Turns Germany into Europe's United States
commentators are already babbling on about the 'Fourth Reich' Berlin is
supposedly building in Europe. Read: The euro crisis will enable the Germans to
achieve what they weren’t able to achieve in two world wars - European
dominance. ... Europe is in the process of developing a love-hate relationship
with Germans that resembles that of Germans toward Americans."
What befell the United States
after war with the Germans could happen to us after the euro crisis among our
neighbors: ingratitude for rescuing them.
Germany is in the process of
being turned into a scapegoat for the euro crisis. No matter what Germans do, they
can’t seem to please anyone. For years, the message that Germans should hurry
up and show more leadership in the euro crisis reverberated in op-ed pieces at
home and abroad. Now Angela Merkel has finally taken up a more defined
leadership role, and once again, it isn't good enough.
In Britain, some commentators
are already babbling on about the "Fourth Reich" Berlin is supposedly
building in Europe. Read: The euro crisis will enable the Germans to achieve
what they weren’t able to achieve in two world wars - European dominance.
The Junckers and Barrosos are
sore because Merkel isn’t willing to simply pay every outstanding bill in the
euro zone and because she exhibits a degree of skepticism toward the community
institutions that neither prevented the crisis nor showed any particular
creativity in addressing it.
And now, because those silly
Germans continue to cling to a few principles on issues like monetary stability,
anti-German sentiment is spreading in France as well. If the situation weren’t
so dire, one could laugh about this irony of history.
Because Germans, who especially
over the last ten years have carefully nurtured their anti-Americanism, must now
realize what it means to be a large and important power.
Germany Becomes Europe's United States
For Europe, Germany is about
to become what the U.S. is to the world: a leading power whose actions are
always placed under a microscope (which in turn results in metaphorical
comments like Volker Kauder's at the annual conference of the Christian
Democratic Party, which triggered a wave of indignation across Europe. Kauder
said in part: "Just looking for their own advantage and not being prepared
to contribute -- that cannot be the message we accept from the British.") Germany
is now a power from which others always expect greater crisis-solving skills
and a stronger will to resolve them than Berlin is prepared to provide. Meanwhile,
its influence provokes rejection and resentment.
This in fact serves Germans
right. Because now Germans are looking into the European mirror and are
confronted with their own ambivalent demands on the United States. There, as
well as here, the same patterns can be recognized.
For decades, Germans have
been freeloaders under the American security umbrella that spans Europe and the
world. For decades now, like many other European countries, Germany has not
been contributing and participating enough in the deployment of this security
And yet the desire to say
what we like and interfere with the Americans continues. No matter what the
Americans do, it’s never exactly what Germans would like. None of which
prevents Germans from generously overlooking their own failures on some of
these issues - see the failure to train police in Afghanistan.
One always knows what the
Americans should do better - without getting our own hands dirty, of course. Europeans
have long been like the old folks on The Muppets: They sit
comfortably in their balcony seats commenting on events on the world stage,
while the Americans wear themselves out battling on the global stage with their
“hard power” - with more or less success.
Pathological Relationship with West’s Leading Power
relationship with the West’s leading power is now experiencing a reversal in
Europe. Suddenly, it's the Germans who are expected to provide solutions, which,
when they appear, are always criticized as inappropriate.
What Europe would prefer, whether
inside or outside the euro zone, is for Germans to bail out everyone. But heaven
forbid it should impose any conditions. That would make them bad Europeans or even
that they wish to impose their will on others.
Prime Minister Cameron is depicted trying to get German
Merkel to agree to 'unlock' European Central
Bank funds to be used as a 'big
bazooka' to save the euro.
Up to now it was up to the Americans
to defray much of NATO's defense expenditures. But of course everyone wanted to
have a say in how this military power was used. For the most part the bill went
to U.S. taxpayers. In Europe today, the Germans are supposed to pay, but make no
announcements, please. Somehow that would be too domineering.
Europe is in the process of
developing a love-hate relationship with Germans that resembles that of Germans
toward Americans. Germany is the “Indispensable Nation” at the heart of the
euro zone without whom nothing can be done and a rescue would be unthinkable. At
the same time, the realization of this dependency triggers defensive reflexes.
Germans have always resented that
the Americans had to rescue them from the Nazis and then built up the federal republican
democracy. This euro saga may have a similar outcome.
Even if the Germans succeed
in containing the crisis, the others won’t forgive us for it. Because in a
moment of extreme need, they were forced to acknowledge how dependent they are
on the Germans and their help.
So we can hardly expect
gratitude. Therefore, it’s even more critical that the interests of German
taxpayers are not completely overlooked in the process if crisis management.
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