The British historian AJP Taylor believed that in Germany, classical liberalism always fails in the competition of political ideas. For over six decades, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) has tried to prove Taylor wrong. The FDP—which calls itself “Die Liberalen”—champions free-market economics and protection of civil liberties, while remaining the most “Atlanticist” of the German political parties.
German chancellor Merkel has proclaimed that Europe needs to find “redemption” from its economic sins through austerity. In Greece another round of austerity measures could push the already fragile economy toward collapse and the public toward desperate alternatives.
The Snowden and Manning cases invert the principle laid down by the late James “Scotty” Reston of the New York Times, who noted that “the ship of state is the only ship that leaks from the top.”
On the surface, the Cyprus crisis was about money, but actually it was the result of conflicting political cultures: European, Greek Cypriot and Russian. The fissures exposed during the March 2013 crisis will leave a legacy of mistrust and enmity far beyond the eastern Mediterranean island that staged the drama. The underlying problem was that Europe had accepted a non-European entity (Cyprus) into its institutions and then failed to enforce upon it Europe’s standards of financial governance. Russian money became fuel for the catastrophe, but was not itself the cause. Money laundering and bank insolvency are both deplorable but are not the same thing.
The financial crisis in Cyprus is, among other things, a stress test in relations between Europe and Russia. Thus far, neither has performed very well.
Relations between Washington and Moscow are currently in a sterile phase, and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Europeans, on the other hand, like to claim they are much more effective in understanding and managing the Russians. But are they?