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Under President Trump, America is calling the postwar values common to the U.S. and Europe into question: That’s why it’s high time to chart a new foreign policy after Atlanticism.

One could almost be grateful to Donald Trump: By undermining the transatlantic partnership, he has heightened Germans’ recognition of how much this relationship has benefitted them. No other country has so profited from the American-led world order more than the Federal Republic. Atlanticism was the umbrella under which politically and morally ruined Germany could be rehabilitated and re-integrated into the West. Being anchored in the West, along with Germany’s division, allayed the fears of Germany's neighbors, and finally dispensed with the European nightmare known as the German question.

It was through the transatlantic partnership that West Germany, and after unification the whole country, accessed Western modernism with its three core elements: capitalism, cultural liberalism, and the concept of (for Germany, the decisively new) pro-active, self-confident citizenship. This contributed to the end of the German militarism, worship of the state, and the mentality of subservience.

In addition, German received a security architecture in NATO, a status that enabled it to participate in the officially demonized nuclear weapons regime. And the Americans could live with the Germans’ cultural arrogance, which supposedly stood in contrast to the Americans’ ostensibly superficial lifestyle. They endured the anti-Americanism and bet on the soft power of their attractive social model. All of this resonates today when it comes to the future of the transatlantic relationship.

But now the whole situation has been reversed in a crazy way.

Today Atlanticists have to deal with the paradox that the attack on the foundations of the liberal international world order founded by America comes from the White House. In the West Wing sits a nationalist and confessed enemy of multilateral politics, one who sympathizes with authoritarian leaders and undermines the EU by supporting Brexit.

The fact that the constants and principles of German foreign policy -- European integration, multilateralism, engagement in the name of human rights and the rule of law, rule-based globalization -- are questioned by the American government constitutes an enormous intellectual and strategic challenge. In the future, Europe now, out of necessity, has to do this by itself without the aid of the U.S., or perhaps even against the U.S. government.

It’s ridiculous to believe that Angela Merkel should compensate for the failure of the U.S. president by assuming the mantle of "leader of the free world." And yet there’s a kernel of something there: Germany, more than other actors, is tied to the liberal international order. This is the new German question: Germany is so large that it cannot flourish without this order, and yet it’s too small to guarantee it alone. For the foreseeable future, German foreign policy will suffer this contradiction. Since the previous guarantor of this order is becoming increasingly irrelevant, the question of the Germany’s contribution has to be posed is radically anew.

Those who think we can just wait for the U.S. to return to its old role after Trump are deceiving themselves. Indeed, the transatlantic crisis didn’t begin with Trump, and will not end with Trump. Why don‘t the Atlanticists want to see this? 

In other words: When did the Atlanticists lose touch with reality? The exact date can’t be determined. But at the latest on June 16, 2015, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy. At this moment, a strange mechanism began to take effect: above all those in the German public who know a lot about the U.S. were spectacularly blindsided.

With the self-certainty of know-it-alls, it was said that Donald Trump could never become the presidential candidate of the Republicans, because after the primaries the party brass would erase such a deformation. Wrong.

Then, with sophisticated swing-state surveys, it was absolutely certain that Trump could never be elected President of the United States. Wrong again.