Thursday, 4 February 2016

Angela Merkel: "the worst chancellor post-war Germany has ever had"

The New Zealand based political and economic analyst Oliver Marc Hartwich has some tough (but very true) words to say about German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

But it is not just Merkel’s political party that is suffering from her decision no longer to police German borders. It is a costly exercise to allow vast numbers of poorly qualified migrants into the country. In December last year, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy estimated the annual costs of integrating Germany’s migrants to be up to €55bn.
Meanwhile, economist Bernd Raffelhüschen, Germany’s leading expert on generational accounting, calculated that integrating one million refugees would result in a total cost of €450bn.
However, that may be too optimistic on two counts. First, Germany has already received more than 1.1 million newcomers last year alone and more are coming. And second, Raffelhüschen assumed it would only take six years until new arrivals reached a qualification level comparable to previous migrants already in the country. If only.
The most extreme estimate for the costs of integrating is Thilo Sarrazin’s. The former finance minister in the state of Berlin, former Bundesbank director and outspoken book author believes the lifetime costs, including family reunions, could reach EUR 1.5 trillion.
No matter what the real figure will be in the end, one thing is certain: The long-term costs of Merkel’s policy are only comparable with historic events such as Germany’s unification or the devastations caused by wars. And these are just the pecuniary costs of absorbing poorly qualified migrants. That there are social, cultural and political as well as economic and fiscal costs is plain to see.
With her policies, Merkel has also isolated Germany in Europe, as I already explained last week. Never before has post-War Germany had fewer friends and allies than in these days.
Finally, by ignoring international treaties, conventions and domestic constitutional law, Merkel has damaged trust in political institutions and the rule of law. Two former justices of Germany’s Constitutional Court, Udo di Fabio and Hans-Jürgen Papier, have now publicly condemned her policies as illegal. Papier, a former president of the court, went so far to say that “never before has there been such a discrepancy between the law and reality”.
During her tenure as Chancellor, Merkel has been responsible for a number of costly policy mistakes, chief among them the decision to switch off nuclear power stations after Fukushima and the establishment of costly bailout and guarantee schemes during the euro crisis. Each of them has burdened taxpayers with hundreds of billions of costs and implicit liabilities.
With her actions during the refugee crisis, Merkel is dwarfing even these previous policy blunders. If one were to add up all her mistakes, they can now be counted in the trillions. Again, these are just the monetary costs. In committing her mistakes, Merkel has also damaged her country’s reputation, its integration into the European Union, the European Union as an institution, the rule of law, as well as political stability in Germany and its neighbours.
With such a record, any Chancellor should have resigned a long time ago — or be kicked out by voters or at least her own party. That Merkel still clings on to power only shows how successfully she had previously purged her party of any potential rivals.
No matter how long Merkel still manages to stay in office, she will go down in history as the worst chancellor post-war Germany has ever had. The sooner she goes the better.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Central and Eastern European NATO countries to receive heavy weaponry from the US

The Obama administration has been weak when it comes to security and defense policy. However, this move is to be lauded:

The US will devote a substantial portion of its defense spending to building up its military presence in Eastern Europe in an effort to deter Russian aggression in the region, Obama administration officials told The New York Times.
Countries belonging to the NATO alliance in Central and Eastern Europe will apparently receive heavy weaponry, tanks, and other equipment from the US, which quadrupled its budget from $789 million to more than $3.4 billion for military spending in Europe through 2017.
"This is a really big deal, and the Russians are going to have a cow," Evelyn N. Farkas, the Pentagon's top policy official on Russia and Ukraine until October, told The Times on Tuesday. "It's a huge sign of commitment to deterring Russia, and to strengthening our alliance and our partnership with countries like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia."
The move comes four months after Russia launched an air campaign in Syria to prop up embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a move widely seen as an attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to secure and expand Russia's influence in the Middle East.
Russia's presence in Syria, however, has "undermined" virtually everything the West is trying to accomplish there and beyond, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in an interview with Reuters from a refugee camp in Jordan on Monday.
That includes the US's attempts to bolster "moderate" Syrian rebel groups, which have been targeted by Russian airstrikes, and the US-led anti-ISIS coalition's attempts to wipe out the Islamic State in Syria, which has largely been spared the brunt of Russia's punishing air campaign.