Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Germany is stymieing the choice both of European Union president, and of foreign minister. Not because it isn't engaged co-operatively in reaching suitable nominations, but because of what Germany is - literally it has an existential problem.

It is Germany that is pulling the Union out of economic recession: other member states are doing their bit, particularly Poland, the Czech Republic and Italy, while France is at least not being a drag, but it is Germany that is the engine. German relations with Russia, with the East in general but particularly Russia, have been cultivated at every level with a welcome recognition that Russia isn't just an energy source or an exploitable market for finished goods but an industrial partner with technologies to offer as well as a partner seeking technological transfers in manufacturing. The Russians said, in terms, "We are holding out our hand to the west. Take it, or there is pressure to turn towards China." And the Germans did. (The abrupt negation of the Opel deal was in large part an attempt to disrupt the development of Russo-German relations).

Germany is on the best of terms with its more immediate neighbours that form the geopolitical European heartland: the physically and economically enormous centre of the continental European market and its economic and defence focus.
With the Scandinavian countries, with the countries of the former Yugoslavia, with Iran, Germany does business and gets things done.

Germany's freshly elected government embodies the longterm political trend in Europe away from collectivism whether expressed as communism, socialism or social democratic redistibution by state intervention. The individuals appointed to office in its new government point to shifts in attitude to the use of its power. The Leader of the FDP coalition party has Foreign Affairs while Defence is in the extraordinarily capable hands of Mr zu Guttenberg; the Chancellor herself is one of the most powerful politicians in the world and actually growing in stature, and in command. Germany is draining power from international institutions where its standing is not reflected - from the United Nations Security Council, from NATO, from the EU, from the once imperial power of the United States and its 'global' institutions.

Anyone who worked in Brussels in the Commission before German reunification will have been aware of the single, driving political purpose of reuniting Germany that was the prism through which German influence within the European Union was focused. That achieved, recovery in terms of everything that was lost in the destruction 60 years ago, and has been lost since in the dreadful years of realised socialism, is the focus. Whoever is appointed to 'president' and 'foreign minister' of Europe it will be with an all-seeing eye to the furtherance of a geopolitical environment in which the outcomes of the last century are corrected and the circumstances of their recurrence prevented.


Caronte said...

Poland, Italy and the Czech Republic doing their bit to pull Europe out of recession? certainly not by contributing to the global fiscal stimulus but, yes, through their own growth performance - the result not of their own policies but of shameless free-riding.

hatfield girl said...

Perhaps they should have been asked first before Brown tried to save the world out of them.

You tell people they have to print money and dive generations into debt and they will tell you where to go, C.

Nick Drew said...

will have been aware before German reunification of the single, driving political purpose of reuniting Germany

glad you said this, HG, because I agree: but there seems to be a strong strand of revisionism along the lines

"it all came as a big surprise to everyone"

I'm not sure why

roym said...

" it will be with an all-seeing eye to the furtherance of a geopolitical environment in which the outcomes of the last century are corrected and the circumstances of their recurrence prevented."

perhaps I'm being mischievous, but which outcomes do they want to redress?

hatfield girl said...

Hyperinflation above all else, Roy.

Not so much the division of Germany, that's obvious, but the division of Germany from its natural hinterland - its near abroad.

And in purely historical terms they wouldn't like to see 10 days that shook the world again, or the collapse of the Ottoman empire into a mob of brawling war lords.

Culturally they would prefer German scholarship and writing in general not to be marginalised by the over assertion of the importance of English.

And they might like to stop being demonised - there were many demons and demonic acts generated and carried out by other histories and other peoples.

hatfield girl said...

'I'm not sure why'

Might it be because it is a surprise only in England, ND, and there has been a long term pretence in England - what might be called shirleywilliamsiness - that the European Union is an attempt to avoid Europe as a battlefield ever again, when what it is really about is not so much finessing 1945, as bulldozing the popularly and bitterly won democratic goals of so many who fought and some who died?