Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Joschka Fischer on Merkel's foreign policy

Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer seems to be having uncharacteristic difficulty deciding how to understand Angela Merkel's foreign policy. In German Foreign Policy Comes of Age Project Syndicate 12/05/2014

The fragility of Germany’s foreign-policy foundations was to become clear during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Though the main democratic parties agreed after 1990 that continuity and predictability in German foreign policy were essential, it was Germany that opposed a European response to the crisis and insisted on national solutions that would be coordinated by the EU.

As Europe’s strongest economy, Germany suddenly was forced to lead. But it knew no better than to impose the lessons of its own experience – particularly a concern for price stability that harks back to interwar hyperinflation – on the rest of Europe. Germany’s government still confuses the successful recipes of the Federal Republic with the very different needs of a continental economy’s leading power. As a result, the EU has been in a permanent crisis, characterized by economic stagnation and high unemployment. [my emphasis]
The bolded part is an accurate and severe judgment on Merkel's foreign policy.

But that's not exactly consistent with his statement in the same column, "Germany today poses no threat to its neighbors or the European order." I assume he means military threat. But the damage Merkel's Herbert Hoover/Heinrich Brüning economic policies are doing is staggering.

Fischer here seems to be endorsing a hardline anti-Russian policy and seems to think that Merkel is pursuing one. And while she's definitely taken an anti-Russian position over Ukraine, I'm not convinced she's as committed to a New Cold War as American neocons or the current Ukrainian government might hope. Her economic policies have left the eurozone economy highly vulnerable to losses from economic sanctions.

Fischer, I'm dismayed to see, seems to be eager for a confrontational policy with Russia. He even says, "Suddenly, the security of Germany’s own territory is at stake again." Oh, please. Russia isn't trying to take over Germany. It's drawn the line at letting Georgia and Ukraine being fully integrated into the EU or NATO. But not only is Russia not looking to take over Germany, Germany is also part of the NATO military alliance.

But then the recent drop in oil prices has hit the Russian economy much harder than Western sanctions.

Paul Krugman writes, "Obviously Russia’s problems stem from other things besides the oil price, namely Ukraine and the fallout thereof. Still, it’s pretty striking just how fast the financial situation seems to be unraveling. The bond vigilantes aren’t invisible in Moscow — 10-year interest rates, which were below 8 percent early this year, hit 12.67 percent today." (Is Russia 2015 Venezuela 1983? 12/08/2014)

Robert Parry writes about a shift in Der Spiegel's tone on Russia in Der Spiegel Tones Down Anti-Putin Hysteria Consortium News 11/28/2014.

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