Merkel has always said how much America was an ideal for her when she was still a young adult in the GDR [German Democratic Republic, or East Germany]. I’ve seen that in a lot of East Germans who were not in conformity with the system or part of the system. America always represented a hope, an ideal, and … the whole Trump era has been so hard to process because we have clung for such a long time to this notion of America as a model. I don’t think that Trump has destroyed that model because that ideal is much bigger than Trump or the people around him. But I think that what we’re seeing is, in many ways, an America that mirrors our own troubles, a society that, despite the fact that it’s wealthy and highly developed, is really struggling with the impact of globalization and integration, is really struggling with political polarization and with adapting its democratic structure to the new international gale-force winds that are buffeting all countries, large and small.
The reality is that Germany and Austria have left little choice to the United States in terms of stopping [Nord Stream 2], except with sanctions...I think it was the Obama administration that missed the opportunity to get this project stopped...When the annexation of Crimea happened, that was the key moment...When we implemented the sanctions [on Russia for its invasion of Crimea], that’s when we missed the opportunity.
No other country has been so deeply in denial about the tension between its high-minded normative convictions and its own selective compliance with them. Germany today is - for all its wealth and power, including soft power - also increasingly lonely, overwhelmed and beset by internal rifts.
In contrast to Merkel’s visionary outward-looking speech [at the Munich Security Conference] that triggered warm applause, Mr. Pence delivered a stilted defense of Trump’s achievements to a skeptical audience.