There is a chill in the air, not due to any harsh winter weather, but due to the recent departure of the dearest lady of steady democracy and meaningful freedoms, Angela Merkel; a leader with a steely spine who was able to ameliorate competing leaders and build a European identity, while also controlling NATO-expansion.
The loss is deeply felt from Washington D. C. to Moscow to Beijing, as each has lost a trusted friend they could be completely candid with. Having met her several times, when Harold Braun and later, Christoph Heusgen, served as Germany’s exceptional Permanent Representative to the United Nations. She was, in the halls of power, just as she is on a personal level when she’s shopping for groceries: purposeful. A point she made in the Oval Office with then-President Donald Trump: “Do you want to have a handshake?”
Alas, who will fill the void she leaves behind, having faithfully served as an honest fiduciary of “liberty and justice for all,” but always protecting the German worker, is a pregnant question without a due date for an answer. That she will be missed, is open for all to see as current events start to overtake us, from the Ukraine-Russia border and the incendiary straits of Taiwan. Maybe, presidents Biden, Putin and Xi ought to consider forming a new G3 and appoint Merkel as its Secretary-General, with jurisdiction limited to War, Peace and SARS-CoV2/Pandemics.
It wasn’t always so. Germany is a word that causes an intense reaction, especially in the 20th century. After the devastation of World War I and the excessive reparations that predestined the Weimar Republic that followed the Great War, its ignoble doom in the hot flames of hyperinflation concurrently gave birth to Hitler and his Third Reich. The resulting evil of the Holocaust and the Second World War reminds us to this day the cost of both appeasement and a ‘Big Lie’ going unchallenged.
Post-World War II, however, saw the emergence of true American generosity – the Marshall Plan – to rebuild Germany, Europe and Japan. The 1945 Yalta Conference between three giants of their time – Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin – not only carved up the world, so to speak, as in the “West” and the “East,” but they also, in a contrary step, harnessed hope itself and embedded it in the UN Charter, uniting the world with ideals, and addressing reality with its UN Security Council and P5 multi-polar structure. It is this conflicting paradigm – along with the unique contributions of a self-aware Angela Merkel over nearly two decades – that has served so far to prevent World War III to date, despite many a near-start.
Sadly, dear Merkel has retired with quiet grace, and the drums of war are beating ever-louder, as if to acknowledge her absence and to call her back.
Merkel was born Angela Dorothea Kasner in Hamburg, West Germany, and moved as an infant to East Germany with her clergyman father. Her first political affiliation was with the Christian Democratic Union in the old Communist GDR. A scientist by training, she earned a doctorate in quantum chemistry in 1986 and worked as a research scientist until 1989. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the German reunification in 1990, Merkel was elected to the Bundestag for the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
As the protégée of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Merkel was appointed as Minister for Women and Youth in 1991, later becoming Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in 1994. After the 1998 CDU election loss, Merkel was elected CDU’s General Secretary, and then went on to serve as Leader of the Christian Democratic Union from 2000 to 2018, Leader of the Opposition from 2002 to 2005, and as the chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021.
Not since Sir Thomas More, a Man for All Seasons, has there been a Lady for All Seasons until Angela Merkel. She will be sorely missed, as miscalculations multiply, and dramatic rhetoric draws lines in red.
The America Times celebrates the lasting contributions of Angela Merkel to global prosperity, peace and security, and with a full measure of respect, says: Danke sehr!