Attraction and Repulsion Define French-German Relations

Together, Germany and France have long been viewed as the motor of European integration. In the midst of the economic crisis, however, old suspicions, rivalries, between Europe’s two key nations are being reawakened. Once again, German approach has France’s intellectuals mystified and the tone is getting sharper. Unfailingly vigorous chronicler of glorious and heroic deeds of Frenchmen gazes out of his living room window, across large square, at massive Pantheon in Paris, where the grateful fatherland pays homage to its great men (and a few women). Author Max Gallo, 80, a member of the Académie française, the intellectual high court of the nation, views himself as a “republican patriot.” He has spent 4 decades of life searching for France’s historical identity. The list of his popular books comprises more than 100. He churns out best-sellers about the French Revolution, Napoleon, Victor Hugo, Charles de Gaulle, World War II. Who could lay claim to knowing the soul of French people, in all of its nostalgic ramifications, better than this keeper of the seal of long-faded political sense of mission? Europe seems to have established special culture celebrating round anniversaries of important historical events. With yet another approaching, Gallo is currently working on a book about the months leading up to the outbreak of World War I, the seminal catastrophe of 21st century, in August 1914. During his work, he noticed an intriguing and unsettling parallel to the current crisis in Europe. Just as in 1914, says Gallo, current events could also trigger a chain reaction, driven by nervousness, panic, conflicts of interest, alliance obligations and practical constraints, which could ultimately defy control by politics, diplomacy. A 100 years ago, says Gallo, it was mobilization plans of military leaders, worked out down to the last detail, including train departure times, while today it is anonymous market powers, banks, market traders, with their computerized commands, that have plunged all key players into “prognostic impotence”, a “chaos of improvised decisions.” Does historian and author truly believe the lights could go out again throughout Europe, this time in a fratricidal war over financial and economic policy? In response to Gallo’s appealing and yet seemingly absurd comparison, one could point out, as the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk has done in his remarks on German-French relations since 1945, Europeans are no longer making war preparations, but instead are solely focused on concerns about the economy. “They have forsworn military gods and completed a conversion from heroism to consumerism,” says Sloterdijk. Is this sufficient reassurance? Judging by what committed French intellectuals are saying this summer about their perceptions of the crisis and distribution of roles between Paris and Berlin, it is clear they are not willing to simply release the 2 countries, once enemies and now partners (according to official parlance), from their passions and the shackles of history. Each of the two leading powers, Germany and France, possesses a key, and the keys can only be used together to liberate Europe from its tower of debt and the fetters of financial markets. If Berlin is willing to cooperate, that is. But German government’s intentions are mysterious. There is an unspoken suspicion German Chancellor Angela Merkel, that unemotional heir to former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, a sentimental advocate of France, could be pursuing a hidden agenda, and that her secret goal is to prepare Germany, the world’s third-largest exporter, for the fight for survival in the age of globalization (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


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