News You Really Need To See: “Twin Shocks Shake Foundation of German Power”

“Twin Shocks Shake Foundation of German Power”

The New York Times, April 19, 2014, p.A4

“If there are two qualities prized by modern Germans, they surely are Ruhe (peace and quiet) and Ordnung (order).  So the past few months have been profoundly unsettling. First, the United States — the very power that helped Germany to its feet after 1945 and instilled democracy in the ruins of Hitler’s Reich — was found to be a less than transparent ally.  The National Security Agency, riding roughshod over concepts of privacy and individual freedom treasured by Germans, had collected huge amounts of electronic data from ordinary citizens and had even spied on the chancellor, Angela Merkel. … Even as anti-Americanism surged, however, the Germans faced a second, more profound shock: The crisis over Ukraine proved that Russia, the giant to the east that Germans know so well from centuries of doing business and waging war, was no longer playing by what Berlin considered the established rules of the 21st century.  By replacing the currency of modern diplomacy — global cooperation, a wariness about using force, a shared trust and belief in agreements — with the swift, forced annexation of Crimea, Russia threatened the very foundation of Germany’s modern power.  As mighty as its economy — the largest in Europe — may be, Germany does not, unlike the United States, Britain and France (or Russia, for that matter), have the military clout of a conventional power.”

Quickie analysis:   Germany suddenly feels very unprotected without an army or being able to trust its biggest ally.  The Dutch, the Belgians, and students of modern world history must relish the irony.

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