Friday, October 11, 2002
Have you been thrown for a loop by the fallout from the German election? I have.
Check out the latest Victor Davis Hanson piece at NRO. He says pretty much the same thing you'll read in the Weekly Standard, or even in non-right-wing publications on the topic. People are really, really pissed at - and scared of - the current German government.
I admit, I missed this. My first read was: the Germans are indulging themselves by sticking their heads in the sand and behaving like children who want the scary world to go away. The main significance, it seemed to me, was that it strengthened France's position vis-a-vis America, and weakened Germany's, a switch from what has been the default relationship for the past couple of decades. But maybe I'm not taking this all as seriously as it deserves.
I also really believed that what we are looking at is the unique perfidity of a particular German politician. Schroeder is a really odious piece of work, an Al Gore type more than a Clinton (to whom he is frequently compared) in that he has in many cases embraced many centrist positions as a policymaker but resorts to rank demagoguery to maintain power. Gore did a lot of damage to race relations and partisan relations in this country with the way he campaigned, but I don't think the long-term damage to America is serious at all. Ditto Germany. Schroeder's margin of victory was just that: marginal. Basically, he took votes away from the Communists in the old East Germany, and that is how he won. This does not scare or impress me as a long-term matter.
As for the question of German nationalism: which are we more afraid of, German nationalism or Belgian? You know what I mean: which is a bigger threat, a resurgent, confident Germany pushing its own national interest, or a European Union bent on becoming a super-state opposed to American power. It is not such a bad thing if the European remember that they are afraid of each other and like to have the Americans around to keep everyone friendly. And it is far from categorically bad for Germans to look to their national self-interest. It's just very important that they be enlightened about it, and recognize that their national self-interest depends on a close relationship with the United States.
Meanwhile, it is clearer than ever that just as the Europeans, left and right, always prefer a Democratic administration in Washington, the United States, whichever party governs, should always prefer conservative governments in Europe.