There’s a lot of speculation about how this week could be crunch time for the euro (a good summary of the rescue efforts that might emerge can be found here). That will put plenty of focus on Germany’s role, something that makes this article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard from last week well worth a read.
Essentially it is a lament for the mess in which Germany now finds itself. Correctly, Evans-Pritchard notes that much of the criticism of the country is unfair. Talk of a “Fourth Reich” is nonsense. FWIW I have a piece in the new NRODT that includes similar comments, although I wouldn’t dismiss the idea of some sort of mercantilist agenda as easily as he does, or, indeed, pay quite so much attention to Merkel’s complaints:
Chancellor Merkel gave an emotional defence of German conduct today in the Bundestag. Her country is not trying to dominate anybody, she said. “Politics has destroyed all trust,” she said.
Oh cry me a river. I agree that Germany is not setting out to “dominate” Europe, but Merkel’s whine about “politics” destroying “trust” is rich. This is the same Merkel who did what it took to force through the Lisbon Treaty, an unlovely charade designed purely as a device to override popular rejection of the EU’s draft constitution. That didn’t do much for trust. This is the same Merkel, whose mentor, Helmut Kohl, denied his people the chance to reject the single currency they never wanted. That didn’t do much for trust. This is the same Merkel who is now reportedly planning to use the political class (parliament) rather than a referendum to remove German constitutional obstacles to the closer Europe she wants. And if that’s true, it will do nothing for trust either.
It is not “politics” that has destroyed trust, it is politicians: politicians of a type of whom there is no better example than Angela Merkel, authoritarian, secretive and profoundly suspicious of the voters. It is, of course, only a coincidence that she was brought up (under more favorable conditions than most) in East Germany.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard concludes:
[Germany] must either immolate itself and dismantle the Bismarckian state for the cause of EMU [economic and monetary union], or prepare to finance an orderly withdrawal from monetary union (with the Finns, Dutch, and Austrians) so that the South can breathe again and hope to recover. That is the choice. All else is can-kicking, denial, obfuscation, muddle, and self-delusion. As is now becoming obvious, the failure to resolve the matter one way or the other is becoming a danger to the global financial system. It threatens to uncork a global depression. Germany must at last decide. It is a horrible choice. My sympathies go to the German people who were never given a vote on this ensnarement and infeudation of their peaceful country, and who were egregiously deceived by their own leaders, and who cannot now begin to understand why they suddenly are target of such furious and venomous global criticism. The Germans too are victims of this ruinous project, the greatest victims of all. Their elites have led them into a diplomatic and economic Stalingrad.