Mathew D. Rose: The Ordeal of Angela Merkel

By Mathew D. Rose, a freelance journalist in Berlin

There seems to be a concerted effort in German politics and media to unseat the nation’s chancellor, Angela Merkel. It is difficult to say exactly when things started to go wrong for Ms Merkel, yet in retrospect she has been careening from one crisis to the other for a couple of years. The incipient moment was probably the euro crisis, but Merkel’s watershed was doubtlessly Germany’s calamitous political intervention in Ukraine. Since then things have gone steadily downhill. With her newest crisis, refugees and immigrants, Ms Merkel is being portrayed as out of touch with her party, her people and reality, but even worse, as rather ridiculous. The latter is something that no leader can permit to occur.

That Ms Merkel ever became chancellor was a political quirk; that she has remained in office a truly impressive feat. Following re-unification the East German Merkel joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and was elected to the Bundestag. The chancellor at that time, Helmut Kohl, appointed the political novice Merkel as Minister for Women und Youth, a rather innocuous posting. For Kohl, Merkel fulfilled three important qualities: she was from East Germany, a woman and not seen as a political threat, a reliable party underling. Kohl referred to Merkel condescendingly as “my girl”. Following Kohl’s retirement in 1998 Wolfgang Schäuble became CDU Party Chairman and was destined to be the CDU’s candidate for chancellor in the upcoming bundestag election. To keep any potent male competition in the party in check, Schäuble selected the bland Merkel as CDU Secretary-General.

1999 however saw Kohl and Schaüble caught up in a massive party funding scandal. Although the affair was swept beneath the rug, following Schäuble’s resignation as party leader, it was clear that his candidacy for chancellor was no longer on the cards. In fact, aware of an imminent backlash from voters at the next election, no one wanted the post as party leader, which includes the candidacy for the chancellorship, so it was given to Merkel. The CDU male grandees assumed they would have no problem unseating her as party leader following her inevitable election defeat. As fate would have it, the leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), claimed the nomination. The CSU is a provincial party that produces hordes of mediocre politicians, who rule via corruption and nepotism and an extremely suspect justice system. Every thirty years a CSU politician believes he is ordained to be chancellor of Germany. Not taken seriously by the rest of the nation, they go on to lose.

This bumptious intervention by the CSU, ending in the inevitable defeat of their candidate for chancellor, was a godsend for Ms Merkel, leaving her in a strong position. Her male competitors for the party leadership were not able to find a consensus candidate, their personal ambition impeding each other, so Ms Merkel remained politically unscathed.

In the next Bundestag election in 2005 Ms Merkel may have cut a very poor figure as the CDU/CSU candidate for the chancellorship, appearing incompetent in financial matters, and squandering a massive lead in the polls, but her party narrowly edged out the Social Democrats. The two struck a deal to share the spoils and formed a grand coalition with Merkel as chancellor.

Merkel followed the CDU tradition of permitting big business to determine policy and converting this into law. The grand coalition was the golden age of donations and sponsoring by large corporations for the CDU, CSU and Social Democrats. Many politicians in the ruling coalition benefitted personally from this munificence. There were bountiful consulting-contracts, generously remunerated seats in supervisory boards of companies and exceptionally well paid jobs after retirement from active politics, not to mention bribes.

There was one exception, however. The nuclear disaster of Fukushima occurred shortly preceding a state election in Baden-Württemberg, the CDU heartland. Despite the majority of Germans being increasingly disenchanted with nuclear energy, Ms Merkel had just revised a law phasing it out by 2021, extending the date well into the future, as proscribed by Germany’s four major energy providers. Merkel knew that her party, as a dogmatic supporter of nuclear energy, would suffer serious damage in the upcoming election in Baden-Württemberg and made a remarkable volte face, more or less reinstating the original law to phase out nuclear power stations within ten years. It was the right call. The CDU suffered a serious electoral defeat in the Baden-Württemberg, but it could have been much worse. The CDU and CSU Union had always fervently supported the nuclear industry (and the nuclear industry the CDU and CSU), and while Merkel’s decision was politically clever, it egregiously violated party dogma. It was the left (the Social Democrats were also dogmatic proponents of nuclear energy) that had fought the nuclear lobby tooth and nail for decades. Many in Merkel’s party never forgave her.

During the financial crisis, Ms Merkel did what big business asked of her: bailed out the banks, letting the taxpayer foot the bill, and the state pumped further billions into the automobile industry. This seemed to have done the trick and seemed to have restored her fortunes.

Then in 2009 Merkel committed her first cardinal error, appointing Wolfgang Schäuble as finance minister. Schäuble is a man characterised by spiteful hate, belief in German superiority and fervent loyalty to Germany’s wealthy. He was instrumental to the introduction of austerity in Germany and Europe, which encompassed all these qualities. While China, the United States, Britain to name a few, spent vast amounts to stimulate their economies, Germany abstained, enjoying the free ride. When in 2009 many European banks, including those in Germany, fell into a financial abyss, it was the high priest of austerity, Schäuble, and his acolytes who transubstantiated this into a sovereign debt crisis driving nations like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy to the financial brink, replacing democratically elected governments by decree and attacking one of Europe’s great achievements, its social welfare system.

Schäuble saved German, French, British and other banks from collapse and provided a discredited neo-liberalism with a fillip, but he also drove millions of Europeans into penury, many to an early death for lack of adequate medical attention, not to mention suicide. The crisis however was great stuff for Germany, which enjoyed the trade advantages of a weak Euro, inexpensive labour from Europe’s newly created army of unemployed and cheap borrowing on the bond markets. Add to this the sinking real incomes of the previous ten years in Germany and you have a recipe for financial success at the cost of everyone else: destructively high current account surpluses.

While the question of austerity and Europe’s and Germany’s anaemic economic recovery was reduced to an academic war of words, Merkel committed her first major error: Ukraine. One does not need to be a foreign affairs expert to know that peace and stability in Europe depends on the integration of Russia. The two sides had made great progress in the previous quarter century. Ukraine could have been a further stepping stone in this process as a trade hub between the EU and Russia. German hubris, having been declared the “leader of Europe” due to its financial predominance, and historic German racism with regard to Slavs, led Merkel to inanely join the US attack upon Russia by prying Ukraine loose from its traditional bond with its eastern neighbour, instead of doing what Europe traditionally does so well in such situations: mediating a compromise to its own advantage.

One should also not forget that what oil was to the intervention in Iraq, fertile agricultural land is to Ukraine. The German media went into war propaganda mode. The result was a botched affair: a new war in Europe, a failed state, a loss of Russian trade and the need to subsidise a corrupt oligarchy for many years to come. Still, it was “mission accomplished”. Most Germans once again had the feeling of having an existential threat on its eastern frontier and with Vladimir Putin possessed a devil incarnate. Life was once again “in Ordnung” as the Germans would say.

It was de capo with the hysteria following Syriza’s electoral success in Greece in January 2015. I shall not bother attempting to describe German hysteria at that time, but would highly recommend watching this (it is in English and entertaining), a parody that distillates the sense of fear sown by German media.

As we know, Greece ended in much the same “mission accomplished” result as in Ukraine: profligates, liars and cheaters punished, the EU badly battered, Greece with even more debt and reduced to a client state. Outside of Germany and its EU quislings, there was a great deal of anger concerning Germany’s brutal policy towards Greece. Many Germans knew this and were uncomfortable with its nation’s destructive policy, which led to Ms Merkel’s next mistake.

The ugly German simply did not fit in with Ms Merkel’s image of herself as the leading stateswoman of Europe. To recoup her losses she obviously decided to publicly demonstrate how compassionate she and Germany are, proclaiming that all Syrian refugees would be welcome in her nation. Hardly was the announcement made than German media was heralding its “Willkommenskultur” to the world. Had it been genuine, it would have been well and truly a remarkable humanitarian feat; one the Germans are financially and logistically capable of handling. But Ms Merkel has never shown any real compassion in the past and her party has often used xenophobia to improve their ratings in the polls, declaring with regard to refugees and immigrants that “the boat is full”. Willkommenskultur is not in the DNA of Ms Merkel’s CDU and CSU.

It is not clear who Ms Merkel consulted beforehand, and inviting probably over a million Arabs to move into a nation that is inherently racist was a case of not being in touch with the pulse of the nation, not to mention her party. Similarly to renouncing nuclear energy in 2011, Ms Merkel has once again crossed one of her party’s red lines. Maybe someone had whispered in her ear that this could solve Germany’s demographic problem. Maybe she was convinced that this would be an opportunity to scupper the newly introduced minimum wage – the idea was placed in the public domain by the Council of Businesses shortly after Ms Merkel’s announcement welcoming refugees. Maybe Ms Merkel thought she would receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In the meantime most Germans are of the opinion that they do not have a willkommenskultur and do not want a million new refugees, especially Arabs, in their nation, where there is currently a shortage of cheap housing and decently paid jobs, not to mention a constant reduction of social benefits thanks to Mr Schäuble.

Ms Merkel first tried dragooning the nations between Germany and the Middle East to stop the refugees before they reached the German border – unsuccessfully. She then tried to convince the whole of the EU to accept a large proportion of the refugees – unsuccessfully. Then there was the prerequisite by Schäuble that the cost of the refugees in Germany would not violate Germany’s Holy Grail: a balanced budget without raising taxes – but it will create a deficit. Since then Ms Merkel finds herself the subject of a campaign, as polite and subtle as it may be, reserved for the likes of Putin and Varoufakis. Every few days Ms Merkel implements a further climb down with regard to her refugee policy. One can no longer speak of a willkommenskultur. Decisive is the portrayal within her party and in the media that Ms Merkel lacks any sort of credible plan to deal with the crisis she single-handedly created.

Then there were the recent pictures of Ms Merkel kowtowing to Turkey’s nascent dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan briefly before Turkey’s national elections this month. The list of gifts on offer to Erdogan to stymie refugees from crossing onto mainland Europe was impressive: three billion euros in cash, delay of critical reports on Turkey’s progress toward EU membership and a re-opening of stalled negotiations. That Ms Merkel’s and the EU’s policy was forged by panic is borne out by the fact that they were prepared to grant Turkey’s citizens visa rights in a situation where Erdogan is aggressively attacking the political opposition, critical media as well as the secular society, and a civil war is raging with Kurdish separatists. The next refugee crisis, this time with Turkish citizens, is just round the corner. This does not resemble the actions of a competent leader.

Add to this the question of the business elite that has been advising Ms Merkel. Thanks to US investigations it has become clear that the heads of German banks were criminal and in the case of Deutsche Bank not even repentant. The same is the true with the management of Volkswagen, which is more concerned about keeping its managers out of US jails than protecting the environment. In Greece respected German companies have been exposed as one of the main perpetrators of bribery. The German armed forces have purchased one weapons system after the other from German companies that are not fit for purpose – no one is investigating the possibility of corruption being responsible. These are the same people who have been dictating her policy. Even Germany’s successful bid for the 2006 football world championship was attained thanks to massive bribery. These cases cannot be blamed on Ms Merkel, but these are the people she likes to be seen and photographed with, not to mention the companies that generously payroll her party.

A crisis that the Germans have not yet comprehended is their involvement in their first Vietnam. Having joined the military coalition in Afghanistan, Ms Merkel has not been capable of extricating Germany from the war. Despite plans to terminate its military engagement there by 2016, the mandate was recently extended and the number of troops increased,. The topic is politely being ignored in German media. Under Ms Merkel Germany has become militarily involved in an increasing number of conflicts including more recently Mali and Iraq.

Now Ms Merkel’s bête noire, Vladimir Putin, the man who had been ostracised from the western political stage, is, due to the war in Syria and Iraq, making a political comeback. He has been meeting President Obama and John Kerry as the rapprochement between the US and Russia accelerates. The French president Hollande is currently travelling to Moscow, not Berlin, following the ISIS offensive in Paris. The Middle East trumps Ukraine, terrorism over land-grab, and Ms Merkel again looks rather ridiculous.

As I mentioned in my last post, the global economic slowdown is like an avalanche increasing in speed and mass as it approaches the EU and Germany, whose frail recovery has been driven solely by exports. There is little room for economic manoeuvre due to Mr Schäuble’s reign of austerity terror, short of firing him. If Germany returns to recession, then there is little hold for Ms Merkel, should she still be chancellor.

Last, but not least, is the fact that Ms Merkel has led her party for 17 years of which she has been chancellor for ten. Voters eventually become fatigued with its leader. Nothing new has come from Ms Merkel and her acolytes for years, just the same neoliberal policy and furtherance of the interests of big business. Good, she has successfully resurrected the Russian threat and crushed Greece, but those are evanescent victories. Also in her own party there is the next generation of politicians impatiently waiting for their turn at the trough, but are blocked by Ms Merkel and her cronies.

Maybe Ms Merkel will survive the current crisis. This might be achieved with a deal to relinquish her party leadership for the next bundestag elections in 2017. There may be a brief respite following the recent ISIS attack in Paris. Still the feeling on the ground in Germany with regard to Ms Merkel has changed. The love affair is over. No date has yet been set for the divorce.

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  1. Pelham

    Excellent summation. Thank you.

    I’m wondering, though: Is there any viable political alternative in Germany to the CDU/CSU and Social Democrats, who for their part appear now to be just a shadow of their partners in government? And exactly where do the German people themselves stand? If they had a truly representative democracy, would matters look much different?

    1. susan the other

      We are never allowed to observe Schaeuble’s friends discussing their control over the German economy. Behind closed doors they deliberate with Draghi over QE and NIRP – to maintain strong exports for Germany – but the German budget eats up all the benefits helping out the banksters. Germany has the same choice we have: we can either save the banksters or the economy, but not both. What we see on RT and Fr24 and Deutsche Welle are stories about anti war street protests and refugees, and leftist politicians who all want nothing to do with military adventures; they all want diplomacy and an equitable economy and most of them are upset by the fact that they had to bail out Deutsche Bank. But that’s not what they are going to get. Merkel’s little speech of tears to France over the Bataclan attack was an introduction to sending German troops to Mali, that was obvious. The Paris attack served the same purpose as 9/11 – it mobilized a reluctant nation. It looks like Obama refuses to spend a dime on all those feckless Europeans until they show some initiative. But Merkel is certainly no more feckless that those two goofballs Hollande and Cameron.

      1. Massinissa

        Sometimes it feels like Putin is the only not-feckless leader around… Its no wonder he has what, a 90% approval rating when many western leaders are dealing with record or near record low approval ratings?

        1. fajensen

          To tell the truth, if anyone bothered to do the poll, I would expect that Putin has a higher or at least similar rating than “our” elected representatives – across the EU!

  2. Ceteris Paribus

    That’s all very well, but the general suspicion these days is that Merkel has long been bought and/or blackmailed by transatlantic interests, probably with material about a Stasi past.

    She is quite incoherent at times, e.g. when directly challenged about her dangerous and unconstitutional stance on the migrant invasion, incapable of offering a single cogent argument. Instead she seeks refuge in religious platitudes. She bites her nails and is not to be found at crucial times.

    More and more people see her as a traitor to Germany and to Europe – she is bringing about the break-up of the EU with her “refugee” policy, that no sane or reasonable person would pursue at this point, but which is supported by the mockingbird media, which in Germany are 100% pro-CIA and pro-Israel. Draw your own conclusions. If this author Rose is writing for mainstream papers, the article may indicate that her masters see her utility at an end, and she’s about to be dropped (to go into exile in Paraguay, possibly, for Germans will never forgive her.)

    1. Barmitt O'Bamney

      If die Merkler’s muddlings eventually bring on the death of the EU, she will have deserved a medal. I don’t care what ends that infernal machine, the EU must go. So do your wurst, Madame Chancellor. Or your best, whichever speeds the chaos.

  3. julia

    very interesting article, though it is worth to mention that unfortunately the former government of social democrats and green party involved germany in many wars as opposed to the explicit stated order by the german constitution that the germany army shall only allowed to fight to defend the national borders. The former pacifist Joschka Fisher, then foreign minister was very successful in claiming a whole new responsibility for the german army.
    I am german, now living in canada – and I do not think that germans are inherently more racist than other nations and people. It seems to me more that the handling of the refugee crisis is aimed to create exactly this hysteria and explosive situation. What seems to missing in this whole debate is first a clear commitment to end the war in the middle east, to stop future exports of “revolutions”, to stop the attempted removal of dictators we do not like and to start to treat other people as equals. Second it would be really important to see more that empty phrases from the leadership. Maybe the government could announced a wage cut, with the surplus money going to the refugees, empty or half empty government buildings could be used to house refugees and maybe one fighter jet less could feed most of the people. As well in a democratic society the population should be asked for their opinion about how to best help and how many refugees should come and as well be allowed to play a more active part then to say “welcome to germany”.

    1. Carlos

      There was never an intention to end the war in the Middle East they have been putting the foot harder on the accelerator since day one.

      The Jihadis are a US created weapon ultimately aimed at Moscow and Beijing. Europe is there to buffer the US from blowback.

  4. TG

    Really well written, kudos.

    It is especially refreshing to hear opinions about the ‘refugee’ crisis other than ‘Merkel is a saint’ – like, all that cheap labor could really go well with getting rid of the minimum wage. Regardless of whether that was a primary motivation, nobody who refuses to make any sacrifices herself has the moral standing to preach sacrifice in the name of ‘compassion’ (or perhaps, cheap labor) for others…

    Curious that Merkel is prepared to let the Greeks starve, yet demands funding for ‘Syrian’ refugees. That does suggest that compassion had nothing to do with it…

    I would sum up by saying that Merkel is not so much politically skilled, as she has powerful friends. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also started in obscurity, and became president simply because they had sold their souls to the oligarchs. Your excellent summary certainly filled in a lot of the gaps in Merkel’s history for me.

  5. TheCatSaid

    The sequence of events–both domestic and international–has the feeling of experienced cooks and sous-chefs preparing specific ingredients to order, starting the cooking, with specific aims in mind. Merkel does not appear to be a head chef. She’s been playing her part, and as intimated above a substitute is probably being prepared in the wings.

    Pieces on a chess board, hard to tell if there’s overlap between the “players” and the “chess pieces”, and which ones might be in cahoots. Maybe some who fancy they are “players” are just tools for others.

  6. TheMog

    As a(nother) German who’s been living abroad for over a decade but has been following the political developments over there, I have a few comments to make.

    – While Schäuble appears to be trying his hardest to dismantle what’s left of the social safety net, he is mainly finishing the work that has been going on since at least the mid-eighties under former Chancellor Kohl. It was actually the Social Democrats under Schröder who made the biggest progress in out-neconning the CDU when they introduced the Hartz IV “reforms”, but it’s been death by a thousand cuts for the social welfare system before then and since then. Not that this is indented to absolve Schäuble from his responsibilities or excuse his cut-rate Emperor Palpatine act, but it’s important to provide some context here.

    – On important political “skill” Ms Merkel appears to have learned from her mentor Kohl is the skill of “aussitzen” – literally, sitting out a crisis. Kohl was a master of that skill, especially in the later years of his political career. More often than not, scandals and crisis would get ignored until they went away on their own, maybe helped along with a little pretend crisis management. Merkel often struck me as doing the same, maybe with a little action thrown in when there was absolutely no way to a crisis going away otherwise.

    – Is Germany racist per se? I honestly don’t know, I’ve certainly seen enough ugliness in that area to not dismiss the possibility. It’s certainly not the most welcoming place if you’re not of the Northwestern White European persuasion and as in so many other places, people who don’t fit that mould are grudgingly accepted when times are good, and the ugliness boils up when times are bad. Times haven’t been that stellar in Germany for over a decade

    – Refugess, Asylum Seekers, whatever you want to call them – again, this is not a new discussion but has been going on as long as I can remember (OK, that would be about the early eighties and I know it had been going on a lot longer by then). The original policies in the BRD were shaped after the war by consensus between the parties as a lot of politicians had first-hand experience what it was like to be a refugee and worse, being a stateless refugee. But the ‘C’ family of parties and the right spectrum beyond them has been trying to hollow out those provisions for a long time, under the pretext of making the distinction between “deserving” and “undeserving” asylum seekers and to nobody’s surprise, finding lots of undeserving ones. Easy when you make up the criteria as you go along. As the centre of politics shifted further to the right since the 80s, both the attacks on refugees have increased and the political discussion overall has become a lot more hostile towards them, even before Schäuble we’ll-balance-the-budget-even-if-it-kills-us approach to government finances.

    To bring my ramblings back to Ms Merkel, Germany right now very much reminds me of the standstill I experienced there in the mid to late nineties after the euphoria of the reunification had faded away. Similar if not the same actors, similar political leanings and the whole cohort being cajoled along by a varying cast of political leprechauns who fancied themselves as giants because the setting sun made them cast a long shadow…

    1. Ceteris Paribus

      I think that by living so far away, you may not quite understand the current situation and the artificially, deliberately engineered “migrant” crisis. This is something totally different from previous refugee inflows, and a story that is not going to end well. More in the nature of an invasion with Merkel’s full and guilty complicity, to destabilize the entire region.

      I am especially angry at Merkel and the spineless Austrian Chancellor for facilitating this dangerous travesty. And no, I’m not racist (as you impute to all Germans, somewhat unfairly.) If these were genuinely needy people willing to make the slightest effort at integration, irrespective of their origins, I would be the first to assist and welcome them. But something else is going on here, something extremely sinister that is going to cost us very dear. That our rule of law has already been sacrificed, is only the first part of the huge bill we face.

      There are now serious calls for Merkel to be impeached and arrested, and this cannot come soon enough for me. I hope she spends the rest of her life in a prison cell, contemplating the error of her ways.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I don’t know what “something else” is, here; please be more specific. To me, it looks like fleeing a war zone (one which the United States, to its great discredit, did much to create and little to halt).

        1. Ceteris Paribus

          I live in Central Europe, and have worked on several continents including Africa. I have seen what genuine refugee flows look like; there is a more or less normal demographic distribution – old and young, women and children. The current inflow however is at least 80% young men of fighting age, as I can confim from personal observation, although the media kept picturing the families with children, at least at first. Where are these fellows’ families? The explanation that “they’ll be coming later” does not cut it if they were true refugees. Plus, only a minority are Syrian, Merkel’s foolhardy and inexplicable “invitation” to all and sundry has inspired people from as far away as Bangladesh,Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Ukraine, etc. to pretend to be Syrian refugees. The mess will take years and years to sort out, and their originating states in some cases explicitly refuse to take them back.

          Once they arrive here, they don’t behave like true refugees, thankful for having reached sanctuary. They all have brand-new smartphones. Many immediately leave the assigned houses to vanish, who knows where to (I suspect the Turks who organised the whole thing, with the help of already established compatriots, may do).

          It turns out many were ferried with lorries directly from Turkey, and unloaded in the vicinity of the borders. That’s why they don’t look weary and exhausted for the most part, and act more like invaders than actual refugees, wasteful and contemptuous of the resources given them. In the camps where they are housed they keep fighting each other, establishing their own pecking order. Integrated, more modern muslims are fearful of the intolerance and threats they bring.

          For the moment, the German and Austrian authorities appease the migrants with money and distribute them all over the country, in the smallest villages, against the express will of the original inhabitants. The officials in charge of this have strict gagging orders not to say anything about the growing problems, and so do the mainstream media.

          Under the surface, there is fury and anger mounting, and somebody – according to Orban, who is no fool, Soros and his ilk – is apparently preparing to pit us natives against the newcomers. Erdogan and Davutoglu too are capable of anything, as we have just seen demonstrated.

          A few incidents, if necessary false flags, plus a change of direction in the media songsheet, would be enough to cause widespread destabilisation at this point. A climate of fear is being systematically prepared with the current terrorism scare.

      2. Fredricus Rex

        What we have here is nothing else but the colonisatizon of german speaking countries .Why else would Saudi Arabia offer to send money to build 2000 Mosques but not take in one refugee. The going price for a syrian passport now stands at 250 $ american.

  7. Rajesh

    Never realized that things were so bleak for Ms. Merkel…she has a strong personality, at least when you compare her to politicians like Sahra Wagenknecht. She dominates German Politics to such an extent that she has become the de-facto face of the party.She has cultivated a larger-than-life image for herself and there still isn’t a real challenger.

  8. vidimi

    good read, but how accurate it is remains to be seen. for this part, at least

    Now Ms Merkel’s bête noire, Vladimir Putin, the man who had been ostracised from the western political stage, is, due to the war in Syria and Iraq, making a political comeback. He has been meeting President Obama and John Kerry as the rapprochement between the US and Russia accelerates. The French president Hollande is currently travelling to Moscow, not Berlin, following the ISIS offensive in Paris. The Middle East trumps Ukraine, terrorism over land-grab, and Ms Merkel again looks rather ridiculous.

    the guardian sees it differently:

    François Hollande and Vladimir Putin will talk over dinner in the Kremlin on Thursday evening as the French president continues diplomatic efforts to form a broad coalition against Islamic State after the Paris attacks.

    Hollande met Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday and Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, in Paris earlier on Thursday. He met David Cameron on Monday and Angela Merkel on Wednesday.

    so berlin is not quite being sidelined just yet.

    whetever else merkel may be she certainly isn’t stupid so i wouldn’t put it past her that she can spin this situation to her advantage yet. i think she’s a far longer-term planner than most western leaders.

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      As we have seen, the ‘rapproachment’ between the US and Russia was derailed by deliberate Turkish provocation.

  9. RBHoughton

    What a rare and reassuring thing to read at NC that Europe needs Russia.

    Its so obvious it should not need saying but somehow the belief Europe can get by without Russia has been canvassed widely in the international field to the point that some observers imagine its possible.

    Shalom Matthew D Rose.

  10. Klemperer

    Mrs. Merkel played a little bit more dubious role, I think, dear Mathew D. Rose. Austerity, on the other hand, was not introduced by Schäuble or the CDU/CSU, but in a kind of Blair-style by SPD and the nowadays conservative green party (Schröder-government 1998-2005, Merkel just had to go on from there. Of course she did.
    The “war on terror” saw a mild disagreement in Germany and France, 2003, and Merkel, a more powerful figure within her party as you seem to think, was by far the most keen german or even, apart from Blair, european politician to say hooray to “war on terror” and Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld’s horrible war (we don’t count the dead “ennemies”, do we?)
    ISIS would not be like it is without “war on terror”, and Merkel strongly supported it. Her role was to bring Germans, after the horrible Nazi years, to think more “positive” about wars and killing again. The war industry likes her very much for that, and I felt disgusted since years as I read what happened.

    Merkel was the politician who – without having to ask parliament – sent weapons for more and more money, horrible sums, really, to the dictatureship of Saudi-Arabia. Well, in a future history of the world we might read what Saudi-Arabia has to do with the IS-terror. Merkel always praises Saudi-Arabia…

    It was definitely not only Herr Schäuble, whom you portrait very accurately, who was so ugly against Greece and the poor people of southern Europe. Merkel is a politician who has the last word, always, the born opportunist, like Schröder before her. I understand that Yanis Varoufakis, who had to meet these nightmarishly cold politicians like Schäuble, Merkel, Dijsselbloem, Martin Schulz (SPD) or Juncker, regarded his former colleague Schäuble as the most unfair politician. Schäuble acted extremely cold-hearted. Yet he fought for what was 100% also Merkel’s position. Since the beginning. Our german media supported her for many years, nobody was seen so uncritical, as “mother” (my, my….) as Merkel. Mainstream media praised her more than any other politician since 1949. And partly still do.

    Concerning Ukraine – Merkel wanted Klitschko, and before him Timoshenko, and played the US- and thinktank-“ngo” game of regime change in US style since many years. She was not alone here, of course. Carl Bildt of Sweden, the EU (kind of led by Merkel for many years, don’t forget that) were in the boat, all with very good US-connections, by the way.

    Taken that our mainstream media, and this contains everything from formerly left-liberal “Spiegel” (neoliberal since 15 years at least), ZEIT, Springer-press to FAZ and taz and Süddeutsche etc., are very powerful, one cannot predict what will happen. My guess is that if Merkel wants to be chancellor for more than 12, she will be, in a highly neoliberal, russophobic and conservative government. They’ll add a “let’s have fun, legalize Marihuana” style to attract rich “cooler” voters. Merkel is a great opportunist – she knows how to spread fog.
    CDU/CSU/green was my bet since 2013, CSU will of course quarrel about the “cool postmodern” unimportant stuff, “small beer”^^. That will keep BILD busy. and the greens can play the “we are the cool leftists in the government” game while following Merkel in war and neoliberal ways. Merkel favoured the new green party and still favours them, they also have the richest voters in Germany, not the FDP.
    Of course, a person with such a strong network (during her time a lot of candidates had to go, Merz, von Beust, many who liked to be chancellor) would also take nearly any other party to stay in power.
    The question is: what does she herself want? The mainstream press hyped her for so many many years, they won’t get her down, unless she herself wanted to be honorary professor in the USA or whatever she likes to be.
    Only an ugly fight against the poor refugees in german population and media could be dangerous for her. For Mrs. Merkel, who strongly supported “war on terror”, all regime changes, and who is one of the politicians who are also responsible for the rise of terrorists like IS. Many many poor refugees who come to us come because of this kind of thinking and after their so-called “war on terror”. It all depends on herself. If she, Germany’s “mum” in all media, likes, she will stay in power after 2017 again. It is naive to think she was some good lady within capitalism. She is not, and never was.

    1. Anja Böttcher

      No, she has never been “a good lady”. Her lack of spontaneity and esprit has always been advertised as the final proof of a highly considerate and ballanced attitude in politics, but after her last term as chancellor, beginning with the war-mongerin campaign at the Munich Security Conference 2013 and her submissive participation in the US-lead confrontation course against Russia her star is rapidly declining. A deep dislike has replaced an undeserved trustful relationship of the eloctorate. I can’t imagine that she will be make it in any further election – although the rest of the political staff isn’t attractive either. (But the same applies for Britain and France, too.)

      War and especially the imbecile hostility towards Russia are – after two World Wars and the threat 70-years-threat of mutual extinction – a very sensitive point which proved her complete failure. I’ve never seen German public as furious before as in case of the propagandistic presentation of the Ukrainian crisis before, which was fully in accordance with Mrs Merkel’s policy. And Merkel knew what she was doing there. She spent many years of her academic career in Donezk. How can she let down the population their to such a shameful degree?

      Now the refugee crisis, by which she hoped to change her image as a cold fish, but in reality answered to US-plans to destabilize Germany, seems to be her final step towards desaster. Nobody believes her to be the “angel of the refugees”, as she is fully responsible for their tragedies and still unable to answer up to her transatlantic master’s devastating hegemonial middle east policy. At the moment she gives permission to the US’ attempts to renew Germany’s state of atomic slavery, when the US renews nuklear weapons in the Eifel, while the German public has been promised for decades that the nucelar thread would vanish from our territory.

      She can’t survive the degree of disgust people feel for her now.

  11. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Merkel seems caught between the demands of the Empire in DC which has a clear policy to protect a shakey global hegemony by destabilizing any potential rivals (this is stated US policy – it’s not a conspiracy theory) and the realities of European and Eurasian politics, which would require peaceful co-existence with Russia.

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