Wir gegen sie

The BBC has gone all-in for Angela Merkel as Germany prepares for an election in the autumn:

The German chancellor caused a storm this Sunday, particularly in the English-language press and Twittersphere, when she declared: “The era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent.”

That this comment should come immediately after the US asked Germany to cough up more for its defence obligations was, if the liberal press is to be believed, purely coincidental.

Mrs Merkel is now on the campaign trail and not at all above injecting some populism into her politics.

President Trump is hugely unpopular among German voters and his failure to commit to the Paris climate accord, at the G7, and to Nato’s Article Five last week angered many Europeans.

I think it speaks volumes about the state of German politics that Trump-bashing is a central platform of all potential candidates. When is Germany going to address some of its own problems, instead of complaining about the US president? Or don’t they think they have any?

Mrs Merkel’s pointed comments about no longer being able to rely fully on allies were delivered to rapturous applause while on the campaign trail in the (conservatively) pumped arena of a Munich beer hall.

If not being able to rely fully on allies is something to cheer, then why the insistence on these alliances and agreements in the first place? If Germany wants to go it alone, nobody is stopping her. Indeed, the issue seems to be Germany’s insistence that the US commits to doing what Europeans want – with them picking up the bill.

Campaign Trail Merkel, as we’ll call her for the moment, is also aware that German voters aren’t just partial to a bit of Trump-thumping – but also to a full-on promotion of Europe.

Liberal Europeans have felt immensely frustrated at the constant Brussels bashing by nationalist politicians over the past couple of years.

Or, put another way, Liberal Europeans are looking to German leaders to promote something an awful lot of their own countrymen don’t like. Apparently this is a healthy state of affairs.

Resentment has built up, too, over Russia seemingly being able to do whatever it wants in Crimea, Syria and the cyber-sphere despite supposed international norms.

Like the shooting down of MA-17? What was the German reaction, again? A barely-audible squeak. Did the likes of BASF and Siemens have anything to do with that, perchance? If Europeans are hoping Germany will confront Putin more than Trump will, they are seriously deluded.

And there’s real anger and fear about Donald Trump the Unpredictable, a man many in Europe judge to be ignorant about world politics, diplomacy and the workings of a democracy.

They said the same about Bush, Jnr. too. Yes, we get it: Europeans prefer Democrat presidents and they think all Republicans are thick rednecks. Americans know this, and are getting a little fed up with it. Hence they are only too delighted to hear Germany isn’t going to be relying on them any more. If I were Trump, the American troops based in Germany would be on their way home already. Bush should have pulled them out years ago.

Germans believe more than ever now that Europe needs be assertive; to stick together and be strong together.

They are feeling more confident, too, with pro-EU, pro-Merkel Emmanuel Macron as French president.

Good for them! Now what does this have to do with Trump?

Enter Chancellor Merkel’s emotive language à la “take back control’, except what she says is “Europe needs to take its fate into its own hands”.

The Bavarian beer hall loved it, as do many Germans, giving Mrs Merkel that edge over her political rivals.

When Brits do this they are deluded Little Englanders. When Germans start bashing foreigners and making assertive, nationalist remarks in Munich beer halls, progressives go all giddy with delight. Perhaps Germany doesn’t have such a chequered history in this area as Britain, or something?

She believes Europe must co-operate more on defence: pooling resources, spending military budgets more intelligently and bolstering itself as much as it can.

But not increasing military budgets to meet Nato commitments.

Britain leaving the EU means the bloc only has one military power left – the French one – and one seat on the UN Security Council.

The French military power? Bwahahahahahahaha!

Nato is now more important than ever for EU safety.

How best to safeguard the alliance than by insulting the American president and those who voted for him?

Chancellor Merkel has been around the political block more than a few times, and she is not now biting the hand that feeds

No? Well, let’s see, shall we?

Donald Trump may not be so sure about Nato, but the US vice-president and the defence secretary say they are fully committed.

Was this before or after Merkel threw her toys out of the pram when the Americans asked her to cough up a bit more?

When Angela Merkel says Europe needs to be take its fate in its own hands, she means keeping transatlantic links open and strong, but being politically, emotionally and – if possible – militarily prepared if it all falls apart.

Presumably this nuance got lost in the original German.

Rather than closing the door on the US, she hopes very much the US isn’t turning its back on Europe.

And with articles like this appearing in Der Spiegel, I’m sure the Americans feel so very appreciated in Germany and are keen to stick around.

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19 thoughts on “Wir gegen sie

  1. Can’t help thinking the last time the Germans engaged in ‘a full-on promotion of Europe’ it didn’t go so well.

  2. The linked article is the second I’ve seen on the subject, and both seem to make a point of using the words “beer hall” more than necessary. Or am I imagining things?

  3. I am really not sure whether the BBC is aware of the ironies of what she is reporting and analysing. To anyone neutral, it seems clear that Merkel is using tactics and rhetoric that they would harrumph about if used by Trump. The connections with the campaigning style of a certain German with toothbrush moustache also seem clearly delineated, but she cannot possibly mean them, or can she? Or is it OK in millennial land for a German politician to talk about strength and bashing foreigners? Have you ever met a sensible millennial?

  4. “The era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent.”

    Way to go, Angela. Being so precise — a German trademark — in saying “to some extent” is breathtaking. Not completely anything, of course, but some. How much? Oh that’s not the point. it is simply some and the feeble-minded likes of the lame-stream media can now get excited over the someness of it all.

    Oh wait, you mean that it is okay to have some extent when it suits you but when things go really pear-shaped, you can drop back to having some more of that extent you once despised? Again, you have to admire our Angie’s determination to be absolutely, directly and confidently somewhere.

  5. I don’t see why one should get worked up so much over Merkel’s words. To begin with, she’s done a pretty good job as chancellor, bearing in mind her primary allegiance is to the German electorate rather than NATO or even the EU. She’s made one major blunder, but it might turn out for the better in a longer run if it helps the average German understand a few basic things about the so-called refugees. Looking at the US, she’s probably seeing a country suicidally squandering its potential, going from blunder to blunder, at least as far as its foreign policy is concerned. The Iraq invasion showed that America was, mildly speaking, an inefficient global cop. (Likewise, the efficiency of US military spending is questionable: if Germany started spending as much of its GDP on defense, it would find itself stretching from the Maas to Memel, as the song goes, without much effort.) Now, Trump is most likely misunderstood in Europe but it’s no wonder: is he a tough nut, or a complete nutcase, or a bit of both? At any rate, the end game looks like an American withdrawal from Germany and core Europe. With this in mind, there’s no one left to count on.

    France is the only nuclear power in the post-Brexit EU. It has a defense industry that would probably get a Keynesian boost from it all, akin to the boost Trump has promised his heartland voters.

  6. To begin with, she’s done a pretty good job as chancellor, bearing in mind her primary allegiance is to the German electorate rather than NATO or even the EU. She’s made one major blunder…

    See I disagree with you there. I think she’s presided over some serious economic skulduggery and corruption, the VW emissions scandal being just the tip of the iceberg. I think Germany has happily taken on the role of the economic engine of the EU, as it allows it to ensure the economic structure and interests of the EU are perfectly aligned with those of Germany. The entire Euro project appears to have been set up to ensure poor European countries could magically afford German products (mainly cars), and Germany’s treatment of Greece a couple of years ago showed exactly how Germany sees the rest of Europe. I think there is a prevailing attitude around the EU that what is good for German companies is good for Germany, and what is good for Germany is good for the EU. German companies have been given a free-hand in writing much of the industrial legislation (particularly environmental stuff) imposed by the EU on the whole bloc, and stuff like corruption (Siemens), dodgy financial dealings (Porsche takeover of VW), and emissions cheating are all ignored in favour of German corporate giants (it seems to fall to non-EU governments to complain).

    I think there is a lot of rotten structure under Germany at the moment which everyone – particularly the EU lot – are turning a blind eye to. How robust is Deutschbank, for example? And would we be told if there was anything amiss? Merkel might be long-gone by the time all of this comes to light and unravels, but she’s presided over it and much of it will be deliberate policy not benign neglect. When you say Merkel’s primary allegiance is to Germany instead of the EU, I would agree with you: but this only means Germany has ensured the EU is run largely for the benefit of Germans and to the detriment of others (e.g. UK small businesses, who have been sunk under a raft of regulations).

  7. Fvck off Mutti.
    And take your boy scout army with you.

    You claim to have a science education. Was that before or after the E German operatives opened your skull and shat in it.

    Ever heard of the Coriolis system? Winds go west to east ‘cos of the world’s spin. So you can get a rough reading of pollution from a meter on west border to compare with a meter on east border.

    “Everyone” knows that the US is the biggest polluter. This isn’t just fake news, it’s a damn lie. The US has less CO2 on east coast than west.

    As for closing nuclear reactors because of Fukushima, the evidence is now in. About the equivalent of a chest x ray for Japs, about a dental x ray for the rest of us.

    So you prefer to restart some lignite coal plants in order to combat global warming.

    You might be able to fool a few krauts but you’re not fooling the rest of us.

  8. So if you look at the economies in the EU, the latest figures on Wiki show that Germany had 20%, UK 17%, France 14%.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_European_Union#/media/File:2015_GDP_(nominal)_in_EU.svg

    So 3 countries account for over 50% of a group of 28!

    Take out the UK and Germany now accounts for about 25%. So essentially Germany runs the show, and the officials, presidents, commissioners etc have to toe the line. France is left all alone because the merging of the DDR and DDR has created a behemoth, just as the hated Thatcher warned everyone at the time. The PIGS better be ready for the shafting that they will get.

  9. “See I disagree with you there…”
    Tim, you nailed the question perfectly. Germany relies to exports to maintain a current account surplus well above 6%, and in flagrant violation of EU treaties, but being that almost all nevralgic positions in the EU bureaucracy are occupied by Germans closely connected to Merkel and her inner circle, no sanction will ever be enacted, the home electorate will be feed the usual stories about lazy and duplicitous southern europeans always ready to plunder the fruits of their hard toil, all the while the economic and financial elites will rake as much profits as they can, unopposed and unchecked (Siemens, Porsche, VW are only the visible tip of the iceberg). Until one or more dramatic events happening or a group of nations decides they had enough seeing their people and societies decline and stagger to maintain Germany status worldwide, nothing will change, Merkel will keep gloating on behalf or “Europe” and, as one good writer once said, Germans will be intoxicated by visible success once again.

  10. http://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing.asp

    The French aren’t that laughable as a military power Tim. And no, I’m not French 😉 Other than that, I’d say the rest of your article is spot-on. Worth noting though that the link I provided doesn’t take into account their current political leadership…

    Importantly, France retains a completely independent nuclear deterrent, both in the air and at sea — it is the only nation other than the USA that has a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle.

    In the last 25 years, France has been involved in seven significant military operations: Gulf War 1, Bosnia, Kosovo, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, Libya and Mali. Only the UK and the USA has been as militarily active.

    Unlike the Chinese and Russians, France also has notable “power projection” capabilities thanks to the Charles de Gaulle and its fleet of troop/vehicle carrying and landing vessels.

    If their government had the will, the French would be able to take primary responsibility in a large NATO operation. Not very likely, I know…

  11. Without agreeing or disagreeing with your view, Tim (I don’t pretend to know enough to judge whether it’s sound), assuming you’re right but also assuming the risks you’ve mentioned fail to materialize, Merkel will continue to be seen as a decent PM by a large share of the German voters. What’s bad about being the the powerhouse and the dominant force in Europe if you can afford the cost?

    Now if Merkel and Macron are seriously planning to respond to the populist challenge by boosting defense spending, it could be a smart move, although wasteful in the long term. The big question, however, is not whether German banks are resilient or German corporations corrupt, but the ancient one, who inherits the earth?

  12. Merkel will continue to be seen as a decent PM by a large share of the German voters.

    Putin and Erdogan are also popular with their voters.

    What’s bad about being the the powerhouse and the dominant force in Europe if you can afford the cost?

    Because of the enormous collateral damage it is doing to other European countries in the long term, Greece being the most obvious example.

  13. Unlike the Chinese and Russians, France also has notable “power projection” capabilities thanks to the Charles de Gaulle and its fleet of troop/vehicle carrying and landing vessels.

    The Charles de Gaulle has been plagued with problems: the French are no more capable of projecting power than the Brits are. When France and Britain intervened in Libya they were totally reliant on the Americans for in-flight refuelling. Neither country has anywhere near the heavy-lift capacity to do anything other than brief peacekeeping missions.

    In the last 25 years, France has been involved in seven significant military operations: Gulf War 1, Bosnia, Kosovo, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, Libya and Mali. Only the UK and the USA has been as militarily active.

    But did they actually engage in combat? For example, the French experience in Afghanistan can be summed up in a paragraph from this article:

    Mr Sarkozy said that the question of an early French withdrawal from Afghanistan would arise if security conditions were not re-established.

    If their government had the will, the French would be able to take primary responsibility in a large NATO operation.

    Ah yes, but on whose side? 😉 It was a French NATO officer who leaked the information to the Serbs which allowed them to shoot down the F117/A.

  14. It only LOOKS as though Germany can cope with the costs, because she hasn’t yet been presented with the bill yet (the TARGET imbalances which will almost certainly have to be written off or at least down when the Euro eventually crumbles).

    When that happens the shit will hit the fan big time – we’re much better off out.

    I’m afraid I agree completely with TN on this one.

  15. Oh please, oh please let Germany and Europe take their fate into their own hands. Hell, Russia is not going to invade. Europe is their biggest cash cow for their oil and gas. It’s bad for business to shoot your customers. If Germany gets a little too much of the Beer Hall disease again, strangle that baby in it’s cradle.

  16. Looks like Germany is preparing to get the thumbscrews out for vassal states which don’t toe the line post-Brexit.

    It does, doesn’t it?

  17. Looks like NATO is failing in all its original aims, which were to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.

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