The American Council on Germany holds policy discussions in New York City, across the United States, and in Germany on an ongoing basis.
On November 16, more than 25 members and friends of the American Council on Germany met with Bundestag Member and SPD Co-Chair Lars Klingbeil for a discussion hosted by Penguin Random House. This event came on the heels of Mr. Klingbeil’s visits to the United Nations and Washington, D.C. He began by discussing how Germany was experiencing a historic and significant shift. This turning point is rooted in the war on Ukraine and the elimination of ties between Germany and Russia. The SPD Co-Chair commented on previous relations between the two countries and said that without Russia, there would not be a reunified Germany. Mr. Klingbeil explained that this German turning point (Zeitenwende) has resulted in several developments, for instance, the 100 billion euros to be spent on the German military and Germany’s more active foreign policy. He added that Olaf Scholz has also taken a dominant role as Chancellor, engaging in discussions with other prominent world leaders and focusing on strategic cooperation.
On November 15, about twenty-five members and friends of the ACG and the German Consulate General for a Breakfast Briefing with Parliamentary State Secretary Dr. Florian Toncar to discuss Germany’s G7 Presidency. When Germany assumed the G7 Presidency in January, its goals were focused on sustainability, global health, and global development. Less than two months later, Russia invaded Ukraine, and the West’s priorities were dramatically rearranged. This has had a profound impact on Germany’s G7 agenda.
At a discussion and luncheon on November 14, Michael Georg Link, Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation at the Federal Foreign Office and a member of the Bundestag (FDP), discussed today’s challenges for transatlantic partners and also for Germany in a European context. He was unwavering in prescribing open lines of communication between partners to tackle these common complex challenges.
On October 14, nearly twenty-five members of the American Council on Germany met with Lieutenant General Markus Laubenthal, the Deputy Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, at the German Consulate in New York. This breakfast, which was moderated by ACG Board Member Joseph McLaughlin and hosted by Consul General David Gill, focussed on the impact of both the war in Ukraine and Germany’s Zeitenwende on the Bundeswehr. The exchange with General Laubenthal came following meetings at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and in advance of his meetings at the United Nations to discuss collective defense and missions abroad.
On September 30, nearly thirty members and friends of the American Council on Germany met with Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger for a discussion on the impact of the war in Ukraine on Germany. This lunch, hosted by Alston & Bird LLP concluded Mr. Frankenberger’s speaking tour to ACG Warburg Chapter in Charlotte, NC; Philadelphia, PA; and Pittsburgh, PA. The outbreak of war in February 2022 has caused a fundamental shift in German policy. Previous assumptions were shattered and a significant foundation of German prosperity – access to cheap Russian energy – vanished under the German economy. Mr. Frankenberger discussed how the war had forced Germany to engage in a long-overdue process of redefining its policies and self-concept.
On September 12, the American Council on Germany partnered with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung to host an in-person discussion with Silke Gebel to discuss concrete ways in which cities took action to address public health challenges during the Covid pandemic while continuing to address the pressing issues of climate change.
On July 28, the American Council on Germany held an in-person discussion with Bundestag member Peter Beyer (CDU) to hear his insights on German foreign and security policy in these volatile times. The event was hosted by Marsh & McLennan. Mr. Beyer served as Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation of the Federal Government under Chancellor Angela Merkel until earlier this year and, as such was a final holdout from her administration.
On June 17, the American Council on Germany held a luncheon and discussion with Young Leader alumna Katharina von Schnurbein, who has been serving as European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life since 2015, when the position was first established. The event was hosted by Alston & Bird LLP. Ms. von Schnurbein began by underscoring the importance of the values Europe and the United States share and said we can mutually reinforce each other’s efforts to root out hatred and promote diverse societies. She had high praise for the ACG’s Young Leaders program and the cooperation it fosters between Germans and Americans in the long term.
On May 27, the American Council on Germany and the Heinrich Böll Foundation held an in-person Breakfast Briefing in New York with Dr. Ellen Ueberschär, Co-President of the foundation, to look at the situation in Ukraine and the Green Party’s work to demonstrate Germany’s support to Ukraine amid the current hostilities, not least through German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Dr. Ueberschär noted how Ukraine and Russia are bound together significantly, and their languages are closely related. She said the Soviet Union was created out of violence and held together through a dictatorship.
On May 23, the American Council on Germany and the Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung held a roundtable discussion in New York with Alexander Radwan, a member of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee. The event brought together more than 20 ACG members and friends for a wide-ranging conversation about the many crises currently impacting Germany.
On May 18, the American Council on Germany and the European-American Business Organization, Inc., partnered to hold a discussion and luncheon with Dr. Daniel S. Hamilton. About twenty-five members and friends of the American Council on Germany gathered at Marsh & McLennan Companies for the event. On May 15-16 in Paris, the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) held its second meeting to discuss democratic approaches to transatlantic trade, technology, and security. The war in Ukraine has had a fundamental impact on the transatlantic relationship and was discussed throughout the resulting Joint Statement.
On May 13, the American Council on Germany held a hybrid event with Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger (1978 Young Leader) at Deutsche Bank’s Innovation Lab, with about 25 members and friends attending in person and another hundred participating via Zoom. The ongoing war in Ukraine has shaken decades of Ostpolitik and Wandel durch Handel (“change through trade”) orthodoxy and caused Germany to reevaluate its foreign policy in ways that would have been unthinkable previously. Whether the shock of the war will result in real and lasting changes in German defense and foreign policy remains to be seen.
On May 10, the American Council on Germany held its annual Meeting of the Members at the New York University Club. About eighty members and friends of the Council gathered for a reception and discussion with this year’s guest of honor and memorable speaker, Ambassador Antja Leendertse. She spoke about the United Nations’s commitment to the end of the war between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the role multilateralism can play in this geopolitical instability.
On April 27, members and friends of the American Council on Germany gathered at AllianceBernstein for a discussion and luncheon with Professor Dr. Joachim Wuermeling on the instability of the global financial system. The long-term fallout of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the global world order remains to be seen, but Russian aggression has unquestionably damaged the globalized economic system. For decades, the prevailing theory was that economic globalization made warfare more costly, making it a less rational undertaking and creating a tendency toward peace. But President Putin’s actions have proven that kinetic warfare is still possible when geopolitical ambitions outweigh economic considerations.
On April 1, the American Council on Germany held a hybrid event with Bundestag Member Metin Hakverdi (SPD) in partnership with the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS). More than one hundred people participated in the event, which was hosted by Deutsche Bank and broadcast live via Zoom. As a result of the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany has dramatically changed its foreign and security policy. Within days of the war’s outbreak, Germany coordinated with its allies to impose sanctions on Russia, and Chancellor Scholz pledged €100 billion to the Bundeswehr before a special session of the Bundestag. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline was halted, and Germany has resolved to reduce its dependency on Russian energy.
On March 29, the American Council on Germany and Atlantik-Brücke held an in-person roundtable discussion with the Chairman of Atlantik-Brücke, Sigmar Gabriel, who previously served as German Vice Chancellor and Federal Foreign Minister. He discussed the situation in Ukraine and the implications for Germany, Europe, and the global order. Mr. Gabriel said Russian President Vladimir Putin is not looking for a return to the days of the Soviet Union but that Russia is a revisionist power – stuck in the ideals of 19th-century Russia and using 20th-century means to try to be a great power in the 21st century. Mr. Gabriel said that he has met with Putin about a dozen times (most recently about five years ago), and he went so far as to say that he does not see a connection between the Putin he knew then and Putin today.
On March 8, the American Council on Germany held an in-person fireside chat with Dr. Emily M. Haber, German Ambassador to the United States, to hear her takes on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the recent fundamental shift in German foreign and security policy, the state of the transatlantic partnership, and more.
On February 23, 2022, the American Council on Germany and the Consulate General of Germany in New York hosted a small roundtable discussion and luncheon with Dr. Tobias Lindner, Minister of State in the German Federal Foreign Office. A dozen members and friends of the ACG gathered at the Consulate for a conversation on German foreign policy, the growing tensions with Russia, and the transatlantic relationship.
On the evening of November 1, 2021, the American Council on Germany held a round-table discussion with veteran journalist Dr. Markus Ziener, the Helmut Schmidt Fellow at the German Marshall Fund. He spoke with a dozen ACG members about the foreign policy priorities – and dilemmas – facing the new German government. The event was hosted by 1014.
On Tuesday, November 30, more than a dozen ACG members and friends gathered in person to hear from the Cyber Ambassador in Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, Dr. Regine Grienberger. Deutsche Bank’s Innovation Lab hosted the event – and after the discussion, attendees enjoyed stunning views of Central Park.
“Debriefing from the Munich Security Conference”
On February 17, more than 30 members and friends gathered at the law offices of CMS in Berlin for a discussion and reception with Matthew Karnitschnig, Chief Europe Correspondent for Politico, and Ines Pohl, the Editor-in-Chief of Deutsche Welle. Together with ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol, who moderated the discussion, they shared their takeaways from the 2020 Munich Security Conference. The event was held in partnership with the Freunde des American Council on Germany e.V. In a very open exchange, Mr. Karnitschnig and Ms. Pohl talked about their impressions from Munich. Both speakers agreed that the theme of the conference – “Westlessness” – was not ideal. It may have seemed catchy when the MSC staff came up with the phrase, but it did little to facilitate dialogue.
“Shaping Foreign Policy in Uncertain Times: Views from Washington and Berlin”
On February 16, more than 40 members and friends of the American Council on Germany and Aspen Institute Germany gathered at Rückel & Collegen, which is located just around the corner from the Hotel Bayerischer Hof – the epicenter of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) – for a Breakfast Briefing with the Directors of the Policy Planning Staffs in the U.S. Department of State and the German Federal Foreign Office. Speaking under the Chatham House Rule, Peter Berkowitz and Sebastian Groth engaged in a frank and open discussion with each other and with the German and American attendees about the issues shaping the foreign policy agenda in Washington and Berlin. The Policy Planning Staffs in both countries have the luxury of taking a step back from the day-to-day work and can focus on long-term strategic issues.
“Partner, Competitor, or Rival? The China Conundrum in Transatlantic Relations”
On February 15, the American Council on Germany and the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) partnered to hold an official side event at the Munich Security Conference. More than 50 conference attendees came to hear from Robert Blair, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Telecommunications Policy; Representative Susan Brooks (R-Indiana), Co-Chair of the Congressional Study Group on Germany; Member of the European Parliament Reinhard Bütikofer, who chairs the European Parliament’s China Delegation; Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware); Dr. Elizabeth Economy, S.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director of Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; Senator Christopher Murphy (D-Connecticut); Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio); Bundestag Member Dr. Norbert Röttgen (CDU/CSU), Chairman of the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee; Senator Chris van Hollen (D-Maryland); and Senator Roger Wicker (R- Mississippi), Chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Technology Committee.
Held under the Chatham House Rule, the discussion focused on three overarching themes: the geopolitical environment, the case of 5G infrastructure, and the prospects for deepening transatlantic cooperation. Overall, the discussion was characterized by a high degree of agreement and a spirit of shared purpose.
“What Has Changed in World Politics Since 1989?”
On February 14, more than 40 members and friends of the American Council on Germany gathered on the periphery of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) for a Breakfast Briefing with political scientist, author, and ACG Young Leader alumnus Dr. Francis Fukuyama, hosted by Allan & Overy LLP. In a preview of his remarks at the MSC, Dr. Fukuyama reflected on how the world has changed since 1989. While serving on the Policy Planning Staff in the U.S. Department of State, Dr. Fukuyama visited West Berlin in October of 1989 and had no inkling that the fall of the Berlin Wall was imminent. But, he added world events are unpredictable. Having said that, Dr. Fukuyama was very prescient in his article “The End of History?” which was published in the summer of 1989, and foresaw the triumph of the West and Western liberal democracy over other forms of government.
“Changing Patterns of News Consumption – and What They Mean for Journalism and Democracy”
On February 12, more than 30 members and friends of the American Council on Germany gathered in Munich for a discussion and reception co-organized with the Freunde des American Council on Germany e.V. featuring Peter Kropsch, the CEO of the German Press Agency (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa). He has been in this role for three years and previously served as the CEO of the Austrian Press Agency. In a lively – and wide-ranging – discussion, Mr. Kropsch talked about the dpa and how changing patterns of news consumption have changed the way the dpa and other media outlets carry out their work.
As the month drew to a close, the ACG and University Alliance Ruhr held a Breakfast Briefing on January 30 with Professor Dr. Christoph M. Schmidt, Chairman of the German Council of Economic Experts and President of the RWI — Leibniz Institute for Economic Research. He shared his insights on German and European climate change policy — and the success and potential of emissions trading regimes. Dr. Schmidt discussed the findings in a recent report from RWI concerning the top challenges Germany faces: trade, demographic change, and climate change. The report (in German) can be read here.
On January 28, the Council and the Wirtschaftsrunde: CEO Roundtable of German-American Companies in the United States hosted a small intimate discussion with two leaders from the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce – Dr. Volker Treier, Chief Executive of Foreign Trade and Member of the Executive Board, and Melanie Vogelbach, Head of International Economic Policy and Foreign Trade Law. On the heels of intense meetings in Washington, the two speakers discussed the state of transatlantic trade and investment as well as the implications of Brexit with about 25 members and friends.
On January 21 some 40 ACG members, friends, and Young Leader alumni gathered at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC for a Breakfast Briefing with Steffen Kampeter, the head of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations. The discussion, which was moderated by Peter Rough, Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute, covered a wide range of issues shaping transatlantic relations today
Kicking off the year, the ACG welcomed political scientist Professor Dr. Stefan Fröhlich for a Breakfast Briefing on January 17. More than 40 members and friends gathered for the event – which was hosted by Phillips Nizer LLP. Dr. Fröhlich discussed his perspectives on German foreign policy at a time when the rhetoric is dominated by terms like uncertainty, responsibility, and multilateralism – and with Europe facing serious internal and external challenges. He outlined a number of arguments from his most recent book on German foreign policy, that will soon be published in English. He suggested overall that while Germany needs to do more, the country demonstrates more foreign affairs leadership than it is often given credit for. Nevertheless, taking on an even greater role on the world stage remains an incremental process.
The American Council on Germany welcomed Professor Dr. Christoph Meinel, CEO of the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) and Dean of the Digital Engineering Faculty at Potsdam University, on December 13 to a Breakfast Briefing hosted by Morgan Stanley. Dr. Meinel discussed the meaning of digital identity, the significant amount of leaking and theft of digital identities, and the need to develop new means beyond current passwords to protect and authenticate individuals’ digital identities. The HPI developed an identity leak-checker web service (https://sec.hpi.de/) in 2014 that allows users to find out if their data has been leaked. Poor password protocols, such as using very simple passwords or the same password for every account, are a significant cause of information leaks. Dr. Meinel’s Institute is researching ways to use biometric factors monitored by personal devices to confirm identity. Things like typing style can be picked up by special computer keyboard, and cell phones could sense the gait of the person carrying them. This would allow the computers to be confident that the person typing in a password or unlocking the phone was in fact its rightful owner.
At a discussion on December 9, former Foreign Minister of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and co-founder of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the GDR, Markus Meckel, painted a vivid picture of the Peaceful Revolution of 1989 and the period thereafter in eastern Germany and Central Europe. He recalled a time when “we had so much hope” for a “Europe free and whole.” He also addressed the current situation in Germany with about 30 members and friends of the American Council on Germany at the luncheon, which was hosted by Alston & Bird LLP. Mr. Meckel compared the Fall of the Berlin Wall to the storming of the Bastille, because of how symbolic and important event was for Central Europe. The fact that many official documents related to the Two-Plus-Four Agreement negotiations were not released until after 1998 contributed to the simplified concept that many Germans have of the reunification process. Mr. Meckel also visited Warburg Chapters in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Chicago in partnership with the German Consulate General in Chicago and New York.
On December 3, the American Council on Germany and the Hanns Seidel Foundation welcomed Markus Blume and Stephan Mayer for a discussion and reception hosted by Bayerische Landesbank. The two members of the Christian Social Union (CSU) provided their perspectives on German politics and insights on Germany’s relationship with the United States. Mr. Blume noted that as populism has increased in Germany, support for the long-standing catch-all parties (the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats) has deteriorated. Regarding the transatlantic relationship, Mr. Mayer affirmed his conviction that the U.S. remains the most important partner for Germany outside of the EU both in terms of economic ties and security cooperation. Both Mr. Blume and Mr. Mayer agreed that the rising anti-American sentiment can not be solely blamed on President Trump. Even under President Obama, his “Asian pivot” was interpreted by many Germans to mean that the U.S. no longer saw Europe as a priority.
European (Dis)Integration: Brexit and the Future of the EU
On November 15, Ambassador Peter Wittig, German Ambassador to the United Kingdom, updated more than 30 corporate members and President’s Circle members regarding Brexit and current trends in U.K. politics at a Breakfast Briefing hosted by AllianceBernstein. It has been over three years since the initial referendum in which the British public voted to leave the European Union, winning by less than 2 percent. Today, some citizens are feeling fatigued from the lengthy, controversial, and confusing proceedings – a condition dubbed “Brexhaustion.”
The Fall of the Wall 30 Years On: Lessons from One of History’s Most Unexpected Inevitable Events
At a Breakfast Briefing generously sponsored by Noerr LLP on November 14, John C. Kornblum, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany and a former ACG Board member, spoke with about 30 corporate members and President’s Circle members about the events of 1989, their relevance today, and the evolution of the transatlantic relationship over the past 30 years. He quipped that in November 2010, he spoke before the ACG and the title of his remarks was “The End of the German-American Relationship.” In a complex multipolar world, there are no longer two sides of a “pond.” Yet, the relationship across the Atlantic is more important than ever.
Defending Freedom: How to Make Liberal Democracy Great Again
On November 5, Ralf Fücks, the Managing Director of the Center for Liberal Modernity, met with about 30 members and friends of the American Council on Germany to talk about the domestic and external challenges to liberal democracy as nondemocratic governments ascend to global prominence. The event was hosted by Alston & Bird LLP, and comes on the heels of the publication of Mr. Fücks’ latest book, Defending Freedom: How We Can Win the Fight for an Open Society. With the support of the Heinreich-Böll-Stiftung, Mr. Fücks undertook part in a ten-day Chapter tour to visit the Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC Warburg Chapters.
Inclusive Foreign Policy: The Role of Culture in Transatlantic Affairs
Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office, has been involved with the German government’s Deutschlandjahr initiative, traveling to a number of cities throughout the United States. The ACG and the Consulate General of Germany in New York welcomed her for a discussion on October 29 at the German House as part of her visit to the United States for the UN Security Council’s debate on women, peace, and security. She began by noting that many in Germany – especially in her generation – have taken the German-American relationship for granted. She suggested that the friendship that has been fostered is not a given anymore. The 2,000 projects that took place in U.S. communities during the 15-month period of Deutschlandjahr endeavored to build bonds among new groups of Americans and sparked conversations about what we do – and don’t – have in common.
In the Shadows of Reunification: The Treuhand and the Legacy of Privatization in the Former GDR
The ACG partnered with the Consulate General of Germany in New York and the University Alliance Ruhr to hold a discussion on October 24 on the lasting impact of the Treuhandanstalt and the privatization of East German companies during and after German unification. Dr. Marcus Böick, Professor of Contemporary History at Ruhr University Bochum, provided a history of the Treuhand and the high expectations that it did not meet. James J. Black, Of Counsel at Morrison & Foerster LLP, then spoke about how the GDR economy was not capable of competing in a free market. The event was moderated by ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol. Among other topics, they discussed how the adoption of the Deutschmark hurt the GDR and how people in rural areas of East Germany are still feeling the effects of the 1990s.
Populism and Nationalism on the Rise: A German Perspective
The American Council on Germany and the Wirtschaftsrunde welcomed Stefan Schlüter, Program Director at the Diplomatic Academy of the German Foreign Office, on October 21 for a discussion and luncheon hosted by Bayern LB. Referencing Brexit, Mr. Schlüter highlighted the dangers of populist movements that play on people’s fears and can be exacerbated by misinformation and falsehoods. He then turned to the populist party making headlines in Germany, the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Although he believes the AfD will never be a major party – since they still have only 15 percent support nationally and there are large protests against the AfD – his bigger concern is in France, where Marine Le Pen has received significant support. Mr. Schlüter continued on to seven other U.S. cities to discuss the rise of populism and nationalism in Germany and Europe.
A World Beyond the Wall
On October 17, ACG partnered with the German Consulate in New York and 1014, Inc. to hold a lively panel discussion on the Peaceful Revolution of 1989 that eventually led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and culminated in German unification with Belinda Cooper, Professor at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute; David Gill, German Consul General in New York; Stefan Roloff, German-American artist who was born in West Berlin; and Harf Zimmermann, German photographer who was born in Dresden and grew up in East Berlin. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Steven E. Sokol.
The Global Effects of Transatlantic Trade Tensions, the Role of Central Banks in Europe, and the Challenges Facing the Deutsche Bundesbank
Dr. Jens Weidmann (2004 ACG Young Leader), President of the Deutsche Bundesbank and a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, luncheon on October 16 at a joint event with the Council on Foreign Relations. The discussion was moderated by ACG Board Member Dr. John Lipsky, Peter G. Peterson Distinguished Scholar at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Dr. Weidmann considered the question of whether the U.S. and German economic, trade, and investment ties are drifting apart. He spoke about the trend of tariffs, the trade conflict between the U.S. and China, and the weaknesses of the economic policy of the European Union. Dr. Weidmann closed by underlining the importance of preserving the transatlantic partnership, which has fostered more than 70 years of peace and prosperity.
The U.S.-China Trade War’s Impact on Germany
Metin Hakverdi, a member of the German Bundestag (SPD), spoke about the rise of China and its impact on the transatlantic relationship with about 20 members and friends of the American Council on Germany on October 1. This Breakfast Briefing was hosted by Accumulus Capital Management LLC in its new offices. Having recently spent five weeks in Washington, DC, and traveling in the U.S., Mr. Hakverdi said the public discussion of China is more developed in the United States than in Germany: The debates in Germany are still evolving, and there is less awareness among the general population of the importance of China and the risks posed by China’s expansion. This discrepancy can make it difficult for Americans trying to engage in transatlantic dialogue with German leaders about China.
End of the German-American Affair?
On September 30, the American Council on Germany welcomed Matthew Karnitschnig for a luncheon hosted by AllianceBernstein. After working for The Wall Street Journal for 15 years, he joined Politico as Chief Europe Correspondent in 2015. Mr. Karnitschnig argued that we are in fact experiencing the end of the relationship as it has existed since the 1950s, and that there is a real shift both at the official (government) and unofficial (general public) levels of German society. He argued that since the Iraq War, there has been continuous “slippage” in the strength of the relationship. In government circles in Berlin, there had been some hope that the relationship might “snap back” after Trump leaves office. However, German officials recognize the need to think about how to reposition Germany. The following day, Mr. Karnitschnig spoke at the Seattle Warburg Chapter at an event hosted by the University of Washington.
The Evolving Political Landscape in Germany and the Transatlantic Relationship
Thomas Oppermann (1992 ACG Young Leader), Vice-President of the German Bundestag (SPD), spoke at a Breakfast Briefing with nearly 30 members of the ACG on September 20 on current foreign policy challenges and German-American relations through the years, underscoring the importance of focusing on transatlantic friendship and common interests. Despite recent tensions between Europe and America, the rhetoric has recently cooled somewhat, and Mr. Oppermann believes the U.S. administration should work on coordinating policy more closely with the EU – with Iran being a key hotspot.
Tectonic Shift? The Green Party and the Changing Political Landscape
Michael Kellner, Political Director of Alliance 90/The Greens, met with some 30 members and friends of the ACG at 1014 Inc. on September 18 for a Political Salon on the Green Party’s place in Germany’s changing political landscape. During the last federal election, immigration was the main topic of debate. Since then, climate change has emerged as a bigger issue, giving the Green Party a boost in popularity. Right now, the party is polling above 25 percent.
Creating Stability in Cyberspace: Germany’s Rules-Based Approach
On September 10, Wolfram von Heynitz, Head of the Cyber Coordination Staff for the German Federal Foreign Office, met at Alston & Bird LLP with about 20 members and friends of the ACG to discuss the German approach to regulating cyberspace. The flow of money, goods, services, and information, as well as theft and attack – these are realms in the physical world where the government exerts control, but they are much more elusive and ambiguous in cyberspace. Germany’s approach to cybersecurity is one of deterrence.
Economics, Energy, and the Environment: A German Perspective
The ACG kicked off the fall season in New York City with a Breakfast Briefing on September 6 with Dr. Claudia Kemfert, Head of the Department of Energy, Transportation, and the Environment at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin (DIW). Considered to be one of Germany’s leading experts on energy economy, she led a discussion on what efforts are required in order to meet the Paris Climate goals, as well as what measures Germany has already undertaken. As Germany moves away from nuclear energy and coal, the emphasis will be on renewable energy production, greater energy efficiency, and better batteries, among other storage methods.
On August 16, the ACG hosted a Transatlantic Stammtisch with Klaus Mindrup, Member of the Bundestag (SPD). Over beer and pretzels, some 20 young professionals engaged in open conversations on the state elections in Germany, finance and economics, German-American relations, and American domestic politics.
“Do Populist Movements Threaten German Democracy?”
On August 8, nearly 30 ACG members and friends gathered at Alston & Bird for a Breakfast Briefing with Bundestag Member Metin Hakverdi (SPD). In an engaging and highly interactive exchange, he discussed the challenges posed to democratic institutions and practices by populist movements. His visit to New York came toward the end of a five-week stay in the United States. Temporarily based at AICGS in Washington, DC, Mr. Hakverdi traveled beyond the Beltway to learn about how American communities are tackling the myriad challenges of globalization, digitalization, and political polarization. During his travels, he spoke at ACG Warburg Chapters in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Chicago.
“Structural Change and Rising Populism: How Cities Manage These Trends”
On July 17, the ACG held a Breakfast Briefing, hosted by Becker, Glynn, Muffly, Chasin & Hosinski LLP, with the Lord Mayor of Dortmund Ullrich Sierau. Elected in 2009 and re-elected in 2014, Mayor Sierau discussed Dortmund’s transformation from an industrial center dominated by steel and mining to a hub of innovation and technology. He also shared his perspectives about the economic and social challenges that confront communities undergoing structural change and how, if not managed effectively, these challenges can lead to a rise in populism.
“Current Dynamics in German Domestic Politics and Their Implications on for German Foreign Affairs”
On July 11, the ACG hosted a Breakfast Briefing with Bundestag Member Dr. Johann Wadephul(CDU). Having just spent a few days in Washington, DC, he began by reflecting on the history of the German-American relationship, including important speeches by Presidents like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan as well as President George H.W. Bush’s support of German unification. Dr. Wadephul acknowledged that the relationship has changed – but underlined that it remains of critical importance to Germany. He continued by discussing developments in Brussels and the possible election of German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission. While optimistic that she will become the President, Dr. Wadephul acknowledged that if she is not elected, it could create a crisis within the EU and have a negative impact on Germany’s Grand Coalition government.
“Don’t Be Misled! U.S.-EU Trade and Investments Are Number One”
On July 2, the ACG and the American Business Forum on Europe hosted a Breakfast Briefing with Kate Cassavell, Vice President of Research Analyst, Market, and Thematic Strategy for Bank of America Private Wealth Management, and Joseph Quinlan, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Ms. Cassavell began by presenting the most recent findings of “The Transatlantic Economy 2019,” an annual survey that offers facts and figures for the economic relationship between the United States and Europe, with a specific focus on Germany. Mr. Quinlan then provided insights on how jobs, trade, and investment bind Europe and the United States – and what has changed under the Trump administration. You can read the report here.
“U.S.-German Economic Relations in Volatile Times”
On June 18, the ACG and the Wirtschaftsrunde hosted a discussion and luncheon with Karl Matthias Klause, Head of the Economic Department at the German Embassy in Washington, DC. The conversation covered a wide range of topics, including global megatrends, German-American shared interests, the strengths of the EU, and the current state of German-American affairs. Mr. Klause provided an overview of the work of the Economic Department, explaining that his department was unique due to its diverse staff, which consists of Foreign Service Officers, as well as representatives from five other government agencies, including the Economics, Finance, and Environment Ministries. When working on issues, the connections to key ministries bring expertise to discussions and negotiations, which has become critical in recent years.
“The Geopolitics of Cyber: Are We Moving Toward a Tech Cold War?”
On June 7, some 30 members and friends of the Council attended a Breakfast Briefing with Jan Neutze, Senior Director for Digital Diplomacy at Microsoft. He discussed the geopolitical context of cyber security, noting that nation states – and their affiliated groups – are working to disrupt adversaries while non-state actors engage in cybercrime for financial gain. At Microsoft, he is working to protect not just Microsoft itself but also Microsoft’s customers, some of which are Fortune 500 companies that play a big role in the global economy. It is in Microsoft’s interest to establish a more stable cyberspace. The event was hosted by Deutsche Bank’s Innovation Lab.
“Trump and the World: Does America First Mean America Alone?”
At a luncheon hosted by NORD/LB on May 14, Susan B. Glasser, a Staff Writer for The New Yorker, spoke about U.S. foreign policy, and its domestic and global implications. A self-described “Trumpologist,” Ms. Glasser cited past news coverage of President Trump’s interactions with Chancellor Merkel, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jong Un. While expressing concern about the current state of transatlantic relations, she said that uniting on the issue of trade with China might offer an avenue to improve transatlantic relations.
“Servant Leader? Germany’s Role in Europe’s New Strategic Leadership”
On May 13, the American Council on Germany held a Political Salon with Jan Techau (Young Leaders Study Group on the Future of Europe), Director of the Europe Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The event was held in cooperation with the Consulate General of Germany in New York. Mr. Techau led a discussion on the relationship between an ever-changing Europe and a Germany that is hesitant to embrace change. He also examined the reduced political and military presence by the U.S. at a time when the post-World War II world order is being challenged.
“Visions, Divisions, and Decisions: Germany, Europe, and the Parliamentary Elections”
On Thursday, May 2, we hosted the newly reelected head of the FDP, Christian Lindner, for a small lunch. He talked about German party politics, the future of Europe, and the transatlantic partnership. After focusing his efforts on bringing the Free Democrats back into the Bundestag and then negotiating a possible role in government, this was one of Mr. Lindner’s first trips to the United States.
“Germany: Between Trump and Putin”
On April 30, Young Leader alumna Dr. Angela Stent, Director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies and Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and author of Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and with the Rest, discussed U.S. and German relations with Russia at a luncheon hosted by Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Dr. Stent said some of the same issues as when she was a Young Leader are rearing their heads: missiles (now because of the U.S. withdrawal from the INF treaty and then because of the deployment of Pershing missiles) and pipelines (now because of Nord Stream 2 and then because of the Soviet natural gas pipeline).
“Germany, the United States, and the Future of Transatlantic Relations”
On April 18, Bundestag member Dr. Norbert Röttgen (CDU) met with 25 members and friends of the American Council on Germany. He began by stating that the transatlantic relationship is at a historical juncture as both the post-World War II order and post-Cold War era have come to an end, and the new global order has not yet fully emerged – or been embraced. This new period will have its share of struggles. Although many believe this is “the European hour,” in order for Europe to emerge and take on more leadership, it has to show greater unity.
“The Future of Europe”
Niels Annen, Minister of State of the German Federal Foreign Office, spoke to some 60 members and friends of the ACG at an evening discussion a the CUNY Graduate Center on April 15. Covering a wide range of topics including the upcoming elections in Europe, relations with Russia and China, Brexit, and domestic issues of Germany like the rise of populism and the future of the Social Democratic Party.
“Current Trends in European Economic and Monetary Policy”
On the morning of April 11, the ACG hosted a Breakfast Briefing with Dr. Jörg Kukies, State Secretary for Financial Market Policy and European Policy at the Federal Ministry of Finance. Dr. Kukies joined the Ministry in April 2018 after serving as Co-Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs AG and Managing Director of the Frankfurt branch of Goldman Sachs International. He provided insight into monetary policy of Germany and Europe.
“Europe Goes to the Polls: What to Expect from the European Parliamentary Election”
More than 40 members and friends of the American Council on Germany and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung attended a Breakfast Briefing with Klaus Welle, the Secretary-General of the European Parliament on April 5. He discussed the challenges facing Europe as well as the upcoming European parliamentary elections in May.
“Germany, Europe, and the United States: A Strategic Partnership Facing New Challenges?”
On Monday, April 1, the ACG hosted a discussion with German Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the German Academy New York (GANY). Some 70 members and friends of the ACG, GANY, and the German Consulate were present for the discussion. Minister Maas spoke on relations with China and Russia, Germany’s leadership role in the world, and the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Germany noting “I firmly believe that there is still more that unites than divides us on the two sides of the Atlantic.”
You can watch full speech here.
ACG Annual Meeting of Members
More than 125 members and friends of the ACG gathered on March 20 for the Annual Meeting of Members. Board Chairman Ambassador John B. Emerson, ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol, and Treasurer William R. Harman talked about the health of the Council., and the 2018 annual report was released. (You can read it here.) The highlight of the evening was the keynote address delivered by Governor Philip D. Murphy.
Governor Murphy and his wife, ACG Board member Tammy Murphy, were introduced by ACG Chairman Ambassador John B. Emerson. Governor Murphy is a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany and spoke highly of the work of the ACG in his keynote address. Calling the German-American partnership the “world’s single-most-impactful post-war bilateral relationship,” Governor Murphy shared the many ways Germany and “Standort New Jersey” can work together on issues ranging from workforce preparedness to renewable energy to economic development. A longtime friend of the American Council on Germany, Governor Murphy described the ACG as both “iconic” and “existential.” He also drew attention to the similarities between New Jersey and Germany, which share strong values rooted in the proposition that economic well-being and social advancement go together. Overall, Governor Murphy was optimistic that transnational institutions and relationships can survive challenging times.
“Setting Priorities in the Grand Coalition: Advancing Gender Politics in Germany”
On March 13, the ACG and Cultural Vistas held a political salon with Caren Marks, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, and member of the German Bundestag (SPD). During a lively conversation, Ms. Marks spoke on gender policy in Germany. With the belief that “women can do anything,” she described the advancements the German government has taken to help bridge the gender gap in the last decade including gender quotas, improved childcare services, and decreasing the pay gap. She noted that Germany “still has a long way to go.”
“Mutual (Dis)Affection? How Germans and Americans See One Another and Their Relationship”
On the evening of March 7, ACG members met at the German Academy New York (GANY) for a discussion on another important topic: how German and American citizens view the transatlantic relationship. Jacob Poushter, Associate Director of Research at the Pew Research Center, presented results from a recent Pew study that found that many Germans view relations with the United States as poor. This was followed by a panel discussion with ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol; Ambassador Cameron Munter, CEO and President of the EastWest Institute; and Dr. John Torpey, Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center. While acknowledging some troubling findings in the study, the panelists stated that these must be considered in the context of larger structural changes in the geopolitical environment. Earlier in the week, the Pew Research Center hosted a discussion in Washington, DC, at which the results of their poll and a poll by the Körber Foundation were discussed followed by a panel discussion featuring Dr. Emily Haber, German Ambassador to the United States; Dr. Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for a New American Security; and Dr. Amanda Sloat, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, which was also moderated by Dr. Sokol.
“U.S.-German Economic Relations: The Way Forward”
On March 7, the ACG hosted a discussion with Moneim Eltohami, Deputy Head of the Division USA, Canada, and Mexico in the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Mr. Eltohami shared his insights into U.S. and German economic relations, explaining the specific challenges that the ministry has faced during the Trump administration, especially surrounding new trade disagreements and sanctions. However, Mr. Eltohami also suggested a path forward through the tumult, urging unity among EU member states.
“National Politics, Regional Issues, and the Future of Europe: A View from North Rhine-Westphalia”
At a Breakfast Briefing in NYC on March 1, Armin Laschet, Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, discussed the state of German-American relations, and urged those who value this relationship to work harder to ensure its survival. He also stressed the value of state and local partnerships, and the continued importance of cooperation to meet shared challenges such as climate change and migration.
“Friends with Benefits? Global Trade and Investment Policy and the Future of the Transatlantic Alliance”
On February 16, the American Council on Germany (ACG) partnered with the American Institute on Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) and Atlantik-Brücke to hold an official side event on the periphery of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) focused on the nexus of economic policy and national security. More than 50 politicians, government officials, journalists, and opinion leaders from Germany and the United States attended the event, which was carried out in cooperation with Atlantik-Brücke. ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol co-moderated the event with AICGS President Jeffrey Rathke. The event featured German Federal Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Co-Chair of the Green Party Annalena Baerbock, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, and Bundestag member and Coordinator for Transatlantic Cooperation Peter Beyer (CDU).
“The Future of Europe: A Central Banker’s Perspective”
On February 13, members of the ACG gathered at AllianceBernstein to hear from Burkhard Balz, a member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank and former member of the European Parliament (CDU). Following an introduction by ACG Board member Dr. Alan S. MacDonald, Mr. Balz discussed the slowing economic growth in Germany, institutional changes in the EU making the euro area more stable and able to weather upheavals like 2010, and the potential economic impact of Brexit and Italy’s economic challenges.
“Managing an Exit: The End of the Merkel Era”
On February 11, the ACG partnered with the Deutsches Haus at New York University for a panel discussion with Dr. Joyce Mushaben, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Comparative Politics and the first Professor of Global Studies at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Dr. Christian Martin, Max Weber Visiting Chair in German and European Studies at New York University. Together they covered a wide range of topics including Chancellor Merkel’s legacy, her influence on gender politics and her role within the CDU, as well as the waning popularity of the SPD and the future of the grand coalition.
“Democracy and Digitalization: A Real Challenge to Politics in the 21st Century”
On February 7, the American Council on Germany and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation welcomed the German Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection Dr. Katarina Barley for a luncheon and discussion about the challenges digitalization poses to democratic institutions and practices. Speaking before more than 60 members and friends of the ACG, Dr. Barely cited the manipulation of data, influencing of public opinion, and hate speech. She suggested that external controls on companies needed to establish trust without infringing on user freedom, saying companies don’t need all the date they collect, there must greater transparency on how data is used, and when data is combined and processed by algorithms, there must be guidelines in place that allow people to understand how algorithmic decisions are made.
“The Current State of Germany Politics”
On January 24, the ACG partnered with the Robert Bosch Foundation Alumni Association and Cultural Vistas to hold a transatlantic town hall connection participants in Berlin, New York and Washington, DC.
The discussion was moderated by Brent Goff, Chief News Anchor at Deutsche Welle, and featured Julie Smith, former Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden, Sudha David-Wilp (former ACG McCloy Fellow), Deputy Director at the German Marshall Fund’s Berlin Office, and Sumi Somaskanda, a reporter and anchor with Deutsche Welle. The conversation examined current issues in German politics including the end of Chancellor Merkel’s tenure, the changing party landscape, the impact of Brexit, and the evolving transatlantic relationship. The Berlin venue at Dentons was made possible through the support of ACG member Fred Reinke.
“The Western Liberal Order Under Attack: The Future of German-American Relations”
The ACG and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation hosted a discussion and luncheon in New York on November 14 featuring Lars Klingbeil, the Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party and a member of the Bundestag. Following of state elections in Bavaria and Hesse as well as the midterms in the United States, Mr. Klingbeil visited New York and Washington to learn more about the political climate in the United States. He talked about some of the current challenges that are putting the rules-based post-war liberal order under strain. In domestic politics, both Germany and the United States are grappling with political polarization and the rise of populism on the fringes. At the same time, both countries are competing with international forces and competition from countries like Russia and China.
“Contemporary German-Jewish Relations: Reflections from the Heartland”
On November 5, the ACG and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) partnered to host a breakfast briefing with former German diplomat Stefan Schlüter reflecting on his two-week speaking tour on contemporary German-Jewish relations to 12 cities in the southeastern and midwestern regions of the United States. His initial reflections were followed by a deeper discussion about his experience traveling in the heartland, contemporary German-Jewish relations, and politics in the United States and Germany.
“Self-Perception and External Expectations: Rethinking Germany’s Role on the World Stage”
Dr. Christoph von Marschall, Chief Diplomatic Correspondent with Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin, spoke to some 30 members and friends of the ACG on October 31. He reflected on Germany’s role on the world stage – and its evolving relations with its allies and neighbors which is the subject of his most recent book, Wir verstehen die Welt nicht mehr. After New York, he spoke at ACG’s Chapters in Philadelphia and Washington.
“When Cities Collaborate: Global Public Private Partnerships in the Digital Age?”
Since 2011, the ACG has been an integral part of the Transatlantic Entrepreneur Partnership (TEP) Conference. On the evening of October 16, the ACG and the German Consulate General hosted a panel discussion and reception as part of the 2018 TEP Conference. The panel consisted of Ana Arino, Chief Strategy Officer of the NYC EDC; Stefan Franzke, CEO of Berlin Partner; Joachim Köhler, Managing Director of Commerzbank Open Space; and Vanessa Liu, Vice President of SAP.IO Foundry NY. The discussion was moderated by ACG Program Director Robin Cammarota.
“American and European Views on Economics and Trade in the Trump Era”
At a discussion and luncheon on October 11, Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes at Pew Research Center, provided an overview of Pew’s survey on public attitudes about trade in 27 countries, conducted from May to August 2018, specifically focusing on the United States and Europe. The survey showed that economic sentiments in the United States, the European Union, and Japan are better than at any other time since the survey was first conducted, in 2002. This phenomenon was particularly pronounced in Germany, where the public’s economic mood stood at 78 percent vs. 28 percent in 2009.
“Current Trends and Challenges in German Politics”
On the morning of October 5, some 30 members of the ACG joined together for a discussion with former Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe, a member of the German Bundestag (CDU) and Deputy Chairman of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group. Under Chatham House Rules, he shared his perspectives on German domestic politics, both on the local and federal level; the importance of multilateral cooperation to address global challenges; and migration and integration in Germany.
“Is Chemnitz Germany’s Charlottesville Moment?”
At a panel discussion held in cooperation with Deutsches Haus at NYU and NYU’s Center for European and Mediterranean Studies on October 2, ACG Young Leader alumni David Gill, Consul General of Germany in New York, and Çiğdem İpek, a social scientist in Berlin, together with Dr. Christian Martin, Max Weber Visiting Chair in German and European Studies at NYU, and Bundestag member Frank Müller-Rosentritt (FDP), juxtaposed recent anti-immigrant protests in Chemnitz with right-wing extremism in the United States, while examining popular sentiments that have fomented hatred and xenophobia in pockets of both countries.
On October 2, the American Council on Germany held a breakfast briefing with academic and author Dr. Adam Tooze. He discussed the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on the transatlantic relationship, expressed significant concerns about the state of the transatlantic partnership. Not only do the deep economic interdependencies between Europe and the United States remain, but politicians, primarily on the European side, have not yet fully accepted the extent of the interconnectedness, nor adequately understood the causes of the financial crisis which did not just emanate from the United States.
“The Future of the German-American Relationship”
As the final event of September, the ACG hosted an off-the-record discussion with Dr. A. Wess Mitchell on September 28. Dr. Mitchell has been the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State since October 2017, and he made time in his busy schedule during the week of the United Nations General Assembly to speak on the future of the German-American relationship. Dr. Mitchell participated in the ACG’s Young Leaders Study Group on the Future of Europe: Demographic Trends, Migration, and Social Cohesion in 2009 and 2010.
“The Reality Behind Artificial Intelligence”
NORD/LB welcomed members and friends of the ACG on September 27 for a luncheon and discussion with Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel. His talk on artificial intelligence covered the history of computer learning and a variety of contemporary applications to artificial intelligence – and how it impacts our lives today.
“The Opportunities and Challenges of Digitalization in the Workplace”
On September 21, Reiner Hoffmann, Chairman of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), gave remarks on the future of work over lunch, which was hosted by the Morgan Stanley Foundation & Endowment Services. Mr. Hoffmann highlighted the drivers impacting the world of work and provided insights on the processes, policies, and conditions that should be pursued to shape the work of the future.
“Transatlantic Cooperation: Indispensable for American Prosperity, Freedom in Europe, and Global Security”
During a luncheon on September 17, Peter Beyer, German Coordinator for Transatlantic Cooperation for the German Federal Foreign Office and also a member of the Bundestag (CDU), addressed the ACG at the offices of Penguin Random House. He provided an overview of the key issues on the transatlantic agenda, his assessment of the state of the German-American relationship, and insights on the challenges looming on the horizon including trade agreements, the possibility of Germany providing 2% of GDP to NATO, and what Brexit means to the EU and Germany.
“Authoritarianism, Populism, and Challenges to Democracy: A German Perspective”
On the evening of September 10, Annalena Baerbock, Co-Chair of Alliance 90/The Greens and a member of the Bundestag, joined more than 70 members and friends of the ACG for a Political Salon, supported by the German Consulate and the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Ms. Baerbock was a journalist before becoming involved in politics, and in her current role she has helped lead the German Green Party to a surge in the polls. Her remarks focused on the changing role of the Green Party and what can be done to counter populist trends and authoritarianism.
“Planning for the Future: Current Environmental Challenges Facing Germany”
On a stormy evening, just over a dozen members and friends of the American Council on Germany gathered for a Political Salon with Bundestag Member Klaus Mindrup (SPD). A biologist and project developer be training, he serves as a member of the Bundestag’s Committee on the Environment, Nature Conversation, and Nuclear Safety, as well as the Committee on Building, Housing, Urban Development, and Local Government. In his remarks, Mr. Mindrup focused on Germany’s commitment to climate protection and the Energiewende, or energy transition.
“Transatlantic Relations After the G7 and NATO Summits”
Three weeks into her tenure as German Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Emily M. Haber shared her insights on the state of the transatlantic relationship with about 70 members and friends of the American Council on Germany. The event was sponsored by DZ BANK.
In his introduction, ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol said that many of her previous postings have prepared Ambassador Haber for her new role in Washington. A career diplomat, she has served in Moscow and Ankara and as Political Director and then State Secretary in the German Foreign Office and most recently as State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Ambassador Haber said that she is looking forward to her new position. People comment about how difficult her tenure will be, and how deep the transatlantic rift is. However, she said that “no country is more relevant to the security of Germany than the United States.” In her previous position at the Ministry of the Interior, she had an up-close view of the deep cooperation between Germany and the United States on security – cooperation that helped foil multiple terrorist attacks. In terms of threats that are likely to keep one up late at night, the transatlantic relationship is not high on the list. China’s emergence as a superpower, cyber security, Russian malign behavior, and terrorism are more worrisome. Furthermore, she said Germany and the United States have shared interests, active cooperation, and a desire to sustain and protect the way we live and what we value.
“Transatlantic Dissonance: Reporting from Both Sides of the Atlantic”
On June 19, more than 40 members and friends of the American Council on Germany gathered for the annual Garrick Utley Memorial Lecture on Global Media Issues featuring award-winning journalist and author Dr. Christoph von Marschall. In his remarks, he reflected on the state of the transatlantic relationship, German and European politics, and the responsibility of media on both sides of the Atlantic to accurately portray the issues of the day. No stranger to American politics, Dr. von Marschall has been reporting from both sides of the Atlantic for more than two decades. During the Obama administration, he served as the only German correspondent in the White House press corps. As the inaugural Helmut Schmidt Fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, Dr. von Marshall still has the opportunity to regularly attend White House press conferences. These experiences have given him unique insights.
“The End of an Era? – Transatlantic Relations in the Age of Trump”
More than 30 members and friends of the American Council on Germany gathered to hear journalist and author James Kirchick, a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, share his insights on hot-button issues in the transatlantic relationship, including the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and trade. Mr. Kirchick acknowledged that there have been disruptions in the transatlantic relationship, but he stressed that rumors of the death of German-American relations are greatly exaggerated. The event was held in partnership with Deutsches Haus at NYU.
“National Security and the Transatlantic Partnership in a Post-Truth World”
On June 7, the American Council on Germany welcomed General Michael V. Hayden at a Breakfast Briefing hosted at Sidley Austin LLP. In his introduction, ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol noted that in past meetings with the ACG in September 2016 and January 2017, General Hayden had argued that the world order has changed significantly and that the old rules for navigating the international environment no longer apply. In his remarks now, based on his recent book, The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies, General Hayden outlined a new challenge. We are experiencing a redefinition or an assault on truth and a rejection of the values of the Enlightenment based on facts, data, reason, and observation.
“Media in a Society in Crisis: How Can Media Serve as a Control on Power and as a Social Adhesive?”
At a Political Salon on May 30, Peter Weissenburger, an Editor at Die Tageszeitung, shared his findings about local journalism after completing an Anna-Maria and Stephen M. Kellen Fellowship. The ACG fellowship allowed Mr. Weissenburger to travel to Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC, to look at the local media scenes and how they are evolving. He presented three theses in light of his research: 1. There is a crisis of reporting in U.S. media. 2. There is a crisis of cultural representation in U.S. media. 3. None of this is President Trump’s fault. Despite the significant financial tumult in the local-newspaper industry, Mr. Weissenburger said the people he met with were optimistic about the future; they acknowledge that local news outlets are in dire straits but maintain that change is afoot. One of his meeting partners said media are simply transitioning from one regime to another, and local journalists have to be more entrepreneurial. The event was held in cooperation with the European Union Studies Center at the CUNY Graduate Center.
“The Future of European Security Cooperation and the Dangers Facing the Liberal Order”
At a luncheon on May 24, Nikolas Löbel, a newly elected member of the German Bundestag (CDU/CSU), outlined areas for improvement in transatlantic relations and also within the European Union. Born in 1986, Mr. Löbel grew up in a world where Germany was unified and the European Union was a given, as were peace and prosperity. Postwar questions about Germany and the future of Europe had been presumed to be answered, but now many of these issues need to be resolved once again. A member of the Bundestag’s Foreign Policy Committee, Mr. Löbel said Germany has been looking for the best way to interact with President Trump. He acknowledged that the United States is tired of dealing with crises on its own, and that Germany and the EU need to take leadership in concert with the U.S. He underlined the importance of finding achievable goals, and he emphasized that policy in general must be more proactive and practical in nature. The event was held in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
“Is Democracy Dying”
On May 21, Dr. Yascha Mounk, a Lecturer at Harvard University and author of The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It, discussed current pressure points where democracy appears to be under threat – both blatantly, as in Hungary, and more insidiously, as in populism in Germany and the United States. He cited polls indicating declining confidence in democracy. One poll found that, when asked if it’s important to live in a democracy, two-thirds of Americans born in the 1930s and 1940s said yes, while less than a third of those born after 1980 agree. He also identified areas where democracy can be reinforced. The event was hosted by Alston & Bird LLP.
“Regional Visioning: Transforming City Regions and Public Participation”
The ACG partnered with the University Alliance Ruhr and the German Center for Research and Innovation on a panel discussion at the German House in New York. The discussion on April 19 was moderated by 2017 McCloy Fellow on Global Trends, Bettina Oberhauser, Editor for Hessischer Rundfunk; and included Ullrich Sierau, Lord Mayor of Dortmund; Jamie Bemis, Account Manager for Bright Power and 2017 McCloy Fellow on Global Trends; Wolfram Hoefer, Co-director of the Rutgers University Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability; and James Koth, Director of Parks & Recreation for Bergen County, New Jersey.
“Forging the ‘China Solution’ as a Challenge for the West: How the Chinese Communist Party Tries to Win Influence in Europe”
On April 12, the ACG held an event, hosted by Alston & Bird LLP, with Dr. Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Director of the Research Area on Public Policy and Society at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), who drew on a recently released MERICS report to discuss China’s efforts to gain influence in Europe.
On March 29, nearly 40 Washington-area Young Leader alumni and several guests gathered for a discussion with CDU Bundestag member Peter Beyer, a longtime friend of the ACG who works in the Bundestag’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. The group participated in a wide-ranging discussion on trade, NATO, cybersecurity, the newly formed German government, and current relations with the U.S. government. The ACG is grateful to corporate member Volkswagen for hosting this Breakfast Briefing, and to Board member David Geanacopoulos for moderating the program.
“The New German Government and Challenges to German Democracy”
Together with the European Union Studies Center and the Graduate Center at CUNY, the ACG hosted a discussion on March 23 with historian Dr. Heidi Tworek on the new German government and the challenges to German democracy. Frank Priess, Deputy Head of the Konrad‐Adenauer‐Stiftung’s Department for European and International Cooperation in Berlin, and Dr. Christian Martin, Max Weber Chair in German and European Studies at NYU, offered additional insights to the discussion, moderated by Dr. Sokol, on German domestic politics, the future of Europe, and implications for the transatlantic alliance.
“Is the International System Broken? Multilateralism in the 21st Century”
On March 21, Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman (1986 Young Leader), Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs at the United Nations, discussed the future of multilateralism at a luncheon sponsored by corporate member DZ BANK. He shared his insights about crises around the world and how the UN has been working to mitigate these crises.
“International Value Chains in an Age of Protectionism: Productivity, Employment and Spill-Over Effects”
The ACG partnered with the Bavarian Industry Association (vbw) and the Bavarian Employers’ Associations for the Metalworking and Electrical Industries (bayme vbm), both corporate members, to host a luncheon and discussion on March 12 featuring Professor Dr. Michael Hüther, Director of the German Economic Institute. Bertram Brossardt, CEO of bayme vbm and Executive Vice President and CEO of vbw, gave opening remarks underscoring the important economic bonds between Bavaria and the United States. With the rising tide of protectionism, Dr. Hüther suggested that multilateral institutions should be reinforced and the WTO strengthened to ensure that the three “leading economic powers” – Europe, China, and the United States – can work through differences.
“Innovation and Digitalization: Technology Is the Key to Transforming the Future”
On March 7, the ACG hosted an event with Dr. Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon Technologies, for a wide-ranging discussion about the challenges – and opportunities – posed by the need for constant innovation in an increasingly digital society. He also discussed the impact technology is having on developing responses to global megatrends.
“A Misaligned Alliance? How Germans and Americans Think about Today’s Common Global Challenge”
In late February and early March, the ACG collaborated on two back-to-back panel discussions with the Pew Research Center and the Körber Stiftung, to present the findings of opinion surveys by Pew and Körber regarding the state of the German-American relationship. The Pew and Körber studies may be accessed at www.pewresearch.org and www.theberlinpulse.org.
The first of the two panels took place in Washington, DC, on February 28 and was moderated by ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol. The panelists were Boris Ruge, Deputy Chief of Mission at the German Embassy; Wendy R. Sherman, Senior Counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group and former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs at the U.S. State Department; and Christoph von Marschall (1999 Kellen Fellow), Chief Diplomatic Correspondent at Der Tagesspiegel and 2017 Helmut Schmidt Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
On March 1, Dr. Sokol led a second discussion in New York City, at the CUNY Graduate Center, with Ambassador Jürgen Schulz, Deputy Permanent Representative at the German Mission to the United Nations, and Jeffrey Rathke, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Munich Security Conference
On Saturday, February 17, the American Council on Germany partnered with the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies to host an official side event at the Munich Security Conference. More than 50 participants at the MSC – including elected officials, diplomats, journalists, and representatives from European and American think tanks – attended the event, which focused on the domestic challenges in setting foreign policy priorities in an era of political polarization.
H.E. Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, kicked off the discussion By saying that with the populist movements in Europe and the United States one has to make the case for the liberal world order. Bundestag members Niels Annen (SPD) and Andreas Nick (CDU), both of whom serve on the Bundestag’s Committee on Foreign Relations, offered a German perspective. They talked about the new realities that exist at home and abroad which require greater dialogue, exchange, and trust building. Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Congressman Michael Turner (R-OH) offered their perspectives on the domestic determinants in shaping foreign policy priorities. ACG Board Chairman former U.S. Ambassador John Emerson; Jane Harman, President of the Woodrow Wilson Center; and, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius offered a more global perspective.
“China’s Emergence as a Global Security Actor and Implications for Europe”
On February 12, the ACG and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung hosted a discussion with Mikko Huotari, Head of the Foreign Relations Program at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) in Berlin. In February, MERICS released a report on China’s growing influence, and Mr. Huotari discussed the report’s findings and what they mean for Western countries. He said that particularly in view of their shared interests in security and multilateralism, the European Union and the United States should have a more coordinated response to China.
“Finding a Common Future: Remarks on the European-American Partnership”
Dr. Jürgen Rüttgers, Chairman of the European Commission’s High-Level Group for Industrial Technologies, former Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia, and former Federal Minister for Education, Science, Research, and Technology, spoke with members and friends of the ACG at a Breakfast Briefing on February 9. The discussion covered a wide range of themes, including Dr. Rüttgers’ perspectives on Donald Trump after one year in office, the state of the transatlantic relationship, German politics, and the challenges facing Germany and Europe as a result of digitalization and new technologies.
“A Full Standstill Ahead? The Prospects for Another Grand Coalition in Germany”
The ACG, Deutsches Haus at NYU, and NYU’s Center for European and Mediterranean Studies hosted a panel discussion on the coalition talks in Germany on February 1. At the time, it was not clear if a final decision could be reached between the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) to form a Grand Coalition. In a discussion moderated by ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol, Thomas Jahn, New York Correspondent for Handelsblatt and Dr. Christian Martin, Professor of European and Mediterranean Studies and Max Weber Visiting Chair in German and European Studies at NYU, discussed the likelihood that an agreement would be reached, the rather atypical length of time it was taking to reach an agreement, and what might happen if a Grand Coalition did not work. The panel agreed there was a desire for stability in Germany and that ultimately a Grand Coalition would be created.
“Hot Topics in Transatlantic Economic Affairs”
On his way to a G7 preparatory meeting in Toronto, Dr. Lars-Hendrik Röller, Chief Economic Advisor to the Federal Chancellor and Director-General for Economic, Financial, and Energy Policy at the German Chancellery, met with members and friends on January 29 to discuss a broad range of economic issues affecting Germany, Europe, the transatlantic relationship, and the world more broadly. The Breakfast Briefing was sponsored by DZ BANK.
“German-American Relations in Turbulent Times”
On January 18, Ambassador Peter Wittig, Germany’s Ambassador to the United States, spoke with members at a Breakfast Briefing about the evolution of the transatlantic relationship. Ambassador Wittig noted that there has been both stability and changes in the relationship in the past year. The U.S. has continued its policies in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Russia, and counterterrorism in the Middle East, but has broken with previous administrations on its decisions about the Paris climate agreement, the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and the Iran nuclear deal. While Europe and Germany are concerned about U.S. protectionism, Ambassador Wittig felt that the transatlantic partnership is still intact, and that both sides should invest more in dialogue and engagement. This event was hosted by Bernstein Private Wealth Management.
Annual Meeting of the Members
On January 18, Ambassador Peter Wittig, Germany’s Ambassador to the United States, spoke with members at a Breakfast Briefing about the evolution of the transatlantic relationship. Ambassador Wittig noted that there has been both stability and changes in the relationship in the past year. The U.S. has continued its policies in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Russia, and counterterrorism in the Middle East, but has broken with previous administrations on its decisions about the Paris climate agreement, the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and the Iran nuclear deal. While Europe and Germany are concerned about U.S. protectionism, Ambassador Wittig felt that the transatlantic partnership is still intact, and that both sides should invest more in dialogue and engagement. This event was hosted by Bernstein Private Wealth Management.
On January 17, the American Council on Germany held its Annual Meeting of the Members and a Board Meeting. Ambassador John B. Emerson, Vice Chairman at Capital Group International and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, was elected Chairman of the American Council on Germany (ACG) on January 17, 2018. He is the ACG’s sixth Chairman since its founding in 1952, following in the footsteps of John J. McCloy, Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Jr., General John Galvin, Garrick Utley, and Ambassador Robert M. Kimmitt, Senior International Counsel at WilmerHale LLP and also a former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, who had served as ACG Chairman since 2011.
“The German-American relationship is indispensable. It is a great success story – in economic, political, and security terms,” Ambassador Emerson said. “The American Council on Germany plays a significant role in bringing together Germans and Americans to address the wide array of common challenges we face. I am delighted to assume this role, and look forward to building on the ACG’s 65-year history of strengthening the transatlantic relationship.”
Following the ACG held its Annual Meeting of the Members, Dr. Christoph Heusgen, Germany’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, addressed more than 100 members and friends of the ACG. He offered an overview of current German politics, Germany’s foreign policy priorities, and the global issues to watch in 2018. He said Germany is in a better position if it works together with other countries to address today’s challenges, underlining that Germany is committed to an international rules-based order where “everybody can win.”
“The End of Multilateralism? Reflecting on 2017 and Looking Ahead to 2018”
On Monday, December 18, the ACG and Atlantik-Brücke hosted an evening panel discussion with Dr. Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, and German Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Christoph Heusgen. During the conversation, which was moderated by Friedrich Merz, Chairman of AB, the two discussed the state of multilateralism, the United States’ role in the world, the future of transatlantic relations.
“The End of Jamaica, the End of Merkel? Analyzing What Happened and Predicting What Lies Ahead”
Two months after the German election, on November 30, the ACG, Deutsches Haus at NYU, and NYU’s Center for European and Mediterranean Studies reconvened a post-election panel to talk about coalition negotiations and the path forward with Dr. Sheri Berman, Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and Columbia University; Thomas Jahn, New York Correspondent for Handelsblatt; and Dr. Christian Martin, Professor of European and Mediterranean Studies and Max Weber Visiting Chair in German and European Studies at New York University. The discussion, moderated by ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol, covered a wide range of topics, from the failure to reach a coalition agreement between the Christian Democrats, the Free Democrats, and the Greens, to the possibility of a renewed Grand Coalition with the Social Democrats, to Merkel’s leadership skills and potential successors. Whatever the outcome of the new coalition talks, the panelists agreed that Germany is stable and that it will remain committed to Europe.
“New Priorities? Germany’s UN Policy after the Elections”
On November 27, at an evening discussion held in partnership with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Bundestag Member Dr. Andreas Nick (CDU) reflected on the failed coalition talks and Germany’s continued commitment to international affairs as it campaigns to become a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council. Dr. Nick said Germany remains committed to European integration, the transatlantic relationship, the environment, and free trade and open markets. In his view, there is significant consensus on foreign policy in Germany, and the basis of any German government’s strategic interest will be to maintain the current world order.
“China’s Role in the World after the 19th Party Congress”
On November 17, Tim Wenniges (2014 Young Leader) addressed members and friends of the ACG at the New York office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. As the current head of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s Office in Shanghai, Mr. Wenniges discussed the recent 19th Party Congress, China’s evolving role on the international stage, and President Donald Trump’s trip to Asia.
“‘We Have to Keep Talking!’ Transatlantic Relations in an Age of Disruption”
On November 16, the American Council on Germany held a discussion and luncheon with Bundestag Member Jürgen Hardt (CDU), who addressed the current state of the German government’s relationship with the Trump administration. The event was sponsored by DZ BANK. Despite some concern in Germany around the U.S. election and Inauguration Day, Mr. Hardt – who also serves as Foreign Policy Spokesman of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group and as the Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation in the Federal Foreign Office – made assurances that the interaction between President Trump and Chancellor Merkel is frequent and positive. He underscored the strong presence of German business in the United States, stating that “we are not competitors; we are partners.” Mr. Hardt also acknowledged some challenges the transatlantic relationship still faces.
“The Evolution of International Terrorism and Its Domestic Impact”
On November 10, one week after a terrorist attack in New York City killed eight people, the ACG and the Global Center on Cooperative Security hosted a discussion with terrorism expert Dr. Guido Steinberg, Senior Associate for the Middle East and Africa at Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, SWP). He addressed a wide range of issues associated with international terrorism and counterterrorism efforts, including the development of international jihadist terrorism, the terrorist threat in Germany, and Uzbek jihadism.
“Polarization, Populism, and Politics in Germany and the United States: A Comparative Analysis”
With a view to analyzing the changing political landscape in Europe and the United States, the ACG and Deutsches Haus at NYU hosted a Political Salon on November 2 with Christopher Cermak, Editor of Handelsblatt Global, on the rise of populism and the polarization of politics on both sides of the Atlantic. Having been raised in Europe by Austrian and American parents, Mr. Cermak has gotten unique exposure to the mindsets on either side of the Atlantic. A deep sense of frustration on both sides has led to this polarization and the rise of populism on the political fringes. He believes that the best way to confront populism is to address the sense of hopelessness that many people feel, to provide real solutions to their problems, and to bring the U.S. and Germany forward together.
“Russia and the West: What’s Next?”
On October 30, about 40 members and friends gathered for the final event in this current format for a discussion and luncheon with Young Leader alumna Dr. Angela Stent, Director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies and Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She discussed the relationship between Russia and the West in great detail, including the interaction of Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin.
“Three Elections and a Brexit: The Unraveling of Europe?”
On October 13, about 35 members and friends of the American Council on Germany gathered for a dynamic discussion and luncheon hosted by PwC Strategy& featuring former German diplomat Ambassador Thomas Matussek. A career Foreign Service Officer who served as German Ambassador to the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and India, he now consults for businesses and governments on the impact of Brexit and other matters. Ambassador Matussek began by outlining a litany of challenges Europe is up against, including but not limited to Brexit, the refugee crisis, disparities between richer central European countries and a poorer south, high youth unemployment in Spain and Greece, secessionist tendencies in Catalonia and elsewhere, EU candidate Turkey drifting in the wrong direction, and open conflict on Europe’s eastern border.
“Lessons Learned from Berlin’s Innovation and Digital Transformation”
On the periphery of this year’s Transatlantic Entrepreneur Partnership Conference, the ACG hosted a Breakfast Briefing on October 11 with Christian Rickerts, Berlin State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Energy, and Public Enterprises. Some 30 ACG members and friends gathered at DZ BANK for a lively discussion of the challenges Berlin faces and the city’s efforts to become more sustainable through the use of technology.
“Parsing Germany’s Election Results and Coalition Negotiations”
Less than two weeks after the German federal election, the make-‐up of the new government remains in flux as coalition negotiations have not officially begun. On October 5, the ACG and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung hosted a panel discussion to reflect on the election results, consider the challenges of coalition building, and dissect what it all means for Europe and the transatlantic relationship. The evening began with opening statements from Nico Lange, Director of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung’s Washington Office, and Jeffrey Rathke, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, followed by a discussion moderated by ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol.
“After the German Federal Election: Analyzing the Results and Looking Ahead”
On September 25, the day after Germans took to the polls, more than 90 people gathered at Deutsches Haus at NYU for a panel discussion on the German federal election, organized by the American Council on Germany, Deutsches Haus at NYU, NYU’s Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, the CUNY European Union Studies Center, and CUNY’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies. The event was moderated by ACG’s president, Dr. Steven E. Sokol, and featured Dr. Sheri Berman, Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and Columbia University, Thomas Jahn, New York Correspondent for Handelsblatt, and Dr. Christian Martin, Professor of European and Mediterranean Studies and Max Weber Visiting Chair in German and European Studies at New York University.
Dr. Sokol began by saying that although the German and international press described the German campaign season as “boring,” some of the election results were surprising. He even went so far as to say that there was a “seismic shift” in the German body politic. He summarized the results as follows:
-Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats took a beating – but she came through and will serve a fourth term as Chancellor.
-Both the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats had their worst election results since 1949 – with 33% and 20.5% respectively.
-For the first time in more than 50 years, a populist right-wing party will be represented in the Bundestag. Not only that, but the Alternative for Germany (AfD) is the third largest party with nearly 13% of the vote.
-And, after failing to pass the five percent hurdle four years ago the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) are back. And, the next Bundestag will increase in size to over 700 seats – with seven parties represented.
“Germany: Final Countdown to the Elections”
On September 19, the ACG hosted a breakfast discussion with David Gill, Consul General of Germany in New York. He discussed the upcoming German elections, the growing popularity of the far-right party Alternative für Deutschland, and the likelihood of Chancellor Merkel being re-elected. A long time friend of the ACG and 1992 Young Leader, Gill became Consul General this summer. Special thanks to DZ BANK AG for sponsoring this discussion.
“Understanding the Global World of Jihad”
The day after the release of her book I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad, the American Council on Germany held a Political Salon in the New York offices of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, with investigative journalist Souad Mekhennet. Best known for her work covering the Middle East, North Africa, radical Islamic movements, and terrorism since shortly after September 11, Ms. Mekhennet has spent her career trying to understand the reasons for radicalization. She has been able to shed light on the global network of jihad. Some 25 members and friends of the ACG attended a lively discussion moderated by ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol. Covering a number of topics, she described some of her interactions with members of terrorist organizations, her life as a Muslim woman in Europe, and her work as a journalist.
“German Approaches to Crisis Prevention and the Marshall Plan for Africa”
On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall delivered a speech at Harvard University that would later become the blueprint for the Marshall Plan for post-‐war reconstruction. Seventy years and one day later, on June 6, 2017, Bundestag Member Thorsten Frei spoke at an event co-‐sponsored by the American Council on Germany and the New York office of the Konrad-‐Adenauer-‐Stiftung. In prepared remarks and a lively discussion with 25 ACG members and friends, Mr. Frei talked about foreign policy, national security, development aid, and crisis prevention – as well as Germany’s Marshall Plan for Africa.
“Covering Politics in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: European Elections, Populism, and Fake News”
On May 26, nearly 50 members and friends of the Council gathered for the sixth Garrick Utley Memorial Lecture on Global Media Issues. This year the lecture featured a panel discussion with the General Director of Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Tom Buhrow, and WDR’s Television Director and election analyst Jörg Schönenborn. Moderated by ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol, the discussion focused on U.S., European, and German politics; the rise of populism; and some of the hurdles media outlets face in the digital age.
“Transatlantic Economic Relations: Current Challenges and Perspectives”
Matthias Machnig, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, spoke with nearly 40 members of the ACG on May 25 at DZ BANK in New York. He discussed challenges and opportunities in Europe and the transatlantic relationship. He observed that this is a period of great change on many levels, but particularly in economic, political, and geostrategic terms.
“Agriculture and Water Policy”
On May 22, the ACG partnered with the German Embassy to host a small dinner with Christian Schmidt, the German Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture. In brief remarks, he talked about resource scarcity and food security as catalysts for addressing some of today’s overarching global challenges, like migration. He made an impassioned plea for greater transatlantic cooperation in meeting these challenges. With a view to the G20 Summit in Hamburg, he highlighted agriculture as a key factor for sustainability – and said access to food is a significant contributor to political stability.
“Global Attitudes and Foreign Policy in an Era of Populism”
On May 18, the ACG hosted an evening discussion and reception with Dr. James Bell, Vice President of Global Strategy at Pew Research, and Jan Techau, Director of the Richard C. Holbrook Forum at the American Academy in Berlin. Some 20 ACG members and Fellowship Alumni attended the event at CMS. Law. Tax. in Berlin. During the discussion, which was moderated by ACG President Dr. Steven E. Sokol, the panel discussed public opinion in the United States and Europe, foreign and security policy, and some of the key challenges facing the transatlantic community.
“How Stable Is Europe? A Stock-Taking of the Latest Developments in Politics and Financial Markets”
During a discussion and luncheon on May 4, Dr. Joachim Wuermeling, a member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank who is responsible for the Directorates General Markets and Information Technology, shared an overview of the range of challenges facing the eurozone with a group of 50 members and friends of the ACG at Morgan Stanley.
“Europe’s Superwahljahr: New Challenges for Europe?”
On April 10, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (1997 Young Leader), Vice President of the European Parliament, discussed some of the regional, national, and supranational challenges for Europe in a critical election year. The luncheon was hosted by Alston & Bird LLP. In an extremely frank and open exchange, he shared his very optimistic views on Europe’s Superwahljahr, or super election year. With national elections in the Netherlands, France, the UK, Germany, and possibly Italy, as well as state elections, 2017 is a critical year for Europe. Graf Lambsdorff underlined the importance of a strong the Franco-German partnership for the future of the EU.
“Future Challenges to the German-American Economic Relationship in the Trump Administration”
On April 7, the American Council on Germany partnered with the Transatlantic Academy to hold a panel discussion on the economic challenges the transatlantic partnership faces in an age of globalization. More than 50 ACG members and friends attended the event, which was hosted by PwC Strategy& and featured Dr. Wade Jacoby, Professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University, and Dr. Harold James, Claude and Lore Kelly Professor of European Studies at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Gideon Rachman, Chief Foreign Affairs Columnist at the Financial Times, moderated the discussion. The panel reflected on both the preexisting and changing nature of German-American economic ties, noting that many of the challenges are not new. They are simply more apparent since the election of Trump.
“Five American Foreign Policy Traditions: How Does President Trump’s Approach Stack Up?”
Recognizing its 65th anniversary, the American Council on Germany held its Annual Meeting on March 29, 2017. Former ACG Board member Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick, who served as President of the World Bank and as U.S. Trade Representative, delivered a keynote address to nearly 100 members and friends. He described five U.S. foreign policy traditions and put President Donald J. Trump’s early foreign policy positions in an historic context. In his introduction, ACG Chairman Ambassador Robert M. Kimmitt described Ambassador Zoellick as having both extraordinary breadth and true depth of knowledge on an array of issues.
“Efforts at the UN and in Germany to Promote Gender Equity in a Changing Work Environment”
On a snowy March 14, the ACG and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung hosted a breakfast briefing with Bundestag Member Ursula Groden-Kranich (CDU). Ms. Groden-Kranich discussed the steps that Germany is taking in order to close the gender pay gap.
“Germany in the Super Election Year 2017: Implications for Germany’s Standing in Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship”
On February 27, the ACG hosted a discussion and luncheon with Dr. Jürgen Rüttgers, former Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia and former Federal Minister for Education, Science, Research, and Technology. Dr. Rüttgers discussed the challenges facing Europe during the “Super Election Year.” While he did not make specific predictions regarding the outcome of the German election in September, he did note the presence of forces similar to those which influenced the U.S. election in 2016. He highlighted the populist disenchantment with political elites.
Munich Security Conference
The ACG partnered with the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) to host a breakfast briefing as an official side event at the Munich Security Conference. General David Petraeus and Bundestag member Dr. Norbert Röttgen (CDU) kicked off a lively discussion on the challenges facing the transatlantic partnership.
During the the discussion – which included German politicians as well as journalists, academics, and other foreign policy experts from both sides of the Atlantic – the group focused on the common challenges posed by powers such as Russia, China, and North Korea as well as non-state actors and Islamic extremists. They also talked about cyber security, the rise of populism, and elections. There was consensus that complexity and uncertainty are the hallmarks of today’s world order and that the internal fragility of the transatlantic alliance can contribute to the destabilization of society.
Participants agreed that the transatlantic partnership cannot be taken for granted. It must be maintained. While many of the attendees at the ACG-AICGS event agreed with the messages delivered by Vice President Pence and Defense Secretary Mattis at the MSC, they questioned how to reconcile those messages of support for NATO and a common security framework with the statements of President Trump.
“The Euro Area: The Current Economic Situation and the Ongoing Need for Institutional Reforms”
On February 9, Dr. Johannes Beermann, a Member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank, discussed past, present, and future economic, fiscal, and monetary policy in the eurozone. More than 20 members and friends of the American Council on Germany braved the wintry weather to hear his insights at a discussion and reception hosted by Dentons US LLP.
“Governing in Uncertain Times: New Leadership in the United States and at the United Nations”
On January 25, 2017, the ACG hosted a discussion and luncheon with Ambassador Harald Braun, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations. Some 45 friends and members of the ACG gathered to hear Amb Braun discuss the changing political atmosphere in the EU and the U.S. and what it means for transatlantic relations. Amb. Braun noted that though there has been some skepticism towards to the United Nations from the Trump administration, he was looking forward to working with Nikki Haley as she takes over as the United States Ambassador to the UN.
“Is TTIP Dead? The Future of Transatlantic Trade”
As the first event of the year, on January 12, 2017, the ACG and Cultural Vistas hosted a Political Salon with WirtschaftsWoche journalist, Simon Book. Mr. Book gave insights of the history of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and shared his views about the likelihood of a trade agreement being reached under the Trump administration. Though it may be unlikely for TTIP to be approved, Mr. Book does think it is possible that the Trump administration will try to reach bilateral trade agreements.
“After Brexit, U.S. Elections, and Italy’s Referendum: Germany’s Role in Europe”
On December 19, 2016, Bundestag Member Peter Beyer (CDU) briefed members about the challenges facing Europe and Germany’s leading role in meeting those challenges at a luncheon hosted by NORD/LB. After the discussion, Mr. Beyer participated in a podcast with Dr. Steven E. Sokol.
“The Future of Multilateralism: A View from the UN”
At the final Transatlantic Global Agenda event of the year, Germany’s outgoing Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Heiko Thoms, discussed the international order and the importance of multilateral organizations. He expressed concern about a potential vacuum that may emerge if the United States reduces its international engagement.
“Germany’s Leadership Role in the ‘New’ Europe”
Nearly 100 people attended a luncheon hosted by the ACG and sponsored by vbw and bayme vbm with Dr. Theo Waigel, former Federal Minister of Finance, on November 21, 2016. Covering a wide range of topics, Dr. Waigel painted a positive picture of Germany’s leadership role within Europe, the importance of a strong transatlantic partnership with the United States, and the success of the European project. He noted that during his time as Finance Minister, he faced great skepticism toward the EU and the euro. But he believes that without the single euro currency, the EU, in particular Germany, would not have been able to survive and recover from the recession of 2008.
“Meeting Today’s Global Challenges: Europe and the United States in Turbulent Times”
On November 11, 2016, more than 50 friends and members of the American Council on Germany gathered at a luncheon sponsored by Noerr LLP to hear from Ambassador João Vale de Almeida, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations. Just days after the U.S. election, he stated that globalization has introduced a new complexity to global governance, domestic issues, and foreign policy, because it is becoming difficult to separate them from each other. The Ambassador sees 2017 as the start of a new era and said the West should continue to be assertive in defending its values.
“Rising Russia: How to Deal with President Putin and His New Russia”
On October 21, 2016, the ACG and American Friends of Bucerius hosted a luncheon with Katja Gloger, Editor-at-Large of Stern magazine. Ms. Gloger, who has covered Russia for more than 25 years, gave thought-provoking insights on contemporary Russia, the mindset of Vladimir Putin, and how the West can cope with the “New Russia.” She noted that Russia is on its way to being a global power again and argued that we are already at the start of a new “Cold War.” This discussion was part of the 2016 Transatlantic Global Agenda Series.
“America and the World: What the U.S. Election Means for Foreign Policy”
More than 60 people joined the American Council on Germany, Cultural Vistas, and the German Consulate General of New York on October 20, 2016 for a panel discussion on the U.S. election and what it means for foreign affairs. The speakers were Christopher Caldwell, Senior Editor for The Weekly Standard, and Georg Mascolo, Head of the Joint Investigative Group of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR, and WDR. The engaging conversation highlighted the foreign policy positions of the presidential candidates, as well as perspectives on globalization, trade, and immigration.
“Going Digital: Industry 4.0 in Germany”
On October 11, 2016, the ACG held a discussion and luncheon for corporate members and other close friends with Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, on the global digital economy and Industry 4.0 in Germany. Commissioner Oettinger spoke openly about both the challenges and the great potential of the digital economy and globalization. Technology and innovation may have given rise to populism and nationalism, but the “digital revolution” has great potential.
“The Transatlantic Partnership in an Age of Terrorism and Tectonic Shifts”
More than 80 members and friends of the American Council on Germany gathered at a luncheon sponsored by DZ BANK AG to hear from General Michael V. Hayden, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and former Director of the National Security Agency, on September 7, 2016. General Hayden said that although the United States and Europe are “like-minded” on many issues, there are fundamental differences around the use of force and privacy – and that this gap is widening. Differences notwithstanding, he said that countries should be guided not only by what is in their national interest, but also by what is in the interest of the greater good. In that regard, Germany’s actions under Chancellor Merkel regarding the euro and the refugee crisis may not be in the country’s best interest in the near term, but they are for the good of the regional and global order.