Will Germany Seize the Zeitenwende Moment?

Will Germany Seize the Zeitenwende Moment?

Germany has an opportunity to be a leader in Europe and NATO for the good of its people and its allies. Will it seize this moment?


A secure and stable Europe is a vital interest for America. The United States might well be able to promote a stronger Europe without Germany, particularly as Russia is weakened and China is seen by many as a suspect partner. The United States could build its own network of bilateral relationships across Northern, Central, and Southern Europe. But a marginalized Germany is not in America’s interest. The task of further building Europe as a Eurasian force could happen a lot faster and more confidently with Germany as a reliable partner to the United States.

With America and Germany aligned, everybody wins. But if they drift apart, so does also the divide between old and new Europe, which would result in increased strategic risk for Germany.


Germany’s coalition politics may lead to inaction, avoiding hard choices, and inadequate follow-through on the Zeitenwende promises. The United States should support Germany’s political class in maximizing the opportunities of the Zeitenwende moment and engage other countries in this cause as well.

A few concrete actions stand out.

On strengthening defense, there are actions the United States and Germany can take jointly to jump-start the effort and help other allies. Involving other countries is critically important. For instance, Germany, Poland, and the United States ought to work together, conducting joint military exercises.

On the economic front, Germany should work with the United States in building out the backbone of the Eurasian economy and increase reshoring, nearshoring, and friendshoring to reduce its China risk.

These efforts should be paired with a responsible energy and environmental agenda with realistic objectives.

Germany has charted the right path with its Zeitenwende policies. It must stay the course and deserves America’s support in this task. Germany has an opportunity to be a leader in Europe and NATO for the good of its people and its allies. Will it seize this moment?

James Jay Carafano is a Heritage Foundation vice president, directing the think tank’s research on issues of national security and foreign relations.

Dan Negrea is the senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Freedom and Prosperity Center. He served at the U.S. Department of State in leadership positions in the Policy Planning Office and the Economic Bureau.

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