Germany’s Foreign Policy, With Liana Fix

Liana Fix, resident fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss how Germany’s new government is approaching foreign policy.

February 15, 2022 — 33:00 min
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James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair Full Bio

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Liana Fix

Resident Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States

Show Notes

Liana Fix, resident fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss how Germany’s new government is approaching foreign policy.

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Transcript

Jim Lindsay:

Welcome to The President's Inbox, a CFR podcast about the foreign policy challenges facing the United States. I'm Jim Lindsay, Director of Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This week's topic is Germany's foreign policy. With me to discuss how the new German government is approaching foreign affairs is Liana Fix. Liana is currently a resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She is on leave from the International Affairs Department of the Kerber Foundation in Berlin. An historian and political scientist by training, Liana's research focuses on Russia and Eastern Europe, European security, arms control, and German foreign policy more generally. Liana, thanks for joining me.

Liana Fix:

Thank you so much.

Jim Lindsay:

Liana, I want to talk about German foreign policy broadly. But if we may, I would like to start by talking about the crisis that is dominating the news, namely Ukraine. Last week, Chancellor Olaf Scholz traveled to Washington to meet with President Biden. As we are talking now, the chancellor has just wrapped up a meeting with the Ukrainian president, and he's preparing for a meeting with Russian President Putin. Obviously this is a fluid situation, and we aren't privy with what the chancellor said in his private meetings in Kyiv or what he's going to say in Moscow. But there has been a lot of talk about possible divisions within the Atlantic Alliance over Ukraine. So how does the situation look from Berlin's point of view?

Liana Fix:

The trips of Olaf Scholz are actually intended with one message to convey, one message to partners but also to Moscow, which is basically Germany is back. And this message is directed towards all the skeptics, who in the last weeks have criticized Germany, sometimes in a quite exaggerated way that Germany is not a reliable ally anymore, that it is doing not enough in the Ukraine conflict, or better to say in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. So the message is, Olaf Scholz is here, Germany is back and Germany will engage in crisis management. That was the message in Washington, it's the message in Kyiv, and it's also the message for Moscow.

Liana Fix:

At the same time, the chancellor defends the approach that he has assumed in the last weeks. So there is no change on the question of weapon deliveries to Ukraine. This is a position which is being held. Germany will not deliver weapons to Ukraine. But on the other hand, Scholz tries to make sure that weapon deliveries might perhaps not be the area where Germany has to make the biggest contribution. So he underlines financial contributions to Ukraine, he underlines what Germany can do in diplomatic engagement in Normandy Four, and also what Germany will do when it comes to an invasion on Nord Stream 2, his famous line, "Everything is on the table." This message was successful in Washington. In Kyiv, he did the highly symbolic message to commemorate those victims of the Maidan revolution, and he will certainly try to balance between dialogue and deterrence in his meeting in Moscow.

Jim Lindsay:

There's a lot there, Liana. I'd like to unpack it. And first you really caught me with your statement that Germany is back. Now, I have to ask you what exactly does that mean? Because depending upon your historical reference, maybe Germany being back is good or not.

Liana Fix:

Germany is back from a silence that has basically ruled in Berlin in the last couple of weeks. So since we have a new government coalition in Berlin, since December, there was a lot of tolerance for the new government needing time to prepare for its job. There was a lot of tolerance for everyone getting ready in their respective ministries. But at some point at the beginning of January, international but also domestic commentators were just surprised that the silence continues, and that there's no strong public messaging on the greatest foreign policy crisis that we witness right now. This is changing. Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor has just opened a Twitter account, which is one of the instruments he will use to communicate his foreign policy messages in a stronger way. And I quoted this before, there was a joke going around on Twitter, which said someone has to tell Olaf Scholz that he has to unmute himself. And it seems that now he has found the button to unmute himself.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, just to be fair to the chancellor, he's been in the job for less than two months, correct?

Liana Fix:

Absolutely. But there have been other governments who had a similar job and similar challenges. Just thinking about the Gerhard Schroder and Joschka Fischer government, the first Red-Green government, they were confronted with the crisis in the Balkans very early on. So while you can say a government needs a little bit of time to get moving, it has now almost been too late. So this is really the last moment where the German government with the visit to Washington, Kyiv and Moscow really made it back to the international scene.

Jim Lindsay:

I want to get to the issue of the German coalition and what it is that Chancellor Scholz brings to the table in a moment. But I really want to continue on this theme of what's happening in Ukraine right now. What I'd like to have you do, Liana is explain why it is that Germany is opposed to providing weapons to Ukraine. I will note that the German government has stressed that it has provided a fair amount of financial support to Kyiv over the years. And I believe in today's conversations, the chancellor made an additional promise of support. But Germany, unlike many of the other members of the European Union and NATO is dead set against providing or transferring weapons to Kyiv. Can you explain the rationale?

Liana Fix:

Absolutely. So the official Berlin position is that Germany is always cautious when it comes to weapon deliveries in general. So this is a general principle that is coming out from Berlin. At the same time, critics argue that Germany has sent weapons for instance to the Kurdish Peshmerga. So there's more to it than just a policy. And what is more is that there's a reluctance to provide weapons to Ukraine in a situation when these weapons could kill Russians. That is certainly also to some extent the historic backdrop of Germany's unwillingness to get involved into this conflict in a military way, because Germany feels the weight of history it has, not only towards Russia but also towards Ukraine and the whole space.

Liana Fix:

At the same time, I would argue that using Germany's history, as the German foreign minister has done to argue against weapon deliveries is a little bit an arbitrary choice because you can make the history case both ways. But this explains why not only for policy reasons, but also for how Germany understands itself and its role in the region, weapon deliveries are a difficult path to take. And at the same time, Germany also argues that its engagement in the diplomatic process with the Normandy Four meetings would make it more difficult to take the stance as a credible mediator if at the same time Germany would provide weapons. And Berlin also points to France, which at the same, it does not deliver weapons to Ukraine. So the argument is in principle, Germany can take another role, a role as a diplomatic mediator, and it is not the country that due to its history should deliver weapons to a conflict region east of Germany.

Jim Lindsay:

So when German officials here, officials in Eastern Europe complain about the refusal to send weapons to Ukraine, does that not resonate at all? I will note that I believe it was the Latvian defense minister accused Germany of having an immoral and hypocritical relationship with Russia.

Liana Fix:

I think it's pretty much perceived as unfair at the moment, this criticism towards Berlin and as exaggerated, again because other countries are also not delivering weapons. It's not only Germany. And at the same time, because Germany tries to deliver in other areas such as reassuring Eastern member states, Germany will now send more troops to Lithuania. So this criticism doesn't resonate within the German political scene. And also if you look at the public opinion, the majority of Germans is against weapon deliveries, and weapon deliveries are perceived as contributing to escalation rather than having a deterrence effect, which is very much the interpretation that the UK and the Baltic states have on weapon deliveries. This is not very prominent in Germany, weapon deliveries, if it is not such an existential fundamental situation as the fight against the Islamic State, weapon deliveries are perceived as contributing to escalation.

Jim Lindsay:

I'm curious on this point, Liana, the Biden Administration has been emphatic that invasion by Russia of Ukraine is likely and perhaps even imminent. There's talk that it might even happen this week. Is that the same reading that German officials have of the current situation?

Liana Fix:

There's an interesting difference. I think the situation is in principle guided in a similar way. It's very serious. There was a military threat by the Russian side. But in Berlin and also in Paris, Russia's military buildup is perceived as a lever, as a negotiation strategy that Moscow uses to gain diplomatic and political concession. And my impression is that here in Washington, the reality of a military escalation is much more real. It's a scenario that is considered to be very possible if not probable. And I think probable is certainly not what officials in Berlin would interpret the situation. And there's also always still the hope that the diplomatic measures, and that's exactly what we see right now with Olaf Scholz' visit to Moscow might change the situation. And in this regard, Olaf Scholz' trip to Moscow is timely and perhaps more urgent than any other trips by Western leaders that have been made to Moscow before.

Liana Fix:

It is not only his first trip to Moscow. It is the first meeting between Olaf Scholz and the Russian president in general. And this is really the meeting where Olaf Scholz has to show whether he's able to step into the shoes of Angela Merkel, who had a very close relationship with the Russian president and a very special relationship. So for different reasons, this is an important moment. And to some extent, it also explains or could explain why there have been deescalation measures announced by Moscow in a somewhat strange conversation between the Russia president and his foreign minister, that Russia will continue the path of diplomacy. This is setting the stage for the visit of Olaf Scholz. Hopefully it is setting the stage in a serious way and not in a way of deception for an imminent attack.

Jim Lindsay:

From the vantage point of Berlin then, what is it that they think President Putin wants in terms of concessions? And are those concessions that Berlin's willing to make?

Liana Fix:

The first point is the implementation of the Minsk agreements. And that is why Berlin has continued to work on the Normandy Format. This was the centerpiece of Germany's diplomacy in the last weeks, reviving the Normandy Format, implementing the Minsk II agreements although-

Jim Lindsay:

And this is an agreement from 2015 that was about how ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine would be treated, getting essentially a great deal of autonomy.

Liana Fix:

Exactly. It's an agreement which foresees elections in those regions of Eastern Ukraine, where the separatists are in power since 2015, and at the same time concedes autonomy to those separatists in return for elections. But there have been a lot of different interpretations on the sequence of events, and exactly this is the point where Germany tries to make a contribution, and where it hopes that any positive steps in this diplomatic process will make Moscow to reconsider a military invasion. The second part that Berlin is thinking about is certainly the question of NATO enlargement and the prospects for Ukraine. Berlin was against the 2008 decision in the Bucharest at the NATO's Bucharest meeting to offer Ukraine a membership perspective. Angela Merkel and both Sarkozy back then tried to convince Bush that Ukraine and Georgia should not receive a membership action plan. The compromise was a line in the communique that Ukraine and Georgia at some point will become members.

Liana Fix:

This is a position that Berlin continues to hold. It opposes a membership of Ukraine and Georgia in NATO. At the same time, it feels a necessity to defend the principle that not Moscow should decide who becomes a NATO member, but that the Alliance decides, and those countries who are candidates, if they're ready to become a NATO member state. So this point, and Olaf Scholz put it into words, he said that at the moment, this is not something which is discussed. So he doesn't understand why Moscow makes such a big political problem of it. Which is an interesting wording because it does not count at the principle of the open door policy, but it communicates to Moscow this is not on the table right now, something Moscow should already know, but it wishes to hear it explicitly in writing, which will not be delivered, but at least saying it orally can send a message towards Moscow.

Jim Lindsay:

Let's open up our aperture, Liana, and talk about the Scholz government and its specific approach to foreign policy more broadly. And perhaps let's begin by talking about the chancellor himself. You just spoke a moment ago about Chancellor Merkel who had 16 years on the job. She was pretty experienced by the end of her time, largely considered sort of being the leading figure in Europe. Now you have chancellor Scholz, who's both new to the job and in many ways new to foreign policy challenges. He was the former mayor of Hamburg. My understanding he's a lawyer by training, doing employment law. During various posts he had in prior governments, he really handled domestic matters. All of a sudden now he's got the whole portfolio. So what is your sense sort of the approach or the worldview that all of Olaf Scholz brings to the job?

Liana Fix:

You're absolutely right. He has a lot of international experience as a finance minister, as a mayor of a major city, but this does not necessarily translate into foreign policy experience. So he knows the leaders of the world, he has been introduced by Angela Merkel to all the other leaders, but he has not dealt himself with hardcore foreign and security policy issues. At the same time, he has a different background than Angela Merkel had. Angela Merkel was from Eastern Germany, so the east of Europe was very close to her and that she spoke Russian. Olaf Scholz, the chancellor is very much socialized in the Western sphere. He's closer to France than he may be to the east. So this is new territory for him. And he will certainly not be able to do the same as Angela Merkel did. I mean, just the fact that he doesn't speak Russian will make it more difficult.

Liana Fix:

At the same time, he promised in his speeches to continue the general line of Merkel's foreign policy on Russia. And he has a coalition government with the Greens and with the Liberals, who on Russia are much more skeptical and would like to pursue a much more normative approach. So to sum up, he is new to the real foreign policy job. He's not new on the international stage, but he brings with him the right background, a coalition which wants Germany to play a major role in the world. And he has the set of values, the understanding of what is right and what is wrong. And he always says, "Well, might does not make right" of the basics of the European security order, which makes me and others confident that he brings the right set of values and principles to the table for talks in Moscow.

Jim Lindsay:

So tell me a little bit about the politics of this traffic-like coalition, where you have the Social Democrats, you have the Greens, you have the Free Democrats. Who's making decisions when it comes to foreign policy?

Liana Fix:

That's a question that was discussed at the beginning of the coalition. So there were some back and forth between coalition politicians about who's calling the shots. And in general in German foreign policy, the chancellory has the ... and now let me introduce a complicated, long German word because we all love it, die richtige Kompetenz.

Jim Lindsay:

I'm not going to try to repeat it.

Liana Fix:

The famous richtige Kompetenz. He has the competency to set sort of the guardrails of German foreign policy or the general direction of German foreign policy. Angela Merkel foreign policy was very much concentrated on the chancellory, so the foreign ministry played a much weaker role. This is not something that the Greens, who now have the foreign ministry together with the new foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock will accept. They want her to play a prominent role, and she wants to fulfill this role. She, in contrast to Olaf Scholz, she has a lot of experience. She has worked at the foreign and security policy issues in the past.

Liana Fix:

What we also see is that coordination between the foreign ministry and the chancellory is going quite well on the bureaucratic level. There are diplomats from the foreign ministry working in the chancellory. There are good connections between the foreign ministry and the chancellory. So we do see coordination. And the foreign minister and the chancellor have underlined that they will not pursue different tracks but will make sure that German foreign policy's coherent. But we will see more engagement by the foreign minister and perhaps less engagement by the chancellory in foreign policy issues than we had under the chancellorship of Angela Merkel. So they will play perhaps a more cooperative role of a duet working together, rather than Scholz just leading the way and the foreign minister following.

Jim Lindsay:

Do we have a sense of what it is that Foreign Minister Baerbock wants to accomplish in foreign policy? Because obviously she has a pretty full inbox. I'm not so sure that if she had her own choice, that she would say Ukraine or Russia will be job number one. But what is her take on what needs to be done in foreign affairs?

Liana Fix:

If there were no Russia-Ukraine crisis at the moment, she would focus much more on climate diplomacy. That is an area which is basically mainstreamed along all German ministries right now. Every ministry is focusing on climate change and the climate crisis and climate diplomacy. And also the foreign ministry is taking a big effort in this regard. At the same time, security policy was not something which is new to Annalena Baerbock. So she traveled in the past to crisis regions, and she herself worked on peace and security in the past. So this is not something where she feels uncomfortable, those crises in the world.

Liana Fix:

The other priorities that we might see in the future is certainly the relationship with Poland, and also reviving the Weimar Triangle, the relationship between Paris, Berlin and Warsaw. This is something where the foreign minister will certainly invest a lot of resources. And then China will certainly be one of the priorities that she has to deal with. At the moment, the China issue is really not as present as it perhaps should be because Russia just dominates international affairs. But in the medium and in the long term, reconciling Germany's economic interests with a China that is increasingly more assertive in the international arena, and bringing this position together with the US stance on China and the stance of other European neighbors will be a challenge at least as difficult as the Russia challenge.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, let's talk about the China challenge as it poses to Berlin. How do you think this government is going to try to square the circle? I ask that question against the backdrop of a lot of criticism, I'm sure you've heard it, being here in Washington, that Germany has an unhealthy dependence on China. It is much too interested in selling things to the Chinese. Indeed, many people would describe Germany's policy as mercantilist. On the other hand, I've read in the last several days that the German government may be moving away from that position. There's talk about the government issuing a paper that defines China as a systemic rival across a variety of domains for Germany. So help us think about how Berlin, this government is thinking about the China challenge.

Liana Fix:

I mean, let me perhaps first bring in some domestic public opinion on China, which is interesting. It is fair to say that Germans very much feel safe in their country. So they don't have a strong threat perception. There's a stronger threat perception towards Russia, but it's still comparatively low. And towards China, there really is almost no feeling that Germany or German interests are directly threatened by China. This is good to know as a background. At the same time, continuous polling over the years shows that China has gotten an increasingly negative perception in Germany. So while many Germans were at the beginning neutral towards, a couple of years ago, neutral towards China, the news about China's authoritarian development, its behavior worldwide has led to a change and a more critical stance. This makes it easier for Berlin to get to grips with their own China challenge and also to realign or to some extent recalibrate the China policy towards an approach that is more realistic than the approach that Angela Merkel has conducted, which was very much focused on Germany's economic interests.

Liana Fix:

This is also something that the Green Party has made quite explicit in their policy approach. As I said before, they do have this normative approach to foreign policy, which obviously also applies to China. And this is also a process that the Social Democratic Party has gone through and has adopted increasingly critical takes on how China behaves internationally. So we are not yet at the end of the process, but we do see a recalibration. In the end, the crucial question will be what instruments and resources Germany is willing to invest into this recalibration.

Liana Fix:

So far, the main approach was to strengthen relations with Indo-Pacific partners, which is great in itself. There has been a lot of thinking in the foreign ministry on how to strengthen ties with the Indo-Pacific. But the question then really is what if these interests are not reconcilable anymore, having both strong relations with China and strong relations with the Indo-Pacific? And this will be the litmus test for Germany, if we come into a point and into a situation where it has to decide. At the moment, it's still comfortable with pursuing both and having a more critical stance, but still very much in the mainstream or in the more, let's say, softer camp of European positions towards China. But this may change faster throughout this coalition government and the term of this coalition government.

Jim Lindsay:

We've been talking quite a while, Liana, and we haven't really talked about the European Union. So perhaps you could help me understand how does the Scholz government, this traffic-like coalition view the EU. And I ask that question against the backdrop, it's pretty clear that the French president, President Macron has big ambitions for the EU, his notion of strategic autonomy. Sometimes I get a sense that Germany sort of nods but isn't really all that eager to follow what Paris wants to do. So sort of help me think about how the Scholz government thinks about the EU.

Liana Fix:

Yeah, absolutely. Macron in the past and France in the past have been very good at throwing out visions of the future of the European Union. And as we all know, Helmut Schmidt, the former German chancellor famously said, "Well, if you have visions, you should go to the doctor," which to some extent still reflects Germany's approach, a skeptical look at France's and Macron's visions and trying to operationalize these ideas into, "Okay, what does this exactly mean?" But there is some optimism when it comes to the economic and financial sphere, sort of developing Europe further in the economic and financial sphere and pushing Europe's integration forward in this direction.

Liana Fix:

Olaf Scholz famously said that the support package that was put together within the EU during the pandemic was a Hamiltonian moment, and this sort of framing and narrative suggests that he has broader plans for the European Union, that he considers European economic integration as crucial and as a path that Europe has to take. And obviously as a former finance minister, he has the expertise to pursue this path. If there will be a constellation with Emmanuel Macron reelected in France and Mario Draghi in Italy, we might see a nucleus of really some bigger steps in Europe's economic development, in Europe's economic integration. And that is certainly something that the German chancellor will want to continue from his time as foreign minister, and perhaps to some extent also to make this one of the defining issues of his term, how to bring the European Union forward in economic and financial issues.

Jim Lindsay:

But obviously the EU faces some internal challenges, one of which is that several countries in Eastern Europe, led by Hungary but not limited to Hungary are questioning many of the edicts that come out of Brussels and don't seem to be complying with what would be the certainly the spirit, if not the letter of what it means to be an EU member. We see countries like Hungary becoming less democratic, less liberal in the traditional sense of dealing with rights. So how does Germany approach that issue of so-called democratic backsliding among EU members?

Liana Fix:

It's a very delicate issue because the EU continues to be consensus-based in many areas. There was a call for a reform of foreign policy decisions taking within the European Union, so to make foreign policy decisions not being decided by anonymity but by majority voting. But on the other side, there are many downsides to this approach. If you just exclude the difficult partners from decision making, this will not make them more cooperative in the future and in other areas. So the big deal about the European Union and the position that Germany has tried to take in the past is even if there are such fundamental differences as the democratic backsliding in Poland and in Hungary that we have seen, the European Union and its member states are tied to each other, and there's always the shadow of the future overhanging all negotiation. And this is also one of the reasons where we see Hungary sort of in the past, for instance, towards Russia, it has always criticized the sanctions policy of the European Union, but it has always continued and has never vetoed it.

Liana Fix:

So there's the public side of criticizing the European Union, but then there's also the financial side, the contributions that Hungary receives from the European Union and, as I said, the shadow of the future. So for those countries like Poland and Hungary, how useful is it in concrete negotiations to veto parts of European Union policies? Because in a couple of months or couple of years, the same countries will sit together again to discuss another issue where Poland and Hungary want to have concessions.

Liana Fix:

This is where Germany sees itself and where Angela Merkel really has excelled to mediate and to find compromises, which were unsatisfying to everyone because no one really got what they wanted, but in the end, these kind of half-baking compromises brought the European Union further. And that is very much the working mode of the European Union. Napoleons do not well in the European Union. It is all about the nitty gritty of negotiating and mediating. And this is certainly a stance that the current government and Olaf Scholz will continue and will have to continue, especially as now with the departure of the UK, decision making might become more complicated because the camps and their composition of member states changes.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, let's talk about one other country that figures prominently in German foreign policy, and that's the United States. I think it is safe to say that when Donald Trump was president, US-German relations were strained. Certainly if you look at public opinion polls, broad swaths of the German public did not like Donald Trump's America first. American favorability has bounced back with Joe Biden in the White House. But given where President Biden stands in the public opinion polls, there's a reasonable chance that someone else could be president come January 2025. And we could see the return of Donald Trump or something similar. How does that factor in how Berlin approaches foreign policy?

Liana Fix:

There was a lot of relief when President Biden was elected president, that's for sure. There were a lot of working papers put together what European Union, Germany and the United States can achieve together in the next years. But what we see now is that reflecting on the domestic problems, that Berlin sees the domestic problems in the United States, the problems of President Biden to bring through his reform agenda, his Build Back Better projects, there was a concern that the relief after the election of President Biden might turn into disappointment, especially during the midterms, which then might strengthen Trumpian candidates and lead to a return of exactly that position. That is something which is discussed. But the real problem is that there's no real solution what Germany could do about it. The biggest problem of a return of a Trumpian candidate would certainly be the question whether European security, NATO and the security guarantees of the United States towards Europe will be put into question.

Liana Fix:

But then again, the European Union and both Germany and the European Union have delayed EU security and defense policy and investment for such a long time that there's no realistic prospect for the European Union to defend itself and to assume the responsibility that it so often talks about. So there's a lot of hand wringing. But what we do not see is real steps or actions that might make the EU fit for a post trans-Atlantic era, if we see an election of a Trumpian candidate. And we saw this back when Trump was elected, there were a couple of months of basically just shock. And this is something which Europe cannot allow itself. So if the concern, let's say, after the midterm elections, if there's a feeling in European capitals and especially in Berlin that this concern is justified, then there's a strong need to think about immediate actions, especially in security and defense policy to strengthen the European Union in the long term, rather than just discussing the end of the West and projecting a position of helplessness, which is in contrast, to some extent, to what Emmanuel Macron wants.

Liana Fix:

He sees this, and he wants to protect Europe against this. But the approach of a slow and incremental foreign and European policy, which is also something that Berlin adopted in the past is not something that will sit well in the future, when the trans-Atlantic relationship might be put into question again. Constanze Stelzenmuller, who's a long-time observer of the trans-Atlantic relationship and of German foreign policy has flagged this in the past, Germany's need to think in advance about the dramatic consequences that a change in US domestic politics may have for European and German foreign policy. This is all under a lot of ifs. I think now, at least to me, it seems that there's a lot of pessimism right now in Washington. I was surprised how strong the pessimism is at the moment. And two years are still a long time to go. But in terms of long-term foreign policy thinking, it would be wise for Berlin to think about the most urgent areas that need to be considered if a Trumpian candidate is reelected.

Jim Lindsay:

On that note, I'll close up The President's Inbox for this week. My guest has been Liana Fix, resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund. Liana, thank you very much for joining me.

Liana Fix:

Thank you so much. It was a great conversation.

Jim Lindsay:

Please subscribe to The President's Inbox on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen and leave us a review. They help us get noticed and improve the show. As always, opinions expressed on The President's Inbox are solely those of the host or our guests, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. Today's episode was produced by Zoe Collis, with senior producer, Jeremy Sherlock. Zoe did double duty as our recording engineer. Thank you, Zoe. Special thanks go out to Margaret Gach for her assistance. This is Jim Lindsay. Thanks for listening.

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