Obama welcomes Chancellor Merkel on the first state visit of a European leader during his term. But tensions challenge the 'indispensable' alliance between the US and Germany.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has stepped up to the plate on Libya, participating heavily in NATO’s no-fly zone there. But that’s Africa, a French priority. On other issues, Paris can often be mercurial.
In London last month, Mr. Obama had the honor of sleeping at Buckingham Palace and speaking at Westminster Hall during a state visit. That underscores the historic “special relationship” between Britain and the United States.
But while the British are tried-and-true military allies and see themselves as a global player, they are not Europe’s leader. They don’t even share the euro currency, whose ups and downs can profoundly affect the US economy.
Germany, however, is Europe’s largest economy – rebounding strongly from recession – and the continent’s most populous country (after Russia). It’s an export powerhouse, second only to China. It embodies the merging of “new and old” Europe through its own reunification more than 20 years ago.