The Great German Meltdown

The land of good engineering, autobahns, and Cold War face-offs is a stranger place than most Americans know. It’s not all BMWs and the welfare state. And it does have a tendency to meltdown. (Or blow up.)

(From The Hoover Institute)

Germany is supposed to be the economic powerhouse of Europe, its financial leader, and its trusted and responsible political center. Often it plays those roles superbly. But recently, it’s been cracking up—in a way that is hauntingly familiar to its European neighbors. On mass immigration, it is beginning to terrify the nearby nations of Eastern Europe. On Brexit, it bullies the British. On finance, it alienates the southern Europeans. On Russia, it irks the Baltic States and makes the Scandinavians uneasy by doing business with the Russian energy interests. And on all matters American, it increasingly seems incensed.

Certainly, Germany has done some unbelievably strange things in the last ten years. In a fit of fear, after the Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown in 2011, and in a huff about climate change, Berlin more or less abruptly junked traditionally generated electrical power and opted for inefficient and unreliable “green” renewable wind and solar—despite the less than Mediterranean nature of its climate and warnings of the financial downside. The result is that electricity costs have climbed 50 percent in recent years and are among the most expensive in the developed world—and electricity itself is sometimes scarce. In response to shortfalls in power generation, the German energy industry for now is looking at solutions like coal-fired plants, buying nuclear-generated electricity from its neighbors, and cutting deals with Vladimir Putin for natural gas. In other words, Germany spiraled from the one extreme of green idealists to the other of dirty coal, while counting on others to export their electricity into Germany.

Immigration is similar. A bipolar Germany cannot just take in a limited and manageable number of genuine refugees, hope to assimilate them—and then keep quiet about its resulting sense of noblesse oblige. Instead, in a little over a year, Berlin enthusiastically opened its borders and accepted over a million migrants who were mostly unvetted and from the Middle East and North Africa, defending this radical policy with virtue sloganeering about German magnanimity (“we can do this”). Until recently, a mostly homogenous Germany had little experience with diversity, much less with assimilating and integrating mostly impoverished, male, Muslim immigrants. The result of these massive influxes from the Middle East has often been chaos. In an Orwellian sort of good-deed imperialism, Germany hectors its worried, smaller, and far more vulnerable European neighbors to embrace the nearly suicidal German model of open European borders.

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