Friday, June 22, 2018

The Decline and Fall of Merkel

Given its importance for geopolitics, we have been covering the decline and fall of Angela Merkel for some time now. After all, Merkel is a remnant of what is called the liberal world order. But she was also a practitioner of the Obama-led univeralist open borders policy. I have mentioned it before, but will repeat now, those who are whining about Donald Trump’s failure to maintain good relations with the weak sisters of Western Europe and Canada do not  see that these nations have largely abrogated their claims to world leadership. With them, it's more about nostalgia than Realpolitik.

When Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, Germany, France and England objected. They did not care about whether Iran went nuclear or was supporting terrorism. They wanted to do business with Iran. As a result, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia told Germany that it had to choose, trade with Saudi Arabia or trade with Iran. The Crown Prince proceeded to cancel contracts with Germany.

Today we read Josef Joffe, an editor at Die Zeit, in the Washington Post:

But even if Merkel makes it through this precarious summer and endures to the end of her fourth term, in 2021, she is damaged goods. Her existential problem goes far beyond the intramural political warfare. The European stage she has dominated for so long is collapsing beneath her.

The liberal world order is an Enlightenment ideal, derived, one supposes, from Immanuel Kant. It promised world government based on warm humane feelings. It stood in defiance of balance-of-powers government. It has failed over and over again and is now on life support.

Nations that seek to lead the world are not following the example set by Angela Merkel.

Nor is it just the migrants who are battering the European construction. Merkel, this benign monarch, is being shouldered aside by a new cast of leaders: Donald Trump, Russia’s Vladi­mir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and, farther afield, China’s Xi Jinping. These characters prefer national advantage to world-order politics.

As for the European Union, it is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions:

Closer to home, Britain is on the way out. In Italy, the anti-European populists of the left and right have grabbed power in a free election. Strongmen are running Poland and Hungary. In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party has muscled its way into the government. In much of the E.U., populist parties are scoring double-digit percentages of the vote.

One reason is that the Union has been coasting under the American defense umbrella. Now that Trump has called the bluff, alliances are starting to shift:

Europe’s cozy life under America’s strategic umbrella is turning nasty as Trump keeps growling: Pay up, or we ship out.

Of course, Merkel is doomed by her own absurd error, opening her nation to migrants, in a type of moral promiscuity:

Still, the deadliest threat to Merkel’s tenure preceded the advent of Trump. It began to close in on her in the early fall of 2015 when she opened her heart and her country to almost 1 million Muslim migrants. Determined to show Germany’s friendly face to the world, she refused to set limits. Her fans sported “Refugees Welcome” buttons.

It was virtue signaling, but it failed:

The welcome waned as the flow continued. Merkel’s fabled “Wir schaffen das” — “we can do it” — turned into the greatest miscalculation of her career. 

Nations across Europe are rejecting the Merkel model. And they are unwilling to bail her out by taking the refugee overflows:

Never has so much goodness spawned so much misfortune. Normally, embattled leaders seek refuge in foreign policy. But Merkel is running out of partners. Paris and Rome, Warsaw, Vienna and Budapest have opposed her “European solution” for three years. Sweden and Denmark reinstated border controls in 2016. In a new tripolar world, Trump would rather play with the big boys in Moscow and Beijing.

Joffe’s concludes, on a note that I have been sounding:

As the United States, Russia and China are recasting global politics, Europe, with an economy as large as America’s, has been demoted to a two-bit player. “Defensive nationalism” — keep them out — is sweeping the E.U. and the rest of the West. Merkel is frantically trying to stem the tide. Europe should hope that she can do better than King Canute.


Sam L. said...

As I've said before, I think the Euro "far-right" parties are more likely comparable to the GOP than what we think of as "far-right" because Europe is so far-left. I could be wrong; that's just my impression.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

It's mine too.

JK Brown said...

I see Merkel trying to instruct Trump and Trump replying, "Do you live under my air cover?" "Do you pay rent?"

But after the last G7, I came across this suggestion of some changes to make the G7 better reflect world production and population rather than the declining representation caused by the legacy make up.

In a nutshell, Germany, France and Italy are combined into one EU seat (fits with Merkel's recent call for a common EU budget for all countries) with the two freed seats going to India and China.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I’m with Sam L. (as usual)

The European press’ cutting-off-point of “moderate” versus “right” versus “far-right” is laughable.

Again, another example of something being on the “spectrum” until you get to the “far-right” end... then it magically becomes “frightening.”

Imagine the horror... caring about your own country’s culture. Sheer madness.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

As for JK Brown’s comment, I might offer that rent on air cover is discretionary spending. Most bureaucrats are focused on rent-seeking for their own perpetual employment driven by entitlement spending.

Aggie said...

Never do politicians fail so badly, than when they try to make themselves feel and look good by giving away something that doesn't belong to them.

Freddo said...

The main stream media in Europe is just as bad as it is in the US. "Far right" is short hand for "people who don't follow our rules unquestioningly". AFAIK most of these parties focus on 'no more immigrants', 'stop the elites from wrecking our culture', 'stop Brussel / global-corp-inc from taking over our economy/self-determination' and a happy helping of 'free money for our pensioners/health care/favorite things'. And even on immigrants the usual call is 'no more', and not 'send them all back'.

feeblemind said...

I don't understand it, Stuart.

Why has the West decided to commit suicide by not having babies and inviting barbarians into our civilization? As far as I can tell, this is a phenomenon unprecedented in human history.

I know self-loathing and self-flagellation has been around forever but I do not recall these behaviors ever having been turned on civilization itself.

If it is caused by guilt and being more prosperous than others, my question is, why the guilt? Makes no sense to me.

I understand the influx of barbarians if the objective is to keep a political party in power in perpetuity (no matter how short sighted that policy may be)but when the opposition party supports such a policy to their detriment I confess I don't understand.

The future of Western Civilization is on an ominous track and if we can't figure out a way to counter-act this type of thinking, things will not end well. True, there are glimmers of hope but the ruling class and the bureaucracy are overwhelmingly for continuing things as they are.

Perhaps there is nothing we can do but hang on for the ride?

Sam L. said...

Feeb, do starting two world wars ring a distant bell? That's what I'm hearing.

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