Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Tough Cookie, a Young Charmer, and a Spineless Chancellor

For a new US ambassador, POTUS sent us a harter Hund (tough cookie). After his arrival in Berlin Richard Grenell tweeted his master’s voice:

This clearly is a paradigm shift, for in olden times ambassadors used to hand ultimati on paper to foreign ministers. Note that Grenell did not tweet “shall” although he used “should” and “immediately”.

In vain Wolfgang Ischinger, Director of the Munich Security Conference, retweeted:

However, Ambassador Grenell did not bend. In an interview, he said, "I have a different style. I'll be perfectly honest with you. Diplomacy stuck in groupthink has done great damage: North Korea is on its way to becoming a nuclear power - and a genocide has been taking place in Syria for years. I'm against groupthink in diplomacy."

Grenell continued, "If you want to avoid war, you better have diplomats prepared to be tough. You have to speak plainly - especially to friends. When asked what should happen to German companies that continue to do business with Iran, Grenell said, "The German government must answer this question, not us". Strange. Shall our government interfere with free trade in the way the German Democratic Republic did?

What a contrast in Aachen. On May 7, French President Emmanuel Macron was awarded the International Charlemagne Prize.

Lined up for a group photo after a Catholic mass and before the award ceremony.
From left to right: Bishop of Aachen Dr. Helmut Dieser,
provost of Aachen’s cathedral Manfred von Holtum,
the former mayor of Aachen and chairman of the Charlemagne Prize Committee Jürgen Linden,
Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Emmanuel Macron,
his wife Brigitte, and Aachen’s Mayor Marcel Philipp (©WDR)
Aachen's magnificent town hall showing the flags of Europe, la Tricolore,
black-red-gold, and the state flag of North Rhine-Westphalia (©WDR)

Inside distinguished guests. Chancellor Merkel sits with Spanish King Felipe.
I recognize former prize winners Mario Draghi and Martin Schulz.
In his speech, Mayor Marcel Philipp praised Emmanuel Macron
who is nervously waiting in the back (©WDR)

Jürgen Linden reads the award certificate
 while the laureate and Mayor Philipp watch (©WDR)

A close-up of the Charlemagne Prize (©WDR)

Charming Emmanuel (©WDR)
Macron's acceptance speech became highly political. Addressing Chancellor Merkel directly, he said, “We must act now. The nationalists, the demagogues have a clear language. Europe must be just as clear." This was followed by four commandments for Europe's future, "Let us not be weak, let us not be divided, let us not be afraid, let us not wait."

After the ceremony: Losers Martin Schulz and Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko
with winner Emmanuel Macron (©WDR).
In a sinister contrast to Macron, Merkel murmured about difficult discussions with respect to the reform of the economic and monetary union and added, procrastinating as usual, “The refugee policy must go ahead and investments in crisis countries must be taken up. Something will be presented in June.”

Let’s face it. Merkel’s time is up. With a reduced majority in the Bundestag (parliament) Angela's grand coalition government is weak and facing strong opposition from the right, the left, and the center. They are trying hard to survive. In addition, our chancellor is still practicing the classic German balancing act between the States and France although first German defense minister and late Bavarian Governor Franz Josef Strauß already knew thirty years ago, “You can’t be everybody's darling.”

Apparently Emmanuel‘s speech impressed Angela, and miracles still happen. At the annual Catholic Church Congress on Ascension Day, the daughter of a Protestant pastor head-on criticized POTUS’s decision to terminate the treaty that is supposed to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons. She described this as a serious break in international cooperation and as a cause of great concern. The behavior of the USA will destroy confidence in the binding force of international treaties. Multilateralism, i.e., reliable exchange within the international community, is in a real crisis. The US under Trump’s leadership has terminated not only the nuclear agreement with Iran but also international climate and trade agreements. Merkel finished, “If we always say we do not like it, we will lose international order and eventually everybody will do what they feel like doing. This is bad news for the world.”

Europe first? Or as the host of a political comedy show demanded, “It's time for Europe to grow balls.”

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