Trump Vs. Merkel: Friends Or Frenemies?

The vitality of relations between Berlin and Washington has long served as a litmus test for the overall health of the Atlantic alliance, which makes the current rhetorical skirmishing between the principals all the more troublesome. President Trump has condemned Germany’s high trade surplus and its low defense budget as “very bad,” while Chancellor Merkel has responded, indirectly, in the Christian Democrat’s electoral platform. In 2013, that document had described the United States as Germany’s “most important friend” outside of Europe. But in 2017, that declaration of amicability is demoted to an appreciation of the “most important partner.” Germany and the United States are still on the same page, evidently, but the tone is noticeably cooler. Are we frenemies now?