The formation of a state can be both a beautiful and terrifying event . As a national you now have a home and place to live with people of a common culture and heritage, an identity. If you are a founder of the new state, there would be a sense of accomplishment of having achieved the fulfillment of a lifetime goal. Other states which deemed this new state as legitimate and recognized it as a self-determined equal, have created a potential ally or enemy. The downside, the premature recognition and the actual struggle for that status, usually entails conflict, loss of life, revolution and even war.
A state was formed and recognized in 1871 in the center of Europe. This event has had an enormous impact since its inception. It has been both the salvation of Europe through economic depressions and hard times, as well as, the cause for two world wars and the near decimation of Europe. Its people have been back and forth between rags and riches, democracy and dictatorships, united, broken and then reunited. This state is known as Germany. Modern Germany has been reunified after almost 50 years of separation during the cold war. Once again German power and influence is on the rise.
The world watches because Germany has not been able to successfully retain both total sovereignty over its territory and be an economic world power, for a substantial period of time; without plunging the world into an unavoidable conflict. The question of Germany and its position in world politics is one which has plagued statesmen since Germany’s formation. This paper will argue that the answer lies within the state. Germany needs to secure itself as both the economic and political hegemon of Europe under the auspices of the European Union.
Furthermore, until Germany’s present condition and effectiveness in lobal politics changes, the instability in the European Union will continue, as well as, the persistent German question.. Twice in history Germany has risen from disorder and weakness to stand strong and belligerent upsetting the existing world order. Can there be any question of why the world views Germany suspiciously? In 1914, German expansionism and short-sighted diplomacy paved the way toward an inevitable war.
Germany moved from Bismarkian Diplomacy which maintained the “status quo” in Europe and abroad, to an aggressive militaristic imperialism which desired redistribution of global territory. A large naval fleet was built second only to the Royal navy (Britain) as well as a massive increase in military hardware production. By 1913 Germany replaced Britain as the main manufacturing European power. This fact reinforced by the aggressive nature shown in German foreign policy obviously was not in the interest of maintaining any sort of status quo. The situation was far from being solved.
Though Germany was defeated was placed at the mercies of the other victorious world powers, which were determined not have the scenario of 1914 happen again. Unfortunately, a similar situation did develop once again with Germany in the center. By 1938 Germany had rearmed and was aggressively expanding both its physical and economic boarders. Adolf Hitler saw the opportunities which a weak Europe armed with the ideas of appeasement as a deterrent for military aggression presented to Germany. These two historical occasions promoted a general distrust of a strong united Germany.
Both times in history after the conclusions of the wars Germany was used for its large production capabilities and natural resources. The first time was to pay back large war debt acquired by Britain and France. The second was during the cold war and Germany was split between the two super powers. Thus, the development of the German question or problem. Reunification was possible because of a few factors. The largest was the collapse of the Soviet Union which is also the most obvious. This is true due to the fact that the occupied eastern region of Germany by the Soviet army was relinquished.
The second was that West Germany had been so economically successful that the massive investments needed for updating East German industry, infrastructure and economy was available. The third was the existence and strength of the European Community. The collapse of the Soviet empire freed of East Germany and gave it its independence. The Soviets also hold vivid memories of the two times Germany rose to the status of a world power. Both times the Germans invaded and pushed deep into Russian territory, the last thing the Soviets wanted was a unified German.
However, the Soviet economy weak and collapsing was unable to retain its occupation and relinquished control in 1989. The merger between East and West Germany, in 1990, has not been easy, to say the least. Germany faces three major problems concerning unification. The first of these dilemmas is unemployment. Only 56% of East Germany’s 16 million population was employed prior to reunification. East German government which employed 2. 2 million has now been reduced to 1. 2 million. Manufacturing employment dropped from 3. 2 million to approximately between 800,000 and 1. million.
These are grim statistics, however, this produces an opportunity to devise new methods of retraining and experiment with part-time employment projects. The second problem facing Germany is the enormous expense of upgrading the shabby infrastructure which is in the east. The infrastructure includes roads, railroads, telecommunications, public ervice, public educational systems and the postal service. This gives Germany the chance to integrate technology and new organizational systems which will bring the east to or even surpass existing standards located in the west.
Thirdly, is the environmental problems which are located in the east after decades of neglect. The deplorable conditions of the east are going to prove to be quite a challenge both in practice and economically. East German officials disclosed that its industry has the highest sulphur dioxide per capita producer in the world, 5. 2 million tons a year. There also exists over 15,000 identified toxic waste umps. Approximately 70% of existing East German industry fails to meet the West German environmental laws. Despite the severity of these very expensive dilemmas, reunification needed to take place for the benefit both Germany and Europe.
Now with the added 16 million people, the increase of physical size Germany, the situation in Eastern Europe and the existence of the European Union there has never been a better time for Europe. Possessing the resources, economies, population and production of practically the entire continent of Europe, the E. U. is in a very strong position globally. The European Union is the organization which has been absent in the past to act as a European systems diagnostic. It allows the member states to exist independently and interdependently, keeping them in check not allowing for unwarranted forms of imperialism and predatorial power politics.
It creates a much needed form of a “check and balance” system, which is empowered by functionalism. Functionalism, in relation to politics, is defined as the states actions in surrendering some authority which would normally rest in the hands of a sovereign state to a supranational institution. Germany has locked itself into an greement which allows member states to build their industries, maximize their power, expand economically and play politics without creating extreme political strife and eventual war with neighboring countries.
For Germany “the E. U. s an almost desperately needed vehicle and instrument for German policy, internationally and at home. They can do more as a member than going out on their own… Germany wants a strong, properly integrated E. U. ” This quote establishes the idea for Europe, who is extremely weary of the newly reunited state, and Germany; that the E. U. is a necessary institution for peaceful coexistence. The European Union also sets a stage for Germany to rise to a position of the economic leader in Europe without exercising the past forms of militaristic expansionism.
In the recent and almost disastrous time for the E. U. the ratification of Maastricht, the social problems of Union surfaced first in Denmark. The Danish making it absolutely clear that they are tired of Germans renting property along the Danish coast and how happy they were that Denmark beat Germany in a soccer championship match is fine. But to turn down the treaty that could bring lasting security to Europe for an extend time period is a ad short-sighted. Realizing the alternative that they could be engulfed beneath a third expansionistic military regime creates room for the questioning the wisdom of such a rejection of the proposed referendum.
Granted, to say that this is the only alternative is indeed a stretch, however, the point is that the deepening of the E. U. is of absolute importance, whether it be by Maastricht or another means. As Germany grows in stature, the Germans are bound to feel that their role is changing, especially with the developments in Eastern Europe and beyond. These developments have created a power vacuum through which Germany will naturally feel the need to lead in “safe-guarding” order.
It is the nature of politics to say that as German power grows so will German influence, the only peaceful alternative and answer to the German question is the E. U. Only, that is, if the E. U. remains elastic to always contain but not hinder the growth of its members, especially Germany. This brings the argument to ask the question of whether there can be a European Germany or only a German Europe? This asks if Germany can be successfully and “properly” integrated with the rest of Europe. This is a nonsensical question which is self defeating. Are the Germans ome sort of special breed of humanity which make them inherently above the law? Alfred Baring, a German Historian, is referred to as accusing his “fellow citizen of a laxness bordering on irresponsible.
Stating that, “Germans have been political lightweights for forty years and want to stay that way. ” Continuing that, “Germany has been living in an idyllic situation in which it has not had to challenge itself and think of its role in Europe. ” Germany is as much of a part of Europe as France or Italy. Each nation-state has a position and a role to play in the E. U.. To discard Germany as being overbearing and dominant, lacing it on the shelf will simply not work. Giving Germany a monopoly on political an economic policy making is also foolish.
This argument is not about creating a fourth German empire. Germany has a role to fill in Europe, fear and paranoia should not be allowed to dictate how it is accomplished. “A strong, properly integrated European Union” is possible with Germany. The word “strong” is an attribute of which Germany has been all to familiar with. History is full of examples, some previously stated in this paper, of a Europe integrated through strength. However, “properly” is the key word in Euro-integration. Nietzsche, in his work “Beyond Good and Evil” addresses this matter.
He states, “I hear with pleasure that our sun is moving rapidly in the direction of the constellation of Hercules: and I hope that men on earth in this matter emulate the sun. And we at their head [italics mine], we are good Europeans! ” This is an analogy speaking of the movement of politics and power shifts in the late 1800’s towards Germany, in the perspective of a German philosopher. He believed that Germans were unique to the rest of the populous of Europe. Unfortunately, this philosophical notion has been altered and used for rather devious measures. Adolf Hitler is the best example of this.
Germans are unique as are all races in and outside of Europe. However, Nietchzsche saw that perhaps the German people possessed a quality not of superiority, as the “Uber Mensch”; but rather analogically speaking of the Germans in Europe as a whole. That “properly integrated” means a strong Germany both economically and politically, not hiding behind checkbook or its constitution. Thus, after over 120 years Germany has seen mush change and German power is on the rise again. This paper has illustrated the past struggles of Germany which has affected the world.
The reach for power y attempting to establish an empire under the Kaiser and the militaristic expansionism shown by Adolf Hitler both ended in conflict bring the world to war and Germany to its knees. The new battle Germany faces is the reunification process, Eastern Europe and the European Union. All of these three factors are crucial in the future of Germany. As argued in this paper Germany needs to establish itself as a stable and reliable support for Europe under the auspices of the European Union. The success of the European Union and the economic development of Eastern Europe are in direct relation and dependant on that event.