Next week’s G-20 meeting in Hamburg promises to be more interesting than usual. The expected unhinged leftist crowds are already much in evidence and could be counted on for a dose of violence and turmoil. More seriously, this time the fireworks are more likely to come from inside the conference rooms than outside. In preparation for the event, the German chancellor Angela Merkel has already accused Trump of “Abshottung” (door closure or foreclosure) and promised to challenge him directly on a number of issues. Whether she already feels like the leader of the free world (as many pundits are trying to convince her that she actually is), or not is unclear, but she obviously has Trump in mind when she argues that “abshottung” from “climate change, terrorism and migration” is a huge mistake, or when she promises to conduct negotiations “so that they serve the Paris Agreements.” No wonder her party’s election platform for the first time does not mention America as Germany’s key ally and friend.
If there was any surprise in this, it came earlier when the German chancellor openly sided with a blatantly pro-Russian project called Nord Stream 2 that could seriously damage the European Union. Like Nord Stream 1, Nord Stream 2 is a Russian diversionary pipeline designed to bypass Ukraine and Eastern Europe, damage them financially, and enhance Putin’s political clout and the dependence of Western Europe on Gazprom. This was clearly seen as a provocation by the U.S. Senate, which voted 97 to 2 to impose sanctions on any company participating in this scheme. Yet, Angela Merkel and her socialist coalition partners, whose former party boss and current Putin lackey, Gerhard Schroeder, is the president of Nord Stream 2, promptly warned the U.S. to mind its own business. In doing that, Merkel, disregarded the vigorous protests of 13 Eastern European countries and those of the European Energy Union, which clearly cannot coexist with Nord Stream 2. This is yet another disturbing case where the dominant power in the EU has disregarded the interests of its EU partners to curry favor with Putin. Perhaps, somebody should have told Mrs. Merkel that blatantly disregarding the bipartisan will of the American Senate is never a smart idea on the part of somebody who still depends on the United States for its security.
Whatever the case, President Trump needs to be prepared for a hostile reception. It will help him to know a bit more about who Frau Merkel is as a politician and what exactly she stands for. So far, he has challenged her on Germany’s huge trade surplus with the United States, which is not smart and makes him look like a petty mercantilist. The reason for that is that while Germany does have a huge trade surplus with us, it is a relatively underdeveloped country in information technology, high tech, and financial services, where the U.S. can and does run circles around it. It could easily be proven, for instance, that when digital and financial services, licensing revenues, and investment returns are emphasized, the U.S. runs a much bigger surplus than the Germans do in trade.
The fact is that while Trump may not be quite right on the German trade surplus and its causes, Merkel’s 12-year rule in Germany has, for the most part, been unsuccessful, not to say disastrous. To start with, it was under Merkel’s leadership that Germany abruptly decided to ban nuclear power on the absurd assumption that the Fukushima disaster could repeat itself in Germany, a country that has never had a tsunami or an earthquake larger than 5 on the Richter scale. This irrational decision by the chancellor to do away with a legitimate industry that produced 25% of the country’s clean and inexpensive energy, apart from its dubious legality and lack of scientific and economic rationale, led to greater dependence on Russian gas and made inevitable the ‘energy transition’ (Energiewende) to renewable energy, whose disastrous consequences are only now coming into focus. Suffice it to say that the Germans already pay three times more than Americans (twice as much as the French) for their electricity, including a surcharge that is twice the market price of a kilowatt hour.
Bad as Merkel’s renewable folly is, it pales in comparison with her migrants debacle. Having opened the gates of Europe to unlimited immigration by mindlessly claiming that “asylum has no upper limit” and just as mindlessly repeating the mantra “we can do it,” Merkel created a fait accompli and expectations that could not possibly be met. More than that, by inviting and accepting what were essentially economic refugees seeking a better life as asylum seekers i.e. people traditionally persecuted for political or religious reasons, she de facto created a new right, the right to a better life, which has never existed in international law before.
This, in turn, guarantees that low-fertility Europe will be swamped by millions of rent-seeking Africans and Asians, who are mostly young and mostly male. The available statistics bear this out already. Asylum applications in the EU in 2015 and 2016 run some 1.3 million per year and there are additionally hundreds of thousands who do not bother to register. Moreover, even though very few of these migrants qualify for asylum, European authorities appear eager to recognize them as such. In 2016, 61% of the asylum requesters received refugee status or a subsidiary protection status. It is also the case that very few of those whose applications are turned down are deported. Once you make it to Europe, your chances of staying there are excellent, which means that the migrant wave is unlikely to subside soon.
There is yet another side to the migrants saga that receives little coverage in the politically-correct German media. After the initial euphoria of left-wing economists predicting a new Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) on account of the refugees, a sobering reality has set in.
The vast majority of migrants have neither work skills nor any German knowledge, which promises them long-term unemployment and welfare support for years. A year after the huge migrants wave hit Germany, industry had managed to hire only 54 migrants, while the cost of taking care of them is 20 billion euro per annum for as long as one can see. Add to this a 52.7% increase in migrant crime in 2016 vs 2015 and an ongoing epidemic of rapes and sexual assaults and Frau Merkel does not have all that much to be proud of. Mr. Trump may want to remind her of that too.