The Guy YOU Love To Hate

I pour moi think he’s the greatest. Weiter so (keep it up), Wolfgang!

Schäuble

Despite bitter opposition in many quarters to the austerity-first policies Germany has imposed on Europe’s poorer nations, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has hung on to its role as champion of integration on the Continent through deft use of diplomacy and the country’s economic clout.

But in negotiating a new deal this week to bail out Greece, Germany displayed what many Europeans saw as a harder, more selfish edge, demanding painful measures from Athens and resisting any firm commitment to granting Greece relief from its crippling debt. And that perception was fueled on Thursday when the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, suggested that Greece would get its best shot at a substantial cut in its debt only if it was willing to give up membership in the European common currency (they mean Grexit here, of course, they just don’t like to use the word).

“Ich werbe nur dafür, dass Sie heute nicht meinen – jetzt ist das Thema erledigt, jetzt haben wir noch mal einen da zum Bösewicht erklärt. Ich bin so abgehärtet in einem langen politischen Leben, dass mich das nicht aus der Bahn wirft.”

Germans Tired Of Being Cast As The Euro Zone’s Scapegoats

But once they take a nap and rest a little bit, they won’t be so tired anymore.

Scapegoats

Sometimes Germany was too weak, sometimes too strong. Or, as Henry Kissinger, a former American secretary of state, put it, referring to Germany just after unification in 1871, it was “too big for Europe, but too small for the world”. Today, Mr Simms (Cambridge University) argues, “it sits uneasily at the heart of an EU that was conceived largely to constrain German power but which has served instead to increase it, and whose design flaws have unintentionally deprived many other Europeans of sovereignty.”

The question is whether Germany can use its power by unapologetically leading. Given Germany’s past, its political culture militates against even trying.

“It’s nice to go to a conference of ‘young leaders’, but you don’t want a conference of ‘junge Führer’.”