“This is difficult to excuse,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the daily bulletin of Germany’s bobo elite, seethed. What could be more “pressing” than what would have been Pompeo’s first official visit to Berlin as secretary of state, the paper wondered.

That the answer to that question, at least in Pompeo’s view, was Iran, only enraged the Germans more. Berlin continues to cling to the illusion that Europe can save the nuclear deal with Iran that the U.S. abandoned a year ago and regards U.S. policy toward Tehran as belligerent…

Germany’s official reaction to the cancellation has been one of equanimity. Behind the scenes, officials are furious.

While that’s partly due to the difficult state of German-American relations in the Trump era, it also reflects the deep importance of ritual in German foreign policy.