The chancellor is now desperately backing off her previous positions, slowly but surely, with an emphasis on slowly. She simply cannot admit failure. Ultimately, inability to admit mistakes dooms every politician.
In 2008, then senator Hillary Clinton lost the nomination to Barrack Obama for the simple reason she would not admit her vote for Bush’s absurd war in Iraq was an error.
Let’s fast forward to today and ponder the Spiegel article Opinion: Merkel’s Humane Refugee Policies Have Failed.
Last September, Angela Merkel opened Germany’s borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees, mostly from Syria. Her calculation that the rest of Europe would support her backfired. She now finds herself isolated at home and abroad as conditions worsen for asylum-seekers.
From today’s perspective, Sept. 5, 2015, feels like an eternity ago. That was the day when the chancellor made the decision to allow refugees who had been detained in Hungary to come to Germany. It was the day when she decided to adopt a humanitarian refugee policy — and the beginning of the erosion of Angela Merkel’s power.
Relent or Relinquish
When a politician experiences a policy failure, their power is jeopardized. They must decide whether to jettison those policies or relinquish power. Merkel appeared ready to put her power at stake with her open arms approach to the refugee policy in much the same way her predecessor Gerhard Schröder did with his Agenda 2010 structural reforms and Helmut Schmidt did with his NATO Double-Track Decision, which allowed the deployment of American nuclear weapons in Western Europe.
But that no longer appears to be the case. The chancellor will relent; in fact, she has already begun. Her policy shift is by no means radical — it is taking place in many smaller steps, making it more difficult to discern. But in the end, little will be left of the friendly face with which Merkel wanted to welcome migrants when they arrived.
Conditions for refugees are already rapidly deteriorating. Social benefits are being reduced, limits are being placed on family reunification in a way that will lead even more women and children to make the dangerous journey by boat to Europe. The number of countries designated as safe will be increased, allowing for the easier rejection and deportation of asylum applicants. And there will be a forced repatriation of Afghan nationals — to the very country that Western troops were unable to pacify and is now sinking into civil war.
Currently, significantly fewer refugees are arriving in Germany. This, however, is not the product of Merkel’s policies — it is the result of her failure. Fewer people are coming because Merkel’s opponents have closed the borders along the Balkan Route. Even back in the autumn when Hungary erected a border fence, the protest from Berlin was at best cautious. And when Turkey began erecting a wall along the Syrian border, officials expressed understanding behind the scenes.
Now that that Balkan Route is being sealed off, Berlin is declaring it to be the second-best solution. In a government declaration delivered in mid-February, Merkel soberly asked if it was worth while continuing “with our European-Turkish approach” or whether it might be better to just close the Greek-Macedonian border? What we are witnessing today no longer has anything to do with conviction — it is the return of the ultra-pragmatic Chancellor Merkel, who is paving an escape route from her previous policies.
The sign, painted along a wall on a road on Rügen Island in northeastern Germany, reads “We’ll Never Manage It, Ms. Merkel“.
I called for this well in advance, on October 18, 2015 to be precise: Swamped By Stupidity; Peak Merkel.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock