Post originally appeared on The Automatic Earth blog.
I need to start of off the bat with an update to this piece, which I started writing yesterday, since I now know that Angela Merkel actually did invite Alexis Tsipras on Monday. It only took her two months…. But that doesn’t take away anything from my point that Merkel has been sorely lacking and missing, it just goes to prove that point.
And if she doesn’t get her act together very quickly (why not ask Tsipras to be in Berlin tomorrow morning?!), this will, I’ve said it before, go down as her main legacy. She will be known as the person who let Europe slip into war, for no good reason whatsoever. Here’s what I started off with last night (Oz time):
The increasing ugliness of the ‘negotiations’ between the Greek Syriza government and the rest of the eurozone, which is ruled by the German government, needs to be halted and put in reverse. There is an urgent need for a detente, for cooler heads and for trust. And there is only one person who can act to create these things: Angela Merkel. But Merkel is nowhere to be found or seen.
The increasing ugliness of the propaganda war the west is waging against Russia and its president Vladimir Putin, also needs to be halted. There is an even more urgent need there for a detente, for cooler heads and for trust. There is only one person who can act to create these things: Angela Merkel. But Merkel is AWOL.
There are German voices in the Putin case that call for reason and quiet, and that have labeled people like NATO head Stoltenberg, NATO General Breedlove and US State Department ‘Assistant’ Victoria Nuland more or less insane. But Merkel’s voice is not among them, nowhere to be heard.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble was born in 1942. That means he was alive when German troops committed the worst of their war crimes and atrocities on Greek soil, and on Greek people, which the Syriza government says it wants to receive war reparations for. But Schäuble high-handedly poo-poohs these demands, claiming everything has been settled decades ago. As if he were talking about things that happened 1000 years ago or more.
They did not, Mr. Schäuble, they happened during your lifetime, and no level of high-handedness, not one level of it, is appropriate here on your part. The only appropriate reaction is humbleness and the highest level of respect you are capable of. Whether there’s a legal issue is something for legal experts to decide, but until then, you have no right to poo-pooh anything.
Besides, you’re a finance minister, and this is not a finance issue, it’s far too sensitive to be regarded as such. The only person who should indeed address it is your boss, Angela Merkel. But no-one’s seen her around.
Merkel should have told Schäuble weeks ago to keep his trap shut, but she has instead allowed him to antagonize Athens even more. And blame the Greeks for that.
It may already be too late when it comes to the Ukraine issue. Angela should have intervened a long time ago. She did not. She suddenly turned her back on her friend Vladimir, for reasons she never explained, and allowed US and NATO hotheads to completely take over European politics. Never a good idea, for obvious reasons.
And now she may be stuck with the consequences: a war on her doorstep. Which, in reality, has of course already started. 6000 Ukrainians are gone, millions have been forced to leave their homes. Angela Merkel could have prevented most of this from happening. Blood on your hands, girl.
She let Schäuble get out of hand with his hugely out of place and out of whack comments on Greece’s financial situation, on Varoufakis and on the crimes perpetrated by his parents’ generation in not just Greece, but certainly also in Greece. Comments not befitting the European Union’s de facto political and economical leader. And that has left space for extremists to come in and take the lead over from Merkel.
Likewise, she’s let Breedlove and Nuland take the lead in the Ukraine issue, while she could have easily defused it, leading to a situation where Putin this weekend made it a point to say that he felt so strongly about Crimea, he would have been ready to alert his nuclear capacity. That the western press chooses to put that fact in entirely different, and far more threatening terms, was and is only to be expected, for Angela as much as for you and me.
The most powerful woman in the world had better stand up now, or it will be too late in both instances.
Greece will be forced into a Grexit or Grexident, neither of which EU leaders have anywhere near the grip on that they try to convince us they have; more countries will leave after Greece, and financial markets will start betting on just that.
And the US and NATO will force Ukraine into a full blown war theater, something Merkel should never ever want to her immediate eastern flank, and something that was always entirely preventable is she had put her foot down.
Is Angela going to be the umpteenth tragic lady with a tragic footprint in history, or will she wake up in the nick of time, stand up, and say: no more of this?! We’ll soon know.