By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –
A public opinion poll on German foreign policy carried out by the Koerber Foundation for its annual Berlin Forum has a bombshell finding:
Germans are more disturbed about Trump and see relations with him as a bigger challenge than relations with North Korea, Russia, or than the Syrian Civil War. Only immigration is seen as a slightly more difficult challenge by Germans than dealing with The Orange One. Coming just after Trump in the degree of challenge he represents to Germany is Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan.
When asked which country was most or second most important to Germany, nearly two thirds or 63% said France.
The US came trailing after with only a plurality at 43%.
Emmanuel Macron is more important to Germans than Trump, and seen in a positive light while Trump is seen as an obstacle at an obstacle course.
But even more striking, the Germans are so over the British, who are pulling out of the European Union. Germans think Russia (11%) and China (7%) are both more important to their nation than Britain (6%).
Not only is France more important than the US in the eyes of these German respondents, but 90% want *more* cooperation with France. 78% want more cooperation with *Russia*. (So the Germans are just like Trump himself?) And 69% want more cooperation with China.
Only 61% want more cooperation with the United States under Trump, and fully 34% actively want *less* cooperation with Washington.
It’s official. Trump is the skunk at the party.
52% of Germans think the relationship between the US and Germany is “somewhat bad.”
Remember I said that Erdogan comes second after Trump as a challenge for Germany? Well, some 74% want to end accession talks about Turkey joining the European Union. They want to end any special relationship with Ankara over the way Erdogan has been behaving. And remember, they find Trump more of a challenge than they do Erdogan.
Germans overwhelmingly see their security future as entangled with a joint European Union security force; only 9% see it as connected to the United States. If Trump was trying to make NATO hated in Europe, he appears to have succeeded.
Germans don’t want a big foreign policy role. But they do think they have a role to play in the Middle East.
The most important conflict where people think Germany should be actively promoting a resolution is ISIL (46%). But 21% want to help resolve the outstanding issues in the Syrian civil war, and 15% want to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Related video added by Juan Cole: