After Brexit, Can Germany Lead Europe Alone? By ANNA SAUERBREY JULY 4, 2016Okay …
Anna Sauerbrey is an editor on the opinion page of the newspaper Der Tagesspiegel and a contributing opinion writer.
BERLIN — Whether Britain’s decision to leave the European Union turns out to be a disaster or just a bump in the road for Europe on its path to unification, one consequence is already abundantly, disturbingly clear: Brexit will cement Germany’s role as the Continent’s leader — a role that neither Germany nor anybody else is entirely comfortable with.
It has rarely felt this lonely at the center of Europe. With Britain leaving, Germany is losing an important partner within the European Union, as well as on foreign policy beyond it.
That is not to say that Britain was an easy partner in recent years. The mind reels at what Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, known for her cautious, step-by-step policies, must have thought of Prime Minister David Cameron tossing his country’s membership onto the gambling table in a bid to blackmail the European Union.
Ms. Merkel is a committed Europeanist; Mr. Cameron called the union “too big, too bossy, too interfering.”Wow. Just wow.
Still, given the nativist pressures rising in practically every country in Europe, Mr. Cameron counted as a pretty good partner. He was a strong supporter of the Berlin-led austerity politics during the financial crisis and the Greek crisis that followed.
He defended the refugee deal that Ms. Merkel devised with Turkey.
… Britain’s departure is a particularly hard blow to Germany since its other partners are weak or growing distant. The German-Polish relationship, once strong, has eroded since the nationalist Law and Justice Party came to power in Poland in 2015. Austria just missed electing the far-right Norbert Hofer as president. …
The problem is that a core reason for the European Union in the first place was to constrain German power by dispersing leadership roles across the membership. But what happens when the future of the union depends, arguably, on a new assertion of German power?
Germany’s immediate reaction to the Brexit referendum has been to call for a new burden-sharing arrangement with what’s left of the old gang. On the Saturday after the vote, the foreign ministers of the European Union’s founding members — Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands — assembled at the Villa Borsig, the Brandenburg retreat of the German government. On Monday, Ms. Merkel summoned the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk; Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy; and Mr. Hollande of France to Berlin.
The significance of the fact that she could summon her colleagues onto her own turf to discuss how they might share some of Britain’s newly discarded burden was lost on no one. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of Poland’s Law and Justice Party, called the idea of convening only the union’s old guard “little thought through.” …
There can be no tolerance for that kind of Polish hate speech: “little thought through” …
Thus the dilemma. Germany cannot go it alone, and doesn’t want to. But without a strong partner to share the leadership, it has the unpalatable choice of letting power sit with a broad cast of unreliable partners, or creating a new inner circle. No one wants to give Law and Justice a seat at the table. But denying it will only strengthen national narcissisms in countries already troubled with euroskepticism, further splintering the Continent.As I wrote in Taki’s last week:
Which means that Germany may have to take command, after all. It’s a delicate task. But now that Germany finds itself on center stage, it might as well perform.
Progressivism is a facade for rule by the strongest. Nationalism is still the way the world works. What ultimately matters in terms of political power is employing armed men to collect tax revenue. In Europe, the leading state at that is Germany, so Europe today is more or less run by the chancellor of Germany.This might well represent a general principle: progressive ideologies, once they impose crimestop, usually wind up benefiting the most hilariously ironic individuals: transgenderism helps Robber Barons get richer; anti-nationalism makes the German Chancellor more autocratically powerful; feminism gives a sexual-harassing male President an excuse to get around the Constitutional amendment imposing term limits, etc.