s. As german chancellor biden is the fourth u.s leader that merkel has worked alongside in her 16 years as leader of germany. Her first george w bush said that he admired her love of freedom. They bonded over grilled, boar and visits to bush’s ranch in texas, then came barack obama. They grew close over his eight years in office, though they didn’t agree on everything. They shared common views on climate change, human rights and security. Well, then came miracle’s toughest test, donald trump’s erratic style contrasted with merkel’s quietly spoken approach. They clashed publicly and privately throughout his term now, as merkel prepares to meet her fourth u.s leader, our washington bureau chief, sat down with former president george w bush to get his analysis of her legacy now. Bush rarely gives interviews anymore, but because of his special relationship with merkel, he invited dw to his summer home in maine. He talked about the future of the transatlantic relationship merkel’s take on china and russia, and the moment he massaged her soldiers have a look. If you would write the history books, what would be your paragraph about angela merkel, angela merkel, brought class and dignity uh to a very important position and uh made very hard decisions? Uh, i bet a legacy of angela merkel is there’s, a lot of girls who watch angela merkel say i too can have a position of responsibility and power. Bangla merkel’s relationship with vladimir putin is somewhat special, sometimes it’s, really close, sometimes it’s more confrontational.
How do you see her relationship or how did you see it when you were in office? Well, first of all, i fully understood the importance of russia to germany. I mean putin’s got a big influence and he speaks german and uh and i wouldn’t you know, look putin said he’s wily and he can be pretty tough and but but so can angela. So i wasn’t worried about putin running over angela merkel like she can hold her own and i’m sure she did so. We have to talk about north stream too. Are you disappointed that angela merkel kept promoting supporting this pipeline yeah? I think it’s a mistake and i told that to gerhard schroeder i told it to angela. You know, i think, it’s a mistake, because you know the motivations of russia are can be pretty confusing and i think the more that uh, a nation that is not an open democracy. Uh has a an economic stranglehold on a democracy. It puts people in a very difficult strategic position talking about difficult relation relationships. What triggered angela merkel in in donald trump and caused this harsh reaction? He once refused shaking her hands. I don’t know i don’t know it’s uh. That was just a not a good period in german or u.s relations, and i i don’t know i don’t i don’t know donald trump. I met him one time at the very same funeral that angela merkel came to and uh so it’s hard for me to guess why i mean germany is a very close ally and a very important friend.
Germany is really important for europe, and uh and germany’s got a lot of sway in terms of helping shape, uh kind of world opinion on key issues, and therefore it makes sense for a u.s president to be close to the german chancellor. Some people criticize her over her politics with china, saying that, like the trade with with this country is more important for her than human rights, i don’t know i haven’t followed that closely, but that you know that’s gon na be a dilemma for everybody and uh uh And china’s certainly a problem uh for the western world, because not only are they becoming uh an industrial competitor, but they are pretty autocratic. What’S your take on her reaction when she didn’t close the borders and let in like a million or so yeah. You know my first reaction was there’s, a woman with a big heart and i’m sure she was motivated by human compassion and uh. You know i it was i. It was clearly a tough political decision for her, but she took a lead. Look. I made a lot of tough decisions too, and i hope when people look at my record as president they say he did what he thought was right and stood his ground, and so i admire i admire her steadfastness. Angela was not afraid to make a decision and was not afraid to lead and uh. The world needs leadership that has uh based upon principle. She was supportive of troops in afghanistan um by the way and and one of the reasons why uh is because she saw the uh the progress that could be made for young girls and women in afghanistan, it’s unbelievable.
How that society changed from the brutality of the taliban and all of a sudden, sadly, i’m afraid afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm. There is one image the world remembers of you and angela merkel, that’s that’s at the ga meeting in san petersburg. When you were massaging her shoulders, oh when i walked by and gave her yeah, i wouldn’t call it a an extended massage i’d call it a uh yeah. I mean she was yeah it’s kind of a spontaneous uh, uh, reflection of friendship and i’m sure people. You know didn’t know what to make of it, but it’s i didn’t mind it. I thought it was kind of i thought it said. Wow and uh it’s kind of i don’t know. Yeah, i mean it’s been one of those things that just happened. It certainly wasn’t scripted. Did you ever talk with her about it? No no, but if i need to angela i’m sorry, i did that and put you in the public spotlight but, on the other hand, it’s a reflection of my uh, my friendship with you and we will be broadcasting the full interview here on dw.