• Germany's news in English

Germany in 2011: Economic giant, political dwarf

The Local · 31 May 2011, 12:25

Published: 31 May 2011 12:25 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

It's a thoroughly shameful situation. It's the precipitous decline of an important nation, a nation that is regressing back to a time when it was a passive player in global affairs.

It's a self-inflicted relegation from the ranks of the world players to the status of spectator and heckler. And we have to ask ourselves just how this could happen in less than a year and a half.

Germany is by far the most important economic power in the European Union. The EU would be unthinkable without its German engine, just as the euro debt crisis cannot be resolved without active German involvement.

Berlin wants a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and German soldiers fight alongside those of other NATO countries in the struggle against international terrorism in Afghanistan.

But these facts and goals have little to do with Germany's current standing in the European Union and on the global stage. In the orchestra of great powers, Berlin has not had an instrument to play for months. Paris and London are making the music and giving the cues.

This country, represented by its government, has become a bystander to world politics while others show the way. How long has it been since Berlin had something to say and others actually listened? Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder – and even Angela Merkel – once commanded attention, if not always deference, from Germany’s partners.

So what happened? After all, this is still the same chancellor who until 2009 was brilliantly keeping the consequences of the world economic crisis in check, at the helm of a grand coalition between her conservatives and the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

This is the same Angela Merkel who set the agenda at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, and was celebrated in the international press as a shrewd world leader.

And now? The old World War II allies of France, Britain and the United States have taken action against Libya and made clear the West supports the democracy movements in the Arab world. This troika has gone on the offensive by actively taking responsibility while Germany stands on the sidelines and recites its reservations.

At the G8 summit in Deauville, France last week, Merkel was a shadow of the stateswoman seen on the Baltic coast in 2007 – just as the country she represents has become a shadow of its former self.

Germany appears content to navel gaze. The government boasts about the booming economy, but in reality it’s fretting over whether it can afford to bail out Greece. Of course, the Greeks have to tighten their belts so they can buy the German submarines that Berlin has talked Athens into buying – even though almost everything else should be higher on the list of Greece’s priorities.

It's difficult to believe that this German decline is just down to Merkel’s junior coalition party, the pro-business Free Democratic Party, which seems more concerned with its own image rather than Germany's standing globally.

Story continues below…

Perhaps the chancellor simply lacks the courage to say out loud that Germany has responsibilities in Europe and the world? That the nation cannot shirk its duties and simply disengage from global affairs?

It's not enough to let Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière set foreign policy as they please. Angela Merkel has to show leadership and determine where Germany's interests in the EU and at the UN lie. She can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines.

This commentary was published with the kind permission of Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, where it originally appeared in German. Translation by The Local.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

15:08 May 31, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Germany has always done best when they do exactly what they are doing now, which is mess with as little as possible.

If the US and Britain and France want to bomb places and get their hands dirty, then let them.

The lack of German participation in Libya is not indicative of a lack of prestige, power or leadership. It's indicative of solid judgement.

A. The Troika is strong enough that they don't need any help.

B. The Rebels might not be strong enough even with the help.

In fact Germany's first responsibilities lie in Germany, then Europe, and only so far as they affect the German people. The world can take care of itself.
16:13 May 31, 2011 by frankiep
I'm so sick of the notion among these political pundits which implies that bombing the hell out of other countries which have not done anything to you is the only way to "prove" that you are worthy of being considered an "important nation".

"Perhaps the chancellor simply lacks the courage to say out loud that Germany has responsibilities in Europe and the world? That the nation cannot shirk its duties and simply disengage from global affairs?"

This statement by this piece of work writer is exactly what I am talking about. So refusing to take part in a half-assed plan to drop bombs on another country which, internal problems or not, has not shown aggression towards other nations is a sign that Germany is "shirking its duties". I would like to ask this writer why exactly he thinks that bombing other countries which haven't done anything - and doing so without any real stated plan, goal, or strategy - is anyone's duty to begin with. In fact, I think that it would be the duty of every country NOT to get involved in such a ridiculous and pointless military adventure.
18:13 May 31, 2011 by derExDeutsche
Where are the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Libya? Where is the imminent threat?

Where is the consensus? Sounds like more hypocritical bloviating by the Situational Ethicists at theLoco.de, again.
18:49 May 31, 2011 by harcourt
The consensus is UN resolution 1973 !!
18:54 May 31, 2011 by MJMH
Poor German can't do anything right. If Merkel had decided to join the allies and bomb Libya references to WW2 would be brought up. Now the country isn't a responsible ally. Why is it Europe's responsibility to spread American style democracy anyway. Where was Europe when South America or South Korea became democracies. It must be about the oil and not really about Germany at all.
21:44 May 31, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
I just read 1973, and I didn't see anything in there that said Germany had to participate. I think maybe the writer and the people who they represent, might be miffed that Germany won't get a cut of the contracts for rebuilding the infrastructure that will be destroyed by this civil war and the enforcement of UN 1973.

I would reiterate that Merkel's government has displayed solid judgment in staying the hell out of it all.
23:40 May 31, 2011 by Major B
Think I agree with the comments above. Frankly I was mad as hell that the U.S. got involved in Libya and still want it as far in the background as possible. I mean way behind the scenes. Since the Europeans, especially Britain, are contemplating even futher defense cuts, oh well. And Hillary Clinton had to push, I mean insist that the U.S. help the rebels in Benghazi. But this is about Germany.

Let Merkel be Merkel. Given the past the truth is that Germany has come a long way in the last 16 years. Bosnia. Kosovo. Off the Lebanese coast. Afghanistan. Let the French and British chase after former glory. Let Sarkozy pretend to the Emperor of Europe. The truth is that neither France nor Britain really stomach aGerman military interventionist mentality. The time for that may well come within the next 20 years, at the behest of allies and national interest. Make money now, and continue to keep us all honest.
06:04 June 1, 2011 by harcourt
Referring to the last two postings I guess it was lucky for most Europeans that Britain and later America got involved in Europe in WWII when neither were attacked. Its SO easy to say don't get involved sitting in a pub or kneipe
08:44 June 1, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Harcourt, What kind of argument is that? Do you think the US Britain or France had people on the ground who made the decision to intervene? Sarkozy was probably having a drink listening to Wil Smith's getting Jiggy with it (his favorite song) when he made the phone call to get it started. And don't tell me Cameron was in Benghazi. Obama was actually playing with his kids at the time.

And Britain "got involved" with the Second World War as you so quaintly put it, because they were even at that time part of Europe and they saw what was coming. And recognized the Nazis as a huge threat...to their own interests... and probably also because the recognized how badly they had cocked up the whole mess with Munich in 1938.

And furthermore, the US was attacked on December 7, and only entered the European war after Hitler declared war on them on December 11.

It's one thing to Sunday quarterback politics but, Germany sitting this one out makes fine sense. Again, since you weren't listening the first time:

A. The US, France and Britain are strong enough that they don't need any help.

B. The Rebels might not be strong enough even with the help.

C. There is no compelling reason why the Germans should be involved.

If you think there are reasons, please post them.
09:38 June 1, 2011 by harcourt
Ryh etc

The trivialisation in your 1st para. makes it difficult to take you seriously. The 2nd shows your lack of knowledge about the 1930s. Finally your philosophy appears to be " if someone is willing to take the initiative I'll hang back and see how it goes then decide which way to jump"
11:55 June 1, 2011 by trash head

>The trivialisation in your 1st para. makes it difficult to take you seriously.

this sentence makes it impossible to take you seriously. But ill try my best :I

> The 2nd shows your lack of knowledge about the 1930s.

The second paragraph is totaly correct. maybe you teach us your knowledge. My ears and eyes are widely openend now.

> Finally your philosophy appears to be "if someone is willing to take the initiative I'll hang back and see how it goes then decide which way to jump"

I cant figure this philosophy out. Pls describe which phrases leaded to your cognition.

So far ...
13:30 June 1, 2011 by harcourt
Ryh etc + trash hd

The level of argument has slowly degenerated over the last few postings so I am going to withdraw gracefully allowing you to savour your Pyrrhic Victory
13:59 June 1, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich...

I'm shocked that you don't want to take an internet argument seriously, shocked! But your second point isn't shocking at all, or even relevant because you don't say why.

If the Germans don't want to kill anyone I am ok with that. The decision to intervene militarily across a sovereign border is one that should be taken very seriously and only when absolutely nessecery. Unless one is feeling a bit trigger happy...

And again, because you missed it the second time around as well:

A. The US, France and Britain are strong enough that they don't need any help.

B. The Rebels might not be strong enough even with the help.

C. There is no compelling reason why the Germans should be involved.

Now, there is no mention of Wil Smith in this response, so you should be able to contain yourself enough to respond.

Their government said it's not their fight. They aren't protesting in the streets for Libyan blood. So we can assume that the people also are not interested in killing anyone.

So in all seriousness, why should they be involved?

Because considering A. through C above, if your answer is, to be first, or some amorphous reference to leadership or to "show the world that they can" then I think this consversation is quite done. Because none of those reasons are worth taking life.
04:46 June 2, 2011 by mr jamal arabic
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
17:44 June 3, 2011 by JAMessersmith

Britain entered WWII to keep Germany from taking over Europe, as had always been British policy. No matter whether it was Germany, France, or Spain, Britain would've acted to stop any continental power from achieving hegemony and threatening their sea lanes. That was the basic incentive for war, the Nazi menace was secondary. Libya, on the other hand, can't even establish hegemony over North Africa, let alone Europe. They don't even really scare Algeria.

Conversely, the US never did declare war on Germany. They declared war on Japan after Pearl Harbor and Hitler, in turn, declared war on the US several days later, in accordance with the Tri-partite pact. It's unlikely Germany would've ever possessed the ability to invade the US, even if they had been successful in Russia, given the fact they couldn't even figure out the logistics for an invasion of England, right across the Channel. Crossing the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean with an invasion fleet isn't such an easy feat. But regardless, Nazi Germany was an uber-militant, super-aggressive, highly advanced, 1st world military machine that espoused a hate-filled, racist ideology and functioned like a massive death cult. I'd be willing to go out on a limb and say that they posed a greater threat to America and the world than Moammar Gadhafi and his rag-tag band of underfunded, undersupplied, undisciplined bandits.

Germany was right to stay out of Libya. Civil wars may be unpleasant but they do happen. Would England, or France have been justified invading America during their Civil War during the 1800s? Somehow, I have a feeling that wouldn't have gone over too well, yet far more people were killed during that war than the one in Libya. Point being, sovereign nations should be forced to solve their own internal affairs... especially one like Libya, that poses no threat to the outside world whatsoever. At this point, Colonel Gadhafi can barely even threaten Benghazi, let alone Paris or London.
10:32 June 4, 2011 by harcourt
JAMmessersmith - You are basically right on most points but if one digs a little deeper there are factors to take into account. Firstly I find it refreshing that you talk about Germany and the Germans because in 1939 the population of Germany was about 87 million and even at the height of the Hitler regime the membership of the Nazi Party was 8.5 million many, many of whom joined because it was expedient to do so. I think America was thinking further ahead, it was very possible that, if Berlin controlled greater Europe plus Russia AND with the oil fields of The Middle East, perhaps 10 or 20yrs. on, with the help of Japan, it could well have taken on USA. Don¦#39;t forget that the rise of Americas technological expertise after the war was mainly with the help of European, mostly German, scientists and they would have all been working for the Third Reich! I could turn to Libya and The American Civil War if you wish, but will leave it for now. These comment columns are not quite the place for an intellectual discussion.

11:58 June 4, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Yes Harcourt, especially when one isn't an intellectual...
12:21 June 4, 2011 by harcourt
NO ryhntyntyn thats NOT what I meant - one needs more space, time, and personal contact other than laboriously typing one's thoughts out on a comment column. Sounds as though you've got an inferiority complex
13:25 June 4, 2011 by cobalisk
1930 is irrelevant to Libya or anything else going on right now. Civil wars and fights against tottering regimes is is no way comparable to expansionism under the 3rd Reich. These comparison and the arguments that have followed are a canard, ignore them please and lets focus on the point.

The idea that Germany is a political dwarf is absurd and laughable. Germany is a multi-lateral economic and political entity as a founding member of the European Union, and it behaves as such. Germany does have a special place in the EU as first among equals, and usually behaves accordingly.

As for invasions, or peace keeping operations, these are left along to individual countries. Germany's decision is their own and while it is open to criticism, perhaps the time has come to evaluate decisions today on their own merits or weaknesses and stop trotting out WWII over and over again.
16:05 June 4, 2011 by harcourt
Unfortunately for Germany WWII will never be forgotten no matter how much they wish it would be. They have to realise it is a part of World history which affected, for the worse I may add, billions of people who all have descendants. By the way "first among equals" ?? you are either all equal or there is an order of merit. It's one or the other !!
18:07 June 4, 2011 by cobalisk
Germans have not forgotten WWII but I bet they get tired of hearing about it in unrelated discussions.

Regarding this comment: "By the way "first among equals" ?? you are either all equal or there is an order of merit. It's one or the other !!"

This is not correct: First among equals, also called :primus inter pares is in fact, very, VERY common and is an internationally recognized designation. If members of Parliament (or a senate subcommittee) meet to examine a proposal they are all equally elected MPs (or senators) but must choose a chair or a leader. That person is granted some additional rights and responsibilities but only in that committee and only as outlined. Ergo, they are all equals but one is first in that committee (and only in that committee, if they break for lunch everything reverts back to before). This holds for the EU as well, as I said before.

This is why 'common knowledge' is a trap - most things are more specialized in the 21st century therefore it is important to research issues and understand them from a position of real knowledge.
18:39 June 4, 2011 by harcourt
OK I accept your legal arguments and I admit that I am a layman in this field and that's nothing to be ashamed of as I hope you will agree. However as a layman can you point out what additional rights and responsibilities within the EU that Germany has been granted in order to make her "FIRST among equals" Again I am also a layman in EU governance so this is a genuine honest question that I'm asking you.
06:52 June 5, 2011 by rhymney

The U.S. did declare war on Germany in WWII, 11 Dec 1941. Germany is smart to stay out of Libya, and their allies don't need the help.
09:53 June 5, 2011 by mike_1983
This article was just alot of spin and fluff. Just because a country is not taking an active role in new wars doesn't mean it's in demise. Maybe the germans have finally realised they are good at alot of things when it comes to design, innovation & technology but when it comes to war, they should leave that to someone else because it cetainly isnt their fortae!
10:10 June 5, 2011 by harcourt
Good that you made that historical point RHYMNEY. However, nobody says that Germany is not smart to keep out of Libya. I am NOT AT ALL religious (atheist) but it does make me think about the parable of the good Samaritan.
10:37 June 5, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
In what way is Libya and the Germans sitting it out related to the good Samaritan parable?
11:28 June 5, 2011 by harcourt
Sorry you may not be aware of the message behind The Good Samaritan parable, it's to do with helping somebody who is in need and not just looking the other way. Like the proposed slaughter of the citizens of Benghazi. I refer you to the video (not audio, which can be queried) of Gadaffis speech of 17th March, he condemned himself with his own words !!
19:31 June 5, 2011 by rhymney

I my opinion everyone involved in Libya is acting out of what they perceive to be their own self interest.
19:53 June 5, 2011 by harcourt

Isn't that what happens all over the world why single out Libya!!
20:06 June 5, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
So far as I remember, in the Good Samaritan, the person who was hurt was ignored by a number of people and finally helped by a Samaritan.

Libya's rebels are being "helped" by the 3 of the premier military powers in the world, under the Aegis of NATO, the strongest military alliance in the world, with the full legitimacy of a UN resolution.

The world and Germany didn't first ignore them and then NATO just happened along.

The US, France and the UK decided to intervene, and Germany decided not to be involved...all at around the same time.

Your assertion that there is some parallel here would be equivalent to some extra person "helping" the Samaritan to help the wounded person from the parable, whether the Samaritan needed any help or not, and only for the purpose of getting into the parable, or to show that they could, not because it was necessary or even helpful.
23:03 June 5, 2011 by rhymney

My comment was to point out that the "good Samaritan" acted out of kindness, I believe the Nato powers involved in Libya are acting out of their perceive national interest. As is Germany by not participating.
07:52 June 6, 2011 by harcourt
rhntynryn - somehow you seem to be "clutching at straws " to defend Germanys position, for reasons known only to yourself. I hope on the basis of fairness and justice. Nevertheless one cannot get away from the fact that, as you point out, at the VERY SAME TIME as the UN, and NATO, an organisation in which Germany is a major player, decided to go to the URGENT aid of the Benghazi rebels to stop a imminent slaughter, she hung back. Now if Germany did THAT in its own self interest then it backfired because any thoughts of it becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which Germany firmly believes it deserves, has been scuppered forever!!
12:12 June 6, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Harcourt - The Good Samaritan is not applicable. I will take your lack of a response as an agreement thereto.

Germany isn't a she. It's a state comprising some 80 million odd (some very odd) people. The Nation itself cannot have a belief because it is not a person. There might be those in the German Govt. who believe they need a seat, but they will need to get behind India first.

And the German people's interests were not served in assiting NATO or the UN in this case.

Unless, as I have asked before, you happen to have formulated a reason as to why intervention was actually in the interests of the German people.
14:00 June 6, 2011 by harcourt
I'm sorry rhyntyntyn I did make a referance to the Good Samaritan, obliquely I admit. QUOTE:- "at the VERY SAME TIME as the UN, and NATO, an organisation in which Germany is a major player, decided to go to the URGENT aid of the Benghazi rebels to stop a imminent slaughter, she hung back" This means that when somebody is in dire distress it is rather a nice thing if EVERYBODY helps and some don't sneak away hoping that nobody will notice, well they did notice !!

With reference to using the term she for Germany. Our planet is generally known as Mother Earth. Keeping with that train of thought, all land in general is referred to in the feminine sense. We speak of ¦quot;her shores¦quot; and ¦quot;the Motherland.¦quot; The sole exception is Germany, which, during World War II, was known as "Vaterland.¦quot; Technically, vaterland is gender-neutral, but it was translated into English as ¦quot;Fatherland.¦quot; The terms is not used much today, due to its negative connotations. And finally when did any government of any country do anything which was in the real interests of its people??
14:37 June 6, 2011 by ND1000
Germans will be getting involved whether they like it or not. Their taxes will be paying for the many refugees that are on their way to Europe. They arent going home either. Once they set foot in Germany and Europe they are here forever. Welcome to New Africa North, ha ha. Time for Europeans to migrate east.
16:03 June 6, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Somebody and everybody are terms we use to refer to people. Countries aren't people.

I don't care what gender you use, you examine politics like they are conflicts between individuals. The State is not a person, and doesn't behave like one. The consequences for action at the state level are not individual but rather the extreme end of collective.

Say it with me. Countries aren't people.

The Germans didn't sneak away. They walked. It's not their problem. They have no duty to intervene. The UN gave countries whose governments wish to intervene legitimacy in the form of a resolution, but it was not nor is it a requirement for the Germans to go killing people in Libya. For someone who screams bloody murder about children and war games, you sure are eager to see the Germans kill some people.

But I can answer your question here. The German government did something in it's people's interests by not getting involved in Libya.

I think maybe the UK and the US want Germany in, because they are broke and the Germans are not.
17:18 June 6, 2011 by harcourt
Well I think there is only one last thing for me to say and that is :- Well done rhyntyntyn you have well and truly won the argument with your succinct, lucid and intellectual propositions. Seldom does one come across such a worthy adversary in these comment columns !!
10:50 June 7, 2011 by ND1000
ryhntyntyn, you live in a dillusional little world dont you. You need to go check some factual economic figures before you go beating you chest about the US and UK being broke and Germany not. The US isnt even close to being broke and Germany isnt in as good shape as you believe. Get real pal and join the adult world.
15:12 June 7, 2011 by Sysconfig
The Caption to this article is disingenuous, if not , then dishonest.

If it were honest, then the two clownfish smiling, would be categorized based on performance economically and popularity, in their countries, giants among the mental midgets of our time. try to court Angie and Fail. It should therfore read to save on the cost of Ink, , Two Clownfish and a Lady..

She is a Lady and a great leader, she is not a marionette like Cameron, Sarkhozy ,and the once peaceloving green now yellow Obama:; The Three Amigos"

It will take more than flag waiving, pomp and circumstance to substitute the good reasoning shown by her so far, as Germany has been the better for it..
19:35 June 7, 2011 by worldcomingtoanend
sad article indeed --- "... germany is declining.." just because they refused to bomb libya and follow the impulse of sarkozy and his friends.
20:55 June 7, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
The truth hurts doesn't it ND1000? Sadder still that if you are American that you take your anger out on me rather than your own government. That sounds like an I D 10 T problem if there ever was one.

Here's the deficit. $14,360,050,629,105.32

The US has a deficit of what? The reached their debt ceiling how long ago? They are cutting everything and it's mother and they are still in debt as far as they can literally be. How is a deficit of $14,360,050,629,105.32 not being broke? If I owed that much money, I would consider myself broke. And I live in a dreamworld? That's rich.

The estimated population of the United States is 310,710,783

so each citizen's share of this debt is $46,216.78.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of

$3.97 billion per day since September 28, 2007.

That's broke. Deal with it.

In addition, the UK is cutting Billions of Pounds from their education budget this year? Why? Because they can't afford the infrastructure they have. Cuts across the board, the NHS, the police... the Royal Navy will have no aircraft carriers. Why? Because they can't afford them? Why? Presumably because they don't have the money. We call that broke where I come from son.

Going through life financially ignorant is no way to go through life. Get help.
12:13 June 8, 2011 by ChrisRea

US is talking now about defaulting. This means accepting that they cannot pay their debts. Check this article if you need to understand more http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/08/us-usa-debt-bondholders-idUSTRE75718320110608?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

So maybe you should follow your own advice before attacking other people (well, actually one should favour attacking ideas rather than people).
22:04 June 10, 2011 by Beachrider
The major problem with the German position on Libya is that they are accepting their role as propping up Libyan government by purchasing Libyan oil in large amounts. Germany is not on-the-fence, they are putting all of their money on Qaddafi. Good luck with that.

The other issue is that Germany is becoming isolationist and it shows EVERYWHERE. By taking the opposite position from NATO on Libya to making the E. Coli problem "someone else's issue". Germans are DYING because of E.Coli. German intellectual prestige is eroding. I guess that you can be happy with that, but it doesn't really fit together well.
23:18 June 10, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Beachrider that's just not true. You are literally as wrong as you can be here.

"The Federal Foreign Minister sketched out three stations for this road map: a constitution, a referendum, and free elections. For this to happen it was necessary that Gaddafi step down and that political pressure be increased, he went on.

Westerwelle renewed his call to cut off the dictator¦#39;s financial sources."

There's more, read it. You have posted a bunch of horsefeathers.


It says exactly the opposite of what you propose.

And it does not show ANYWHERE that Germany is isolationist. Again read the foreign website. Germany can still live up to it's responsibilities (whatever those are) without becoming completely interventionist. Good Fences make good neighbors.

I am a bit surprised that after beating the Jerries in the war, and then pounding it in to them during denazification and demilitarization that "War is bad" and "Find some other way if possible" that the anyone is surprised or indignant that they aren't as bomb happy as my countrymen have become. Intervention is not always the answer.

The Germans are doing just fine.
04:44 June 11, 2011 by Beachrider
@ryh you are cleverly mixing PROPOSED German policy and ignoring the CURRENT German policy. They just aren't the same thing. You end up not challenging my statement about STATUS QUO.

I cannot see how France, England, Italy and Norway would find Germany's lack of engaging them on the Libyan issue to be anything buy isolationist. Your justification really addresses 'their decision was morally correct', not 'did Germany sufficiently engage their economic partners'. The latter makes Germany isolationist, the former justifies doing that.

Put your horsefeathers away...
09:39 June 11, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Negative Beachrider, the pattern is full...

The German govt. has said in public and in writing what they intend and what they are doing. They froze Qaddaffi's assets in March.

Here is a link. There are more. Google them yourself. It would have saved time before you started.


Current Libyan Oil Production and sales. Are 0. They are not pumping, they are not selling.

Here is a link.


Please show us all, some proof of what you are saying. Because I don't think there is any. Specifically proof that "they are accepting their role as propping up Libyan government by purchasing Libyan oil in large amounts. Germany is not on-the-fence, they are putting all of their money on Qaddafi"

Engaging, doesn't mean giving your partners their way. They talked about it. The Germans don't want to bomb anyone. No surprise there.

As for the Isolationism, I would tell England, France, Italy and Norway and the US, that the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan , Kosovo, Lebanon, and the rest of Germany's foreign service and humanitarian missions are working too hard to respond to a bunch of nonsense.
15:20 June 11, 2011 by Beachrider
I cannot read your financial times pages. Perhaps you have a subscriber status that I don't have.

The other Oil consumption websites indicate that Germany buys its oil from Russia (35-38%), Norway (15-18%), England (12-14%) and Libya (11-13%). Germany is Libya's #4 biggest customer. Those numbers aren't available for 2011 yet. NATO has stopped Libya's exportation, everyone knows that. I guess that Germany could say that it isn't buying of its own volition. That would be vapid, though.

You keep skipping past the issue of German isolationism. You keep saying that it is 'the right thing to do'. I get that. Isolationism is ALWAYS justified in exactly that way.

Germany still participates in NATO, just not on the Libyan issue. I write on this website because I admire German spirit. I just don't think that they try hard enough to be influential with their economic partners. This article is exactly about that. They try and then they give up. It is the giving up stuff that I don't respect.
19:23 June 11, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
They do not buy Libyan oil. No one is buying Libyan oil.

Germany froze their assets and has publically proclaimed Qaddaffi has to go. They did so in March. Aside from them actively bombing, what more can they do. They have also offered peacekeepers for after the bombing is finished.

I don't think there is an issue of isolationism to skip by. They are engaged with the UN and NATO all over the world.

Not wanting to bomb one side in a messy civil war, while they are still engaged otherwhere in the world, is not isolationist.

Should they put the US under an embargo to get their attention? There is only so much that can be done. Sarkozy was going to take France in alone, and the the election season in the US has started. These are sovereign nations we are talking about. If they want to bomb the Germans can't stop them. Should they threaten war? I am wondering after this what you expect from them?
15:34 June 12, 2011 by Beachrider
Germany certainly acts in accordance with the middle-pack of NATO. It does not act like a leader. The EU inter-relationships need to be stronger so that EU members can act quickly and resolutely. Those relationships are not there today. It will never be 'perfect', either.

Retiring USA Defence Secretary Gates has done a meaningful parting-observation. So long as Germany (and several other EU associates) remain committed to funding only 25% of NATO, then the USA will be left to find strategic decision friends from the alliance. The others don't have the will, funding or deployed-capability for these strategic situations.

To that end, those 'special relationships' will have disproportionate sway with the USA whenever THEY have special needs. Libya was on the USA black-list since 1988 (PanAm 103). We didn't have any need to interject in Libya, watching it slowly implode (like Cuba, Iran and North Korea) would have been a non-interventionist finale. France & Italy are the interested-parties in the Libyan action. France & Italy have more military-sway with the USA than Germany. Germany can setup stronger relationships to keep France and Italy from seeing themselves as being isolated in situations like this. Instead, the German governments don't want to get their hands dirty with sordid situations like this. They bail-out on their economic allies in pursuit of self purity.

World leaders do get their hands quite dirty, from time-to-time. This article is about how an economic powerhouse finds itself disproportionately (NOT COMPLETELY) on the outside of some key work.

You can expect the USA to spend-less in the defense of the EU.
14:40 June 14, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
They choose to sit out some of the key work, because it's in their interests to do so.

Sometimes leadership involves choosing not to get involved. One does not have to take every adventure that life presents. Sometimes it's better to say No.

"You can expect the USA to spend-less in the defense of the EU."

I should hope so. The US needs to learn its limits and Europe needs to learn to take care of itself.
17:06 June 15, 2011 by Beachrider
As to a condescending tone about America needing to learn-its-limits, you can just keep that inside. The US is already on a different economic track than the EU. These are long-term things. The economic health of the US still weighs out OK vs the overall economic health of the Eurozone.

I don't like the deficit spending of the US, either. We have historically dealt with stuff like this before. The problem is that the US is not abdicating its leadership responsibilities and that is making things harder.

@ryhntyntyn is showing how Germain isolationism can be justified, when you leave out how it affects the rest of the world. You can do it, but nobody will trust you with leadership...
11:37 June 16, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
I beg your pardon Beachrider, but I have no intention of "keeping that inside". What I will keep inside though is my primary reaction to such an insipid and arrogant comment.

America certainly needs to learn its limits both economically, politically and militarily. Overreach is the death of Empire. If you take offense at this, then it's only because the truth of knowing your (or your nation's) limits hurts, and not because of any condescencion on my part. And your pain at the US' elites inability to learn what they can and can't do as a superpower is not my problem.

The international system of the world is alot like a game of black jack. The cards I take certainly affect what happens to people sitting down the table from me. But if I go bust, then they might feel some sympathy, but I will be the one who is broke.

At both a moral and political level, the German people have to decide for themselves what the best course is internationally and then they have to follow through. And that is what they are doing.

And for the last time. The Germans are not isolationist, they are engaged in the UN and NATO missions as well as humanitarian missions world wide. They just aren't bankrolling the US, UK and France' intervention in Libya.

They have said since the end of WWII, that they are very disinterested in killing people when there are alternatives. We (the Allies) taught them that, and then promptly forgot about it.

I think that leadership doesn't mean what you think it means.
18:50 June 16, 2011 by Beachrider
The condescending tone is bad is because it brings in unneeded items:

1- USA Debt load (either per capita or per GDP) is lower than many EU countries. It is obtuse to then preach about the USA learning its lesson. Obtuseness is bad.

2- The USA Debt load isn't germane to Germany-leadership.

3- It lowers the civility of the discussion.

4- Your discussion continues to be about German economics and appears to justify what-I-call isolationism (even though I accept that Germany is middle-of-the-pack on NATO issues). Other than saying that you don't think that it is isolationism, you continue to fortify why isolationism is justified.
08:38 June 17, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Rather than let this go off the rails, allow me to clarify,

I am talking about the limits of US power, which is linked to the economy and thus linked to the debt in context of what the US can do militarily, surrounded by a field of the US being able to give orders or make requests and expect to have them honored . Overall when I am speaking to you here of US limits I am talking about imperial overreach.

It would be obtuse I suppose to preach if I were a European. I am not.

It would be obtuse if I thought that Europe in general were doing a better job. Overall it is not. Or if I was focusing on debt. I am not.

This discussion is quite civil.

I have not mentioned German economics. I have talked about their interests, which are seen here in a broad spectrum in terms of costs, morality, internal politics, yes, economics as well, and the Vergangenheitsbewältung.

Lastly, Isolationism (just my opinion of course) is the pursuance of unilateral political goals above all else, and the avoidance at all costs of foreign entanglements. I do not agree with your definition.

A country that recognizes the ICC, is a member of the EU that accepts the authority of the bodies thereof, participates in the UN, Participates in NATO, participates in numerous humanitarian and trade missions abroad is not an isolationist country.

If you mean to say that Germany is acting unilaterally, you would have to specially point out that that they were acting only in their own interests to the exclusion of all others. And they are active on the diplomatic front, and have offered peacekeepers, and have recognized Benghazi, so that word is also out the window.

End of the day, they don't want to help with the military part of shooting up Libya. That is neither isolationist, nor considering their diplomatic efforts, unilateral.

I think that America (or the American political elite) does not know its limits. This is unfortunate. That's not arrogance. That's sound analysis. If they did know their limits they wouldn't be so sore that the Germans aren't interested in the military aspect of the Libyan intervention.

Sometimes Leadership means saying no to adventures. This is one of those times.
18:31 June 17, 2011 by Beachrider
As to USA imperial overreach, it is an interesting topic, but OT here.

Germany can lead and disagree with anyone. Almost anyone would be OK with that. When they 'abstain' and stop-engaging France, England, Italy and others, then they are abandoning their first-tier economic alliances. They need to have a way to engage these countries so that none acts without all being similarly involved.

The concern is that Germany is not a good leader within the EU/Eurozone.

Germany cannot halt France from doing something unless the relationship supports one-or-the-other giving in. Having them so far apart isn't good for either of them.

This really isn't about the USA, even though several here keep interjecting it.
21:53 June 17, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
They abstained because that is one of the three options.

They haven't abandoned any alliance. They don't want to bomb or pay for bombing.

"They need to have a way to engage these countries so that none acts without all being similarly involved."

Why is that? The UK, France and Italy are all sovereign nations, they are limited in theory by international law, but also free to act in their own interests within international law. If they want to bomb, then let them.

And the Germans have been engaged in the process diplomatically since the start. Unless by engaging, you mean do what they are told. I don't think engaging means what you think it means.

Germany is sovereign. They have the right to sit this one out, and it's in their interests to do so.
23:04 June 17, 2011 by Beachrider
I don't know why I keep missing some of you with this:

- There is no reason why the EU cannot act on KEY issues with one voice. It DOES matter that these countries can work out unified responses.

- Germany CAN act differently as it wishes. It reputation as a leader will suffer when it separates itself, rather than successfully negotiate a common approach.

- Germany COULD have issues where it has a pressing need for action. IF those situations happen, Germans would feel abandoned by their alliances. That is the price of independent-minded approaches when EVERYONE does it.

- I know that some people want the EU to be a loose arrangement where each country can act on its own. The problem is that these loose members will separately engage the Russians, Chinese, Americans, etc when they are looking for powerful responses that they cannot get from the EU.

I hope that helps.
08:53 June 18, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
You aren't missing me, I think you are wrong.

1. Yes there is. Sovereignty. One voice requires the surrender thereof. One word. Never.

2. Sometimes unilateral approaches are bad. Sometimes good. Germany's reputation will depend on the results. The US and France were hell bent on bombing. So let them bomb. Germany is one country, not a boss they don't want to, they can't stop anyone, but they don't have to join in. .

3. The Germans prefer to act diplomatically and in concert with Europe, NATO and the UN. Their history and current policy shows this. I am perfectly fine with them deciding to not participate in this action. Their abstention is not only legitimate but a mark of their growing independence.

4. Those some people refer to this arrangement as a Europe of the Nations rather than a Nation of Europe. And that is how it is, and how it should remain.

What you are wishing for here is a United States of Europe. That would be a nightmare. It's not all about military power to challenge the (Insert Superpower here). Europe has done well with soft power solutions.

Again, it's not that you aren't reaching me. I just disagree with you. Vociferously.
05:09 June 19, 2011 by Beachrider

- You have already advised that you are NOT European. I do not accept that either of us can definitively assert that Germany's loss of sovereignty is worth having a united EU. Actually, I don't need to assert it at all. I am just advising that, without it, the EU will have fractured power arrangements. You never address that claim. I am guessing that you agree with it.

- Fact problem. You have submitted nothing but your opinion that the USA was hell-bent on bombing. It is pretty-much OT, anyway. It is also a pretty gross statement that jumps a lot of statements that say that the USA was NOT calling or requiring this decision. You may just be trying to agitate. Good luck with that.

- The statements about 'Germans prefer' would be better left for a European, probably even a German to say. Other than that, it is just your opinion. Fair enough to have an opinion, this is a blog. Don't know what can be proven with only opinions, though.

- We agree a fair amount about what the EU is today. This WHOLE discussion is about how it functions to take an economic powerhouse and reduce it to a much smaller role in specific other areas. You NEVER really contest it.
05:27 June 19, 2011 by SayNoToUS
Deutscher und Deutscherin:

A century ago, your fine nation was on track to becoming THE leading economic and industrial nation in all of Europe. In 1917, the USA inserted itself into the "Wilson War" for reasons that even JFK found flimsy, and lacking validity, (see 'The Illusion of Victory' by Frank Fleming). Most USA'ns today have no clue as to why the country entered that conflict. The resluts of the "Wilson War" turned out to be catastrophic for the entire world a generation later.

Because of that intrusion into European affairs by the USA, your nation endured a nearly 80 year detour in the fulfillment of its destiny. Your nation should do whatever suits IT's best interests today.

The Marshall Plan made up in some part I hope for the cruelty of the Treaty of Versailles (1919).

Beware of the "New Romans".
14:29 June 19, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
Beachrider, my heritage has in this case no outcome or affect on my analysis and it is also none of your business. I would venture a guess that your knowledge of the history of the move towards Union in Europe is as thin as your arguments.

- de Gaulle shared my opinion or preference as it were, for a Europe of the Nations, rather than a Nation of Europe. Or since he came before me, I can happily attest that I share his preference. And not just for the Germans' sovereignty, but for all of the member states. The EU by itself is not a democratic organization. But the sovereignty of the members makes it democratic and protects the people of each nations' interests. I approve of the fractured power arrangements, because fractured power is harder to use. Although that makes government less efficient, it also makes it less dangerous.

- Agitate? I said the US and France. I meant the US and France. Sarkozy jumped to recognize the rebels and protect Benghazi (and good on him) and the US sponsored UN 1973 so that a military intervention would be legit. How is that not having decided to take action?

- "The Germans prefer to act diplomatically and in concert with Europe, NATO and the UN."

This is a summary of what the German foreign office says on their webpage. Read it. Then see if you still want to make this argument. The Germans (meaning their government, according to official policy) do not like to start shooting unless there are no other options. That's official. Not my opinion.

"Their history and current policy shows this."

This in not a statement of opinion. And this is not a blog.

The EU is not a Superpower. It is not a nation. It is something new. It works or has worked relatively well (unless the Greeks manage to bring it all down of course) and I think that turning it into a superpower would be a huge and stupid, and short sighted mistake.

As a resident of the EU, I am perfectly happy with soft power solutions & a Europe of the Nations. We, and I say this for all the people who live here, whether you value their opinions or not, do not need a United States of Europe.

One United States is quite enough. Thank you very much,.
14:43 June 20, 2011 by Beachrider
You just don't read what this topic is about. I read your posts, but you don't read mine. Have fun with that
17:20 June 20, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
I read not only your posts, but all the other posts, and the orginal editorial in German and the English translation. I am sorry you feel I am not addressing your points. Tell me which ones to address specifically and I will give it a shot

But, I understand the issue. Germany, Economic Giant, Political Dwarf.

I disagree with the Editorial, and so far I disagree with you.

The best thing any modern country can do, is to act with reserve and foresight, and do their best to leave every other country on the planet the hell alone. Unless a state is asking for help or the agreed upon method of Intl. problem solving (in this case the UN) decides to act and requires the help.

Acting in the way I have described is a sure fire way to ensure peace among nations.

The nations and people who are salivating at the thought of a war, the people that are full of themselves and are hot to jump into other countries business and "fix" things, whether they should be there or not, are calling Germany a dwarf, because the Germans want to keep to themselves, and do what they do best, which is not destroy things, but build and sell things.

They don't want a foreign adventure in Libya, so the Editorial is calling them chicken. I say you have to be brave and display leadership to not give in to that kind of game.
Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd