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Neo writes: "The shock election of Donald Trump as US president has forced greater responsibility for defending Western values and interests onto German Chancellor Angela Merkel's shoulders, analysts say, with some even crowning her the new 'leader of the free world.'"

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (photo: EPA)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (photo: EPA)

Is Angela Merkel the New Leader of the Free World?

By Hui Min Neo, Agence France-Presse

17 November 16


he shock election of Donald Trump as US president has forced greater responsibility for defending Western values and interests onto German Chancellor Angela Merkel's shoulders, analysts say, with some even crowning her the new "leader of the free world".

While the last decade has been defined by Britain, France, Germany and the US showing a largely united front on issues ranging from NATO affairs to defence of basic freedoms, the coming four years may present a more fragmented picture.

During his campaign Trump signalled a protectionist and anti-immigration stance, while Britain is preoccupied with securing its future outside the European Union after June's stunning referendum vote to exit the bloc.

France's President Francois Hollande is grappling with record low ratings ahead of next May's election that could see far-right Marine Le Pen reaching the second round run-off vote.

Merkel, after 11 years at the helm, now looks increasingly like the only bulwark of stability and liberal freedom among Western allies.

"Merkel... has suddenly become the most important leader of the free, democratic and liberal world," said the left-leaning TAZ daily.

The historian and columnist Timothy Garton Ash agreed in an editorial for Britain's Guardian newspaper: "I'm tempted to say that the leader of the free world is now Angela Merkel."

Rather than visit Britain -- a natural stop for any US leader given the two countries' special relationship, US President Barack Obama is travelling Wednesday to Berlin on his last official trip to Europe, in what almost seems like the passing of a baton to Merkel.

Ahead of the visit, Obama said Merkel "has probably been my closest international partner these last eight years".

- Countering Putin or Erdogan -

Merkel's striking message to Trump after his victory was not lost on observers -- where her peers simply pledged close ties, she tied them to democratic values.

She said that any "close cooperation" must be on the basis of the "values of democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and human dignity, regardless of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political belief".

The remarks indicated the German leader is likely to accept -- perhaps grudgingly -- the mantle of "leader of the real, remaining West and remind Trump of values", said Die Welt daily.

"She is more than ever the woman who is countering men like Russian President Vladimir Putin or Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan," said the TAZ.

Merkel, 62, does not have Obama's oratorical flourishes but her voice is increasingly forceful on the world stage.

She put her fluent Russian to good use in mediating in the Ukraine conflict with Putin.

When most European countries were busy shutting their doors to refugees fleeing war in predominantly Muslim countries, Merkel let in nearly 900,000 people last year -- a stance that Trump branded "insane".

- 'Can't do this alone' -

Trump, who pledged to deport millions of undocumented migrants from the US, made anti-immigrant policies a key plank of his campaign.

And few expect him to take take the lead in countering Putin, given his open praise for the Russian strongman.

If Trump makes good on his promises to rip up deals on free trade, climate change and Iran's nuclear programme, as well as reconsider protection for NATO allies that haven't paid their dues, it could spell the end of the United States' post-World War II role as the guarantor of world peace.

Stefani Weiss, an expert on European integration and foreign policies at the Bertelsmann Foundation, said the US had started to retreat as "world police" under Obama and cede more responsibility to Europe.

"This is a trend that will likely prevail and intensify with Trump's presidency," she said.

It remains to be seen how effectively Merkel can push her agenda on the global stage, if Trump, as leader of the world's biggest economy, adopts contrary policies on migration, climate change and sanctions targeting Russia.

Although it has economic weight, Germany's political influence remains limited and it is not even a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

While the US has the military might to lead a multi-nation coalition fighting the Islamic State organisation, Germany has participated on a far smaller scale.

Merkel is probably now the "strongest leader in the liberal world but she can't do this alone", said Daniela Schwarzer, director of the DGAP think-tank.

- Fourth term? -

Observers say Trump's White House win has made it imperative for her to declare her candidacy for a fourth term in elections next year and offer the West a beacon of stability.

"She has shown that she is very committed to keeping the European Union together... that task is even bigger now than it was before the American election and so I would think that she might feel that the job isn't quite done," said Schwarzer.

Trump's election has also given Merkel a popularity bounce.

Before November, only around two in five (44 percent) Germans wanted Merkel to stay on as anger mounted domestically over her liberal refugee policy.

Surveys over the past week show support at 60 percent. your social media marketing partner


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+5 # Buddha 2016-11-17 10:36
Quoting Hui Min Neo:
Before November, only around two in five (44 percent) Germans wanted Merkel to stay on as anger mounted domestically over her liberal refugee policy. Surveys over the past week show support at 60 percent"

It will be the height of irony if it is a Free World coalition led by Germany that now frees the USA from our own fascist folly.

My fear is that there isn't going to be a Free World cavalry coming over the hill to save us, it seems all the major nations are becoming or already are non-democratic autocracies.
+9 # Helga Fellay 2016-11-17 10:39
this author is delusional. "it could spell the end of the United States' post-World War II role as the guarantor of world peace."
The US has started more wars, invaded more countries that were no threat to anyone, and effected more regime changes than any other nation in history. There hasn't been a day of world peace since the US has turned itself into an empire seeking world domination. And, btw, I predict Merkel will not be re-elected as the German people continue to grow more resentful of having to bear the brunt of refugee crises created by the US empire.
+2 # Glen 2016-11-17 11:29
It could actually be the end of the U.S. as we know it, good or bad. The U.S. certainly can defend but a lot of citizens are worried about any type of world dominion with any type of realignment among countries. I would say it is closer now than ever.
+1 # indian weaver 2016-11-17 11:36
Amerika is crushing Europe by creating millions of refugees fleeing Amerika's destroyed democratic and autocratic countries, one after another, wiping out the NE and ME in intent, if not yet fact. Obama and his Pentagon are intentionally destabilizing Europe and will break it apart intentionally - the same ole same old "Divide and Conquer" strategy. I'm disgusted that these so-called "leaders" of European nations have sold out and now will pay the ultimate price for their cowardice: defeat and loss of their sovereignty under the weight of Obama's / Pentagon's military occupations and onslaught of Amerika's NE and ME refugees. And Merkel is actually called a "leader" in this article! Why was this article published anyhow - for laughs to those who keep ourselves informed?
+1 # jdd 2016-11-17 12:38
Free world-schmee world, US as "guarantor of world peace." Ha! And how has that worked out? There is an international paradigm shift occurring now and T rump's victory must be viewed in the context of a rejection of the post Soviet established order within the Trans-Atlantic system. First Brexit, now Trump, and perhaps Italy on Dec. 2. If Merkel doesn't cut out the ant-Russian crap, as the sanctions have hurt German industry more than they have Russia, she may well be next.
+5 # indian weaver 2016-11-17 11:30
I had to laugh at the title: Free World! Since when? Who is that anyhow? By default, does the author mean Russia is NOT the "Free World" or what? and / or China, Brazil, India, who for chrissakes is this "Free World"? It sure ain't Amerika. Author lives in the 19th century, middle 19th century at that.
0 # jeremycrick 2016-11-17 21:18
Quoting indian weaver:
IBy default, does the author mean Russia is NOT the "Free World" or what?

If there should be a free world, Russia certainly is not part of it. Erdogan may jail his critics, Putin has them killed.
+4 # anarchaos 2016-11-17 11:56
".............. .....the U S' post-WWII guarantor of world peace." That is, if one excludes (just recently)> Afghanistan, Iraq, Honduras(coup), Ukraine, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, etc. Indian Weaver is right, the author of this pap clearly lives in another century and - perhaps - a different planet.
+3 # PeacefulGarden 2016-11-17 12:48
Such odd words "Free World".
-3 # Aliazer 2016-11-17 13:51
It takes lots of ignorance and delusion to refer to Europe and the U. S. as the "free world" and for Merkel to be the next one in taking that "leadership"!!

These folks haven't exercised leadership but acting only as supine implementers of the marching orders received from criminal globalists and fifth column zionists who preach diversity for everyone but the supremacist state of Israel.

Their so called "democracy", "free world",and other worn verbiage has served only to strip away popular sovereignty, both here, in Europe and other parts of the world.

Relying on people such as Merkel to defend my freedom is like asking a thief to protect one's home.
+3 # elizabethblock 2016-11-17 18:57
Assuming the "free world," if it exists, needs a leader, it won't be Trump. A leader is someone whom people will follow.
+7 # Citizen Mike 2016-11-17 20:09
Ironic that after 70 years, the US and Germany have switched sides. Now we are the Nazis, joined together by race hatred, prison camps, torture and aggressive war, and the Germans are carrying the flag of democracy, ethnic tolerance and freedom.
+2 # jeremycrick 2016-11-17 21:20
Yeah, they learnt from their mistakes. The US are yet to do so.
0 # Phillybuster 2016-11-19 18:50
Larnin' ain't a big prioty in da Merika.
0 # jeremycrick 2016-11-17 21:26
Should Merkel really be considered the leader of the so called free world, this position is owed to a strange lack of talented politicians worldwide. Obama was the last, perhaps not one of the greatest presidents, but a decent one. At least the first decent president after Carter.
Merkel has been in power now for eleven years. Not a single reform or political initiative bears her name. She opens the mail and answers letters all right and shakes hands. Her only talent is to be able to calm down aggressive males.
+1 # Activista 2016-11-18 19:56
Angela Merkel grew up in totalitarian/KG B controlled (like Vladimir Putin) non-FREE world.
Germany population learned horror of wars/bombs -
EU - mostly social democracy system - with environmental conscience - is good model for USA/world. Merkel/Germans know difference between peace and war, difference between communism and social democracy, difference between open borders and walls (Berlin Wall).
I hope that this constant greed - USA money culture - will not poison present Europe.
-1 # Phillybuster 2016-11-19 18:47
The German Chancellor as the leader of the free world! I bow to Momus, the God of Irony.

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