Humor Magazine

Whither the German Dumpling?

By Davidduff

No, no, I am not being rude about Frau Merkel, I am, after all, an English gentleman who would not stoop to such ungallantry!  However, there is a dumpling-like quality to Germany's policy choices, or, perhaps non-choices might be more accurate.  Here I would urge you to read an excellent, albeit slightly long, summary of Mrs.Merkel's Germany by Tyson Baker at The National Interest.  In effect, he suggests that in all three policy areas, internally, in relationships with Europe, and internationally across the globe, the Germans, under Mrs. Merkel's leadership, have sat more or less stolidly in the middle of the stew of affairs like a large dumpling, moving only slightly this way or that depending on who or what has prodded it, and sometimes refusing to move at all!  Before we criticize it is worth remembering, as we will again on November 11th, that exciting, innovative and ground-breaking German policy choices often result in 'tears before bedtime' so that 'stodge' might be preferable!

However, Mr. Tyson does, I think, decribe very accurately the habit of Mrs. Merkel to examine carefully the whole panorama of possibilities in any particular policy area, to weigh carefully the range of opinions and then to trudge steadily towards the middle-ground upon which she squats.  In her domestic politics this has given her a third term and a demolished opposition.  Mr. Tyson informs us that all strategic decision-making is taken in the Chancellery which is not surprising; but what is surprising is that foreign policy is divided between the finance and economic ministries!  Apparently, the Finance Ministry handles Europapolitik whilst the Economic Ministry has a leading say in Weltpolitik.  This confirms my own observations mentioned before in these distinguished columns - sorry, did you say something? - that Germany operates not on the basis of military imperatives but on commercial ones.

Again, Germany tends to hold steadily to the middle-ground but, eventually, choices do have to be made.  Thus, Germany has resolutely stayed out of all American/NATO activities in the Med and/or the Levant.  Inside Europe, the previous policy to drive towards ever-closer union has now been reversed, or at least, the brakes have been applied and all efforts by the Brussels bureaucracy to institute supra-national powers have been resisted by Berlin.  However, the lights apparently seen at the end of the Euro tunnel are actually an approaching express train!  Nothing has been settled in Europe's financial crisis, the potentially catastrophic faults remain and the choice for Germany is stark - either back the ECB in becoming a lender of last resort to all of Europe which can only be done on Germany money and which will shift political power irreversibly to Brussels, or refuse and watch the tottering edifice collapse.

What will she do?  Well, this blog, renowned as it is and deserves to be for its detailed knowledge and ultra-shrewd assessments, er, hasn't got a clue, frankly!  But do read Tyson's piece, it's worth it.


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