Streetwise Professor

May 30, 2014

Merkel Remembers the Past, But Seems Intent on Repeating It

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:38 am

Frau Merkel claims that she has taken a firm stand on Russia and Crimea, based on her fears of history repeating itself:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she had taken a firm stance against Russia’s annexation of Crimea in part due to the lessons of two world wars, but added it was vital to keep talking with Moscow.

Speaking to students at the opening of an exhibition on World War One, Merkel said her insistence that Russian President Vladimir Putin join her and other Western leaders in Normandy, France on June 6 for ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings was to avoid past mistakes.

“There are times where you have no desire to talk any more, such as with Russia now,” said Merkel, who speaks Russian and regularly talks to Putin on the phone. “I force myself to talk. I’m surprised every time to see the other side’s point of view.”

Merkel said Russia’s annexation of the Crimea was an unacceptable move because it upset Europe’s postwar order – even though a 54-percent majority of Germans expressed understanding, in a March opinion poll, for the annexation.

“That’s why I’m so strict when it comes to the Crimea issue,” she said.

“Territorial integrity is the foundation pillar of our postwar European order. If you start saying things like ‘it’s my right’ and then just take something, you’ll end up with an incredible calamity. That doesn’t work.”

The sad thing is that Merkel probably truly believes she’s been strict on Crimea. The sadder thing is that by German standards that’s definitely true: Siemens and Adidas and BASF and RWE and numerous smaller companies have been importuning her to accommodate Putin, as has a vast swathe of the German political elite, including her own foreign minister, the execrable Steinmeier. Sadder still is that Merkel’s simulacrum of strictness gives Obama the multilateralist cover to avoid taking real action against Russia. But the saddest thing is that for all her self-perceived strictness, Crimea remains in Putin’s hands, and there is no move to force him to disgorge it.

Merkel says the right things, but doesn’t follow them up with action. Meaning that her invocation of the lessons of the World Wars is so much cheap talk, more likely to be fulfilled through the repetition of these experiences, than their prevention. She gets the first part of Satayana: she remembers the past. But despite this, she seems intent on fulfilling the second part: repeating it.

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  1. all is true, but you wrong in critisizing Merkel. There is universal truth that Germany is culpable for 2 world wars , and that heritage weighs on all german elite to avoid any confrontation with Russia.
    And german companies arent importuning her to accommodate Putin , they looking at times beyond Putin.

    Comment by erik — May 30, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

  2. @erik-Germany is so intent on avoiding the sins it committed in the past that it is committing the opposite sin in the present: going from being the aggressor, to the appeaser and enabler of aggression. What’s more, Germany’s heritage does not involve Russia alone. It owes Ukraine a great debt too. Arguably greater than any debt it owes Russia.

    And I heartily disagree that German companies are looking beyond Putin. They are in the here and now, and Putin is likely to be around long after those managing these companies have moved on. What’s more, the behavior of Germany is actually contributing to the longevity of Putin’s tenure.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 30, 2014 @ 1:44 pm

  3. I would expect no less from a former Agitprop Secretary that stabbed her mentor in the back for personal political gain. Dear Mutti.

    The video of Putin letting his dog sniff her is priceless.

    Comment by pahoben — May 30, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

  4. When will America declare economic sanctions on Sauid Arabia? Oh, that’s right, never.

    Comment by So? — May 30, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

  5. @So?

    Were you appointed the Berkeley emissary to the UK or what? You seem to be agitating these days on GMT.

    Comment by pahoben — May 30, 2014 @ 4:28 pm

  6. What?

    Comment by So? — May 30, 2014 @ 4:46 pm

  7. Mis-identity it looks like-sorry.

    Comment by pahoben — May 30, 2014 @ 9:26 pm

  8. As Winston said: ‘Strange people, the Germans. They’re either at your feet or at your throat.’

    Comment by Ex-regulator on lunch break — May 30, 2014 @ 11:18 pm

  9. @pahoben-So? and S/O (the Berkeley brat) are different, though alike in so many ways (no pun intended).

    @Ex-ain’t it the truth. I have thought of that line often of late.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 31, 2014 @ 12:03 am

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