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Reflecting on Wednesday’s Capitol Siege

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to sit down and reflect on the events that unfolded last week in Washington, DC. After the annus horribilis 2020, there were high hopes that 2021 would be a better year. But, the developments during the first full week do not bode well. On Wednesday, we saw our democracy come under attack when the U.S. Capitol was stormed. This political crisis comes against the backdrop of an ongoing national public health emergency. On Thursday, the United States recorded more than 4,000 Covid-19 deaths in a single day, the highest one-day death toll since the beginning of the pandemic. And, on Friday the United States surpassed 300,000 daily coronavirus cases. The number – which roughly equates the population of Pittsburgh or...

Standing United in an Unprecedented Time

We are at a very precarious moment in our history. The unconscionable killing of George Floyd almost two weeks ago has sparked the worst nationwide racial upheaval in 50 years. It has unleashed deep-rooted anger and pain over the longstanding racial injustice in our country. The current charged environment serves as a call to action. While the news has been dominated by reports about unacceptable violence instigated by a variety of actors, it is heartening to see so many people of different colors and faiths coming together (notwithstanding concerns about social distancing) to march peacefully for change, as well as police officers in some communities taking a knee with protesters in common cause. The civil rights crisis playing out in communities across the country is just...

As Temperatures Rise, European Politics Heat Up

At the end of June, a heat wave struck western and central Europe, setting new temperature records for June in Germany and the Czech Republic. While temperatures have since cooled somewhat, European and German politics show no signs of doing the same. After marathon negotiations, European leaders broke with the “Spitzenkandidat process” whereby European political parties appoint lead candidates for senior positions ahead of the European elections to choose a new slate of leaders. Meanwhile, Germany is experiencing tectonic shifts in its party landscape. Let me take these developments in turn: Following the European elections in late May and weeks of speculation about who would get Europe’s top jobs, last week European leaders nominated German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen as the next President of...

Redefining the Indispensable Relationship – by Dr. Steven E. Sokol

There is no doubt that the transatlantic relationship that has contributed to peace, stability, and prosperity for more than 70 years is at a critical juncture. The United States and Germany have numerous Knackpunkte – sticking points – which include defense spending by NATO member states, tariffs and trade, and climate change. There are also policy differences on how to bring stability to the Middle East, policy toward Russia, and energy – most notably regarding Nord Stream 2. There is a danger that these tensions can create fissures in the relationship, allowing strategic competitors like China and Russia to fill this vacuum. And with Germany and the United States both inwardly focused on a variety of issues, it is harder to address the common challenges in a constructive way. But, just because it...
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