There are days in the life of a chancellor when the chasm between the glamour of the geopolitical stage and the political squalor back home is despairingly vast. Last Sunday was such a day for Angela Merkel.
Shortly before 10 a.m. local time, the German chancellor’s Airbus touched down gently at Hangzhou airport, a red-carpet rolling up as the plane slowed to a stop. Just 200 meters away, Air Force One was parked and behind it stood French President François Hollande’s aircraft. With engines roaring, the jumbo carrying Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe taxied past. On this September morning, the Hangzhou airport had become the parking lot of global politics.