If there is one thing Angela Merkel can depend on, it's a broadside from Donald Trump. The US president has interfered in the German government's asylum crisis. That won't bring the chancellor down, says Jens Thurau.
It is difficult to be surprised anymore in the era of Donald Trump, so the US president's recent Twitter attack can't really come as a shock to people in Germany. Trump claimed on Monday that the Germans are turning their backs on "the already tenuous Berlin coalition" because of migration policy and that "Crime in Germany is way up." The latter part is a lie, but that is hardly unusual in a Trump tweet.
Contrary to diplomatic custom
The aggressive rhetoric follows a clear pattern: Trump has chosen German Chancellor Angela Merkel as his main enemy in Europe. Perhaps because, unlike French President Emmanuel Macron, she never tried to flatter him. Or because she got along well with former US President Barack Obama, in itself enough to provoke Trump's ire. This president's dealings with Merkel (and Germany) include sending to Berlin as his US ambassador Richard Grenell, a man who openly calls for strengthening the populist movement in Europe — a bold violation of his authority and breach of diplomatic custom. Trump's tweet continues on a level unheard of before by an American president: "Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!" Only to add in his next tweet: "We don't want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!"
These are words coming from the US, once a haven for the oppressed from all over the world, that melting pot of cultures, that fantasy land that for decades was, for Europeans, the place where you could make your way to the top, no matter your origins or social status, as long as you had the desire and shared Americans' optimism. It was these Americans who gave the Germans democracy and the rule of law after World War II. All of that is now falling prey to the rage of the wild man in Washington. It's enough to bring tears to your eyes.
Germans don't want US lectures
Trump's attacks on the German government are more than just rude, they are imprudent. Lectures from Washington have never gone down well in Germany, and certainly not when they come from this president. Most Germans, meanwhile, take a critical view of or even roundly reject Merkel's relatively liberal refugee policies, but that doesn't mean they are all right-wing populists. In fact, that Merkel's opponents are backed by the man currently occupying the White House is actually more likely to benefit the chancellor.
Read more: German government crisis postponed — for now
Trump's tweet, sent early in the morning before breakfast as usual, was likely aimed at the American people he wants to mobilize ahead of this year's midterm elections. Lecturing the government in Berlin is easy for him, because this is a president who no longer has allies, least of all in Berlin.