- THE NATIONAL INTEREST - Apr 4, 2021 -
In the refugee crisis—as in the coronavirus pandemic—the relationship between German politicians and the nation has been a major cause of failure.
At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, it seemed as if Germany was coping better than the United Kingdom, the United States and many other countries. In recent months, the exact opposite has been the case: the United States and the UK have two of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns while Germany lags far behind. The deeper reason for Germany’s failings is its dysfunctional relationship with everything “national.”
Even the word “nation” is frowned upon by many members of Germany’s political class, intellectuals and media outlets. Anyone who insists that the government should put the interests of their own people first—for example in the procurement of vaccines—is immediately branded a “nationalist.” Angela Merkel’s government was very clear that it delegated vaccine procurement to the EU because of the almost paranoid fear of being labeled a “vaccine nationalist.” Governments in the UK and United States have no such fear.
The result: although one of the first coronavirus vaccines was developed by the German company BioNTech and funded with hundreds of millions of euros by German taxpayers, there is now less vaccine available in Germany than in many other countries.
The problems Germany faced during the refugee crisis of 2015–2016 had the same cause. Here, too, Merkel’s government’s actions (or failures to act) were strongly determined by its disturbed relationship with the nation. This went so far that Angela Merkel publicly declared that she could not even protect the borders of her own country.
The fight against organized crime, too, has frequently failed because of the paranoid fear that anyone who takes a tough line could be branded “xenophobic” and, thus, a “nationalist.” As a result, the crimes committed by large Arab clans, who seem to dominate organized crime in many German cities, were largely hushed up for many years. This has only changed more recently—but decades have been lost in the fight against organized crime and that is why Germany is struggling to get to grips with the problem today.
At the same time, this German complex is linked to a distinctly German megalomania, an almost grandiose hubris. This is evident in the fight against climate change. Although Germany is responsible for only 2 percent of global CO2 emissions, you could be forgiven for thinking that what Germany does will determine the fate of the entire planet. Many German politicians explicitly declare that Germany should be the role model for all other countries on the globe.