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Wie demokratisch ist Deutschland (und die CDU)?

Sehr selten noch schaue ich Fernsehen – aber diese ARD-Reportage von Jan Lorenzen hat es in sich: Wer beherrscht Deutschland?

Die Forschungsergebnisse meines früheren Kollegen Armin Schäfer kommen darin vor und sprechen eine deutliche Sprache: Viele einfache Menschen bei uns fühlen sich nicht nur abgehängt – sie sind es tatsächlich.

Ein akademischer Lehrer von Armin und mir ist Fritz W. Scharpf, der zwischen „Input-Legitimität“ und „Output-Legitimität“ unterscheidet. Vereinfacht: Handlungs- und Problemlösungsfähigkeit des Staates
(output) ist die eine Seite der Medaille, demokratische Partizipation
(input) die andere.

Ich bin sehr besorgt, daß beide Formen der Legitimität in Deutschland im Argen liegen: Der politische „Output“ in den Bereichen Innere und Äußere Sicherheit und Migration, Währung, Wirtschaft und Energie zum Beispiel erscheint mir längst nicht mehr lösungsorientiert, sondern strategielos und hysterisch dem Zeitgeist und politisch-korrekten Dogmen verhaftet.

Und was den Input betrifft, zeigt Armin, daß die etablierte Politik bestimmte Anliegen und Interessen systematisch umgeht. Ich finde: Wenn dieser Zustand dann zu politischer Konkurrenz führt, ist es wenig hilfreich, dieselbe pauschal als rechtsradikal oder gar nationalsozialistisch zu diffamieren. Diese Hypermoral ist vielleicht effektiv aber in jedem Fall undemokratisch.

Beim „Input“ treibt mich seit langem insbesondere der Mangel an innerparteilicher Demokratie in der CDU um. Es ist für die Mächtigen in meiner Partei leider sehr viel leichter, Politik und Personal autoritär zu kontrollieren, als Außenstehende sich das vorstellen. Und als ich 2016 feststellen mußte, mit welchen Methoden meine Kampfkandidatur sabotiert wurde, bekam ich etwas sehr Zynisches zu hören: „Augen auf bei der Berufswahl!“

Mehr denn je bin ich davon überzeugt, daß die Erneuerung der CDU nur über eine Belebung der innerparteilichen Demokratie erfolgen kann. Erst dann kann die Partei wieder ihren verfassungsgemäßen Auftrag erfüllen und an der politischen Willensbildung des Volkes mitwirken – statt diese zu ersetzen. Diese Erneuerung muß inhaltlich und personell erfolgen – neue Köpfe mit neuen Ideen. Es wird höchste Zeit, finden Sie nicht?

P.S.
Im Virtuellen Netzwerk der CDU Hessen und in „Die Basis – Initiative für mehr Mitgliederbeteiligung in CDU und CSU“ haben wir drei Anträge für den Landesparteitag der CDU Hessen am 2. November 2019 erarbeitet, die genau diesem Zweck dienen, die innerparteiliche Demokratie zu beleben:

1.) Anträge von Delegierten erlauben und Quoren senken
2.) Kandidaten per Mitgliederversammlung aufstellen
3.) Listenwahlen demokratischer machen

Aber: Für den Antrag, daß es in Hessen 20 Mitglieder braucht, um einen Antrag zu stellen (wie in anderen Landesverbänden üblich), braucht man 300 Mitglieder – die Katze beißt sich in den Schwanz.

Wahrlich, für die CDU ist es wohl noch ein weiter Weg bis zur echten Demokratie. Aber so manche Wende kommt dann doch schneller als gedacht. Fortsetzung folgt…

Three Eurasians ride the Moscow Metro

An opinion piece by Ting Xu (US/Hong Kong), Abhijit Iyer-Mitra (India) and Martin Heipertz (Germany)…

… written during the summer 2019, while India and the EU, respectively, tried to digest democracy and Hong Kong went into turmoil.

Dramatis personae

Southern Eurasia: Abhijit

Eastern Eurasia: Ting

Western Eurasia: Martin

Scene

A carriage of the famous Moscow Metro

Riding the Moscow Metro

Martin

The Moscow Metro. What a treat. I expected it to be splendid, but not that splendid. Even imperial, isn’t it?

Guys, it’s really nice to meet you in Moscow. Imagine, we in fact unite Eurasia in this train. Makes you almost forget all the instability and geopolitical risk that we should be discussing. How do you see things at your end, Ting, a Chinese American living in Hong Kong?

Ting

This Moscow Metro station is beautiful! I think I will save this ticket for a bookmark later.

You know, Martin, our world is filled with contradictions. I see growing prosperity and poverty at the same time. Stock markets keep on dancing around record highs, but 1 in every 4 countries see the incomes of their bottom 40% fall.

We live in a world where traditional believes are being challenged and new ideas are struggling to mature: Women have started to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, while journalists are being silenced at the same time; elections have finally been held in Myanmar, yet ethnic cleansing continued; old dynasties fell in places like South Africa, while 60% of Australians feel disillusioned in democracy; we have not come to any conclusion between Washington consensus vs Beijing consensus; nationalism in the West is on the rise while many in the rest are fighting for their voices.

Maybe this is creative destruction, channeled by amazing technologies? But there is no clear direction. For example, artificial intelligence can help fulfill one’s preference while at the same time manipulate one’s social environment; e-commerce is helping many small businesses to reach remote consumers, while also disrupting taxation, spreading counterfeits and bringing down traditional businesses; Facebook helped bring together people’s desire during the Arab Spring while also channeling fraud into democratic elections.

Abhijit

Look – Moscow seems to have bucked the trend of global integration and it’s still so nice here. Makes me nostalgic. You know sitting here and listening to these guys, I feel they do have a valid point of view. After all when we went out to see their industries, all we saw was relics of the last industrial age which are declining and commodities extraction, they really haven’t matured into the information age.

I really feel we could get along better if we accepted the fact that Russia belongs in the 1980s with the weltanschaung of the 1980s and an economy of the 1980s, while the West has moved on to the 2020s. I think the real secret to getting along is that we find a way of reconciling 1980s sensibilities with 2020 sensibilities. The question is really one of trust.

Martin

Remember Immanuel Kant? His idea that, once every country is run as a democracy, eternal peace would reign? I think Kant’s vision was not far away from what you look for, Abhijit, and, in fact, thias was the neoliberal plan of assuring Western and, for that matter, American security through the global spread of democracy and free trade rather than through hard power, a plan which was prevalent at the turn of the millennium. But that plan has considerably failed, if you ask me.

Ting

America’s notion of free trade cannot spread naturally across boarders when other countries do not abide by all the terms. With factories falling and towns closing in the middle of the country, more Americans understand global free trade as unfree and unfair.

What do you think Abhijit? Is globalization bringing us lasting prosperity and empowerment? Now as we watch Britain leaving the EU, US and China heading into trade conflicts and Egypt going from Mubarak to Morsi to Sisi, more questions than certainties are apparent for the nature and future of democracy. Be it Trump, Xi or Modi, people around the world are looking for strong men, I guess we live in interesting times.

Abhijit

Well, Rome and Carthage were both democracies and Rome destroyed Carthage. So much for Kant. In India, we had some of the earliest democracies, where unlike Athens and Rome women could also vote. In fact the whole of north India comprised these 12 democracies called the Mahajapadas. Guess what happened to them? They got destroyed by the monarchies around them because, like Germany in the 1930s, they destroyed themselves from within. We have to realise that the greatest threat in democracies frequently comes from within and that democracies also have interests that can be irreconcilable. We also have to realise that good intentions can cause severe harm in societies which are not anthropologically ready for democracy. Why does democracy work in India but not in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Bangladesh, even though we were the same people? Why did Germany and Japan succeed post regime-change and why not Afghanistan and Libya? I prefer Yuval Harari’s acknowledgement of these realities over Immanuel Kant’s excessively dreamy ideology. In many ways I think hard anthropological data will prove Kant as misguided as Rousseau’s noble savage.

Ting

Have you guys watched Game of Thrones? George R.R. Martin puts it interestingly: “The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends … It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace.“

It was not the fundamental belief in democracy that united Americans against the British back during the war of independence, it was the distaste and burden of foreign taxation. Democracy was considered the best way forward to manage independence. Much more often the hungry desperate commoners came together to bring down authoritarian powers in history than well-fed idealists who were searching for a fairer world. I feel prosperity brings material and spiritual desires, but more people want to choose with their feet than with their fists.

The umbrella movement in Hong Kong started with sympathizers BBQing on the street for demonstrators, ended with taxi drivers and office workers cursing their existence because of unbearable traffic jams: people have too much else to lose in this prosperous city.

Martin

Call me an old-fashioned realist, but I like to look at economic and military strength, first of all. No worries at that end, if you’re American. Military technology and capabilities are far superior to any other actor, and any serious geopolitical trouble spots are oceans apart. The US has gained autarchy in terms of energy supply and relies much less on open economy and trade than its partners. I don’t like the way Trump is behaving on the global scene, but I can see why he is able to do it. Let’s put China aside, for a moment, and look at Russia. Abhijit, how can an economy of the size of Spain come across as the most prominent military player after the US and China? Why are the Russians doing this, what is their strategy, will they be able to sustain that effort? It’s really a mystery to me.

Abhijit

What we need to understand is that Russia is like a very big North-Korea going through a similar process. Till 1979 North Korea was the successful Korea, and the South was the basket case. It’s per-capita income was the 2nd highest in Asia after Japan. In the 1980s, when the digital revolution started and progressed to the information revolution in the 1990s, that requires a strong state to go weak because while industrialisation requires a strong state the Information Age requires a weak one. The North Koreans refused. So when Taiwan and South Korea started democratisation, the North Koreans doubled down and they have now become a deindustrialised state. This is exactly what happened to Russia except it was able to sustain itself on commodities. However, it rues the loss of influence and freedom of action it once had. Moreover, given their WW2 history, they have a natural suspicion towards big power blocs coming to their borders. So it’s a toxic mix of gripe, deindustrialisation and a genuine threat perception. And its response is classic North Korean… it can’t be constructive, but it can be destructive and destabilise (except in Syria, where I believe it’s intervention was correct and constructive even if ideologically opposed to the West).

Ting

I do not think all Americans feel secure with the autarchy in other corners of the globe. In fact, the current trade war is centered on not only rules of businesses, but also security technology. Traditional strength of military capabilities can be significantly disrupted in the future if technological asymmetry widens. I feel that is where the race is between China and the US. This is also how people like Bannon see it. And Europe will have to catch up, won’t it, Martin?

The thing is, I sense a deep realization in the West that China is not going to turn into one of them, and in China that ideological gap widens with the West as economic gap narrows. People are starting to call this the “new cold war”, but it is not entirely clear to me which camp everyone lies in, and how many camps are here.

Martin

Don’t yell at me, but on this one I agree with Bannon. It’s all about the US and China, and Europe will have to live up to remain an ally to the US. We really have to get our act together, by which I mean rapid forward integration into federal state structures not only on monetary policy but also on security, defence and foreign policy. And this, of course, the democratic way.

Abhijit

Guys, we need to hop off the train! This is Lubyanka. That’s where it ends.

Ting and Martin

O, come on, Lubyanka, that sounds horrible. We go for the mall, not the prison. Don’t confuse the reader…

Ting, Abhijit and myself in Moscow

#ltwth19 Sturmwarnung Thüringen

Die jüngsten Umfragen für die Landtagswahl Thüringen bestätigen einen bedenklichen Trend:

Um die AfD einzuhegen, stützt sich die jeweilige Regierungspartei auf Leihstimmen und formiert das letzte Aufgebot als Koalition. Meine Partei, die CDU, geriert sich dazu in kompletter Beliebigkeit gegenüber den Grünen und der SPD, d.h. Schwarz-Grün in Sachsen, Rot-Schwarz-Grün in Brandenburg.

In Thüringen stößt dieser Prozeß an sein natürliches Ende. Sollte das Ergebnis nämlich wie oben aussehen, dann muß die CDU zwischen Pest und Cholera auswählen, zwischen AfD und Linkspartei.

Weder die AfD noch die CDU aber sind heute schon reif für die bürgerliche Option der Zukunft. Ich erwarte, daß wir zunächst aus Angst vor dem Tod den Selbstmord begehen und mit der Linken paktieren würden.

Das aber wäre nur ein Übergang – die konservativen Kräfte in der CDU erstarken rasant und würden durch diese Entwicklung noch mehr Auftrieb erhalten. Per aspera ad astra – die Politikwende kommt!

My personal views on #Brexit, #democracy, #Europe

The British Chamber of Commerce in Germany asked me for personal comments on Brexit as of 25 September 2019.

I argue in this video that the issue should be seen not only as a thriller on British politics but indeed also as a serious warning about the democratic deficit of the EU and the need for institutional reform.

#FreigeistForFuture

Ein Klimaleugner bin ich nicht. Bei jeder Tour im Hochgebirge sehe ich, wie die Gletscher schmelzen. Unsere Sommer werden immer besser, dafür können wir im Winter nicht mehr rodeln, und weiße Weihnachten sind zur wehmütigen Kindheitserinnerung geworden.

Ich halte es für möglich (nicht für bewiesen!), daß der anthropogene Ausstoß von Kohlendioxid eine Ursache hierfür ist. Aber auch das strategische Bedürfnis nach energetischer Autarkie läßt mich erneuerbare Energieträger befürworten.

Versorgungssicherheit gibt es jedoch nicht ohne Speicher, Grundlast und Leistung bei Belastungsspitzen. Wie das ohne hochmoderne Kohlekraftwerke, Atomkraft und Gas gehen soll – bei Dunkelflaute zum Beispiel – ist mir schleierhaft.

Als Ökonom werfe ich vor allem ein, daß wir unsere beschränkten Ressourcen – und dazu gehört das Kapital! – so effizient wie möglich einsetzen müssen. Sonst wird es teuer. Teuer für den Verbraucher, teuer für den Steuerzahler und zu teuer für den Produzenten, dessen Wettbewerbsfähigkeit im globalen Maßstab leidet.

Um es ganz klar zu sagen: Volkswirtschaftliche Werte in signifikanter Größe vor ihrer Abschreibung zu vernichten durch diesen panischen Ausstieg aus Atom- und Kohleenergie – das können wir uns nicht leisten. Und Steuererhöhungen in die Rezession hinein, das ist blanker wirtschaftspolitischer Unfug.

Überhaupt diese Panik. Politik sollte den Menschen nehmen, wie er ist, und sie beginnt mit der Betrachtung der Wirklichkeit. Hysterie und Zeitgeist führen uns ins Nirgendwo – das ist keine politische Führung.

Mit diesen Hintergedanken betrachte ich die große #FFF-Demo in Berlin und die #IPPC-Show in New York. Und weil Humor mir hilft, den geistigen Zustand dieser Tage zu ertragen, tue ich das in diesem Video auf meine Weise.

@WerteUnion Berlin erinnert an den #Mauerbau und kämpft gegen die Annäherung der CDU an Grüne und Linke

Mit diesem Video erinnern wir heute an den Bau der Berliner Mauer, der am 13. August 1961 begann und die Teilung Deutschlands zu zementieren suchte.

Die Aufnahmen sind bei unserem Besuch im „Stasi-Knast“ zu Bautzen entstanden und sollen die Untaten des DDR-Regimes in mahnender Erinnerung halten.

Morgen treffen wir uns um 13.00 Uhr in Berlin, um am Denkmal von Peter Fechter, dem ersten Mauertoten, einen Kranz niederzulegen.  
Freunde und Gäste sind herzlich zur Teilnahme eingeladen.

Das Gedenken an DDR-Unrecht fällt in die finale Phase der Landtagswahlkämpfe in Sachsen und Brandenburg. Innerhalb der CDU sind wir strikt gegen jede Annäherung an die SED-Nachfolgepartei. Auch eine Koalition mit den Grünen würde die Union zerreißen. Unsere Losung heißt, damals wie heute: Freiheit statt Sozialismus!

Gedenken zum Tag des Mauerbaus, 13. August

Peter-Fechter-Denkmal (Foto: Jensen / Wikipedia)

Die WerteUnion Berlin wird am Tag des Mauerbaus, dem 13. August 2019, um 13.00 Uhr am Denkmal zu Ehren von Peter Fechter einen Kranz niederlegen. Unser Vorstandskollege Jürgen Matthes, der selber am Checkpoint Charlie über die Grenze floh, wird an den Bau der Mauer durch das DDR-Regime erinnern.

Peter Fechter unternahm ein Jahr nach dem Bau der Mauer einen Fluchtversuch, wurde angeschossen und elendiglich im Grenzstreifen verblutend liegengelassen, obwohl er laut um Hilfe rief und eine große Menschenmenge jenseits der Grenze protestierte. Als DDR-Grenzer ihn abtransportierten, erklangen die Rufe „Mörder, Mörder!“ Sein Denkmal wurde 2011 von Chaoten geschändet.

Das Mahnmal befindet sich an der Zimmerstraße 26-27. Wir freuen uns über rege Teilnahme.

Danach werden wir gemeinsam zur Glieniecker Brücke fahren und an der zentralen Veranstaltung der CDU Berlin und der CDU Brandenburg mit Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer teilnehmen.

Die #Migrationsstatistik macht mir Sorgen

Können wir über kontroverse Themen noch sachlich diskutieren? Jedenfalls betrachte ich die aktuellen Daten der Wanderung von und nach Deutschland mit großer Sorge:

Mir will scheinen, daß wir jedes Jahr eine einheimische Kleinstadt verlieren und dafür eine ausländische Großstadt importieren.

Was nicht in den Zahlen steht, ist das Bildungsniveau bzw. die Qualifikation der Auswanderer im Vergleich zu derjenigen der Zuwanderer. Ich befürchte, daß das Humankapital in Deutschland aufgrund der Migration (zusätzlich zu den Miseren der Bildungspolitik) kontinuierlich abnimmt, da die Zuwanderung primär dem Sozialstaat gilt. Wie wir jedoch (fast) alle wissen, wird der Grundstock des deutschen Wohlstands in den Köpfen unserer Landsleute gelegt.

Was außerdem nicht in den Zahlen steht, ist die mit dieser Wanderungstendenz verbundene, demographische Entwicklung. Wie verhält sich die Zusammensetzung nach 10, 15 oder 20 Jahren?

Ist es noch möglich, in diesen aufgeregten Zeiten solche Gedanken anzustellen und ein Problem darin zu sehen, daß unsere Gesellschaft allein anhand eines solchen Symptoms auseinanderzufallen scheint?

Sachliche Beiträge erbeten.

The European Quagmire

Published by CIRSD.

Europe is at a crossroads. In and of itself, this is nothing unusual, for Europe has been at a crossroads throughout history. But this time, it is our crossroads, as Europeans. That is what makes the situation special, at least for us. Inquiring into Europe’s current crossroads is about inquiring as much into Europe as into ourselves. Who are we? Where do we come from, and where do we want to go? Where, maybe, do we have to go?

The result of the May 2019 European Parliament elections is but a moment in the course of time, and posterity will not look back with any amount of detail on the travails of forming a coalition or implementing a Spitzenkandidat as new Commission President. But this moment may serve at least some of us as an opportunity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, as we shall now set out to do.

Cultural Foundations

We are Europeans. However, already the meaning of this proposition is a matter of controversy. I can only offer a personal view: to be European means, aside from relating to a given geography, to rest on two cultural foundations: occidental antiquity and Christianity. Putting geography to one side, I turn to address briefly Europe’s two cultural foundations in turn.

By occidental antiquity, I mean the Greek polisand the Roman Empire (as opposed to, for example, the Persian, Chinese, or Ottoman empires). Roman statecraft and Greco-Roman culture are the historic foundations of the various successors to the Roman Empire after its fall. In fact, Roman heritage placed the imperial seed into every European nation—not only the Germanic ones or the offspring of the Francs, but more or less indirectly even the Russians and the Serbs, for example. The Russian Empire, for instance, has been referred to as the fourth Rome, following Constantinople and the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Hence, even a nation which has never been subject to the Roman Empire, like the Russians, or one that was even subject to another empire, like the Ottoman Empire, for instance the Serbs, can still be European by relating, via Byzantium, to the Roman Empire—the one and only original pattern of a European empire.

I am arguing that the Roman imperial echo is part of being European—and vice versa. This is true until our days, even if unconsciously. The core notion of that imperial quality is to strive for universality. In principle, there can only be one legitimate empire. This imperial striving sits uneasily with competitors of a similar mindset and has given rise to countless straits of conflict among Europeans in the past.

To be Roman, after Constantine the Great, has always meant to be Christian as well. Throughout most of history, Christianity was European and Europe was Christian. Imperial universality came along with religious universality: one legitimate empire, one legitimate faith. Theology and political thought went hand in hand during those eons.

At the outset, Saint Augustine defended Christianity against the charge that, as a state religion, it had in fact corrupted and brought down the western Roman Empire, which had been built on pre-Christian beliefs and values. In his work The City of God, written after Rome had been sacked by the Visigoths, Augustine interpreted history as the eternal struggle between good and evil, and propagated a fusion between Christian faith and imperial statehood.

This idea evolved and changed greatly over time. The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, for its paramount part of European history, was cast in the Catholic teaching of the two swords—the spiritual and the temporal (i.e. Church and Empire). Later, Protestantism and its doctrine of the two kingdoms gave rise to the post-medieval idea that faith and politics should in fact be separate. The genesis of the modern European nation state would have been impossible without that fundamental shift in political thought.

Centuries of warfare in the name of religion turned out to be the labor pains of tolerance and enlightenment for Europe. Religion was used to justify war not dissimilar to the use of moral argument for the sake of personal disputes. Only after three centuries of religious warfare across Europe was war tamed to become merely the continuation of politics by other means (in the memorable formulation put forward by Clausewitz), and that period of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was not the worst in European history, by far.

Planetary Domination

Thanks to technological innovation and economic growth hitherto unheard of—itself resting on legal, administrative, and, above all, scientific progress at increasing speed—Europe came to dominate the entire planet. However, Europe’s colonial effort was not undertaken conjointly, but rather in fierce competition and infighting between leading European powers. Our position of global supremacy imploded after the turn of the previous century, when we raged against each other until complete exhaustion in World War I, precipitating the global rise of our own offspring, the United States of America.

Furthermore, European civilization collapsed into the twin totalitarianisms of Soviet communism and Nazi fascism. In their kinship, both of these regimes showed the grim totality of modern statecraft under the nearly complete absence of religion, culture, and civilization—and in this sense totalitarianism on European soil became the attempted annihilation not only of Europe, but of humanity itself.

Much has been debated—by the likes of, for instance, Ernst Nolte—about whether Nazism arose in Germany as a bourgeois panic reaction to Soviet Marxism. Vasily Grossman’s masterpiece Life and Fate contains a dialogue between a Gestapo officer and a Bolshevik prisoner, modeled on the Grand Inquisitor scene in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov: “When we look one another in the face, we’re neither of us just looking at a face we hate; no, we’re gazing into a mirror.” The two totalitarian twin systems, each dominating their respective part of Eurasia for the purpose of cannibalizing each other, left it to the Anglo-Americans to tip the balance in favor of one of them wearing down the other in military terms. Harry S. Truman in 1941 succinctly coined the phrase: “If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and in that way let them kill as many as possible…”

In the end, all European countries had lost World War II—only some did not fully realize this right away. The world became bipolar and, with the benefit of hindsight, exceptionally stable. One part of Europe was lucky enough to prosper under American hegemony and protection. The other part, which extended as far as the Red Army had been able to drive the frontline against Germany in 1945, had a more difficult existence. Thanks to the doctrine of Mutual-Assured Destruction, the two great powers of the Cold War refrained from military confrontation and engaged in global economic and systemic competition.

The situation was, discounting spurts of crisis, remarkably stable. The outcome of the economic competition between the two systems is known to all contemporaries.

The EU Rises

The European Union (previously called the European Community) was able to blossom as a child of the Cold War in the American-controlled part of Europe. It was all about economic integration, because there was little politics left to do in a bipolar world. With NATO and hence Uncle Sam taking care of security, the EU focused on becoming the world’s largest integrated marketplace in a U.S.-backed environment of trade liberalization among free-market economies in healthy competition with each other.

Europeans—and particularly the West Germans—were coerced by Washington as early as the 1950s to carry their load in the defense of the West, as defined by the Atlantic Alliance, in terms not at all dissimilar to today’s debate about NATO spending targets. But the main focus of Western European political systems throughout the Cold War was on economics rather than military and security affairs.

At last, the Soviet Union—and with it all other countries that were situated behind the Iron Curtain—derailed in economic terms, and the systemic competitor of the West imploded largely peacefully. The Berlin Wall fell and the western and central parts of Germany were re-united within NATO and the EU, the eastern parts having been permanently lost. Furthermore, those European countries previously under Soviet control were eager to join as well.

Across the globe, more and more countries opted for democracy and free-market economies. The United States seemed poised to enjoy global military dominance, and Francis Fukuyama famously declared the “end of history.” This, however, lasted only until the break-up of Yugoslavia, in the face of which Germany, the UK, and France failed to align along a common strategy, confining themselves to the role of impotent bystanders, falling back in line behind American leadership, for better or worse. Germany turned anti-Serbian, first by tactical reflex, then by psychological error—it had found another culprit for another “Auschwitz” as argued by then Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in justifying the 1999 bombing campaign.

Meanwhile, in the wake of unification, Germany had given in to longstanding French demands for monetary union—ending decades of Deutschmark monetary policy leadership in Europe.

Prudently, Germany tried to negotiate contractual safeguards against having to act as fiscal lender of last resort. But this reservation crumbled once sovereign bailouts were indeed required in the wake of a global banking crisis, in order to preserve the common currency from disintegration.

At the same time, tectonic geopolitical shifts had started. Russia emerged from the ruins of the Soviet Union as an economic dwarf, but also as a military force to be reckoned with, bent on revenge. After a short, unhappy flirt with democracy, it had fallen back into more authoritarian forms of rule and a notable aspiration to traditional, imperial attire.

Yet more fundamental was the case of China. The Middle Kingdom, equipped with an even greater dose of imperial self-confidence and even less allegiance to personal and political liberty, set course to become a global superpower.

Concurrently, the United States plunged into hegemonic fatigue and started, under the presidency of Donald Trump, to lean increasingly toward an isolationist course, backed up by having gained a position of energetic and economic autarchy.

The German Question

Where does this leave Europe, in strategic terms? From a distance, and in terms of principle, it actually looks rather simple.

To begin with, European countries ought to take better care of their security, first of all, without relying all that much on the United States. They should stick with NATO to the extent possible, but they should not remain entirely dependent on the Alliance. This is particularly true for Germany, the greatest of the European economies, and hence the country best disposed to live up to additional military responsibilities.

The European question is, again, a German one. It will require a phenomenal leap of mind for Germany’s political leadership and public discourse to embrace a much more ambitious military posture. Even more than financial resources, this will require a change of thinking and attitude, boiling down largely to a profound reversal of postwar demilitarization.

The political leadership in Berlin would have to positively embrace military affairs and should, as a very first step, immediately set up a General Staff and a Joint Command of German armed forces, which, to date, does not even exist. Strategic and military thought will have to be properly reintroduced in German political discourse, and the fact that this will be far from popular shows the extent of leadership actually required.

Assuming Germany regains military standing commensurate to its economic weight, it would and should indeed intensify its alliance with other European powers, in particular the other two relative heavyweights, France and the UK.

This does not necessarily have to be based on an EU approach, but, interestingly, procurement integration and the consolidation of Europe’s defense industry are more likely to succeed within EU institutional settings than outside of them. Also, complete German military autonomy realistically remains out of reach, including strategic capabilities such as carrier groups or nuclear weapons. It is much more likely that German political leaders will be able to argue in their favor if they are set up as joint European efforts.

This would obviously require a much more advanced integration of foreign, security, and military policy at the EU level than is currently imaginable. In fact, it would amount to complementing the existing Economic and Monetary Union and the Single Market with a Foreign and Security Union. And it would require serious post-Brexit strategic thinking on the aforementioned issues.

That being said, the three groups of participating member states (market, currency, security) would not necessarily be identical, but certainly France and Germany would be part of the core, constituted by the overlap of the three circles. EU institutions would have to be hybrid in order to cater for each policy sector, and the political structure would need to be fully developed in terms of democratic participation, parliamentary accountability, and judicial enforceability. The end-state, or finalité, of European integration would resemble a modern version of … one of the preceding empires!

Such an entity is the only one I can imagine standing up, in geopolitical terms, to a more secluded, isolationist America and a more assertive China. The United States would remain our obvious ally—to the extent possible, given constellations of mutual interest. We would also seek accord with Russia as soon as we would no longer have to be liable to military blackmail by Moscow. We would seek jointly to contain China. But the American-European connection is likely to be stronger than any other, because of shared heritage and values.

This is also where Christianity comes back into play. A religious renaissance is required in terms of personal faith, and Europe will have to overcome the effects of two generations of strong materialist and relativist ideological influence by reasserting its Christian foundations, inspiring societal and political values that should shape public discourse and policy-setting more than at present, such as the values of family, education, justice, liberty, and order.

In summary, what I propose is a reassertion of Europe’s past in order to address the future. We should positively embrace the ancestral echo of empire and Christianity, and turn it into a viable political option for tomorrow. All else I can think of is substantially bleak.