The Only Bulwark Left Now


Have you guessed what I am going to write about?

I guess not.

Right now I am travelling in a car somewhere outside Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Since I am in the front seat next to the driver, the rest of the family members at the back of the car do not get to see what I am doing. It appears to them that I am, as usual, browsing the web, whereas I have finished all of that and decided it is time to contribute my thoughts to my august audience, like I do every weekend.

Coming back to my idea of the topic for this blog post, it is about how Germany, rather surprisingly, is now best positioned as the only remaining bulwark against the encroachment of authoritarianism in the Western nations – as exemplified by Donald Trump in the U.S., Theresa May to a certain extent in the U.K., and even Emmanuel Macron in France – all right wing, my way or high way kind of characters. Japan is ruled by another right wing nationalist, Shinzo Abe, but it is too far away from the epicentre of the Western community which spans between the Americas and Europe. Russia is anyway ruled by an autocrat – Vladimir Putin, but is economically not as strong as Germany. I am not comparing military might here, but more of moral leadership for the distraught world.

My choice of Germany is questionable, of course, like every other choice that one can make or suggest. After all, how can Germany be a moral leader of the world, after its nauseating criminal history which spawned the Second World War and eliminated 6 million Jews from the face of this earth? How can it claim moral superiority of the Western world even? Have people forgotten about the past history which demonstrates the bottom of human depravity? Can we even imagine today that people like Adolf Hitler walked around Germany and caused so much destruction?

Well, in the current context, Germany has at least demonstrated that it has an enlightened leader in Angela Merkel (though she will no longer continue as Chancellor for the next term), who has effectively provided political and social leadership to the European Union countries. Europeans look to Merkel for key decisions and clues on how she is thinking about tackling the big issues facing Europe. She took an egalitarian view of the immigration challenge, and made the right decisions while the other European countries shunned the immigrants, notwithstanding the fact that they had invaded and occupied many of the countries from which these immigrants were coming. It cannot only work one way, folks.

Germany has always been a manufacturing powerhouse. It has invested heavily in manufacturing facilities around the world. While the U.S. has always been the preferred partner for several things (especially military purchases, higher education, high tech industries, Hollywood movies, etc.,), for many other precision industries Germany and Japan were the preferred choices for a long time.

You may stop me now and ask me about China. Yes, China is a huge economic powerhouse with a huge manufacturing base. However, it lacks the “soft power” that U.S., Germany or Japan can bring to bear. China can also be very difficult to deal with, though that position seems to be unravelling in its trade dispute with the U.S. I don’t believe China is ready to assume the mantle of a global player with moral leadership – it has to demonstrate new skills that are needed for this purpose.

What about India? In my considered opinion, India lost its way long time ago in the name of democracy which never worked for its long suffering people. India used to be a world leader in trade and export of spiritual and religious influences quite a few centuries ago, but no longer. When people think of India today outside of India, they think of the teaming population, pollution, unceasing corruption, and lack of infrastructure. India is not ready – yet.

Coming back to Germany, I believe that it should take a stronger stand in world affairs, without any guilt feelings from 7 decades ago. Germany has all its strengths intact, is a key leader of tbe NATO alliance, is the main leader of the EU, is strong in almost all aspects of governance, and can therefore be the bulwark that I am talking about.

Germany will never again have a dictator. Any nation which learns hard from its mistakes, atones for its sins and national guilt, takes effective measures to completely avoid dictatorahip and authoritarianism via institutional safeguards and appropriate checks and balances, supports other countries, etc., is ready to take on a bigger role. Let us not forget that the biggest and most powerful “liberator” is sliding backwards in its measure of moral rectitude and righteousness, and the world (atleast the Western world) desperately needs a new leadership devoid of innuendos, empty promises, fake news, executive lies, abandonment of international treaties, military misadventures, constant theatrics, breaking of partnerships with allies, walking out of longstanding military blocs and trade deals, and what not.

Can Germany replace the U.S. atleast for the interim? Can Germany provide moral leadership so badly needed? Can Germany take a firm stand on many issues afflicting the world today?

Well, I believe so but then I do not see widespread discussion on Germany assuming the leadership status. So it is only my analysis, I am not sure that if Merkel is thinking along the same lines.

Again, it is my intent to provoke a meaningful discussion on such critical matters of global importance. We as global citizens need to speak out, write as in my case, discuss amongst ourselves, and influence our lawmakers and media.

Think about it folks.

Have a wonderful week ahead,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

16th December 2018

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