Quick, name the worst leader in western Europe. Yes, it’s a tough call: it’s either whoever the leader of Italy is this week, plus whichever socialist is temporarily in charge of France, plus the your-name-here chinless wonder domiciled at 10 Downing Street in London. But surely the prize goes to Frau Kartoffel herself, German Kanzlerin Angela Merkel, who’s been in office since 2005 and, alas, shows no signs of leaving any time soon.
On his visit this past week to Europe, President Trump spoke some hard truths to our European allies, but none spat it out more quickly than Merkel, to the absolute delight of the Trump-hating New York Times. It is a cold day in hell when the Times speaks fondly of any German, but here it is:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most influential leader, has apparently concluded that the United States of President Trump is not the reliable partner her country and continent have automatically depended on in the past.
Clearly disappointed with European leaders’ inability to persuade Mr. Trump to publicly endorse NATO’s doctrine of collective defense — or to agree to common positions on Russia, climate change or global trade — Mrs. Merkel said on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as reliable as they once were, and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”
To which let me add: it’s about time. I’ve spent a good deal of my life in Germany, speak the language, and raised my children there; my most recent book, the best-selling The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, concerns not only the Frankfurt School of Marxist philosophers and the cultural havoc they wrought in America, but the musical and literary cornerstones of German culture itself, including Goethe and Wagner.
If it took Trump’s typical bluntness to finally get the message across that the Europeans are now responsible for the mess of their own making, good. Germany in particular has coasted under the American nuclear umbrella for decades, allowing it to a) concentrate entirely on rebuilding its domestic economy, infrastructure and social welfare state and b) thumb its nose at American warmongering imperialism. It’s one of the least attractive aspects of the German character; the gratitude that the immediate postwar generation felt for our having rescued them from Hitler and the love Germans felt for all things American have vanished. In their place has come a churlish, we-can-take-it-from-here mutter that does not become them.
What the president understands, and the Europeans pretend not to, is that Russia is no longer the direct menace it was during the days of the Fulda Gap, and that the real menace to Europe and NATO (which, by the way, includes the Islamicizing state of Turkey) is Islam, and its ongoing invasion of the historic lands of Christendom. If you think that’s a joke, and that it can’t happen in France, Italy or Britain, ask the Anatolians, the north Africans and the Albanians how that worked out for them.
Speaking on the campaign trail after contentious summit meetings in Belgium and Italy, Ms. Merkel said: “The times in which we could rely fully on others, they are somewhat over. This is what I experienced in the last few days,” she said.
Given this new context for international relations, she said, “that is why I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands — of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia.”
Welcome back to the 19th century! As the gorilla in the middle, Germany has always been forced to deal with the West (in the form of France and French culture) and the East (Russia); the result was two world wars and the deaths of millions. The European Union was essentially a response to the lingering question of how to prevent the great ape from escaping its cage and having dinner in Paris a month or so later. Worse for Merkel, although born in Hamburg, she grew up on the wrong side of the East-West German border and so was raised in a state that was at once a communist dictatorship and a swaddling socialist experiment, one which beat the sense of personal striving out of the people and replaced it with a dull conformity.
That dullness is now embodied by Merkel, a dull, uninspiring leader with no vision for the future and, childless, with no personal stake in it. Somewhere in hell, Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker are having a good laugh about their perfect revenge on the capitalist West. Sure, it took their own destruction to pull it off, but what could be more German than that?