Why does Germany do such monumentally stupid things?

I was reading Arthur Herman’s column in the WSJ Decoding the Zimmerman Telegram, 100 Years Later and I began to think about all the really, really dumb things Germany has done. And it’s not as if the Germans are dumb. A look at the Nobel prize list makes it clear that there are many brilliant Germans. But if we go back in history and look at the political decisions Germany has made, it is a cavalcade of catastrophe. In the 19th century, Germany was the cradle of socialism, not all the ideas, but certainly the movement. Then it decided to unite Germany, not a bad idea in and of itself; but it then led to the idea that it should conquer Europe. In the process, it threatened the US with invasion by Mexico, bringing the US into the war and onto the world stage. And to top it, they put Lenin in a rail car and sent him to St. Petersburg launching the Soviet Union. Hitler then rekindled the idea of conquering Europe, including the incredible decision to invade Russia and then declaring war on the United States directly, creating an enemy that might have sat out the European war.

After suffering a defeat as devastating to Germany’s people as the Thirty Years War, Nato was created to keep the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans down. And for 70 years it was a success. Germany started well by establishing an economic powerhouse. It succeeded in reuniting Germany after the cold war was won by the US in spite of German handicapping. But since then it has made decisions with terrible consequences, not only for Germany, but for much of Europe. It has used the EU and the Euro to peacefully achieve, with American connivance, what it twice failed to do by violence. And the consequences have become deleterious at best for the rest of Europe. The Energiewende has been a catastrophe, leading to more pollution by increasing the coal and biomass burned to create energy and the highest electricity costs in Europe. Germany’s refugee policy has invited invasion by unassimilabe masses inimical to European culture and values. And a policy of minimal defense expenditures has led the Americans to consider getting out and the Russians getting back in. And now China has become Germany’s largest trading partner.

I have long felt that the EUropeans were more than capable of defending themselves and we should pull out of Nato to force them to do so and to save money. Why should we allow them to freeload? But now with the Americans leaving, the Russians returning, and the Germans rising, I am having second thoughts as I consider the possible consequences.

21 thoughts on “Why does Germany do such monumentally stupid things?”

  1. I don’t know any Germans, as I know English, but a few contacts suggest to me a very high opinion of themselves that is not always justified.

    A terrible event in modern German history was the death of Frederick after only 99 days as Kaiser. He and his father, Kaiser Wilhelm I, were wiling to let Bismarck assemble the German nation and then try to behave as a mature state, trading with its neighbors and moving gradually to a more liberal political status.

    The death of Frederick is considered a catastrophe for Germany by some. Wilhelm II was unstable and jealous of his English cousins.

    Frederick and Victoria were great admirers of Prince Albert, Victoria’s father. They planned to rule as consorts, like Albert and Queen Victoria, and to reform what they saw as flaws in the executive branch that Bismarck had created for himself. The office of Chancellor, responsible to the Emperor, would be replaced with a British-style cabinet, with ministers responsible to the Reichstag. Government policy would be based on the consensus of the cabinet. Frederick “described the Imperial Constitution as ingeniously contrived chaos.

    The disaster was partly due to Victoria’s conviction that English physicians were superior to German, an error with momentous consequences. Surgery was far advanced in Germany at the time and for another 30 years, Frederick died of cancer of the larynx that may well have been curable in competent hands.

  2. I know a Russian (actually Belorussian) who once asked me “Which German killed more Russians in the last century, Marx or Hitler?”

  3. When you’re the largest, most powerful nation in Europe your mistakes can be real doozies. No matter what awfulness Koreans, say, get up to, it doesn’t have the same ramifications.

  4. Merkel’s folly must be the worst political decision in Europe since The War. Even Hitler and Stalin didn’t manage to destroy Germany. She may prove to have done.

    “The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils.” Enoch Powell.

  5. Before 1933 about 1/3 of all German Nobel Prize winners were Jewish, and the others probably still greatly benefited from the oversized impact of Jewish research and scholarship. Germany truly led the world in science, medicine, and literature. After 1933, Germany’s loss has been the United States’ and Israel’s gain. Almost half of our Nobel Prize winners since have been Jews, and Israel would’ve won many more prizes if not for political scapegoating.

    I think the subject has come up before that the German regions with the worst atrocities against Jews during WWII also had pograms against them in the Middle Ages. It would be interesting to try to map Jewish immigration, prosperity, and persecution with the ups and downs of German civilization. I suspect there would be a strong correlation.

  6. “Before 1933 about 1/3 of all German Nobel Prize winners were Jewish”

    I was wondering the same thing.

    I think the Jewish population of Germany at present must be very small. How many Nobels since the war ?

  7. “And now China has become Germany’s largest trading partner.”

    Without the Ukrainian putsch Russia would be the largest trading partner. That is why the regime change was engineered.

    You can expect China to step in almost anywhere with great deals. That is how they operate and it’s like the beginning of MMA when the Brazilian judo guys dominated the entire genre. As time went by the big strong strikers figured out how to, at least deal with it.

  8. I have long felt that the EUropeans were more than capable of defending themselves and we should pull out of Nato to force them to do so and to save money.

    Oh, they have every physical capability to defend themselves, if they should want to. The problem is, they have absolutely no desire to defend themselves, and without that nothing we do in Europe with or without a physical presence or in or out of NATO will allow the defense of Europe as a whole. Germany lusts to become part of the Caliphate, if you look at their actual policy. And to destroy their own economy, looking at their actual policy. France is not far behind them, but there is some small chance of resistance there if the elitist stranglehold on their politics can be broken. A few of the smaller Western European countries might be willing to rally, if there were someone and something to rally to. The former Warsaw Pact countries are willing to stand to preserve their own existence, but they face the pressure of Russia which regards them as part of Russia’s exclusive sphere on one side, and an EU that hates them for not being willing to go quietly into the not so good night.

    Until a couple of months ago, the US could be depended upon to talk a little and to yield as a matter of policy which gave no one not speaking Russian or Arabic any confidence.

    If I had my druthers, which will not happen I’m sure, we would be out of NATO, our nukes [especially the US owned NATO stockpile at Incirlik AFB at Adana Turkey which is surrounded by the troops of Islamist dictator Erdogan] would be moved to somewhere safely under our control, and we would be making bilateral agreements to defend those countries who are willing to stand against both Russian pressure [the most obvious but the easiest to do with our help] and the Caliphate. Those countries who will not defend themselves [deeds not words] can deal with Darwin. And in any future conflict can be used as kill zones.

    You cannot save someone who is determined to be lost.

  9. I din;t know enough about Incerlik but what if we just staged a mass exodus? Would the Turks try to stop us?

    I met some very friendly Turkish Army officers when I was there in 2006 but I wonder if any are out of jail ?

    They have not been allies since 2003.

  10. “Germany lusts to become part of the Caliphate.”

    I think there’s so much ignorance and confusion and shortsightedness at many relevant levels of decisionmaking (voters, elected officials, judges, other bureaucracy, opinionmakers of various kinds) that it is unlikely that such a long-term goal as that can be a big part of what’s going on. What proportion of those actors are actually both (1) correctly understanding the relevant cause and likely effect and (2) patient and disciplined enough to expend resources on a boil-the-ocean plan with a 10-year-or-so payoff time? As opposed to. e.g., grabbing what they can or making a makeshift response to today’s crisis, thinking 1 year out only on a very good day or at least a day which happens to be exactly one year before the next major election?

    The escalating flakiness around bank policy and fiscal policy doesn’t seem to me to be consistent with a consequence of decisions made with a 10-or-more-year planning horizon, and the insouciant liquidation of the credibility of official pronouncements and MSM and academia doesn’t either. They look more like the actions of actors who aren’t particularly serious about anything beyond the next election or high-profile political battle. And conversely, the actions over the last five or more years don’t look to me like a serious attempt to join the Caliphate on the kind of impatient a-year-is-a-long-time timeframe that seems to be implied by the actions.

    I do think there are self-destructive motives and spiteful motives and irresponsibly and foolishly selfish motives centrally involved. (E.g., I find it difficult to see the stubborn commitment not to immigration in general but to specifically importing an underclass without arriving at explanations at least as perverse as that.) But I think the motives that motivate actual actions by most of the players are those motives that play out in a pretty short timescale, motives such as having clients or excuses to use around the time of the next election, or having new material for visiting headaches and worse upon political enemies, or playing out more-hardcore-than-thou social signalling games with rivals for within-faction advantage.

  11. Mike, I’ve seen conflicting figures about ethnicity and nationality of past nobel prize winners, including on Wikipedia. Different counts for German nationals, ethnic Germans not living within the borders, ethnic Germans who lived within the borders at one time but then the borders moved due to war, etc. I personally wouldn’t count the peace prize either because it’s turned into a silly popularity contest.

    Here is a good chart showing prize winners over time that I think does a good job showing the overall trend.

    Modern physics was pioneered by German physicists, and nuclear fission was discovered in Germany in 1938. However, general relativity was labeled a Jewish science. Jews like Einstein, Niels Bohr, and others were forced to flee. Their work was reconstituted in America, and the Jewish science then saved the world.

  12. Max Perutz was a German Jewish refugee who was, ironically, deported to Canada with thousands of German Jews when the war began because they were German aliens.

    He returned and began the Cambridge department of molecular biology that has revolutionized Medicine and Biology.

    here is a list of the Nobel Prizes that followed in his wake.

    He was the one who founded the lab and who nurtured all those careers. His biography is riveting.

  13. “Jews like Einstein, Niels Bohr, and others were forced to flee.”

    Nils Bohr didn’t “flee”, at least not in the sense of running away when the Nazis invaded Denmark. When the British government wanted his advice on the atom bomb they persuaded him to slip out to Sweden and from there the RAF flew him to London.

    Did Einstein “flee”? Yes, at least approximately. “He was visiting the United States when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and, being Jewish, did not go back to Germany.” (WKPD)

    I was at a party in Cambridge once when the host boasted about the number of Nobel prizewinners in his kitchen. They were from the LMB, which itself was an offshoot from the Cavendish. I used to park my bike in the original LBM building aka “The Hut”.

  14. Mike K Says:
    February 25th, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    As of a few months ago, Incirlik was the storage for the NATO nuke stockpile for that part of the world. There were supposedly 300-400 [that is a guesstimate as the number is classified] of what are really OUR nukes there. When Erdogan seized power after the false flag coup attempt, the base was surrounded by thousands of troops loyal to Erdogan, blockaded, and Turkish troops entered the base to seize Turkish personnel there whose submission to Erdogan was suspect. I have heard nothing to indicate that the troops are gone, but apparently the blockade has been eased. While Incirlik is near the coast at Adana, there is no direct route to the sea that does not go through the Turkish Army.

    If I had my druthers, since we still have air traffic at the base, we would be [or already would have] moving the stockpile covertly to first the nearby RAF Akrotiri NATO base at Cyprus, and then on to a safe storage. If we cannot move the entire devices, at least the fissionable components. Wire the rest of the device for demolition.

    I note that at the time that we were blockaded, the National Command Authority very carefully made sure that we did not have a CVBG in the Med. That kind of force could have ensured a safe evacuation of the devices by both helicopter to the CV and safe escort for land based transport planes to Akrotiri.

    Further druthers, all US forces out of Turkey, including the NSA posts. Turkey is not our ally, does not belong in NATO, and we have to adapt to the new world situation without the distraction of having US personnel held hostage. If we evacuated everything, if Turkey tried to stop us that rises to a cassus belli. I do expect that there would be a lot of demolition of our stuff that we could not take.

  15. I got into a discussion with some Londoners about Cambridge awhile back, about its history with the physical and natural sciences. Someone threw out something about “Fenland Polytechnic.” I think I was the only one who didn’t get the joke.

  16. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are secret legal issues — like decades-old agreements regarding nukes, NATO roles, or other stuff like that, drafted and agreed to by not particularly wise people at a time when even the wisest would have had trouble anticipating anything like the situation of the last few years — which add a significant amount of extra Incirlik-specific confusion to the usual high level of recent general US foreign policy incoherence. I suspect this not because tidy sensible explanations for Incirlik are qualitatively harder to find than similar explanations for actions in Libya or Syria or for negotiations with Iran, just because Incirlik touches on several things that esp. in the twentieth century seem likely to have offered many temptations to become constrained that way.

  17. Look at the German Energiewende (the current policy pushing renewables) which has become a total disaster. If you know Germany (as well as most of Europe) class distinctions still matter a lot. A German kid is tracked into either the trades or university at around junior high with little chance of changing that picture. The elite universities are still good but the majority are pretty slack. Couple all of this with a strong tendency to cultural compliance and conformity and you get a society that can become obsessive or completely explode. I’m met lots of Germans on their extended US vacations and a lot go out west for both the natural scenery and a culture of free choice. Route 66 is prime target. Most non-conformists left for the USA in the 1870’s to 1920’s.

  18. DirtyJobsGuy…”A German kid is tracked into either the trades or university at around junior high with little chance of changing that picture.”

    Yet historically, German who wanted to go to university in Engineering needed first to do an apprenticeship in a craft. This at least was the way it was when jet engine pioneer Gerhard Neumann was coming up in the 1930s (worked in an auto repair shop–and a very good system he thought it was)…and a machinist I know who did his apprenticeship in German about 20 years ago said that was how it worked when he was there.

    If that’s still going on, I’d think i would ensure at least some admixture of the classes.

  19. Anonymous Says:
    February 27th, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Boiled down, Spengler’s thoughts are to the effect that if Germans vote against Merkel, who is destroying Germany, Europe, and any semblance of a Western Alliance, then they will get the Left who will destroy Germany, Europe, and any semblance of a Western Alliance.

    That is the same bind Americans have been in for too long. If we did not vote for the GOPe Republicans whose only goal was to help the Democrats win on every issue so that they [GOPe] could line their own pockets and be invited to all the right parties; then the Democrats would win on every issue and the GOPe would not be able to line their own pockets and be invited to all the right parties.

    From the point of view of the voter, the difference is a null set.

    And the longer the GOPe is enabled, the longer it will be until a real opposition arises.

    Germany is in a similar bind, with the disadvantage of a Parliamentary system of government by coalition that means the same ruling class stays in power regardless of what the people want. One probably cannot in good conscience vote for anything but the Alternativ für Deutschland in Germany and at the same time prepare for civil disorder. There being no way for the opinions of the masses to influence government policy.

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