Germany has become a country of Trumpites
It may seem hard to believe, but the country that was scandalised like no other by Donald Trump’s every utterance during his four years in the White House has, almost overnight, become a country of MAGA hat wearing, frothing Trump fanatics.
They just can’t admit it to themselves yet.
1st conversion to MAGISM - Iran
This morning, the general secretary of the Free Democrats, Bijan Djir-Sarai, was being interviewed on Deutschlandfunk radio about Iran. In teh interview, he demanded an end to talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal with the justification that no other countries in the Middle East want the deal. So why does the EU think that it knows better?
To which the interviewer responded: “So, does that mean that Donald Trump was right to pull out of the deal when he did?”
Mr Djir-Sarai didn’t know what to say.
He couldn’t possibly say that Trump was right. That is the closest thing to political suicide that there is in Germany.
Instead, he waffled about how his eyes had been opened by the fact that the mullahs had used the money they made through the deal to finance terror around the world.
The interviewer interjected - that this is exactly what the White House said when it withdrew from the treaty in 2018.
Mr Djir-Sarai could barely string an answer together before claiming that “the idea of the deal was in theory good, but in practise some things weren’t adequately considered.”
The DFP man is far from alone in calling for an end to the deal. SPD leader Saskia Esken demanded this week that “we must end the talks.”
Meanwhile, in liberal newsrooms across the country, where Trump’s original decision was derided at the time, it now belongs to good taste to say that the Iran nuclear deal is dead.
Der Spiegel - my trusted barometer of the whims of middle class hysteria - fumed at Trump back in 2018 for “breaking his word” on the Iran nuclear deal and “risking international instability.” These days they chastise the German Foreign Minister for failing to speak out against the Mullahs for fear that it could endanger said deal.
One wonders what new things these wise journalists and politicians have learned about the regime in Tehran over the past four years that has led to their Damascene conversion?
2nd conversion to MAGISM - China
When Donal Trump declared back in 2016 that China was the greatest threat of the 21st Century, the German intelligentsia were up in arms. The lunatic in the White House was risking WWIII through his bellicose rhetoric and populist policy of “decoupling”, we were warned.
The German response to Trump’s isolationism? We need more globalisation! We need more trade with China! Yes, the rulers in Beijing are autocratic regime, but they have always trusted trade partners.
Fast forward six years and, oops, it looks like Trump was right there, too. At least you could certainly get that impression from reading the opinion pages of German broadsheets this week.
In assessing the risks involved in the Chinese state company COSCO buying shares in a terminal at Hamburg Harbour, two German broadsheets - the Süddeustche Zeitung and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - both relied primarily on the opinion of a certain Isaac Kardon.
Who is Mr Kardon? An analyst at the US naval academy. Because, apparently, if you want an objective opinion on Germany-China relations these days the only sensible place to go is to the US military.
Meanwhile, the lead article in this week’s issue of Der Spiegel harangued Olaf Scholz for his “naivety” in travelling to Beijing next month. It is a question of “when not if” a new cold war is coming, the article claimed. “Disengaging from China will cost money and energy, but it is better to start now instead of talking it up as a reliable partner.”
What I missed in the article was a nod to the great and wise Mr Trump for seeing these developments coming long before anyone in Germany had woken up to them.
Of course, in all seriousness, the German intelligensia’s sly conversion to Trumpism smacks of panic and disorientation. Just as they do in every crisis, the spokespeople of the Bildungsbürgertum grab hold of the first ill-thought-through solution that floats their way and vow fiercely that they’ve never seen the world any other way.
It goes without saying that German strategy in Beijing and Tehran should not be dictated by the latest moral panic to grip Der Spiegel’s newsroom. Policies towards both of these countries have to be dictated by German and European interests that are considered in terms of years and decades and not the latest news cycle.
Whether German has pursued the right policies in recent years in either of these capitals is a matter of debate. But no one should take seriously the voices of commentators who just a couple of years ago chastised Trump for dragging the world into war - and are now attacking Scholz for failing to do as Trump once did.