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The New German Question by Timothy Garton Ash | The New York Review of Books

August 1, 2013

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“Kohl cogently argued that a monetary union would need a fiscal and therefore also a political union to accompany it; but Mitterrand and Andreotti were having none of this. The idea was that they should get a handle on Germany’s currency, not that Germany should get a handle on their national budgets. And so some of the fundamental defects that the eurozone is struggling to correct today—monetary union without mutual oversight of budgets, debts, and banks—emerged from the turgid politics of its inception. As the historian Heinrich August Winkler observes: “To solve the German question with the consent of Europe, the European question had to remain open.” ”


“Again, this provincialism partly goes back to the answers given to earlier German questions. Since the country’s political system was deliberately decentralized, politicians have generally worked their way up through the politics of the federal states, the Länder. But didn’t Brandt, and Helmut Schmidt, and Helmut Kohl come up that provincial ladder too? Yes, but at least, unlike today’s professional politicians, they had done something else before they became politicians. And they were shaped, given a continental and global perspective, by the experience of two wars: World War II (which Schmidt experienced as a soldier, Kohl as a teenager) and the cold war. Since the answer to the post-1945 question of Germany’s division was only to be found in Moscow, Washington, Paris, and London, the leaders of the pre- unification Federal Republic simply had to be global. Hence the apparent paradox that while German power has grown, its political class has shrunk.”

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

Europe, Europe …. a non federal federation! 😉

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