine is an attack on all of us that ranges well beyond Europe and trans-Atlantic relations.
[Germany's prevarications stem from a domestic politics that is yet to grasp 21st-century realities. It can't be blamed on the small number of explicitly pro-Russian elements in the country, but rather a cognitive dissonance among mainstream politicians, making them] unwilling to look reality in the face because it would force them to reconsider their position. [When it comes to Ukraine... that dissonance plays out in Germany's decision to help fund a field hospital in Ukraine while other allies provide arms]. I don't know how we could say more obviously that we expect there to be bloodshed, but then we're not going to do anything about it except co-finance an Estonian field hospital.
If there is Russian military aggression, it will exemplify the degree to which [Germany is] dependent on Russian gas and how vulnerable [Germany is] to it being used as a political weapon. [... As a result, Germany is now facing an energy trilemma... as it needs to balance environmental, social impact and security factors]. We have wildly underestimated the security part of it... A large swath of German policy makers want to believe that the Russians are reliable suppliers, which they have been for decades. But now, unfortunately, there's a lot of evidence to the contrary.
I do think it is fair to say that there is great concern in Europe, and in my own country [Germany], about the challenge to democracy in America. It’s becoming clear to everyone that Jan. 6 wasn’t just an isolated episode. It was part of something larger, more deeply rooted, and more pernicious.
I think the unfortunate side effect of American economic sanctions [against Nord Stream 2], in the context of the Trump administration, was to make Germans feel defensive and mulish. I think there was a sense of being hammered over the head by an American president using a double standard.
Germans were more than happy — in fact, thrilled — to see themselves in the role of humanitarian saviors [... The economy] was looking for labor before the pandemic, and so there was a real demand and presumably a willingness from the labor market and companies to help people. And of course we have a long experience, a decades-long practice, of on-the-job training that is seen as a model by other European countries and in fact by America.