This archived article was written by: Alexander Holt
The Leader of the Free World has always been a title reserved for the President of the United States due to that position’s influence and power within western leadership. Today that title belongs to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
When former President Barrack Obama had the title, western countries throughout East Asia, Europe and the Americas looked toward the United States for leadership in times of crisis which is true of the 2008 global economic crisis, the Syrian refugee crisis, the War on Terror and natural disasters that plagued people throughout the world.
Today, President Donald Trump’s “America first” and anti-immigrant mentality left the west without a leader. Some turned to the Ppresident’s proverbial counterpart, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada who many consider the face of progress.
However, it is Merkel who gets the title of Leader of the Free World as she helped push Germany into a global powerhouse. As the most powerful women in the world, Merkel has made Germany the de-facto leader of the European Union and the world’s fourth largest economy.
Under Merkel, who became Chancellor in 2005, Germany has risen to the top of the political stage with its defiance against Russian aggression in Ukraine, its role in taking in Syrian refuges, sparking the Paris Agreement and pushing for a stronger, more united North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Merkel has an impressive background, growing up in Soviet-dominated East Germany and later getting a Ph.D. in quantum chemistry before briefly participating in the 1989 German Revolution that reunified the country. Merkel has been in politics ever since and received numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama in 2011.
She rallied major Western powers like France, Brazil and the United Kingdom to build a post U.S. world which is more likely now than ever to happen, and this could create more challenges to the rising power.
With a more isolationist U.S., Germany will take center stage and work with other world powers to take over many of the U.S.’s roles, including as world police and arsenal of democracy.
While Germany itself is not yet equipped to take on these roles, Merkel’s leadership will pave the way for it to happen, especially with recent increases in the German Military.
Merkel will have to pave her way in the international community, or more specifically the United Nations and push Germany to become a permanent member of the security council, which the nation has already expressed a bid for along with Japan, India and Brazil.
One thing is for certain, with the growing number of populists in the world threating progressive democracies, Germany may be our last hope.