Chancellor Merkel’s Visit

Scott Nason /

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be in town this week for a visit to the White House, where President Obama will present her with the Medal of Freedom. Her visit comes at a time when the United States and Germany are struggling to find common ground on a variety of issues. The two world leaders will have much to discuss besides the global economy, and neither should substitute style for substance.

For starters, Merkel will need to explain why her government is pursing further cuts to Germany’s already small defense budget. And why, just this past week, Berlin decided to shutter all of its nuclear power plants over course of the next decade without a good plan for how to fill the gap that it creates.

These decisions have policy implications. Cuts to Germany’s military budget means the United States will likely be forced to carry even more of the load for NATO operations. By forgoing nuclear power, Germany may become alarmingly dependent on energy supplies from Russia, which, as the Christian Science Monitor asserts, “has used gas exports and pipelines to blackmail and divide greater Europe.”

Americans will also want to know where Germany stands on several looming decisions:

These are not insignificant issues. Let’s hope President Obama does not avoid these issues when he sits down with Merkel.