Yes, the German Question has returned to the European stage with bigger implications than ever. And like always, the Germans aren’t quite sure how to handle it. Enormous economic strength, coupled with a weak geopolitical presence and location makes the Germans a most insecure Great Power. But then, that is the question. Does Germany really want to be a Great Power? And are they willing to pay the price for that status?
The answer is yes, and maybe.
The Germans unhesitatingly want to be a Great Power again, to be respected and listened to for their ability and their economic power. The current EU which subordinates all members to German markets at the expense of their own economies is a clear example. If Germany wanted to play the whole equality and cooperation game they could have by using their influence in the EU to support existing production in non-Northern countries. But they don’t. Instead they seem to derive a kind of sadistic pleasure from raping Southern European markets and flooding it with their own superbly manufactured goods. Economically speaking, Germany already has Great Power status.
But a strong economy alone does not a Great Power make, or we’d all be quivering fear of Japan in the East. Great Power status comes with diplomatic and foreign policy requirements as well, requirements that are arguably more important than economic strength. This is why Russia, with an economy far inferior to that of Germany’s or Japan’s, remains a far stronger, far nobler power, having embraced its role as a Eurasian Great Power firmly with both hands. With this came the responsibility to use its power and influence swiftly and decisively which we have seen frequently with the Putin government.
Germany, in contrast, is still afraid of broaching any kind of military mission openly. Hell, they’re afraid of using their diplomatic and economic power openly too. All in all, Germany is a cowardly giant, and it possesses all the diplomatic power of the gentle fat kid in a high school class. Sure, he’ll steal your lunch, but deep down everybody knows he can’t take a hit.
This leads us to the arguably more important question: Is Germany willing to pay the price?
I think the answer is no. Germany has become comfortable. Their military, which is a joke, is a symbol of the strength of the determination of the country. I highly doubt they will be willing to take the enormous economic burden and continuing struggle with the West that turning against America will entail. There are certainly few signs that is the direction Merkel will take. Merkel’s foreign policy can be characterized by subservience and, despite increasing dissatisfaction, the German state continues to make every effort to align their foreign policy in the Ukraine and in Asia with that of the USA. Sure, the stars seemed as close as they’ll ever be to aligned for a German break from American dominance but we simply aren’t seeing those signals at present, Der Spiegel article on Breedlove be damned.
But Merkel may not have a choice. Public pressure is growing. If another European were to break the Germans might have to face a partition of the EU. This is where Greece comes in. Both Greece and Cyprus are taking explicit pro-Russian measures, with even talk of removing Greece, and Greece alone, from the Russian agricultural counter sanctions list. Greece could, by threatening to bring down the Euro house of cards, shove a reluctant German elite into Russian arms. It’s where they want to go anyway, at least in that ideal world where Germany reclaims its diplomatic authority without paying the corresponding geopolitical price.
The Greeks are hardly the only countries shifting East. Hungary, Serbia, Finland, Italy, and Spain have all made overtures of one kind or another, including visits by various ministers and heads of state during a time or supposed economic hostility. Anti-Russian sentiment, evidently, will not be last. And that’s simply not within the power of Germany to control.
As much as Germany would like to control Europe, they simply do not. They don’t have the political might, not at present, and as the Euro slips their ability to pull economic strings lessen. Furthermore an increasingly weak Europe is an increasingly desperate Europe, and the EU, being so phenomenally large, will inevitably find itself at the mercy of one increasingly desperate country or another. Greece is one. Cyprus another. But even little Portugal or Ireland could lose patience under the right circumstances and initiate events that would push Germany East.
There is a final factor: The USA. America is becoming more and more extreme in its demands of its vassals. Compliance, once covert and suspected, is not over and shameless. But the American state does not know when to stop. They will continue to push Europe, and Germany in particular, into increasingly costly situations for their own foreign policy benefits. Eventually the cost may be too high and the Germans may attempt a run for policy freedom. But the longer they wait to do that the higher the economic costs will be, so time is the enemy.
I think it will be a combination of the above factors, especially the Greek-Russo alignment and increasing American pressure, that will push Germany successfully from West to East. But I also think that the Germans will continue pandering for some time making this eventual shift all the more painful. One way or another though, the German Question will be resolved. For good this time.