Angela Merkel's Pyrrhic Victory
As expected, Angela Merkel has convincingly won her fourth term as chancellor of Germany and unofficial, but no less real, leader of the European Union. The mainstream media will again erupt into an orgy of adulation for the new leader of the free world; the slayer of populism; and last, but most, the anti-Trump. While the adulation-cum-E.U. triumphalism is a given, few will notice that it is taking place as both Merkel and the E.U. enter a period that will bring ruin to Merkel's reputation and the fantasy of an E.U. super-state that will finally prove the superiority of Europe over Trump's America. For her reputation is built on the fake assumptions of the European socio-political model, which is doomed.
An inkling of what's coming was revealed a day before the elections, when jurists of the German parliament issued a Gutachten (expert opinion) accusing Merkel of never providing legal arguments for opening the borders in 2015 and doing so without parliamentary approval as required by law. In short, she broke the law – and not just German law, because she opened not just Germany's borders, but those of the E.U. as well. She then compounded her error by having the subservient and unelected European Commission force reluctant Eastern European nations to take migrants in what was perceived as a German diktat. This serious misdeed is unlikely to be swept under the rug, since two of the parties that have now entered the Bundestag (FDP and AfD) insist on a parliamentary investigation.
Nor is this Merkel's only big political misjudgment. After persuading her party to extend the life of German nuclear power plants in Nov. 2010, she then did an about-face in June 2011 and ordered them phased out by 2022 on the absurd assumption that, like Japan, Germany can also suffer a catastrophic earthquake and a tsunami. There was neither a scientific nor an economic rationale for this hasty decision. In between, one of the taxes she imposed on the nuclear industry has already been declared unconstitutional by Germany's highest court.
The nuclear phase-out, which will take decades to resolve in the courts, pales in comparison to the enthusiastic support Merkel provided to having Germany, a country not well endowed with either much sun or wind, transition fully to renewable energy and, in the process, become a paragon of international environmental virtue to the left-wing ecological claque. Alas, it is already clear that the Energiewende is a recipe for disaster, and a hugely expensive one at that. It has already made it impossible to achieve not just German, but E.U. global warming targets. The officially promised 40% German cut in greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2020 has fallen by the wayside, as has Brussels's mandate to source 18% of energy from renewable sources. It is easy to see why. The much ballyhooed German progress to date was achieved because of huge subsidies paid by the rate payer and disproportionately by the poor, which forced the subsidies' dismantling. Frau Merkel has also been busy protecting the disingenuous German automobile industry from its disastrous Dieselgate cheating scandal that may yet devastate this vital German industry.
In the meantime, Merkel's foolish migrant policies are wreaking havoc in German society, as it was all too easy to predict. Crime by migrants, much of it sexual in nature, spiked by 52.7% in 2016 compared to 2015, despite efforts by the government to hide it. Worse is to come. In the first six months of 2017 alone, Berlin issued 230,000 visas for family members of the migrants, and another 390,000 are expected. Moreover, a recent Pew Foundation study shows that no more than 3% of the migrants are ever sent back, while European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker claims that 720,000, or nearly three fourths, have received asylum even though few of them have been persecuted. Official German figures show that by 2020, the government will have spent 93.6 billion euros on migrant welfare, proving yet again the wisdom of Milton Friedman, who long ago warned that open borders and the welfare system do not mix. And cost may not be the worst of it. The counter-terrorism coordinator of the E.U., Gilles de Kerchove, stated in a recent interview that 50,000 jihadists have entered Europe under the guise of migrants.
So what has Mrs. Merkel accomplished that has made German voters so enamored in her? To answer this probably requires an expert in German mass psychology, but here are some of the relevant facts. During her 12 years as chancellor, Merkel has moved the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) sharply to the left and has run the country in a way barely distinguishable from her socialist coalition partners. This probably explains the rise of the populist right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD). The legendary Bavarian politician Franz-Joseph Strauss once said that the conservatives should never allow a legitimate party to the right of themselves if they want to stay in power. Merkel has now done that and will sooner or later suffer the consequences.
This apart, the German political landscape is full of parties (SPD, Greens, Die Linke) that are openly pro-Russian and anti-American, in stark contrast to Eastern Europe. Indeed, German media are so stridently anti-American as to prompt a comparison with Nazi propaganda of yesteryear. Merkel herself has sided with Putin on the key issue of European energy independence from Russia and the Nord Stream 2, a project she quite disingenuously calls "commercial." This new and growing fault line between Germany and Eastern Europe may be the real threat to NATO, apart from the fact that Germany refuses to seriously boost its defense capabilities.
On the positive side, Germany is prosperous and enjoys a huge surplus with all its partners in the E.U. This one-sided relationship was ushered in by the euro, and it may not be long before Germany's Eurozone partners realize that and demand change.
Alex Alexiev is chairman of the Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies (cbbss.org). He tweets on national security at twitter.com/alexieff and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.