I’m old enough to remember when, back in her heyday, Angela Merkel was described as the “leader of the free world” (to be fair, a description she never liked) or even the “indispensable European.” Such claims never seemed very credible to me, and, as time goes by, the more apparent the mess that she left behind has become, not least in the way that her (disastrous) energy policy has also undermined Germany’s ability to push back against Russia.
Writing in the Spectator, historian Katja Hoyer:
By the end of 2022, Germany will have closed its remaining three nuclear reactors; with coal set to be phased out by 2030, natural gas remains the only real supplement to renewables. . . . Germany’s energy policy has long manoeuvred the country into Russian dependency. . . .
[Former chancellor]Gerhard Schröder has always maintained that the German people agree with his pro-Russian stance. Most surveys bear this out. In a recent poll, nearly two thirds of respondents said they wished for closer relations between Russia and the EU; only 17 per cent want to see the cancellation of Nord Stream 2 [the controversial second pair of ‘northern’ gas pipelines between Russia and Germany]…
Through its energy policy and general diplomatic fence-sitting, Germany has manoeuvred itself into an impossible position. It wants to be a strong security partner of the West while looking East for trade and wealth. It wants to be nuclear-free and coal-free yet retain stable energy supplies with no strings attached. It wants to protect Europe’s eastern borders yet it cannot do so without jeopardising its own interests. The decisions made and not made over recent years are catching up with Germany. As Merkel’s chickens are coming home to roost, [Germany’s new chancellor] Scholz would need a lot of courage to stop them.
Spoiler: He won’t.