German-American relations have been impacted by the war in Ukraine for reasons that have to do with domestic and foreign policy challenges. Germany is struggling with its responsibilities to increased expectations in Washington and within the European Union. The responses in Berlin to the Russian invasion of Ukraine have resulted in tensions within Europe as Germany tries to shape its policies around what Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called the Zeitenwende (turning point) of German foreign policy. The u.s. has also signaled its expectations that Germany needs to be a partner in sharing the burden of confronting Russian threats in Ukraine and Europe. Another challenge for German-American relations is emerging around relations with China, which may generate friction across the Atlantic as the United States seeks to confront China on the global stage while Germany remains tightly connected to China as its largest trade partner. How and why Germany and the United States need each other is in transition.
Jack Janes is a Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington, dc, and President Emeritus of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (aicgs) at Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Atlantic Council of the United States. He serves on the advisory boards of the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee and the Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik (ZfAS).