Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Dare I Mention Germany?
The last time I mentioned Germany I was brutally abused by another Scottish blog - which has a number of authors - and accused of being racist. I have no intention of linking or naming the blog because I do now think the reason for the post was to increase their traffic. Shame really because their main authors do write eloquently and create sensible discussion, however the responsibility of any blog lies with the creator(s) and they are responsible for the content.
Not only was I deeply distressed by the accusation, but it became obvious, during an exchange of blog comments with the author, that she had neither read the whole post or had any knowledge of Germany, far less its politics. I learned a lesson though - I no longer read blogs which do not provide email contact. Many misunderstandings can be resolved by email without attempts having to be made in public blog comments, but this particular blog was quite content to make accusations without answering my defence queries. Sadly I believe it still doesn't provide an email address so no reader can confidentially complain about specific remarks in a post. As an independent blogger I'm always willing to discuss my opinions with my readers either in comments or by email, which is confidential unless the writer gives their permission for their words to be publicised.
I stand by my position of saying Angela Merkel had a right to say what she did and so did David Cameron, who recently orated on the same subject. All of us should be allowed the freedom of speech without those who disagree immediately shouting racist.
However this post is nothing to do with multiculturalism in Germany, or anywhere else for that matter, but an attempt to understand why Germany decided to abstain from the UN Security Council vote authorising force against Libya.
Angela Merkel has long be striving for a permanent seat on the Security Council or, as a second choice, a permanent European Union seat, but following Germany's abstention last Friday, an increasing number of senior politicians in Germany are now saying that neither goal is achievable.
Yesterday Ms Merkel explained to the Bundestag her reasons, knowing Germany is the only Western country among the five UN resolution abstentions, why Germany would not provide crew members for AWACS surveillance flights over Libya. She forsees a greater German engagement in Afghanistan as a way of freeing up personnel from other countries which could then be used in operations against Gaddafi, yet she insisted Germany would not be participating in military operations against Libya.
Ruprecht Polenz, a member of her own party, claimed this was a catastrophic signal.
It's difficult for Berlin to find a position on Libya. Since WW11 Germany has been at pains to avoid isolating itself on foreign policy questions, yet this is the first time it is totally isolated among its allies.
But, Merkel's government is not quite devoid of arguments. It remains very unclear whether Gaddafi can be stopped by air power alone. Merkel insists the situation has to be thought though to the end, which puts Germany in a reflective position and has support in the UK. Although many here support the no-fly zone - some for more political reasons than others - nearly half the UK population are asking why when the UK government were selling arms to Libya only a few months ago.
It's Guido Westerwelle, the German Foreign Secretary, whose position is on a shoogly nail, yet publicly none of his party will criticise him. Some say that Germany's foreign policy standing in the EU has taken a hit. "Westerwelle is breaking the European Unions apart," said one confidant of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who insists that the EU is prepared to implement the resolution.
The FDP member of the EU Parliament Alexander Graf Lambsdorff": "Germany's vote has weakened the EU." he adds" "The fact that the Arab League is more capable of action that the EU should give us pause for thought."
It should indeed and I can't see why Germany's desire to place a bum on a Security Council seat is a no-go. It has committed to providing €5 million of humanitarian aid for the Libyan people and is perhaps right in fence sitting regarding the no-fly zone resolution, considering arab countries are beginning to question the wording of the resolution itself.
Has Merkel played an ace or a two of clubs with her position on Libya? Only time will tell.