Christopher Howarth is a senior researcher working in the House of Commons. Prior to this he worked for Open Europe, as a Conservative Foreign Affairs Adviser and senior researcher to a Shadow Europe Minister.
To give Angela Merkel her due, she is responsible for a mini jobs boom. Hanging on her every utterance is a whole legion of pundits specialising in interpreting and imbuing inner meaning to even her most turgid of phrases. To those initiated in the art, Merkel is a towering colossus, an oracle – nay, the leader of the free world. To the uninitiated, she may look like the most overrated ruler to walk the European continent since Richard the Lionheart lost France but still came up smelling of roses. Her latest comments on NATO are a minor classic of the genre.
A German leader saying “we have to fight..for our destiny”, and that Germany cannot rely on the Anglo-American defence shield is strong stuff, enough potentially to give Germany’s neighbours the jitters – and a challenge to NATO’s primacy post-Brexit, surely?
As always, there are at least two interpretations. Firstly, it might have been meant as ‘just’ an electioneering ‘call to arms’ to anglophobic (in a US/UK sense) German voters to gain a mandate to build up EU defence co-operation in opposition to NATO. Alternatively, it could be seen as a way to dress up a welcome commitment by Germany to do more to correct its woeful underinvestment in its own defence via NATO and set an example to other EU states. To cut out the middleman, here is the direct quote Merkel gave to her Bavarian audience in its full Merkurial magnificence:
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