Germany takes a step back from Trump’s USA

December 13, 2017

On December 5 at the Berlin Policy Forum, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told global foreign policy experts that his country’s relationship with the United States “will never be the same” under the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump—whom he accused of leading Europe on the path toward nuclear war.

Indeed, according to a report by Newsweek magazine, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s second-in-command castigated Trump’s nationalistic vision of international relations; and announced that Germany would pursue its own agenda and no longer operate under the shadow of its ally in the White House.

Now, Pew Research, together with the German firm, Körber-Stiftung, has released the results of polls that find “the future of U.S.-German relations is unclear.”

People in the two countries differ in their views of the bilateral relationship, according to the parallel surveys. Among the five key findings of the surveys are the following:

  1. Americans and Germans have very different opinions about whether the current relationship between the two countries is good or bad. Almost seven-in-ten Americans (68%) say relations between the U.S. and Germany are good, while only 22% say they are bad. Conversely, a majority of Germans (56%) say that relations with America are at least somewhat bad, with only 42% saying they are positive.
  2. Americans and Germans don’t agree when people in each country are asked which nations are their first and second most-important partners. Combining both first and second mentions, Americans name Great Britain more than any other country (31%), followed by China (24%), Germany (12%), Israel (12%) and Canada (10%). In Germany, France gathers the most votes as either first or second most-important partner (63%), followed by the USA (43%). Lagging far behind in the eyes of Germans are Russia (11%), China (7%) and Great Britain (6%).
  3. People in the two countries have alternative views about what the levels of national defense spending should be in Europe. A plurality of Americans (45%) say European allies should increase their defense spending, while only  32% of Germans say the same about their own defense budget. By comparison,, roughly half of Germans (51%) say their country should maintain its current military budget, and 13% want to spend less on their nation’s defense.
  4. Americans and Germans don’t hold the same opinions about most important aspect of the U.S.-German relationship. Roughly one- third of Americans say that the most important aspects of the relationship – from a list of three options – are security and defense ties (34%) and economic and trade ties (33%). Most one-third saying  that democratic values are the keystone of the c relationship (35%).
  5. Americans are more likely than their German counterparts to say other countries do too little in global affairs  Roughly two-thirds of Americans say China (66%) and Russia (65%) do too little to help solve global problems. About one-half say the same about the United Nations, and 45% of Americans hold this view about the European Union. However, Americans are split on whether Germany is doing too little (39%) or the right amount (40%). Germans, on the other hand, have more mixed views. While pluralities in Germany say the UN, Russia and China are doing too little, 46% say the EU is doing enough. Germans are divided on whether the U.S. is doing too little (39%) or too much (39%) to help solve global problems.

Research contact: info@pewresearch.org

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