When Germany was on the cusp of reunifying, not everyone was happy. And I’m not talking merely about Erich Honecker and the rest of the Eastern brass. Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister, was very unhappy. “We beat the Germans twice,” she said, “and now they’re back.”
That may seem silly now, and it was definitely a minority view then, but a lot of us understood it. Was a reunited Germany to be feared? Was there something belligerent and dangerous in the German DNA? Did they have to be “kept down”?
You know the remark of Lord Ismay — General Hastings “Pug” Ismay, the first secretary-general of NATO: The purpose of the alliance was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
It has now been about 65 years since he made that remark. And Germany is being called on to rise, militarily, including by the United States. The German public is not objecting.
This is a momentous question, or a potentially momentous one, and I explore it in an article today (here). At the end, I quote an expert who says, “There is a general sense that there’s a tsunami heading Europe’s way” — and that Germany will have a heavy responsibility to deal with it.