Monday, February 15, 2016

The Decline of Angela Merkel

Roger Cohen worries that Angela Merkel will pay a political price for doing the right thing. The trouble is: she did not do the right thing. She made a catastrophic, world historical error. Merkel should pay a political price for doing the wrong thing.  The real question now is: who will undo the damage?

Cohen judges Merkel’s open-arms policy to Muslim refugees in terms of her humanitarian sentiments. He adds that German history has made it impossible for the nation to shut its doors to those fleeing war and oppression.

Basing a policy on sentimentality is normally a very bad idea. It is an especially bad idea if you fail to understand who the refugees are and how they will affect your national culture. Inviting in hordes of violent, anti-Western misogynists who will never assimilate into your nation is a very bad idea.

Policy defines a plan of action. As happens with any pragmatic or empirical hypothesis, its truth or its value must be judged by the outcomes produced. Cohen hopes that the situation in Germany will right itself, but surely he is being overly optimistic. Errors of this magnitude tend to play themselves out to the bitter end.

By Cohen’s analysis, a large number of other events led by a large number of other players will determine whether Merkel’s policy succeeds. Yet, when your policy depends on so many others, others who have not signed on to the policy or have no real obligation to support it, is not wise governance. It is folly.

In Cohen’s words:

She [Merkel] needs the Syrian war, the main source of the refugee outflow, to end, but the latest American-Russian plan for a cessation of hostilities almost looks more likely to unravel in the weeks ahead than hold. She needs Turkey, in exchange for billions of euros, to tighten its borders and stop the refugee exodus. But Turkey is playing an extortion game, and is not above a little schadenfreude at seeing the Europe that rejected it fray.

In Russia, she needs President Vladimir Putin’s cooperation, but a core element of his strategy is the undermining of a united Europe; the refugee flow from Syria achieves just that. She needs the United States to exercise its power in a way President Obama has refused to do through the inexorable spread of the Syrian crisis. Unless the United States is prepared to establish a safe area in northern Syria and put pressure on Turkey to turn a chaotic refugee flow into an orderly process, the current untenable situation will persist. If America is unprepared to reverse Russian-Iranian gains in Syria, it must at least show commitment to managing the consequences. She needs European countries like Poland and Hungary — recipients of huge injections of cash from the European Union — to snap out of their ungrateful moods of nationalist xenophobia, but that’s not going to happen soon.

Years ago Merkel led a bailout of Greece. Now, she needs a bailout herself, but it is no longer about money. She needs other European countries to adopt the same bad policies that she adopted. If she cannot pawn off her refugees on other countries, Germany will be stuck with them. Of course, she could always try to influence the Turkish president Erdogan. Good luck with that.

According to Cohen, Merkel has made her nation’s future depend on the good will of Vladimir Putin and the competence of Barack Obama. This only proves that sentimentality clouds judgment.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Germany is falling out of love with Angela Merkel. Were it not for the fact that there seems to be no viable alternative, the two would probably be heading for a divorce.

The Telegraph reports:

Six months ago Angela Merkel was being hailed as the saviour of Europe, living up to the continent’s founding ideals of openness and tolerance by throwing open the gates of Germany to millions of refugees fleeing the horrors of Syria’s civil war.

“We can do it!” she cried, welcoming the first trainloads of refugees into Munich as they were applauded onto the platforms by crowds, who wanted to show that Germany was different from Hungary and other eastern European states that had spurned this human tide.

That was September – but how quickly the mood seems to have soured, as Germany comes to terms with the realities involved in absorbing more than a million migrants who were promised a better life.

Mrs Merkel has borne the brunt of the fallout. Her personal approval ratings hit a four-year-low this month, with Germany’s leading mass-market newspaper, Bild, posing a front-page question that seemed unthinkable only a year ago: “Is Merkel still the right one?”

Here we try to answer that question. Is Europe’s Iron Lady really finished? What can she do to arrest her precipitous slide – 12 points last month alone – in the polls?

Merkel leads a right-of-center political party, the Christian Democratic Union. Yet, her party has formed a coalition with the left-of-center alternative, which effectively supports her policy. Those who oppose her come from within her party and from the radical right. Understandably, Germany is not ready to embrace the radical right again.

Perhaps chief among these is that Mrs Merkel doesn’t have a serious rival at the moment, either among the parties or political personalities.

Germany’s next biggest party, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) is already in coalition with Mrs Merkel’s CDU and is tainted by the same policies. That leaves the Greens and the Left Party - who themselves took a liberal approach to the refugees, giving them limited credibility to attack Mrs Merkel on the issue.

Then there is “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) party which has nearly tripled its following from 4.7 per cent to 12.5 per cent since the refugee crisis began. But given the fear of resurgence of the far-Right that is baked into German society, it is unlikely they will ever be more than a fringe player.

That remains to be seen.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I wonder if the Germans feel the same way about their executive as I do about ours. It seems that Merkel and Obama care more about other people than they do about people in their own countries. It diminishes the value of citizenship. The political leader does whatever he/she wants, and the citizen is shamed for thinking it's not the highest priority.

The source of the problem: the elites are disconnected from the people they serve, and have a different value set. It's a combination of "I'm smarter than you, and the source of all of my own success" and "Think global, act local." It's a xanadu delusion propelled by who they think they are, versus the human beings we all are.

In the end, that means it's self-congratulatory policy. I still submit that 90% of people think that charity begins at home, and that life can be better if you serve and clean-up your own corner of the universe. It is impossible to care about 8 billion people when their interests are not your own. You can go broke and kill yourself trying to take care of everyone. If you think that sounds a bit self-centered, please consider the truth in it. Lots of people think everyone should be taken care of, but that other people should do the work. That's how you go broke.

This is part of what I think Charles Murray was pointing out in his WSJ piece this weekend about Trumpism. The best line of the whole piece was: "Another characteristic of the new upper class—and something new under the American sun—is their easy acceptance of being members of an upper class and their condescension toward ordinary Americans. " This is true... the majority of America isn't just ignorant, they're bad. They're not just small-minded, they're mean. They're not just parochial, they're bigots. For all the "nuance" elites encourage us to have, there's not a lot of nuance in their own thinking.

It's a huge problem because of the self-congratulatory chorus of voices they have among them. It's groupthink, a monolith. Yet they constantly coo at each other about how smart and open-minded they are. They're not. They don't question their own premises. They don't understand the limits of their own intelligence. They don't get the concept of citizenship. They want to enjoy the fruits of a wealthy, first-world lifestyle, but their brand of globalism doesn't lower them to live the lifestyle of even the median economic state of the rest of the world. They think their shit doesn't stink because they're vegan, eat organic food and drink fair trade soy lattes. They don't like people who don't think like they do, which mean's their intellectual snobs... cognitive bigots. Just don't tell them. They'll be offended. Because they're special... just ask them.

Merkel and Obama will never live among the people they champion... the people they seek to help. That's for the citizens to do. That's the elite's concept of "civic duty" -- It's someone else's problem.

Anonymous said...

When you elect a cunt politician you get cunt politics. Something we should learn here stateside.

Anonymous said...

Over a decade of her chancellorship (we have no term limit in Germany, she already got reelected twice) Merkel established a very solid reputation among the population for her low-key and generally quite competent administration of my country, with all of its delicate geographical, economic, demographic, and historical position in the center of Europe.

For instance, just a few months before she took her absolutely bizarre turn in the Muslim invasion policy, she delivered a masterpiece in handling the Greek crisis. Anti-German instincts and passions were just waiting for an excuse to be publicly unleashed in many European countries, especially in the Mediterranean belt. This went far beyond Greece itself. But Merkel kept her cool, and while the Greek situation cost us more than it should have in financial terms (politically we just can't afford to act British), it still remained within the limits of what was realistically possible in the present EU context. Plus, on a political level, there was hardly any damage at all: manageable bruises but no profusely bleeding wounds in Greece and the other Mediterraneans.

But then, all of a sudden enter that crazy, bizarre, absolutely catastrophic Muslim invasion policy! It came out of the blue and didn't tally at all with Merkel's long record of by and large sober, balanced, pragmatic policies. To this day I can't quite come up with an explanation for myself of what happened to her / with her / in her mind. In any case it's a complete betrayal, and has no clear continuity with her previous record.

The best explanation I can come up with so far is psychosexual -- won't spell it out here.

Anyhow, because of the trust and respect she earned among the German population over a decade, it takes time before the people will turn decisively against her. (It took me time. I used to be a member of her party, but now left.) But the process is under way and steadily progressing.

Another element: Due to Merkel's dominant position in her party and the country at large, with almost presidential status, she indeed created a leadership gap in her wake. Currently there is a shortage of nationally credible alternative leadership figures.

Will they emerge? Let's hope so. The AFD party is a ray of hope, but still very much in gestation. Social movements, like the much-reviled PEGIDA, may be more important at this stage. But in any case the twilight of Merkel definitely has begun. Her brand is already seriously damaged in Germany, and it will not recover. The trajectory is clear. It's just a question of how long Merkel's agony will be dragged out.

Of course, even after she's gone, the fateful legacy of her Muslim invasion policy will still be with us, for decades to come.

Quartermain said...

Merkel got the Germans to agree with the Greeks that Angie is an evil stupid bitch.

Jim Sweeney said...

Muslims, as a class, have never assimilated in any country. They are always sui generis and want it that way. Their creed permits them to lie to promote the creed so they say whatever they think you want to hear bit, the first chance they get, they try to make it a sharia/muslim country.

Why is it hard for people to accept the obvious truth?

Anonymous said...

I must know what Ares Olympus thinks of all this! -$$$

Anonymous said...

I think we all know that you can push the German people only "so" far.

Since the war, the German have been earnestly working off the bad karma from WW2 and the holocaust. They are self-imposed betas to a fault. I believe this will not persist. They will eventually reassert their true nature, especially if the economy tanks.

I the economy is good and everyone if flying fat dumb and happy, well accommodations can be made. When times are tougher, irritations are less tolerable.

Like the 1930's, if Germans feel that there is a real threat to their culture, survival or DNA, then look out! Trouble is ahead.

Sam L. said...

Anon #3, I think we all have a pretty good take on AE's take on this.

Cohen, though, was oblivious to the "unexpected!" consequences that many other others could clearly see coming like a freight train pulling 1000 cars, horn doing a banshee wail.

Dennis said...

I know it is sometimes hard to differentiate between women and feminists because they have some of the same attributes, but there is a big difference between the kind of woman who would gravitate to being a feminist and the vast majority of women who are truly our wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, et al. It is sad that we sometimes forget that. This of course goes both ways. It is easy considering that the feminists . mostly reside in urban areas where such examples of intellectual dialogue like "Vogue," "Cosmopolitan," et al exist expounding on all of the truly important issues of the day represents women as a whole. An assumption without merit.
Interesting to have the take of german citizen on Merkel. As I have stated we are seeing writ large how feminists leadership would actually affect the cultures, politics, foreign relationships, et al and it is not a "pretty" thing to see in action. Maybe we have not reached the point where the stain/bigotry of feminism can be washed out of women who seek power and have them truly recognize that they were elected to represent the interests of "all"their own people. Not to feel good about themselves. Leadership requires making decisions that are choices between ideas that may not be optimal. I sincerely hope we do.
How anyone with an active brain cell could not have seen this happening is beyond me. At some point one gets tired of saying, "I told you so" and asking "Why aren't you listening,?" I suppose if one looks to our own political elites, I cannot bring myself to call them leaders, it make sense that after a time they begin to believe they are smarter than everyone else. Something I have stated long ago that it is those who are the supposed "best and brightest" who have created and still create the problems we have to deal. That is why term limits are so important just as a start. Maybe bringing senators back to the point where the various state legislatures, who are closer to the people, can remove them for cause and not become a power un to themselves. A couple of ideas?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Dennis @February 16, 2016 at 6:07 AM:

Repealing the 17th Amendment sounds like a fine idea...

I guarantee you one thing that would end: unfunded Federal mandates to the states.

Dennis said...


Good catch for that is what I was suggesting.

priss rules said...

"He adds that German history has made it impossible for the nation to shut its doors to those fleeing war and oppression."

Using that logic, Japan should allow 100 million Chinese to come and stay.

Nations should make amends to people they wronged.

Germans didn't wrong Syrians and Afghanis. So, how is Germany responsible for them?

Hutus committed genocide against Tutsis. Does that mean Hutus should allow their lands to be overrun by rest of humanity?


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Dennis @February 16, 2016 at 2:45 PM:

I always love the condescension of media elites when the 17th Amendment is brought up... Chris Matthews said something to the effect that it was a high school civics debate topic, and therefore unworthy of his consideration and, with it, the country's. How kind of him to speak on our behalf. Kind of like the fact that contraception, abortion, sodomy and marriage laws were under the purview of the citizenry and legislature until the 1960s when our more wise, unelected, life tenure justices of the Supreme Court declared such laws offensive to their carefully-attuned sense of morality and what's good for the rest of us. Kind of like that archaic Second Amendment, which certainly we must dispense with if we are to join the civilized, genteel nations of Western Europe in self-immolating our national culture. I tell you, these oligarchs of abstraction, in their robes and never-ending opinions and dissents aren't the leaders of our way of life. They're supposed to tell us what the law is, not make it on their own because the country isn't moving "fast enough" to their flawless point of view.

By the way, I did respond to your challenge to be more constructive about solutions to our problems from your last comment to Stuart's "Macho Man vs. the Pussy" (originally posted Friday, February 12). My comment is currently the last one, from February 15, 2016 at 1:27 PM. I offered three possible solutions, though it will be an uphill climb. As always, I welcome your response.

Dennis said...


One of the first places one has to start is to remove the education system from federal control. That means doing away with the Department of Education which has only lowered our standing in the world and essentially made it an indoctrination. It is academe that is doing the most damage to this country and the students that go there. There is a need to take many of the Departments at the federal level and block grant them back to the states where they belong.
I agree with all three of your ideas. We really need to get people to recognize how they are being manipulated by the federal government no matter who the president is at the time.
The mere fact that the composition of the Supreme Court (SC) has become such a contentious issue demonstrate there is far too much power in Washington DC and how far the SC has moved from its job of ruling on the Constitution. Did the SC ruling on abortion make the issue go away? Will the SC ruling on gay marriage make the issue go away? In many cases they have only exacerbated the problem and "poisoned the well." I would suggest that had these issues, as well as others, been left to the states there would have been a compromise reached, which may have been different in various states, that would have made these issues less contentious. The laboratory that is the 50 states would have lead to a far better solution in the long run. I am suggesting that the power of the SC needs to be limited in some manner. In other words I am suggesting limiting the power of all 3 branches of government so they have far less power of our lives.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Dennis @February 17, 2016 at 8:08 AM:

ALL federal power needs to be constrained. Especially the Supreme Court, because they are making the law under their own constitutional interpretations and notions, rather than interpreting the laws that have been passed and are under review. This makes them a de facto legislature. It erodes voter participation, because it doesn't matter what voters think -- whether directly or through their legislators. They're just wrong.

But with the instant messages coming through the Glowing Box, everyone is impatient. They want change now. The Glowing Box tells them it must happen! The Glowing Box tells and shows them how bad their lives are, and that "something must be done!"

You are correct: the reason there is so much money in Washington, D.C. is because of the nationalization of governance in one place, which means every move in the nation's capital bears so much weight and consequence. This is not what the Founders intended. The politicians, media and academia are the most complicit. That's why the Department of Education (which educates no one) will never go away -- like the public schools it regulates, it is a jobs program for adults. It has nothing to do with the needs of children/pupils. They're pawns in a money game. What's the ever-present solution to all of our education problems? More money. More, more, more!

Alexander von Andorf said...

Muslims have no gratitude towards people having.helped them out. Allah made them help them by influencing their saviors. Allah gets the credit and Allah made them do that so as to bring Islam rule to the gullable infidels.