With low unemployment and a solid manufacturing base, Germany is an “economic juggernaut,” says George Packer, while the ongoing euro zone crisis has managed to turn Germany, Europe’s largest creditor nation, into a regional superpower.
“The two world leaders with whom Merkel has her most important and complex relationships are Obama, who has won her reluctant respect, and Putin, who has earned her deep distrust,” Packer notes.
Merkel’s analytical detachment and seeming lack of ego are her greatest political strengths—particularly in a country that once fell victim to macho rhetoric and militarism, says Packer—with one biographer calling her “the Chancellor of Europe.”
Germany, in fact, has stayed out of most of the recent wars, political centrists rule in parliament and the German middle-class is prospering.
“Among German leaders, Merkel is a triple anomaly: a woman (divorced, remarried, no children), a scientist (quantum chemistry), and an Ossi (a product of East Germany),” writes Packer.
Many point to Merkel’s scientific habit of mind as a key to her success, trained as she was to approach problems methodically, “weighing risks, anticipating reactions, and then, even after making a decision, letting it sit for a while before acting.”