Roger Cohen ends his latest NY Times column with a pretty drastic conclusions: "Predictability has been the great German virtue since 1945. It's gone."
I think that is a bit exaggerated, but in general I share his disappointment and criticism of Germany's current government, which "embarked on a stop-go crab walk suggestive of a nation uncomfortable with power and unsure of its purpose":
Germany (...) was, just a decade ago, the opposite of Angela Merkel's shifting, changeable nation with its finger to the electoral winds and its surprising talent for unpredictability. Solidity has given way to whim, direction to drift. (...) The loss of European idealism is the most shocking change I've seen in Germany this past decade. Merkel, who would still be stranded in East Germany if Kohl had wavered as she has, needs to lay out just how Germany, with its 3 percent growth and low unemployment, benefits from the E.U., the euro and a borderless market of almost half a billion people.
This was Roger Cohen's second op-ed on Germany in a row. Three days ago, he wrote France Flies, Germany Flops.
Yesterday, the NY Times published yet another op-ed on Germany. Fortunately this one by Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger, the foreign editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, is a bit more balanced and explains the German position better:
On the one hand, Germany is bullish on the euro and a model in economic and technological terms. On the other, it is yielding to traditional German angst about nuclear energy and self-righteously refusing to join a military mission beyond Europe's shores. So you have both an old and a new Germany. Or so it seems.
Tempting as it is to do so, it is too early to say that Germany is venturing into a phase of isolationism. Such a conclusion may also be flat-out wrong. The vote in the U.N. Security Council, embarrassing as it was, may have had more to do with the miscalculations and predicament of a foreign minister whose party is in deep trouble, who is highly unpopular and whose political future is dangling by a string.
Guido Westerwelle is said to have ignored the advice of his top aides and to have received support from the chancellor only because she did not want to damage his reputation beyond the point of repair. Besides, the government has not wavered from its political and military commitment to Afghanistan, despite widespread public opposition.