October 29, 2015

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Angela Merkel Takes Germany Down a Suicidal Path:

Germany has bragged of its compassionate capitalism — a mix of private enterprise and paternalistic statism that supposedly checks the exuberance of cowboy profit-seeking and better redistributes the largesse more equably among the population.

But the Volkswagen cheating reminds us that statist capitalism is more, not less, likely to encourage corporate law-breaking than a supposedly selfish American strain of free-market economics. Competition, a more transparent and independent media, and an adversarial rather than partnered government do a better job of checking corporate outlawry.

Who or what might eventually deter the territorial ambitions of Russian president Vladimir Putin? Germany has become the most powerful of the European nations largely by creating a lucrative Eastern European trade empire. The former nations of the Warsaw Pact and many of the breakaway republics of the former Soviet Union sell resources to the German economic juggernaut. In exchange, they buy German consumer and industrial goods — and expect German leadership and protection from an aggressive Putin.

But profits can outweigh German principles. Apparently, the only deterrent that may stop Putin from invading more countries is not watered-down German trade sanctions, but American troops flown into Germany’s backyard from more than 3,000 miles away.

The Greek-German debacle, the migrant mess, the Volkswagen cheating, and the Putin aggression remind us that too often Germany’s professed good intentions are eclipsed by German self-interest — an all-too-familiar experience.

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