Home/Daniel Larison/Trump Should Recall Grenell from Germany

Trump Should Recall Grenell from Germany

The U.S. ambassador to Germany, Ric Grenell, is in trouble less than a month since taking his post, and faces calls for his expulsion over comments that suggested that he would interfere in German and other European countries’ politics:

Leading politicians of Germany’s left-wing parties on Tuesday called for the US ambassador to be expelled, after the staunch defender of Donald Trump was accused of meddling in domestic politics and aggravating already tense ties.

Richard Grenell had taken up his diplomatic posting on May 8, and immediately sparked an uproar when he tweeted on the same day that German companies should stop doing business with Iran as Trump quit the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.

He stoked further outrage over the weekend with his reported comments of his ambition to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders”.

Trump is already deeply unpopular in Germany, not least because of the disagreements that the president has had with the German government and our other allies over the nuclear deal and trade. That makes it all the more important that the U.S. has an ambassador there capable of repairing frayed ties and reassuring frustrated allies. Grenell clearly is not and never was capable of that. Who would have guessed that a former spokesman for John Bolton would not make a good diplomat?

Grenell’s remarks in the Breitbart interview did not explicitly endorse any parties out of power. He praised the current Austrian chancellor by name. That said, the implication of his remarks was that he was interested in bringing to power parties that were not currently in government. What else could he have meant by saying that he wanted to “empower” them? That could easily be interpreted as a challenge to the current governing coalition in Germany, and it has certainly been interpreted as unwarranted meddling in internal German affairs.

The former SPD chief Martin Schulz said that Grenell was speaking as if he were a “colonial officer.” He went on to say this:

“What this man is doing, is unheard of in international diplomacy,” Martin Schulz, former chief of the Social Democratic Party, told national news agency DPA.

“If a German ambassador were to say in Washington that he is there to boost the Democrats, he would have been kicked out immediately.

Whatever Grenell’s intentions may have been, he has already poisoned the atmosphere with one of the governing coalition’s main partners and it is difficult to see how he can function effectively in Berlin after this. If Trump valued the relationship with Germany, he would recall Grenell now.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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