Merkel’s politics

I heard some people remark that Merkel’s politics seem to have changed drastically rather recently.

For a long time she has very carefully pursued very clever politics that made her more and more powerful. Even throughout the last flare ups of the so called “Euro-Crisis” (a crisis that is nowhere near over and will be back with a bang shortly) she took a very mendacious, dangerous and “bordering on insane” stance, but at least a rational stance, given that she had lied all along anyway and had nothing to gain from coming clean. It is e.g. a real problem for her to accept the haircut that the IMF has demanded as a condition for its further involvement in the so called “Greece rescue plan”.

But her function looked like funnelling as much tax payer income (present, past and future) to the already rich and powerful while protecting and furthering her own interests. She at least still seemed to protect her own interests.

The “refugee crisis” looks different. While her political stance is in line with parts of the political mainstream (mainly SPD, Grüne and LINKE) it was obvious that it would not sit well with her own conservative party base at all. This will still turn out to be her downfall eventually, and a lot of people will fall with her. And she cannot have been blind to that.

Her only other big political move so out of line with the party’s earlier stance was the “Atomausstieg” (ending nuclear power generation in Germany) in the aftermath of the Fukushima incident.

But there is a big difference. As far as I can tell, people that are “against something” tend to be much more emotionally and insistently involved in an issue than people who “are OK with it” and maybe “against those who are against it”. The CDU would not break over closing down nuclear power plants in Germany and the supporters of the green party loved Merkel for it. That was a safe bet.

But her politics in the “refugee crisis” are akin to her being the chancellor of the green party and starting construction of a new nuclear power plant in every other town. Her party base and their voters hate it, and in a way the CDU has already broken over the issue. The AfD has clearly profited from her policies, and there is open talk about the breakup of the “sacred union” of CDU and CSU.

That was also a safe bet.

I refuse to believe that whoever pulls Merkel’s strings lacks the political instinct to have anticipated that. I also think that when political decisions turn out to have the opposite of the officially intended effect, that they most likely have exactly the intended effect and that malicious intent is masked by feigned incompetence.So if we judge Merkel not by her words and promises but by her results and assume that she was rather successful, she might have accomplished a lot. Either everything she wanted, or everything that is still realistic to achieve.

Burning her own political power base can only be the last move, obviously. After that you step down or you need a new power base.

The EU is in turmoil, divided and about to break apart. In an idiotic fight with its only natural friend. On top of the monetary bomb it now also sits on an ever growing cultural bomb. Its natural centre Germany is politically more divided than it has been for a long time and is making more and more enemies every day. But Merkel has killed political figures around her so thoroughly that, no matter how bad she looks, compared to “the others” she does not look that bad…

Hillary Clinton could learn from her.

After Merkel there will be chaos and then KTzG will come back as “the saviour”. I think he is still immensely dangerous. Watch out for him.  He only left because he wanted to leave and will come back when he thinks that the time is right. Should the German people fall for him it will be almost impossible to save them.

Armenian Genocide Vote

The Bundestag voted to officially acknowledge the massacres of Armenians

and other minorities in Turkey in 1915 as a genocide. The members of parliament, that did find the time to vote, all voted “Yes” with only one abstention and one “No”

But chancellor Merkel, vice-chancellor Gabriel and foreign minister Steinmeier could not attend the vote because of “other obligations”. This now official “Armenian genocide” is not that important for them it seems. It might just upset their Turkish “partners” too much.

I think it is shameful that our leaders would rather distance themselves from a vote on a non-controversial issue (from a German parliament point of view at least, as you can see from the result) than stand by their principles and face the consequences.

Who cares if Turkey does not like it when you call a genocide a genocide? Is it suddenly our government’s job to help Turkey feel good about the lies they tell themselves? In Germany we have laws to the effect that if you deny the genocide known as the Holocaust, you go to jail.

But our chancellor does not have the balls to look Erdogan in the eye and tell him that his ancestors, a hundred years ago, committed a horrible crime, which falls under the definition of genocide.

I probably would not make such a big deal out of this, if it were not for Turkey’s treatment of Kurds and other minorities to this day

and German law regarding the Holocaust. “Denying the holocaust” is a criminal offence in Germany. Even doubting certain aspects of the details of the Holocaust can earn you a jail sentence. Freedom of speech in Germany is severely restricted when it comes to the holocaust. With respect to most topics even extremely outlandish and stupid opinions will not get you in legal trouble.

If e.g. you publicly voice the opinion that Poland started the war on Germany in 1939 and Germany just defended herself, but lost the war because Russia and Japan conspired against Germany, and Hitler was a reptilian shapeshifter from outer space anyway… That would be met with a lot of scepticism but you would not end up in a cell for that, not even a padded one, unless you tried to convince people of your point of view at the point of a knife.

If however, you happen to have similarly stupid ideas about the history of the Holocaust you might end up in prison in Germany.

The rationale for these laws is, that it is considered to be extremely dangerous to view one’s history through rose-coloured glasses. Whitewashing and denying earlier crimes makes future crimes all the more likely. And preventing that, according to German law, outweighs restricting other basic rights to some extent.

I am not a big Reddit fan and did not take the time to read the whole discussion, but here people seem to discuss this at length:

This is not some theoretical thought experiment: If you look at how Turkey treats Kurds today, you might see how German law might have a point there.

Now that the German parliament has clearly stated that Turkey is guilty of a genocide of the Armenians, the spirit of German law could be interpreted as indicating that “Armenian genocide denial” might be problematic in the same way “holocaust denial” is.

The two genocides are by no means equal and should not be treated equally, but they are in many ways similar. In both cases largely defenceless minorities were ruthlessly slaughtered by a state run machine. If denying that one of them happened is a very serious criminal offence in Germany, how can Germany have a partnership with a government whose official position is that the other genocide never happened?


Turkish Reactions

Turkey is really furious about the Bundestag’s position.

They have recalled their ambassador  and clearly stated that they consider the vote to be “null and void”.

Turkey says trust between the two governments has been seriously damaged. See, ‘Armenian genocide’ vote: Turkey warns Germany

Members of the Bundestag have received death threats.

Erdogan said that Merkel had promised him to do everything within her powers to prevent this and he was very disappointed.

He even went as far as to imply that the member of parliament “behind the issue” (he almost certainly refers to Cem Özdemir, leading figure of the green party) was not a real Turk and that his blood should be analysed to prove that.

Another very unwise move with regard to German public opinion, that is almost like painting a swastika on your forehead.

He quite openly states, as you can tell from the sources above, that he sees some sort of Kurdish plot behind all this and ties it in with the EU’s demand to change certain terrorism related laws as a prerequisite for visa free travel of Turkish citizens.

Which is the main unsolved issue with regard to the EU-Turkey refugee deal.

The EU says the laws are mainly designed to attack dissenting minorities, especially the Kurds including the HDP. Turkey says the HDP are just a political front for the PKK. They are all terrorists, and the EU is trying to help terrorists. That is of course an oversimplification, but I think that is what it boils down to.

I think this is a good opportunity for the German government to change its tone versus Turkey’s current government completely and admit that there are fundamental differences of opinion that make cooperation, to the extent that Germany would in principle welcome, impossible. I think it would have the full backing of its parliament and voters.

The Turkish regime will be furious, but it is better to stand up to them now, not least to send a clear message that Germany will not be blackmailed and is prepared to call a bluff.

Unfortunately Germany is not a sovereign nation, will be easily blackmailed and is not prepared to call a bluff.

*** Breaking News (160608):

Turkish Newspaper blames Germany for Terror Attack in Turkey:

” Turkey’s Guneş newspaper has blamed Germany for yesterday’s (June 7) İstanbul terror attack, which left 11 dead when a police bus was bombed in Vezneciler. The daily today ran the headline ‘The German Job’ (Alman İşi), and subtitle ‘This is what Turkey thinks’:

Most newspapers ran this morning with the attack in İstanbul as the main story; however, pro-government Güneş linked the attack to the bill recently passed in German parliament to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

“[The] deep [state] of Germany could not stomach Turkey challenging it at the highest level. It panicked and started to repeat old habits. It created terror organizations that it uses as a tool to organize a bloody terror attack in İstanbul,” the front page said in quotes above the headline.

It also explained on the front page, “Lastly, it is believed that Germany, which has approved the so called Armenian genocide [bill], organized the attack in İstanbul as a response to Turkey’s firm reaction [to the bill]”.

Güneş also said Germany “who cultivated terror organizations to use against Turkey”, played an active role in the Gezi protest movement of 2013.

“Germany, who openly supported vandals who turned Turkey into a total mess, sent some of its parliamentarians to the [center of the protests in] Taksim square to provoke people. The real reason was to prevent [Turkey] from building the third [İstanbul] airport, which will shift Europe’s air traffic to Turkey and will undermine Germany’s old important place”, Güneş claimed.”

Didn’t Erdogan complain bitterly about Merkel’s lack of control over the German media?

That was about him being called “a goat lover” (more or less), now his “Turkish free press” blames Germany as responsible for terror attacks in Turkey?

The Game of Passage

It is a huge mistake in general to assume that Turkey is a partner that could help Germany or Europe in the “refugee crisis”. Europe needs to protect its borders and Europe has to do it. That can never be Turkey’s job.

I think I sort of said it before:

If you close your doors to keep people out of your house, that is your right. That makes your house your home. If you close your doors to keep people from getting out of your house, that is not your right at all. Your house is now a prison. Right now the “game of passage” is (more or less):

“Set out illegally in an unseaworthy vessel from African shores”:

– make the passage with p(safe) = s

– fail and drown with p(drown) = d

– fail and be rescued with p(rescued) = r

– s+d+r =1

– B is the bet (the expected value of one’s life when not playing the game)

– P is the price of winning the game (the expected value of one’s life when not drowning)

– the expected return of the bet is something like R = -B+P*(1-d)

– The number of people who take the bet, is N

– That is how many people will die: X = N*d

I would suppose that N is an inverse function of d (the more likely it is to die the less people will try). So if you keep that in mind and also remember that R approaches -B for d close to one, making sure that everyone who tries dies, is the best way to save lives…

In the current scenario I think the EU mainly invests (at least officially) in minimizing d and maximizing r. But that is a totally insane strategy and actually the most inhumane course of action, because it increases N as long as perceived R is positive.

With rising r N grows and the resources needed to maintain the “level of r” rises with N. This is a destructive feedback loop and will end in collapse.

It would be much more sensible and, most of all, perhaps feasible to bring d as close to one as possible. If the EU made it their unmistakable and enforced policy to sink all illegal vessels and rescue no one, that would save lives. Because while d would be close to 1, R would be -B and N and hence X would be very close to zero.

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