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Germany's Christian Democrats are Pulled Left

David Vickrey, editor of Dialog International, wrote this guest blog post:

When Angela Merkel became Germany's chancellor in 2005 American conservatives were jubilant.  Here was a European leader who was not afraid to stand with George W. Bush and his Iraq War policy.  Conservatives were enthralled with Merkel's personal biography, her rejection of the perceived anti-Americanism her predecessor and her embrace of market solutions.  Surely her political victory would mark a new beginning for the frayed Atlantic alliance, a new strategic partnership based on conservative principles.

But 2005 now seems like long ago, and Angela Merkel has turned out to be something of a disappointment to American conservatives. 

Sure, there is still a strong personal affinity between her and the US president: Merkel, unlike Gerhard Schröder, was welcomed at the Bush home in Crawford, Texas.  On the other hand, the chancellor has not used her office to support the Bush administration's call for sending German combat troops to Afghanistan.  She has openly called for shutting down the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, angering many in Washington's neoconservative establishment.  She has emerged as a leader combating global climate change, which carries with it an implicit criticism of the Bush administrations inaction on that front.  Many conservatives are surprised that the pace of economic reforms in Germany under Merkel's leadership has slowed, and in some instances reform policies of the former Red/Green government have been reversed. 

The fact that Merkel seeks to have a different relationship with Russia than the openly hostile one pursued now in Washington also rankles many American conservatives.  Writing for the neoconservative Weekly Standard, Nile Gardiner complained bitterly that "the notion that Chancellor Angela Merkel  (is) ushering in a new era of transatlantic cooperation, with Europe and the United States walking hand in hand solving the world's problems is a romanticized fiction that bears little relation to reality."

But Angela Merkel is nothing if not a political realist: she cannot afford to ignore the "leftward shift" (Linksruck) that is taking place in Germany.   Germans are worried about the impact of globalization on the economy.  A recent report showed that a record 13% of Germans were living below the poverty level ; another research report by McKinsey determined that the German middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate.  This deep sense of economic insecurity has contributed to the surprising rise of The Left party (Die LINKE) which has emerged as Germany's third strongest political party, siphoning off disgruntled Social Democrats.  Angela Merkel has taken advantage of the disarray within the SPD of seizing the great Middle (die Mitte) for the Christian Democrats, acknowledging that the Middle has been shifting to the left.   Here she has used the classic Clintonesque triangulation techniques practiced by her predecessor and usurped some the main issues of her opponents, such as health care reform, renewable energy policy, and balancing the budget instead of cutting taxes.

The question is, how far can Angela Merkel move her party to the left without alienating the CDU base?  Already some have accused her of abandoning the free market guiding principles of her party.  The political commentator Ulrich Claus published an op-ed piece in the conservative daily Die Welt with the title "Merkel is Schröderizing the CDU"  (Merkel  zerschrödert die CDU) .  He quotes one disgruntled CDU member : "When Angela Merkel is finished with the CDU it will look like the SPD after Schröder."  Just how far and how long expediency will trump ideology within the CDU remains to be seen.  But for the time being,  be prepared for some surprises.  Just last month the  CDU formed a governing coalition in Hamburg with the Green Party, something that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.  But now some are seeing Black-Green as a possible model for the Christian Democrats on a national scale.  Yes, there is the old saying "politics makes for strange bedfellows", but the recent leftward drift of Germany's conservatives makes an alliance with the Greens entirely feasible and not so strange after all.

David Vickrey is the editor of Dialog International, a blog about German-American relations, politics and culture, and a US citizen.

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Zyme on :

It is always hard to understand why the current polictical developments are said to be a shift to the Left. If so, this analysis is only short-sighted: The Left Party indeed is a current winner of deeper sentiments among a considerable part in the population, but those are no sentiments that are specifically "left-wing". The people are afraid of globalization, yet this feeling belongs to both political extremes. They are afraid of social unequality - a traditional left wing issue for sure. But does anybody expect the Left Party to continue its successes once it has to take political responsibility and ultimately will fail with its lunatic agenda? As regards the CDU/CSU, in many regards the hardliners have gained the upper hand. One need not look any further than interior politics. The military to use within our borders? The idea has been rejected by the other parties instantly years ago, but the conservatives have never ceased to promote this one. The surveillance of the people? Our interior minister is the role model for all that think personal freedom is only working in utopia - while on earth when nobody has anything to hide, nobody should have any fears from additional surveillance. National protectionism and the creation of "national champions" is gaining ever more supporters as well - the French have been our role model here. Or how about the introduction of fees for university? I guess it was an affair of the heart for the Left decades ago to abolish that one. Yet it returned. And let´s not forget the shift in european politics towards a more militaristic EU with the Treaty of Lisbon - not exactly to the pleasure of left-wing pacifists. The Left Party is just one part in the current developments. They are benefitting temporarily from the ever growing disappointment and popular frustration. Once the people are disappointed by them as well, the other part of the political spectrum will benefit. And vice versa. So all one can safely assume is that the democratical core of the political landscape is melting away, which is no surprise considering the widespread resentment against established politics here.

Soren Dayton on :

It is pretty funny that the framing is about the United States. But the only US analyst that you quote is a UK citizen. Nile Gardiner was a Thatcher staffer. Maybe something else is going on?

quo vadis on :

In a democracy, nothing ever changes that much from one administration to the next. Only the most delusional Americans set their expectations much above "maybe they'll stop jabbing us with a stick at every opportunity" when Schroder and Chriac went down. With all the frothy praise and irrational expectations that have been built up around the Obama, the more delusional of his 'followers' (as some call themselves) are setting themselves up for quite a disappointment. Imagine collective global groan we're going to hear when we find out that he's not some global secular messiah or even a poorly remembered JFK that never actually existed, but rather a President and representative of the people of the United States with no real track record on which to be objectively judged. Some may propose that anyone would be an improvement on the bungling Bush, and you may be right, but the difference is likely to be more of competence (hopefully) than of core ideology or even policy.

David on :

Just reading the results from the state elections in Schleswig-Holstein. The big losers: both the CDU (loss of 12 points) and the SPD (loss of 3). The biggest winner has to be the Left party, which from nothing won representation in the state parliament with over 6% of the vote. But the Greens and Liberals also did well. What does it mean? The Grand Coalition is running on fumes...

Joe Noory on :

[i]When Angela Merkel became Germany's chancellor in 2005 American conservatives were jubilant.[/i] No, we were jubilant that a leftist who wanted America to play the goat in his previous election campaigns [b]lost.[/b]

Pamela on :

I'm with you, Joe. Vickery is off his meds. Those of us to the right of Atilla the Hun were just happy to see that toad Gerhard shuffle off stage left. I will say, tho, that there were unrealistic expectations re: Sarkozy. It's true that he's not anti-American, but many people forgot that he's still French.

Zyme on :

Really I cannot understand what you people have in mind against good old Gerhard. A true politician, part of a model that is disappearing. Now all we got are marionettes that are completely replaceable. Schroeder could certainly not be mixed up with someone else - which is what made him so popular here.

Pat Patterson on :

I hate to be the one, well, no not actually, to douse David's favorite bete noir of those stupid conservatives having their hopes dashed again either by an altered form of reality or the sudden revealing of their plans to enslave the human race in sweat shops. But the truth of the matter is that many conservative writers and editorialists had dismissed Angela Merkel's bona fides as a conservative in the mold of Reagan and Thatcher even before the election. And the subsequent deflating of the predicted landslide, by the German press, caused many to point out that she would need to strike deals with anyone and everyone that had some seats and even deals with the German version of the LaRouche crew. And Germans thought Scientologists were strange. But the fact remains that it was mostly the liberal press, ie., Deutsche Welle and The Guardian for example, that were anxiously sounding the klaxon in case Ch. Merekel smiled on TV in late September and revealed gore dripping fangs. Which would have at least taken their attention away from that armpit story. I personally don't think that Americans in general care a fig about the kind of economic system the Germans have except when there is a possibility that the Cayenne hybrid or Panamera might be delayed. But at least Merkel's government, befitting its reduced status, has revealed two things which conservatives would have recognized and not been surprised about immediately. The first in the sell out of even some minor free market ideas to stay in office and the second in that they will not have to turn on a nightly news programs and see Gerhart Schroeder any more. But then here's what some conservatives actually were saying about Angela Merkel before the 2005 election. Mark Steyn noted that, "By the end of the campaign, she was promising little more than tinkering..." From an opinion piece in The Telegraph on September 20, 2005. While the National Review, that notorious den on neocons, conservatives, fundamentalists and apologists for the plutocracy noted Angela Merkel was merely "...a centrist sheep in Thatcher clothing." [url[http://www.nationalreview.com/script/printpage.p?ref=/comment/baslam_typy200509160900.asp[/url] And even the liberal internet magazine Slate, unlike the other chicken littles wondering aloud about how could Germany be more stupid than to elect a GWB wannabe, also pointed out that "...Merkel is no Thatcher." [url]http.slate.com/id/2122001/[/url]

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

IMHO many US journalists were mad at Gerhard Schroeder and Fischer for not following US leadership. They were so mad at him, as if it was his fault as well that the US did not have enough troops, did not find WMD, did not have a plan beyond the ousting of Saddam etc. There were plenty of US journalists (liberals and conservatives) in love with Angela Merkel, who praised her sooo much, even before she started working in the chancellory. They were stupid enough to praise Merkel because she is no Schroeder. As if that is a qualification. The honeymoon with Merkel lasted quite a while. I doubt Germans will be in love with President Obama more than three months. He does not get many extra points for not being Bush. Three months, that's it. Here are some of my favorite characterisations of Merkel by US journalists. Let's start with those smart arses, who missed the history classes about the end of monarchies in most of Europe or find it funny to make monarchical references: + "The most powerful female political figure in Europe since Queen Victoria has turned the methodical scientific training from her upbringing in Communist East Germany into a formula for gaining admirers worldwide." http://atlanticreview.org/archives/889-The-U.S.-Medias-Admiration-of-Chancellor-Merkel-is-Suddenly-Over.html#extended + "While you weren't necessarily watching, the Queen of Europe transmogrified into Ms. Soft Power." http://atlanticreview.org/archives/889-The-U.S.-Medias-Admiration-of-Chancellor-Merkel-is-Suddenly-Over.html#extended + "Angela Merkel has emerged as the West's most influential and promising leader in her second year in office" http://atlanticreview.org/archives/636-The-EUs-Birthday-and-Party-Hostess-Merkel.html + "Angela Merkel, Superstar" and "Merkel is just a few fans shy of international rock star status." http://atlanticreview.org/archives/573-Chancellor-Merkel-and-Queen-Victoria-UPDATE.html

Pat Patterson on :

Jeez Joerg, all this time I was thinking I was the only one who was having problems posting links! Et tu?

Pat Patterson on :

I checked the first archive (889) and indeed found a selection of quotes from various American publications but, and I'll admit that there are differences in who is a conservative but describing those inside the Beltway flaming centrists, the IHT, the CSM, Foreign Policy Passport, Newsweek and describing Roger Cohen as one of those nasty conservatives, takes some doing. Or was the German Marshall Fund suffering from one of those moments like the Nobels when they awarded the Peace Prizes to Yasir Arafat and Le Duc Tho. Again the only people that seem bitterly disappointed with Ch. Merkel's performance are the centrists of Georgetown, the liberals when the End of Days didn't occur and the DAX. And anybody that expected that 400 KSK soldiers to suddenly be leading the fight into Ramadi or Fallujah after debarking from the maiden voyage of Germany's newest aircraft carrier the Gunther Rall.

Elisabetta on :

In response to Joerg's transference that : IMHO many US journalists were mad at Gerhard Schroeder and Fischer for not following US leadership. They were so mad at him, as if it was his fault as well that the US did not have enough troops, did not find WMD, did not have a plan beyond the ousting of Saddam etc. I would remind Germans that Americans, including foreign policy wonks of either stripe, never have expected material help from Germany. As has been stated many times here, Germany's non-action, or more precisely refrain from oppositional politics, is what most people expected. Schroeder did not just hush and go about his own business, but meddled. Now the Brits meddle all the time, but they are attempting to change tactics due to a bona fide disagreement about methods. No one can seriously say that about the Schroeder administration. He saw the weak pony show that the State Dept put on for the SC and rightly interpreted it as a domestic political opportunity and seized the chance. Bully for him. It was an adroit political move but not one benefiting a statesman or leader of a G-7 country. Not to belabor the legal aspects of the war, but a very good case can and should have been made about Iraqi government acts violating the cease-fire agmt with UN and lapsing the concerned parties into a war footing. This approach was not taken and it allowed the SPD faction to form the debate to the point where Joerg, who ostensibly gets paid to think about these issues, ascribes any disagreement with the Schroeder administration as a side-effect of lack of troops, no serious plan for an interim government etc....those are intra Dept of State considerations that have nothing to do with Germany, but Schroeder's "involvement" has allowed the thinking class to induldge in displacement and revisit the moment wherein they believe American calumny directed towards the midget was motivated by American incompetence (and boy was there a lot of that goodness). Schroeder did more damage than you apparently are willing to concede. He poisoned relations with Poland and the Slavic V-4 by his Russophilia and departure from the more measured engagement of the Kohl administration. He removed any chance that Germany will receive a SC permanent seat for a generation. Most important, he tarnished the image of Germany as a serious international player worthy of respect. It is more serious than the Pershing Crisis in the 80s since reasonable minds could differ about their deployment; here, nothing was asked nor expected of the Germans. John Stewart had a funny line in 2003 about Germany: 'What's with the Germans and the Iraqi War...Don't they know that Iraqis are semitic?' This joke would have been unthinkable before Schroeder, but now this type of humor is commonplace.

Zyme on :

"Most important, he tarnished the image of Germany as a serious international player worthy of respect. It is more serious than the Pershing Crisis in the 80s since reasonable minds could differ about their deployment; here, nothing was asked nor expected of the Germans." If that is the price for conducting our own foreign politics, then you can very well expect the majority of the german people as being willing to pay it. Now you should not mix up Germany´s image in the US with its image elsewhere in the world. In fact I have encountered numerous people from all over Europe who have started to come to terms with Germany precisely when we opposed the american invasion in Iraq. Also I can hardly imagine to see our image weakened in Moscow, Beijing or the muslim world by this step. The idea that Americans are simply frustrated about their loss of a vassal is not far fetched in this context.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ Elisabetta [i]"I would remind Germans that Americans, including foreign policy wonks of either stripe, never have expected material help from Germany. As has been stated many times here, Germany's non-action, or more precisely refrain from oppositional politics, is what most people expected."[/i] I agree. Transaltlantic relations are bad. The US does not see Europe as true partners, i.e. does not expect material help and does not want to give its allies a role in the decision making. The blame goes to both sides: Europe (Germany) does not provide much military help, i.e. cannot expect to be included in the decision making process. Germany does not want a bigger military role and therefore won't provide much. And German politicians also know that the US is not willing to share much power with the Brits and French , who used to provide quite a bit of material help. Thus there is no point of providing a few thousand troops or more planes etc. Germany will never be able to provide sufficient military help for the US to be willing to share power. The US concept of allies and partnership is this: "We decide and we fight. And you have to smile and say YES to give us diplomatic cover." A great concept. This is what makes a happy marriage. See also [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/922-How-to-be-a-Good-Ally-of-the-United-States-Just-Smile.html[/url] which explains why Japan is valued as a great partner by Americans.

Elisabetta on :

I would agree with most of your comment with the exception of the childish Ohnmacht cannard and the 'true allies disagree' rebutal. Germany could provide more military assistance if she wants to. However, she has consistently made that choice since '91 and to base her decision on a hypothetical lack of strategic and operation control is really no argument whatsoever. If you will recall, the US did cede operation control to the French for a bit in the FRY. Germany does have full control over their zone in Afghanistan and a right cluster fuck it is turning out to be. The problem with the Schroeder response to US was not that he disagreed but he had no prepared alternative other than the status quo--which incidently cost tens of millions of dollars a year to enforce the no-fly zone and made the Islamists very touchy in Saudi Arbia while leaving tens of millions Iraqis to live in penury and without disgrace. The Japanese are a bad example b/c like India they have a clearly demarcated zone of interest and little interest outside of it. Japan is not running around Africa like China with a chequebook and a shopping list. Japan rubber stamps American initiatives because their foreign policy needs are met and they have no interest in causing pointless trouble. Germany and by extension the EU does have super power pretentions and by the by the Americans have been supported of this aspirational policy. We have included the EU in the negotiations with Iran (after much whinging) and the middle eastern peace process. Both problems baring a change in the involved governments are insoluble. Yet no one can say that the EU has really helped out much. The American deferred to the EU and supported the Dafur mission and last time I checked governments were still arguing about how many helocopters they were obligated to send. I find it troublesome as well to hear your tone and Zyme's, as it differs remarkably from the historical record. This preception of vicitimization and perceived exploitation where none exists; I would say it reminds me of 'knife-in-the-back' madness, but it does have some similarilities: the 'vassal' has broken free and an unchained Germany will emerge from the forests reborn...

Zyme on :

Our country had not been independent until 1990. As regards our foreign politics: Metaphorically speaking our enemies have first crushed the german chariot in 1945, then divided the people into four horses and finally employed each one at a different foreign chariot. When all those horses came back together in 1990, it must have been clear that they need time to get in line again. But how could you expect the winner of the Cold War to dominate our foreign politics forever? In fact I can very well understand why Paris and London had their doubts about reunification - Washington was simply a bit too naive. Now with the heart of Europe in shape again, it is only natural that the EU pursues a different direction in foreign politics.

Zyme on :

Probably Washington was simply a bit too far away - or should have watched its own movies: http://einestages.spiegel.de/static/topicalbumbackground/1822/der_film_der_seinen_zweck_verfehlte.html ;)

David on :

Now even Bush's former spokesman - Scott McClellan - is sounding like Joschka Fisher. Turns out, according to McClellan in his book, the Bush administration deceived the American public into supporting a "completely unnecessary war".

Joe Noory on :

Your attitude about these things - the confluence of anything critical that pleases you - would only matter if Europe did. It doesn't to any degree that matches its wealth or population. She is otherwise asleep.

David on :

The fact that this war is a colossal failure doesn't please me. The lies that McClellan writes about are a cancer that is eating away at the soul of the nation. Anyone living in the US now - if they are honest - can attest to that. McClellan has the "courage" to speak the truth about what he witnessed at the White House only now that he is no longer press secretary. While in office he was only too happy to participate in the grand deception. Sickening...

Pat Patterson on :

Interesting when Scott McClellan doesn't say boo until after a book contract and a failed consulting business this tell all becomes an act of courage but when Dick Morris or George Stephanopolis criticizes the ineptitude, laziness and venality of the Clinton's its mere politics. Plus I must wonder at just what the definition of a colossal failure must be when compared to Haiti?

Joe Noory on :

The only courage you would find in McLellan's is that it props up your world view. That's damn needy if you ask me, and how you can conflate any sort of other thing you see in the world with the collection of other argumantative interests you have is beyond me. Regardless of how disjointed they are, they have a pattern, but no relationship. You opposed the Iraq war, and have said so - so doing the equivalent of looking for the image of Abby Hoffman in a tortilla for years after that does little to propagate the position you want to promote. In other words, I'd really like to know how you can torture reason to the point where Scott McLellan figures into your adulation that there might be 3 people among the American right who had any sort of expactation of Merkel, and your joy in imagining that now that her position is weaker in any way, that it means something about you thesis NOT about Merkel, but the American Right. It's sad, David. You're too intelligent for that.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ Elisabetta "Most important, he tarnished the image of Germany as a serious international player worthy of respect." The same can be said about Bush and the US image. And it would be more true. The US has lost so much between 2003 and now. Germany, however, gained more power and improved relations. Poland, Hungary etc are now all part of the EU. I don't like Schroeder's deals with Russia, but they are not worth than Bush's deals with Saudi Arabia. At least Russia is not financing Al Qaeda. In terms of respect: Plenty of Asian countries have more respect for Germany because it was not a poodle in 2003.

Pat Patterson on :

Or we could consider just the opposite in imagining a scenario where a US presidential candidate went on national TV and called for a WTO investigation into Germany's oil dealings with Russia and even before the a defense could be offered basically promised to do everythng in the world to block it? Would there be the slightest possibility that Germany would be feel betrayed and that the candidate's failure would be hoped for in Berlin. Or even rejoicing when he was defeated even by a nonentity. Yes, indeed some polls show hostility to the US but then what country is expected to aid in the event of a natural disaster or suffers more criticism when it chooses not to act against rogue regimes? It is certainly not Germany which many in the world can have warm feelings toward simply because Germany is incapable and unwilling to do any foreign policy heavy lifting aside from a bare minimum. If anythng the US has simply noticed and confirmed that in striving for its own foreign policy that Germany has virtually chosen to join a new group of non-aligned nations, though Germany has acheived this state still firmly protected by NATO. What power can Germany accrue when compared to Israel, with 1/14th the population has 8 times as many main battle tanks and almost twice the number of modern deployable air assets. I Germany wants to be, as a former German leader put it, "...a nation of shopkeepers and clerks", then fine. Maybe the problem is in that the US still expects Germany to act as a great power, a world power, when we should be looking at Germany as a regional power confined, with much success I might add to dealing with friendly and hostile powers within eyesight, though its perceived cooperation with Russia has made some progress in dealing with the former satellites more difficult. Some of the more rabid press in Poland and the Baltics see these trade deals as an attempt by Germany to again form alliances that would allow them and Russia carte blanche in their areas of concern. In that case I would probably guess that those countries have more in common with the US than in Germany. But I still hold out hope that Germany might become more realistic or desperate enough to reform itself and truly become a great power again. I am not one of those that thinks Germany was a great power only it was a monarchy or dictatorship. German citizens are democrats, and like the US not often perfect, but with good instincts but lacking in either the ability or confidence to act on those good instincts. But currently Germany seems to justify its lack of power by being holding up a sign claiming to be liked, in that sort of inoffensive way of a tourist that has suddenly realized that the collection of colorful locals on the next corner are smiling at him, not because he is a likeable German, but rather in how much his wallet might carry and whether he'll bleed all over his new found friends. Being popular and liked in Asia seems a poor trade-off when Germany's neighbors still don't like the country and in some cases still don't have much trust in it as well.

Zyme on :

" though its perceived cooperation with Russia has made some progress in dealing with the former satellites more difficult. Some of the more rabid press in Poland and the Baltics see these trade deals as an attempt by Germany to again form alliances that would allow them and Russia carte blanche in their areas of concern." Isn´t that clever policy? This way it becomes clear that we generally prefer EU alliance - and just in case close relations with Moscow are established. With the distant threat of Berlin-Moscow alliance it suddenly becomes a lot easier to get Eastern Europe in line with Brussels.

Elisabetta on :

I would not pat yourself on the back yet. Look at the new V-4 eastern European policy put forth by Poland and Sweden conjointly. Then take a look at the wide-ranging 2004 Visegrad annex post Schroeder. That looks to me like the beginning of a very effective voting bloc intra the EU. I am trying to listen to my better angels but the notion of notion of Germany trying to corral Slavs and Magyars into a semblence of consistant coherence about anything elicits some delicious schadenfreude. I know Germany writes the cheques, but we write cheques as well and as the conversation above shows....

Zyme on :

Visegrad? The Slovaks, the Czechs and the Hungarians in one connection? The same Hungarians who have recently been demanding from Bratislava to finally pay compensation for the deportation of the Hungarians after the war? The same Hungarians that consider the Benes-decrees to be uncompatible with EU law and hence want their property back? http://budapest.cafebabel.com/en/post/2007/09/21/Slovak-reiteration-of-collective-guilt-unacceptable-says-Hungarian-government Yeah they must form a pretty mighty alliance for sure :D

Elisabetta on :

That would be the same Hungarians who unilaterally in 91 said they would respect the Treaty of Trianon to placate the surrounding countries. The same Hungarians who seem to get on with the Slovaks even with Jan Slota's inclusion in the ruling coalition. A little condescending considering the great strides those countries have made. Sure, the Hungarians have a vocal far-right but that is in no way indicative of society in general; sound familiar? Minority ethnic issues are tough for the Hungarians with the exception of the Roma they are the only minority diaspora totally more than a million spread out over Slovakia, Romania and Serbia. The Visegrad Group does include Poland. Is it me or is it getting all burschenschafterisch up in here? I should get my Barbour out of the closet.

Zyme on :

"Sure, the Hungarians have a vocal far-right but that is in no way indicative of society in general; sound familiar?" So why is it that Hungarian representatives up to the Hungarian Prime Minister have demanded the abolishment of the Benes-Decrees? This does in fact seem very indicative of the general society.

Elisabetta on :

The turmoil about the Benes decrees stopped being a political impediment in the mid-90s for the V-4. Most people agree that the row was brought about by Czechs attempting to ditch the other member states and accede to the EU solo--Slovakia and Poland were not in great shape back then, if you remember. Still a huge difference from the caterwauling of Erika Steinbeck et al. for restitution on behalf of her murderous ethnic Germans.

Elisabetta on :

meant of course Erika Steinbach

Zyme on :

Ah I see the cause of the displaced germans is not one of your heart. Well among my ancestors there are none either - although we live pretty close to the border to Czechia. As long as the Czechian side was still populated with ethnic germans, this was a florishing region. Before the war, some from the german side even went across the border to go to school there, as the biggest german town in the region was on the Czechian side. If only you could have seen what the region looked like after the End of the Cold War. I can still recall my grandparents reaction when seeing the remains of former austrian manors, the remains of culture - there was not much left. Now all this is slowly being rebuilt with EU support - this is why one clearly gets the impression that it might not be the worst idea if they handed it over to their former owners. I never had the motivation to use days and weeks to research in what way Steinbach´s demands are justified from the perspective of law. It might be impossible to gain a clear opinion as so much has changed since then. But the fact that those who benefitted from the Benes-Decrees are so nervous about a private german organisation like the Prussian Treuhand seeking restitution at the European Court tells us volumes about how guilty our eastern neighbours must feel in their heart.

Pat Patterson on :

The logic escaped me here, are you now arguing that Germany is indeed using accomodation with Russia to force its fellow EU members and some of its NATO allies into submission? That seems remarkably counterproductive in that it seems rather an immoral way to influence them and simply forces those nations to look outside their treaty organizations for allies, namely one-on-one relations or regional relations with the US. Would Germany have been so understanding if the US forged a relationship with the Soviets in order to create an or else situation?

Zyme on :

Now those are pretty evil words you use Pat. I would argue that this policy merely encourages our eastern European neighbours to acknowledge Brussel´s primacy and no longer resist further integration. "Would Germany have been so understanding if the US forged a relationship with the Soviets in order to create an or else situation?" Now what else did you do in 1941 ?

Pat Patterson on :

I do seem to remember at the time that the Germany army and its auxilliaries were butchering Ukrainians and fail to see how that has anything to do with what you seem to admire about current German policy towards its allies. "With the distant threat of [a] Berlin-Moscow alliance it suddenly becomes a lot easier to get Eastern Europe in line with Brussels." That still sounds like a threat against ones allies that unless they toe the line Germany will sell them out to the Russians.

Zyme on :

Oh come on, it is not a threat, it's a joker so to speak :) Wouldn´t you agree that in politics, creating different options is vital and highly responsible? Nothing immoral here.

Pat Patterson on :

Yes, options are important but not at the expense of treaties and agreements or is that only bad when the US is thought to pursue its own national interests. Multilateralism is fine for thee but not me?

joe on :

I never expected much from the frau for no other reason than she is german. To date she has not failed to disappoint.

Zyme on :

At least you continue to live up to everybody´s expectations :)

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