One of the great political friendships of the modern world, as told through key moments that shaped the twenty-first century
By Claudia Clark
Today, we know US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as two of the world’s most influential leaders, together at the center of some of the biggest controversies and most impressive advancements of our time. But while their friendship has been the subject of both scrutiny and admiration, few know the full story.
Taking office at the height of the 2008 global recession, Obama was keenly aware of the fractured relationship between the US and Europe. And for her part, Merkel was suspicious of the charismatic newcomer who had captivated her country.
Faced with the challenges of globalization, the two often clashed over policy, but—as the first Black president and first female chancellor—they shared a belief that democracy could uplift the world. United by this conviction, they would forge a complicated but inspiring partnership.
Dear Barack is a thoroughly researched document of the parallel trajectories that led to Obama and Merkel meeting on the world stage and the trials, both personal and political, that they confronted in office. At times in the leaders’ own words, the book details such events as Merkel’s historic acceptance of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the 2013 NSA spying scandal, demonstrating the highs and lows of this extraordinary alliance.
A story of camaraderie at a global scale, Dear Barack shows that it is possible for political adversaries to establish bonds of respect—and even friendship—in the service of the free world.
Author Claudia Clark shares:
- How Dr. Angela Merkel overcame a childhood of living behind the Iron Curtain to become the first East German Chancellor of a free and united Germany, as well as to be the first woman chancellor of Germany, and to be the youngest chancellor ever.
- How Barack Obama rose to become the first African American President of the U.S.
- What it was about the chemistry between the two leaders that captivated the world.
- The root cause that led to their difficult start, and how their relationship became strong.
- The highs and lows of their 8-year working relationship: including how they combatted the economic recession of 2008, the NSA scandal which occurred when Obama tapped Merkel’s personal cell phone, and the international crisis that occurred when Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed Crimea.
- Highlights on international policy that include the signing of the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2015 and the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.
- The unique circumstances both afforded one another: Obama honored Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, and she was the first German Chancellor granted the opportunity to speak before a joint session of Congress.
- On the other side of the Atlantic, Obama was the first president to visit the former concentration camp of Buchenwald, and the first U.S. president to co-sponsor Germany ́s famous technology fair in Hannover-Messe.
- Why Merkel took the political risk when she opened German borders to Syrian refugees in 2015, and most importantly, how Obama stood by her side when no one else would.
- Why Merkel cried the last time she saw Obama; and why she was the last world leader Obama called before he left office.
- The fears and concerns of world and allied leaders following the Brexit vote and election of Trump, and how Obama attempted to calm those fears.
“In these days of deep political polarization and strained relations within and between the United States and Europe, it’s more important than ever to examine successful partnerships. Despite some very stark differences in political style, opinion, and national interests, Chancellor Merkel and President Obama were able to form a friendship that laid the groundwork for a period of strong trans-Atlantic cooperation. Claudia Clark’s thorough research and examination into the relationship between Merkel and Obama is a refreshing look at basic concepts that, in this era of divisiveness, seem quite novel — finding shared values, building trust, and showing mutual respect.”