With the election of Donald Trump and Britain’s exit from the European Union, many have anointed Angela Merkel as the new leader of the free world. But has she, or Germany, earned that title?
Angela Merkel, the three-term Chancellor of Germany, has been receiving a lot of attention on the world stage as of late. A populist movement that first became evident during BREXIT and was solidified with the election of Donald Trump has left many on the left side of the political spectrum looking to her as the sole bastion of freedom and western ideals. Across social media and in major media outlets, she has all of a sudden been anointed the new “leader of the free world.” Has she, or Germany, actually earned that title though?
Chancellor Merkel has certainly proven herself as a competent leader of Germany, most notably leading her country out of recession and back to stability as well as being re-elected twice (and it’s looking good for a fourth term). Her decision to allow over one million refugees into the country has drawn criticism, but certainly history will be the best judge of that decision. Where her resume lacks is leading on a truly global scale.
Germany, as a nation, has done exceedingly well for having been defeated twice in devastating world wars during the 20th century. Unfortunately, they are still unwilling to do what is necessary to stand on their own and defend themselves against a foreign invasion (if it came to that); the United States has had to increase troop levels in Germany recently due to the rise of Russian aggression. Germany has focused all of their ambitions inward towards domestic ends, promoting itself as an economic power and shirking nearly all responsibility for the often-messy world of maintaining international security.
It’s easy to look like a great leader if you have never had to make the tough decisions associated with being responsible for the security of your own nation, let alone your allies. It’s significantly less difficult to lead a national financial recovery during an economic downturn when you have another nation doing all the heavy lifting on military spending, and foreign soldiers spending their money which props up local economies all across Germany.
The fact of the matter is that there would not be a “free world” to lead without a military force capable of keeping it free.
Of course military might does not a world leader make. Whether it is earthquakes in Haiti, a nuclear energy disaster in Japan, or providing safe drinking water in northeast Nigeria, the United States is still the world’s primary first responder and chief humanitarian. That’s not to say that Germany isn’t also helping out, but they aren’t leading these efforts either.
Ultimately, those who are suggesting that President Trump, and by default the United States, are no longer the leader of the free world are being grandiose about their dissatisfaction with the results of the presidential election. It’s too premature to make that assessment; Donald Trump is only two months into his presidency after all. Unless he actually unseats the U.S. from its position as a military super power and the world’s shining example of a democratic republic, we will continue to proudly lead the free world and resist those who wish to threaten it.