Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Germany, Russia and US

So here’s the political maneuvering question of the day: If you were Mild-Mannered Miss Merkel and someone in your governing coalition said that Germany should keep equidistance between Russia and the US, how would you, as chancellor, react?

John Vinocur, lover of political intrigue and rancor, thinks you must “crush” the statement.

From both political and IR standpoints, this is kind of juicy. The question of whether Germany is appeasing or warming up to Russia, -- and, consequently, distancing itself from the US—is inevitable, isn't it? Especially under the bizarre condition of Shroeder’s working directly for Putin over at Gazprom. That aside, Germany can't actually be big and strong enough to act in its own interest as much as possible, right? Because that would be totally crazy. (Because they’re all militarists at heart, so we need to keep an eye on them, even after they’ve become the most ridiculously peace-loving and green G8 country…) Germany would do well to remember who its friends are! While, at the same time, the American president cozies up to Putin and invites him over to Kennebunkport to chat with Daddy. 

The implication is clear: we can--to put it nicely-- toe the line with Russia, but when Germany does anything resembling same, they are appeasing their old enemies. This is positively Rovian. Vinocur is very insightful but blatantly hypocritical-- unless, of course, you subscribe to a realpolitik wherein double standards are unavoidable because some countries are bigger and stronger than others, and have more on their plates, like the US. In that case, it's the same old Cold War mindset in a radically different world: "Dearest Allies, do as we say, not as we do, mkay?"

What’s Russia ever going to do, after all, in this peaceful post-Cold War world? It's not like Russia's going to be a threat, like, militarily. They're not going to invade any Western country—not in this day and age. Democracies don’t get into wars, right? (They may well rumble with China, but that'd just be good fun for us Westerners!)

So there's that. Then there's the internal German political intrigue, which I know less about. I have no idea who this parliamentarian is, aside from being a member of Merkel's ruling coalition. So you'd think that MMMMerkel would just shut him up. But it seems to me there’s a possibily that such a statement would have support in Parliament, given the unspoken anti-US feeling in Germany since Bush took over. Perhaps Germany can afford to be a bit more multilateral in their foreign policy without distancing itself from the US. It’s hard to say because MMMMerkel never says anything bold or confrontational—it’s not her style. (Which is another reason why her relationship with Sarkozy is going to be fun to watch.) She prefers to remain quietly confident in public and firm behind closed doors, and concentrates on getting results. It has been an effective enough strategy for her, but it’s boooo-ring! I’m so not amused! I want fireworks, quotable quotes, controversy! Miss Mild Mannered Merkel, I implore you to say something exciting—preferably about Germany between the US and Russia. But anything at all will do. For chrissakes, you’re more boring than Munich on a Tuesday night!

No comments: