There has been a lot of talk about who has won and who has lost in the recent negotiations on the Greek debt crisis, about who is strong and who is weak in Europe, who is cruel to whom and who has dictated what. This whole discussion, in my mind, misses the point. Europe, especially Germany, wants a strong Greece.
In 1867, then Prime Minister of Prussia Otto von Bismarck (who, with parallels today, maintained German hegemony over Europe) famously said that politics is the art of the possible. If you don't have to deal with a political opponent, you can dream up the perfect policy. But when you have an opponent, you have to set aside the dream and consider the political possibilities. This week, from Iran to Greece to Cuba, the world both celebrated and protested the politically possible. (continued)
Let's tell it straight: "Europe" committed suicide last weekend in Brussels. It was an assisted suicide. The IMF wrote the original story line and set the scene; the European Central Bank provided the revolver and ammunition; while Germany unrelentingly urged that the suicide was a necessary act of moral redemption that was imperative to save the EU from eternal damnation.
This week the geopolitical balance changed decisively. As Margaret Thatcher warned long ago, a German Europe, not a Europeanized Germany, would one day be the dominant reality on the continent. The tough terms of the latest Greek bailout and the relegation of France to a junior partner in those negotiations confirm her prescience. As Iranian philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo writes in response to this week's historic nuclear deal and opening with Iran, "from now on Iran will be a full partner in the big game in the Middle East and the world," including through "intensified sectarian proxy wars" in the region. (continued)