Is Germany about to retreat from the world? Berlin has become an essential advocate for liberal internationalism in recent years. But it may turn inward again.
Germany has long been a payer rather than a player at the United Nations and other multilateral institutions. While disbursing large quantities in foreign aid, and cautiously experimenting with stabilization missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan, Berlin generally avoided taking a real leadership role in global affairs.
The priority for Berlin was always Europe, and that remains the case. But as Germany has become more powerful within the European Union, it has discovered that regional leadership cannot be disconnected from a global role. Its last government, a left-right coalition that served from 2013 to 2017, was determinedly internationalist.