breaking news from the world of ideas

by Ralph Schoellhammer
Wednesday, 25
January 2023
Idea
13:00

How Germany’s tanks could make peace more likely

Improving Ukraine's battlefield strength can ensure a prolonged stalemate

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

This is a mood to consider while assessing the potential impact of the recently announced deliveries of German, British, and American-built tanks to the Ukrainian armed forces. Enthusiasts like former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claim that this will finally turn the tide in Kyiv’s favour, while critics warn that it risks further escalation which will unnecessarily widen and prolong the conflict. ...  Continue reading

by Ralph Schoellhammer
Thursday, 19
January 2023
Analysis
13:00

What’s behind Olaf Scholz’s Ukraine hesitancy?

The German Chancellor continues to drag his feet

Olaf Scholz has had a busy week. Not only did the Germany Chancellor present his new Secretary of Defence, Boris Pistorius, to the world, he also delivered a special address at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Understandably the focus was on Ukraine, where pressure is mounting on Germany to either deliver some of its Leopard 2 battle tanks directly to the Ukrainian armed forces or allow other nations to do so. Scholz has so far resisted the move, and other member states — like the Netherlands, for example — show no signs of going directly against the German stance when it comes to heavy weapons. ...  Continue reading

by Ralph Schoellhammer
Thursday, 12
January 2023
Analysis
10:22

The German Greens are playing into Russia’s hands

The push for clean energy may, perversely, lead to more demand for Russian gas

Throughout German history, reality has been a nuisance to be dealt with, not a fact to be faced. As the philosopher Hegel once quipped, “if facts contradict to my theory, the worse for the facts”.

This tradition continues to this day. At the time of writing, members of the Green Party are protesting the expansion of coal mining around the village of Lützerath, demanding an end to the use of coal for energy production. The expansion of mining, however, was approved by the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Robert Habeck — who is of course himself a member of the Greens. Confronted with this contradiction, and the argument that the expansion of coal was necessary to compensate the decline of nuclear energy, a Green member of the German Bundestag clarified that the party base wants neither coal nor nuclear. ...  Continue reading

by Ralph Schoellhammer
Wednesday, 4
January 2023
Dispatch
14:15

Migrant violence mars New Year’s Eve in Germany

But politicians respond with only silence

Over the last decade, Germans have greeted New Year’s Eve with more and more trepidation. On what is meant to be a day of celebration, in Germany it shines a light on something much uglier: the country’s failed migration and integration policies.

This year, violence against police and firefighters, especially in Berlin and other cities, broke out. Unfortunately, the German government is attempting to deflect from the uncomfortable truth that non-integrated migrants and asylum seekers tend to be at the centre of these incidents. This was exemplified by the reporting of one of the largest public broadcasters and the German Police Union who claimed that it is “difficult to talk about perpetrators because these are group dynamic processes as a consequence of the pandemic” — carefully avoiding any mention of the demographic groups involved. ...  Continue reading

by Ralph Schoellhammer
Thursday, 29
December 2022
Debate
15:21

Europe’s obsession with organic farming hurts the poor

Insisting on less efficient production methods at a time of shortage is perverse

In the midst of the current global energy crisis, it can be helpful to look at how past societies dealt with similar problems. It is almost forgotten today but, as the author Vaclav Smil has pointed out in his most recent book, the industrialised world at the end of the 19th century was on the brink of serious food shortages, as the combined populations of Europe and North America grew from 300 million to 500 million between 1850 and 1900. Farmland became short in supply, so the only way to avoid a Malthusian nightmare of mass starvation was to find ways to increase agricultural output per acre.  ...  Continue reading

by Ralph Schoellhammer
Thursday, 15
December 2022
Analysis
07:00

The EU is regulating itself into irrelevance

From Twitter to greenhouse gas emissions, the answer is always more red tape

Otto von Bismarck supposedly once said that “with bad laws and good civil servants it’s still possible to govern. But with bad civil servants even the best laws can’t help.” Today, he would probably have to add that the worse the civil servants are, the more laws and regulations they seem to produce. 

The European Union is increasingly becoming an example of this. It has been an open secret for a long time that working for EU institutions is either a form of early retirement for politicians, or a lucrative career for lifelong bureaucrats.

The European Parliament is currently roiled by a corruption scandal which alleges that Qatar bribed one of the legislative body’s vice-presidents, Eva Kaili, to lobby on its behalf. Apparently she received 600,000 in cash, which is ironic since the Union is currently in discussions to limit cash payments for EU citizens to a maximum of 10,000. The vice-president title might sound impressive, but in fact there are 14 of them, presiding over 405 members of a “parliament” that does not even have the fundamental right of every other legislature in the free world: the right to propose laws. The parliament can only approve or reject proposals from the European Commission, making it a representative legislative body in name only.  ...  Continue reading

by Ralph Schoellhammer
Wednesday, 7
December 2022
Reaction
17:15

The Reichsbürger coup attempt is a warning to Germany

Democracy is at its most fragile during periods of economic crisis

Was Germany on the brink of experiencing its own January 6th moment today? German authorities arrested 25 individuals suspected of being a part of the “Reichsbürger” (Citizens of the Reich). Their aim? To storm the Berlin parliament and establish a new government around Prinz Heinrich XIII, a 71-year-old member of a former aristocratic German family, House Reuß.

The Reichsbürger is a far-Right fringe movement with an estimated 21,000 members across Germany and Austria. Among the wannabe revolutionaries are a former member of the Bundestag for the Right-wing AfD (Alternative for Germany), a judge, and an ex-soldier of the KSK, the elite unit of the German army. Despite the relatively small size of this group, the people arrested have skills in the use of firearms and would have had access to the layout of the parliament. This meant that they could have wrought severe havoc and potential loss of life in their coup attempt. ...  Continue reading

by Ralph Schoellhammer
Thursday, 1
December 2022
Analysis
10:15

Germany’s new immigration law is doomed to fail

Olaf Scholz's proposal does not address the root causes of migration

In a planned reform of its immigration system, Germany has decided to make it easier for its migrant population to become German citizens. Call it a reverse-Sweden, if you will. At first glance, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s proposal seems quite reasonable — the country’s bureaucratic apparatus is tedious and makes it difficult to integrate new arrivals, even if they possess skills valuable for the labour market. 

After all, research institutions have estimated that the German economy would need approximately 400,000 qualified immigrants each year to keep the industry going and  — probably even more importantly — to ensure the sustainability of the pension system. ...  Continue reading