The Return Of The Ugly German

The Return Of The Ugly German

Postby Oscar » Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:33 am

The Return Of The Ugly German

[ http://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/07/the- ... ly-german/ ]

by Joschka Fischer on 24 July 2015

During the long night of negotiations over Greece on July 12-13, something fundamental to the European Union cracked. Since then, Europeans have been living in a different kind of EU.

What changed that night was the Germany that Europeans have known since the end of World War II. On the surface, the negotiations were about averting a Greek exit from the eurozone (or “Grexit”) and the dire consequences that would follow for Greece and the monetary union. At a deeper level, however, what was at stake was the role in Europe of its most populous and economically most powerful country.

Germany’s resurgence after World War II, and its re-establishment of the world’s trust (culminating in consent to German re-unification four and a half decades later), was built on sturdy domestic and foreign-policy pillars. At home, a stable democracy based on the rule of law quickly emerged. The economic success of Germany’s welfare state proved a model for Europe. And Germans’ willingness to face up to the Nazis’ crimes, without reservation, sustained a deep-rooted skepticism toward all things military.

In terms of foreign policy, Germany rebuilt trust by embracing Western integration and Europeanization. The power at the center of Europe should never again become a threat to the continent or itself. Thus, the Western Allies’ aim after 1945 – unlike after World War I – was not to isolate Germany and weaken it economically, but to protect it militarily and firmly embed it politically in the West. Indeed, Germany’s reconciliation with its arch-enemy, France, remains the foundation of today’s European Union, helping to incorporate Germany into the common European market, with a view to the eventual political unification of Europe.

But in today’s Germany, such ideas are considered hopelessly “Euro-romantic”; their time has passed. Where Europe is concerned, from now on Germany will primarily pursue its national interests, just like everybody else.

But such thinking is based on a false premise. The path that Germany will pursue in the twenty-first century – toward a “European Germany” or a “German Europe” – has been the fundamental, historical question at the heart of German foreign policy for two centuries. And it was answered during that long night in Brussels, with German Europe prevailing over European Germany.

This was a fateful decision for both Germany and Europe. One wonders whether Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble knew what they were doing.

MORE:

[ http://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/07/the- ... ly-german/ ]

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Joschka Fischer was Germany’s foreign minister and vice-chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and a leader in the German Green Party for almost 20 years.
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Re: The Return Of The Ugly German

Postby Oscar » Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:49 am

What Next After Tsipras Dashed Schäuble’s Hopes For Grexit?

[ http://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/07/next ... es-grexit/ ]

by Frank Hoffer on 27 July 2015

Excerpt:

A Greek government forced to bow to the impossible, a referendum brushed aside, the Franco-German partnership damaged, European compromise diplomacy replaced by ultimatums, the euro in limbo, large parts of Europe swept by anti-German fear and resentment and another €83bn sunk into a doomed “rescue package”. Not quite how successful policies are supposed to play out.

The worst thing about German policy is not that it is harsh and uncompromising towards the “reform-shy” Greeks, but that it is wrongheaded. Instead of sustainable debt restructuring and support for real investment in order to gain the time and acceptance needed for difficult and sometimes lengthy structural reforms, the Greeks have once again been prescribed more of the same: keep cutting till you collapse. Pursuing this failed policy with Swabian thoroughness and Prussian rigour has made Wolfgang Schäuble a popular figure at home and an unloved German martinet abroad. In Europe, this policy has done much to destroy confidence in, and respect for, Germany.

. . . . .

Either Europe will be based on democracy and solidarity or there will be no Europe. The idea that European integration can be achieved by competition, through supranationally institutionalized market power, is an illusion harboured by technocratic dreamers. Reality cannot fit into the Maastricht corset. There is no escaping the need for deeper economic and political union if the single currency is to be preserved.

Germany now threatens to stray from the successful path of integrationist modesty and pragmatic solutions. But that is not a foregone conclusion, nor is it an unavoidable by-product of greater power. Rather, it is a mistake. It is never too late to shift course.

MORE:

[ http://www.socialeurope.eu/2015/07/next ... es-grexit/ ]

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Frank Hoffer is senior research officer at the Bureau for Workers' Activities of the ILO. He writes in a personal capacity.
Oscar
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