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Sunday, 3 June 2012

The evil “Kraut” is back: Is Germany ruining Europe, again? A respond to Joschka Fischer’s comment in the “New Europe”

If there was a country to be constantly awarded with an “evil guy” award throughout its history, then Germany would be a record winner, even for today’s award. No other country has brought so much misery to Europe as Germany did. And it seems that Germany is keeping up with this tradition, according to former German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer.

That’s what he said in a recent comment in the online edition of the “New Europe”; claiming a return of “German amnesia”, as a result of its own increased “self-confidence” after reunification in 1990. Fischer states that “it would be both tragic and ironic if a restored Germany, by peaceful means and with the best of intentions, brought about the ruin of the European order a third time”.

Fischer’s assumption is widely exaggerated. It is certainly not in Germany’s mind to “ruin the current European integration process by imposing its austerity programme, although the Greeks, the Spaniards, and the French would think otherwise in the current situation. Merkel’s policy has to be seen as an attempt to rescue the EU and “our Europe” we have been grown up with for the past decades. Germany, as a leading motor of the European integration process, is terrified of the economic, political, and social impacts of a possible worst case scenario: a break-up of the economic and monetary union, and of the entire EU as such.

It is indeed a psychological responsibility of Germany to safeguard Europe, out of its historical lessons learned when it used to be the classical villain. Being a Hun in World War 1 (a reference to former Kaiser Wilhelm II’s “Hun speech” before the crack-down of the Chinese boxer revolt in 1900), and a lunatic, barbarian mass murderer in World War 2, Germany did a pretty good effort to remove its evil character from recent history, by committing itself to the construction of the common European house.

Unfortunately, Fischer is limiting its final argument on this very German historical heritage. Fischer cannot overcome his Green party affiliation by, logically, blaming the current conservative government under Chancellor Angela Merkel. It seems that Fischer is exclusively blaming Merkel per se, since he shows himself amazed that even conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron admits that a Greek bankruptcy, or a drop-out of the Euro-Zone would have disastrous consequences for a political union in Europe.

It should be clarified if Fischer’s criticism against Germany’s austerity policy is simply related to Germany’s psychological fears of not being blamed as the bad boy in Europe, again, or if it is a mere critic against Merkel and the conservative-liberal coalition. Since party politics is a big issue in Germany, the later one seems more likely in Fischer’s argumentation.

By outlining the threat of a global crisis emerging from Europe by a potential collapse of the Euro-Zone, solely triggered by Merkel’s austerity policy, is not a reasonable argument from a former German Foreign Minister. Specifically since he and former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (Social Democratic Party) have put Germany into an isolated position itself, regarding the 2003 Iraqi crisis.

Fischer used to be a critic in terms of conservative politics, and he uses this strategy very well. Unfortunately, his German-bashing article is missing the point of a European responsibility, and equals German-bashing to Merkel-bashing.

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