Not even five years have passed since the spate of essays and opinion pieces about Germany’s hegemonic power over the Continent. The cold reality, the Economist wrote, is that “Germany is the power in Europe that counts the most. Top brass in Brussels, or Paris, can talk as much as they like. But until Ms. Merkel agrees, nothing happens.” The danger, it added, is not that Germany will grow too strong, but that it could refuse to take on the leadership role.
And today? The world has become a dangerous place, with a leader in the Kremlin dreaming of former Soviet power and an American president who doesn’t appear to be able to tell the difference between politics and a video game (“missiles, nice and smart”). The U.S. missile strike in Syria a week ago Saturday was not nearly as explosive as it could have been — but that certainly was no thanks to Merkel, who stood on the sidelines as the major powers decided what course of action the West would take.
That’s just one example of how Germany is once again finding itself in the role of onlooker in international politics. The German government had to fight for a seat at the anti-Assad summit taking place in Brussels on Tuesday. When it came to sanctions against Russia in response to the poisoning of Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal, Germany had no say. And in the EU, Macron is now in the driver’s seat. [Continue reading…]