Saturday, March 15, 2014

Germany is key in Ukraine crisis

Notably, this is the first global crisis where Germany, not Great Britain or France, plays the key role in partnership with the U.S.  So says the editor of Germany's Die Zeit:

So everybody is looking at Mrs. Merkel, Europe's uncrowned empress in the euro realm since the Crash of 2008. Which leads to the second surprise. In the confrontation with the Soviet Union, and then with Putin's Russia, Germany could always be counted among the most reticent. It was Bismarck all over again, who famously prescribed: "Never cut the link to St. Petersburg." Since the Ostpolitik of the Seventies, Bonn/Berlin has either stroked the Russian bear or refused to rile him. Indeed, the Schröder government harnessed an informal alliance with Paris and Moscow in 2002 to stop George W. Bush's march into the Iraq war.

Yet now, the shift, though hesitant and far from complete, is palpable, at least in terms of rhetoric. Earlier this year, a trio of German leaders changed the traditional tune of abstentionism, played most egregiously during the Libyan campaign when Berlin coldly refused to fly along with NATO's air forces. Suddenly, the kettle drums can be heard among the violins. President Joachim Gauck, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his colleague in the defense ministry, Ursula von der Leyen, have all touted Germany's responsibility for world order and promised a more active role.

"Reticence," Gauck proclaimed "must not degenerate into self-serving privilege." Nor must Germany "hold back in the face of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity." Add to these three Chancellor Merkel who was raised in communist East Germany and holds to a more jaundiced view of Russia than the peace-and-understanding camp that runs from left to right in Germany.

Let's hope that Germany will continue look beyond its own short-term economic interests to defend the integrity of Europe!

By Josef Joffe 
March 14, 2014 | Huffington Post

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