Current Events & Trends: The stark reemergence of German power

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The stark reemergence of German power

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This began after World War II with America's Marshall Plan (1948-1952) helping to set West Germany back on its feet. Startling economic successes followed in its wake. The next big step was the reunification of East and West Germany following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

After a number of troubling years of absorption, Berlin has now emerged as the economic engine that propels the European Union. So far Germany remains the only country that has largely escaped the effects of recession.

Already uncomfortable with the growth of German power (acutely remembering Berlin's war-making role in the first half of the 20th century), the media in much of Europe and Britain has reacted negatively to Chancellor Angela Merkel's role in the Cypriot crisis. She wants to save the euro in Cyprus and stabilize this currency for the European Union.

Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times gave this assessment:

"Yet growing German power—and growing resentment of that power—are now the main themes of European politics. This is a historic irony, given that the main purpose of the whole European project [the EU], from the 1950s onwards, has been to end for ever the idea that Germany is simply too powerful to coexist comfortably with its neighbours. The stock phrase—in Berlin, as much as in Paris or Brussels—was about the need for a 'European Germany, rather than a 'German Europe.'

"After the Cyprus crisis, however, it looks increasingly like a German Europe—because the direction of a continent in crisis is being shaped, above all, by the ideas and preferences of politicians and officials in Berlin" ("The Making of a German Europe," March 25, 2013).

The German economy, however, slowed considerably in the last quarter of 2012. If that trend persists, bailing out countries in southern Europe may become increasingly politically perilous for Chancellor Merkel at home. For now, though, she is unquestionably the leading political figure in Europe, successfully weathering several political and economic crises so far. (Source: Financial Times.)