America, Germany, and Hungary: A New Relationship

With the US Presidential Election coming up, along with so many other uncertainties, it is important now more than ever to look to what the future may hold. Those with insight towards a future that is still internationally connected increasingly important.

Interesting times bring continuous changes which in turn affect national linkages and alliances. A pre-eminent example is the relationship between the U.S., Germany, and Hungary.

Take the German domestic diversity. By comparison with the United States, Germans have had very limited exposure to Africans. Only after major migration waves does diversity permeate society more – yet there is very little official activity providing support to People of Color.

Take the use of words: the term ‘race’ in the German Constitution is seen, after more than 70 years, as troublesome, since it tends to imply discrimination. A substitution of the term is part of a major national debate instead of an ongoing threat from the Coronavirus. 

Of concern to the reader is the lack of public German encouragement for the “pursuit of happiness.” This admonition which is so aptly reflected in the American Declaration of Independence is of major significance. Citizens of Germany should acknowledge and accept   that directions for a citizen’s life path should not only consist of admonitions to work, but also include the opportunity for enjoyment, which the U.S. has in its “pursuit of happiness,” encoded in its Declaration of Independence. 

The U.S. has problems, some of them major ones. In consequence, Europeans, particularly Germans, hasten to draw conclusions about European superiority. The jocular aspects are so profound that, as one can discover, there is not even room for debate. The U.S. (and its President, government, policies, and ambassador) are said to be just plain wrong, that’s all there is to it – from a European, and particularly German perspective.

Statements about U.S. policy makes life disconcerted. For example,  President Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany. Why exuberantly protect Germany with U.S. forces when a long promised 2 percent German contribution to its military budgets had not been delivered? There was an uproar in Germany designating Americans as derogatory merchants only preoccupied with money. No comparison was made to much earlier visits by  Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Treasury Jim Baker who, tin cup in hand traversed Europe with the slogan “feed, fund or fight,” thus stressing participation while giving every ally viable options. Even less was mentioned about commitments made and or kept. Nothing was heard about the fact that military payment of 2 percent of GDP represents an investment, not some wild and senseless expenditure.    

Fascinating are the intra-European comparisons of nations, many of which have found their orbit around Germany. Concessions in one field then trigger sacrifices in another. For example, in many German rankings, Poland is relatively low. However, their help in bringing in the German asparagus harvest works as an important redeeming factor. For many Germans the import of agricultural products has tended to be unimportant. However, after the renewed Covid-19 outburst in their key domestic butchering plant, procurement from abroad suddenly gained important priority. 

How do  these changes refurbish internal alliances? My bets are on Hungary. That country has, more often than not, hit rock bottom due to invasions but has always recouped, even though it sometimes did take much time. Some controversies surrounding Hungary exist.  Just the other day I overheard a German parliamentarian comment,  warning that some legislation would lead to Hungarian conditions in Germany. That did not appear in the friendly way of consuming kolbasz, Tokaji wine, or palinka, but rather a derogatory statement. Amazing it is, in light of many Hungarian Nobel prizes, toy, and machinery production. Also, one might not forget the 1989 opening of the Hungarian border to Germans by the Hungarian Foreign Secretary Gyula Horn who effectively set the stage for German unification.       

Hungarians have always in history experienced the friction of being caught  between East and West. Going back to the hordes of Mongols,  Huns, and even Austrians, the country has been decimated. Nonetheless, there was consistency in Hungary’s desire to adhere to the West of Europe. Nowadays, Hungary takes on repeated leadership positions when it comes to policy design and implementation. Itss management of immigration flows has, over time, been adapted by other European nations. Its acceptance of marketing principles for its society leaves much  room for other Europeans to learn. The pricing policies of stores and services continue to be reasonable. But whenever Hungary initiates an innovation, the rest of Europe claims to suffer. Credit for Hungarian progress is only rarely given. Almost similar to the United States now. 

 Over time, relationships change for both internal and external easons. Take the US/UK relations which were always categorized as a special linkage between the two countries. Yet, the relationship is not quite the same anymore, particularly since Britain has left the European Union. Germany has its own set of problems. Many of its policies no longer reflect a firm economic and policy friendship with the U.S. If Trump wins the upcoming election, and it results in a restructuring of U.S. alliances, my conclusion for Europe is a special relationship between the U.S. and Hungary. When relationships between nations have more to offer each other, they will result in actions that strengthen each nation’s competitiveness. 

This article was featured in the Sri Lanka Guardian and the Voice of Vienna.

Professor Michael Czinkota teaches International Business and Trade at Georgetown University. He has served as the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce. His most recent textbook is International Business 9th edition. Professor Czinkota can be reached at

Socialism slows progress – by Michael Czinkota

My annual assessment of the intellectual and economic proximity between both the United States and Europe indicates ongoing disenchantment and a growing psychic distance from each other. Conditions have changed not all for the better, perhaps because of the thriving growth of socialist thinking. The public preference given to the group over the individual is dangerous to the quality of life in both regions.

England used to stand out for the views and perspectives by its educated experts on money and markets. Now they don’t know and don’t care. New announcements and shifts are just shrugged off or, worse yet, ignored. Refusing to think or getting involved is the equivalent of Sokrates’ poisoned hemlock cup – because conditions will not improve by themselves.

British institutions which label themselves as European need to re-think their position as to its meaning in times of Brexit.  Prime Minister Johnson may not defuse conflicts and polarization. How to help ship captains make a choice between the drowning migrants and personal jail time for their rescue? Are we all in the same boat? Even in theatre performances the audience and troupe performances have lost their traditional bite. 

Germany has a whole set of growing problems. I am not referring to the physical tremors of Chancellor Merkel. When standing is a problem she can sit. In the U.S., President Roosevelt served the country despite difficult illnesses, for more than three terms.

But I am concerned about the diminution of German ability to rely on its traditional strengths. When German intellectuals talk about U.S. policies there is very little well-formed reasoning, or even desire for input and learning. Rather, flash judgements and condemnations are made, remindful of the checking of boxes.

When the official airplanes of both the chancellor and the president repeatedly either can’t fly or must return to land right after takeoff, then the motto of “advancement through technology “does not fare very well. Misleading public information on air contamination by car diesel engines is a shameful event.  Failed technology to measure societal impact of government action is wasteful and inefficient. Expropriation of rental property owners will do little to increase the housing stock.

Increasingly, a sense of proportion and morality is missing. Take the case of Gustl Mollath who, was wrongfully placed in a psychiatric ward for more than seven years after complaining about banking irregularities.  Now,  government offers him a paltry compensation of less than $ 200,000. At the same time, the Deutsche Bank, provides publicly more than $ 10 million for ineffective managers to depart, and we don’t yet know about any additional hidden support. 

The Nordic countries have lots of goods available but few of them are thrilling. The food offered, for example, was surely healthy, but not appetizing. Drinks were hard to get, even at events where conviviality was the objective, not a byproduct. Big praise to the person who found and handed in my disappeared wallet. Thank you, Gary, from the West Coast!

European country governments regulate many things, issues and interactions, a form of localized socialism I suppose. But it means fewer and quite expensive taxis, no Ubers, little adjustment to changing conditions. New government thinking stresses more taxes. France, for example, tries to impose a new 3% tax on large digital companies.

Italy still has very good wines and beautiful bridges from Roman days, but roads are decaying, and modern bridges are crumbling. Speed and parsimony cannot be the only criterion for quality public projects. Modes of transport appear to be routinely under strike during times of heavy use. Austrian government leaders are caught on tape offering the wholesale transfer of government contracts.

People seem content but not driven or forward oriented. Many tasks are either left unfulfilled or waiting for foreign hands, which the both the public and the private sector appear to encourage.

Overarching governing by the European Union seems to be often haphazard, contradicting the desires of the citizens affected. Leadership selection often brings on candidates which govern in spite, not because of themselves. Will the new team of Ursula von der Leyen make its mark with a reduction of regulation? All in all, it’s great to be exposed to history, and remember the British Pound as world currency, Greek and Roma palazzo’s, Marie Antoinette’s cakes, and the Viking battles.. But for now, innovation, change and a forward-looking perspective give good future odds to America.

Prof. Czinkota ( teaches International Business at Georgetown University and the University of Kent. His latest book is ‘In Search For The Soul Of International Business’, 2019, New York, Business Expert Press

Christmas Tree in Germany


Watching my brother Thomas organize the raising and decorating of the Christmas tree in Germany’s Bad Soden Catholic Church. Of 10 volunteers three were from Eritrea , two from Somalia. Merry Christmas to all.