James P. Rubin, a former assistant secretary of state in the Bill Clinton administration, penned a piece in Politico on Thursday dubbing German Chancellor Angela Merkel the “leader of the free world” largely for her role in taking in Middle Eastern migrants.Rubin was a member of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign, serving as a campaign surrogate to the news media. He also latter served as an advisor to Clinton.
His Politico piece, focused on Merkel, was titled, “The Leader of the Free World Meets Donald Trump.”
“Angela Merkel, whether she wants the job or not, is the West’s last, best hope,” was the subtitle.
Rubin claimed that by taking in some one million “refugees,” Merkel assumed the mantle of “moral leadership.”
The German chancellor is the only leader in Europe who even has a plausible claim to moral leadership. As a victim of Soviet communism, Merkel was always going to be listened to carefully on the question of morality. And given her longevity she was always going to be respected. But it was her unexpected decision to accept some 1 million refugees that established her moral credentials, especially since no other political leader has taken such a political risk.He further claimed that the “mantle” of global leadership was “empty” until Merkel accepted the Middle East refugees:
The cruel irony of Trump’s election is that for many decades it was the United States that was seen as a moral leader. During the Cold War, Soviet dissidents looked to the United States. And after communism fell, it was the United States that led international actions to protect victims of repression or hardship. Whether it was the Kurds in northern Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, or the spending on medicine to treat millions suffering from HIV in Africa, the United States was the country expected to act.
Not recently. After “leading from behind”—way behind—during the six years of civil war in Syria, Washington was seen as abdicating its traditional role. So the mantle of leadership was empty until Merkel stepped in to help hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and chaos. Trump not only rejects the idea that the United States should act to prevent tragedies like Syria but also that it should help care for the millions of refugees fleeing the conflict. Trump and Merkel thus represent the two poles of the debate about refugees and responsibility in 2017.Rubin did not mention that Merkel’s actions have been widely blamed for helping to fuel a larger European crisis as a result of the refugee intake. He also glossed over the massive cost to the German economy – €21.7 billion last year and an expected €21.3 billion for 2017 – to help fix what the Express newspaper described as “Merkel’s failed migrant policy.”
Rubin failed to note Trump’s proposals for stemming the refugee crisis – a crisis that he inherited from the Obama administration – including the possible creation of so-called safe zones in Syria for the refugees fleeing the war there.
Rubin, meanwhile, also declared Merkel the West’s central global leader for her role in imposing sanctions on Russia.
It’s Germany, too, that has led the world in imposing sanctions on Russia for its invasion and occupation of Ukraine. Trump, meanwhile, not only has refused to criticize Putin for the invasion—he has often suggested that sanctions be lifted to make a new relationship with Russia possible.Rubin failed to identify former President Obama as perhaps the main global leader in imposing sanctions on Russia.
He concluded by warning against the possibility of Europe catching the “disease” of nationalism sparked by Trump’s election victory.
Rubin wrote: “For while this week’s election in the Netherlands may not be a permanent setback for Europe’s neo-nationalists, it should give comfort to those who worried that Trump’s victory in America would be contagious and that continental Europe was sure to catch the disease.”