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Andreas Kluth

France and Germany Agree on the U.S. More Than They Realize

A puzzling conflict about transatlantic relations has broken out between the French president and the German defense minister. It’s mostly semantics.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, strategic thinker.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, strategic thinker.

Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe

“I profoundly disagree” with the German defense minister, French President Emmanuel Macron said the other day, calling her view on transatlantic relations “a historical misinterpretation.” The German minister in question, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, promptly upped the ante, labelling Macron’s contrasting vision “an illusion.”

This unusual dialectic between a French president sometimes described as “Jupiterian” and a generally understated German cabinet member suggests something big is at stake. Indeed, it’s the future relationship between the European Union and the U.S., not only during the coming presidency of Joe Biden but far beyond.