Why Are Americans So Tense About Nudity?

USA and Germany are slowly coming together again

Joe Biden has been in office for 100 days - time for an initial assessment. What has he already started? What are his priorities? The new US president has already stated that he wants to focus on domestic politics. The pandemic has already killed more than 570,000 Americans; Millions more lost their jobs. This explains Biden's multi-billion dollar aid and infrastructure programs, which are among the largest public spending in US history.

Find a new balance

Nevertheless, Biden, who is considered a foreign policy professional, has not ignored the problems in the distance. He put together a national security and foreign policy team, which received wide acclaim for its experience and, above all, for its good transatlantic connections. Biden himself has attended several large virtual events with traditional Western allies and other world leaders.

An extension of the New START treaty was seen as the first step towards a renewed commitment to nuclear arms control with Russia - and possibly to extend such agreements to China. At the same time, the government has kept tariffs on Chinese goods and tightened sanctions against Russia, while at the same time reaching out to both countries to cooperate on climate protection.

Punitive tariffs

Stormy-Annika Mildner from the Aspen Institute Germany

Biden has agreed to a partial ceasefire in the transatlantic tariff war that began in 2018. The trade issues are still a long way from being resolved. But Stormy-Annika Mildner, Managing Director of the Aspen Institute Germany, explains in an interview with Deutsche Welle that she sees the move as a step towards the European allies.

The problem can be solved if there is political will. "But it will take some effort on both sides of the Atlantic," said Mildner. After all: "The freezing of punitive tariffs is a positive sign."

In a foreign policy address in February, Biden said diplomacy is in America's "bare self-interest". He hopes, more than his predecessors, to link national and global agendas to show voters that working with allies is a good choice.

America first light?

"A widespread ignorance of the elites on both sides of the Atlantic with regard to the dissatisfaction of large sections of the population and a fundamental crisis in political representation" would have taken the momentum out of transatlantic relations recently, says David Deissner, managing director of Atlantik-Brücke non-profit association to promote German-American understanding.

Joe Biden advocates more jobs in the US

Biden has endeavored to acknowledge the widespread concerns in the US that helped his predecessor Donald Trump to the presidency. Around 40 world leaders attended the White House climate summit last week, but Biden's real audience was the Americans. In his seven-minute speech, he referred at least half a dozen times to American jobs and economic prosperity.

Germany should move

"From day one, it was a basic principle of the Biden-Harris administration to consult with friends and partners like Germany early and frequently," said Robin Quinville, chargé d'affaires at the US embassy in Germany, in an interview with DW. "[Cooperation] is the basis of our collective security and prosperity."

Experienced diplomat: Robin Quinville

Biden froze Trump's decision to withdraw thousands of soldiers from Germany after decades of presence and instead announced that he would increase the troop strength by 500 men. But the US expects something in return: higher defense spending, the limitation of China's influence on Europe's markets and technical infrastructure, and greater resistance to Russian intimidation attempts in Eastern Europe.

The loss of confidence that Trump has led across the Atlantic has made countries like Germany hesitant to respond to Biden's overtures, says Jackson Janes, of the German Marshall Fund, a US foundation that promotes transatlantic relations. "But if they don't, it will only undermine the president they want in the White House for the next four years." Germany, Janes said, had to move.

Europe - a strong partner?

At last week's climate summit, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was delighted that the United States was getting involved again in global affairs. In addition to climate protection, both sides also want to work together to secure supply chains and develop future technologies in order to assert themselves against Chinese dominance.

Peter Beyer, Federal Government Coordinator for Transatlantic Cooperation

"When we talk about trade or defense, we have to be more united on this side of the Atlantic and act as the strong partner that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris need. And I think we're not there yet," says Peter Beyer, coordinator of the Federal government for transatlantic cooperation, in conversation with DW. "Achieving unity in Europe takes too long. We have to lead the way, make decisions and implement them. Otherwise, this window of time will close faster than we can imagine."

Beyer, a member of the conservative CDU / CSU parliamentary group, is one of several German political decision-makers who speak out against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline or at least have qualified their support for it. Merkel's government is sticking to the project that could double Russian gas sales to Germany. Biden holds back with tougher sanctions. Both sides don't want the argument to overshadow an otherwise strong relationship.

A generation change

Biden has not yet nominated a new US ambassador to Germany. But that's not unusual, says former US ambassador James D. Bindenagel in an interview with DW. Because in the first few months a new US president usually first takes stock of relations with other countries; at the same time, hundreds of government posts are to be filled. Top diplomatic posts like the one in Berlin often go to wealthy donors or political allies, but US media reports suggest that pressure is growing on Biden to put experience over relationships.

They still get along well: At the beginning of 2013, Angela Merkel received Joe Biden, who was then US Vice President under Barack Obama

On the other hand, there is also a generation issue. Many people who shape transatlantic politics have "passed their expiration dates," says Bindenagel. As a professional diplomat who served several presidents and was in East Berlin when the Wall came down, he counts himself among them. Many of the students he teaches at the University of Bonn did not live to see the division of Germany. "The attitudes have changed. The reference points are gone," says Bindenagel. Although Biden is the oldest president in US history, he "understands" that.

The general election in Germany in September could show whether the baton will be passed on to a new generation. The election result could lead to a readjustment of German-American relations on several key issues. Both sides, says Jackson Janes of the German Marshall Fund, have to ask themselves: "How, where, when and why do we need each other?"

The article was adapted from the English by Marco Müller.