Germany and Maybe the End of the European Union

Harsh words?  I don’t think so. I just finished reading Boys in the Boat, the story of the University of Washington crew that went to the 1936 Olympics and won the gold.  But it is also a story of that time and the evil of a rising Hitler.  Germany became so enthralled with itself and hate, that the crimes it committed are really still today unimaginable.  Whatever way you learn about what happened, you can’t help wondering how that could happen, how seemly good people got so wrapped up in hate and their arian moral supremacy that they really destroyed civilization and tolerance. But then you see elements of it in other things and you know it can happen again.

Well I opined* the other day that Germany with its austere approach to Greece may have gone over the line of meanness and retribution, and could in fact be sowing the seeds of revolution.  The whole deal is meanspirited and destine to failure. Basically Germany and the EU came back with a deal more severe than the one Greece rejected, and from Econ 101, it simply won’t work other than to increase the debt and put more people out of work.  But Germany is stuck in some kind of morality play with an economic ideology that has failed.

Well apparently I am not the only one to see this dangerous selfishness by the Germans and the damage it is doing to the EU.  Here is from a NYT story this morning:

But with its handling of Greece’s bailout package, Germany is at risk of losing that trust, some European analysts say. By taking what sounded to many as an aggressive, punishing, contemptuous tone toward Greece, the German leadership may have undercut its moral authority, they say. And by floating the notion that Greece might be better off leaving the common currency, Germany displayed its national interest more nakedly than in the past and made it clear there are limits to its willingness to put European unity first.

… For Jürgen Habermas, a pro-European German intellectual, said that Ms. Merkel and her coalition government, including the center-left Social Democratic Party, “have gambled away in one night all the political capital that a better Germany had accumulated in half a century.”

There are even references to Nazism in Greece.  I think this is a tragedy brought about by an unwavering economic approach that defies common sense (even the IMF now sees the need for major debt relief), and some moral superiority perceived by the Germans as they punish many innocent Greeks.  It is the attitude of Germany first which will be the end of the EU.  Quite frankly unless they fix the Euro by making the EU politically connected through taxation and banking, it will eventually fail anyway.  But Germany, in her mean spirited and selfish policy toward Greece just may hasten that demise.

* “But what is most troubling is that the deal really makes Greece a ward of the European Union. They can even sell off its assets. What does that say to other members of the EU that are struggling with debt and with the inability to adjust their economies through monetary policy? It says Germany runs your economy. This is setting up the classic and historical conflicts that may just result in the failure of the EU.”

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