The Corner

National Security & Defense

Ms. Merkel’s Ignorance

For all the talk about Trump’s blunderbuss approach to foreign policy and his lack of cosmopolitan manners, few could rival the political and historical denseness of Angela Merkel’s recent broadside.


1) No German politician with any historical sense should ever give a campaign-style rally speech accentuating German exceptionalism (“we have to fight for our destiny”) from a beer hall in Munich. Period.

2) When a country serially runs up a $60 billion plus yearly trade surplus with the U.S., based on an undervalued European-wide currency, which has subsidized its defense for over 70 years, and reluctantly twice in one century has entered European affairs to save its democracies from German aggressions, it may not be wise to allude to such a partner: “The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over” and “We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.” I doubt whether either Germany’s generals, such as they are, or its Mercedes, Audi, and BMW executives would agree.

3) Ms. Merkel is upset at the Trump administration for not being willing to agree to a sizable percentage reduction in carbon emissions as negotiated on a supposedly voluntary basis. But given that Ms. Merkel’s own government itself has utterly reneged on a firm pledge to NATO to increase its defense expenditures to 2 percent of GDP, why would any American government enter into any deal, when its main promoter in the past could not demonstrate the sort of credible behavior that it now demands of others?

4) Merkel almost made the U.S. the moral equivalent of Putin’s Russia, in the sense of two powers that Germany will avoid and navigate in-between — apparently forgetting past German sins such as laundering Putin cabal money and the whole Gazprom consultancy, etc., as well as Putin’s recent digestion of former Soviet controlled lands, all in addition to the simple fact that the U.S. is a democracy and Putin’s Russia is an autocracy that does not abide by the rule of law. If Putin should wish safe spaces in Estonia for Russian-speakers, will Ms. Merkel and her forces rescue “Europe’s fate”?

5) Many independent-minded Eastern Europeans on matters of immigration from the Middle East, and bitter Southern Europeans on the matter of debt, will not find solace in Merkel’s use of the first person plural possessive “our,” as in “We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands”. For millions that is a euphemism for German paws and claws — and they still find that sort of 20th century scary.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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