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Europe's Indispensable Nation

Germany is Europe's "indispensable nation," in charge of "the unipolar moment within the eurozone," and it is to the EU what the United States is to NATO. That's how European and US think tankers compare Germany with the US:

David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy (via

To the extent the EU, NATO, or the G20 have an effective future, Germany will be central to setting the parameters of the agenda. For some, the notion that so many issues important to the future of the world depends on the international engagement of a benevolent Germany will seem more than a little ironic. So too will the fact that Germany has become Europe's indispensible nation. But these are among the game-changing facts of the 21st century. Germany is not just the wallet of Europe, it also must necessarily be Europe's spine and its heart.

The European Council on Foreign Relations makes another comparison with the US. Financial Times:

"Rarely has Germany been as important in Europe - or as isolated - as it is today," say Ulrike Guérot and Mark Leonard in a new pamphlet for the European Council on Foreign Relations. "There has been a kind of 'unipolar moment' within the eurozone: no solution to the crisis was possible without Germany, or against Germany."

Constanze Stelzenmueller wrote in another Financial Times article about Germany: "In economic terms, it is to the European Union what America is to NATO: the superpower that gets to call the shots."

Germany should lead? No thanks. Most Germans rather want their country to be a bigger version of Switzerland. We prefer to just sell our cars, machines and tools around the world, play soccer, watch Tatort, and attend to our Gartenzwerge (lawn gnomes).


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Zyme on :

I think it is quite simplistic to think in terms of "Germany leading or being Switzerland" As if this was the only choice. The reality is neither of it. Germany being the biggest country in the EU simply does best at pursuing its own interests. Where it is to Germany's use (extending its policies across the entire continent) the EU is broadly accepted. And I think THAT is what its citizens want. Where upkeeping the European idea becomes too expensive (Greece, Portugal) or influences German way of life, the German people want Europe to be dropped. The question is where this leads to. My guess is that sooner or later the EU as it is today will break apart into countries too resistant or weak to Berlin to remain part of it - and countries similar in their ideas who will then surround Germany. The latter conglomerate would be far more self-reliable and thus far stronger than the EU of 27 nations we see today. What do you guys think where it is leading to?

SC on :

The German political and financial class do not appear to share this vision of splendid isolation you attribute to most Germans, Joerg. Perhaps most Germans do wish to pullup the drawbridge, but what are voters willing to do to achieve that end? Without significant structural restraint, visions of leadership and the allure of power are proven aphrodisiacs to a subset of humanity across time and place.

Joerg Wolf on :

Yes, many politicians would like to see a permanent seat at the Security Council for Germany. But I am not sure the financial class cares about it? What's your read on them? The "financial class" is not as big in Germany as elsewhere. The industry is more powerful. Voters are not "doing" much actively for the drawbridge, but express their opinion.

SC on :

Well, I'd be surprised if industrialists or bankers put much stock in a seat on the Security Council whose value probably counts for less than a seat on a NATO council whose value seems much discounted these days. (Doubtless, Don, from long ago days, would be announcing the imminent death of NATO.) If size is the measure of weight, then the financial class in Germany seems to punch well above its weight in European economic matters, and by extension internationally: the bankers of Frankfurt are somewhat hard to ignore these days, for example. While quiet, as bankers are wont to be, they don't seem to be the shy and retiring sort when it comes to what they perceive as their interest. ;-)

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