Time Names Merkel 'Person of the Year,' Lauds Her 'Leading From Behind'

December 9th, 2015 11:58 AM

In an announcement which deservedly carries far less weight than it has in the past, Time Magazine (1997 circulation, 4.2 million; current circuation, 3.3 million) has named German chancellor Angela Merkel its 2015 Person of the Year.

The stated reason for her selection: "Not once or twice but three times this year there has been reason to wonder whether Europe could continue to exist, not culturally or geographically but as a historic experiment in ambitious statecraft." The magazine believes that Merkel saved the day each time. It seems highly unlikely that she would have risen to the top of the pack without the third item Time's Nancy Gibbs cited, namely Merkel's open-borders acceptance of migrants erroneously described as "refugees" dozens of times in its various supporting articles.

It has become quite clear that calling migrants into Germany and other European Union countries "refugees" is dangerously ignorant and often deliberately deceptive:

  • UK Daily Mail, Sept. 18"Four out of five migrants are NOT from Syria: EU figures expose the 'lie' that the majority of refugees are fleeing war zone"
  • National Review, Sept. 11"Most of the Syrians we see on the nightly news and on newspaper front pages are not fleeing war-torn Syria."
  • Washington Post, Sept. 23"Migrants are disguising themselves as Syrians to enter Europe"

The U.S. and most of the world's dinosaur press insist on ignoring this ugly reality. Now one of its perceived leading publications is rewarding its chief enabler.

The aforementioned context is necessary for readers to understand how weak Gibbs' justification for Merkel's selection really is (bolds are mine throughout this post; numbered tags are mine):

Then came 2015. Not once or twice but three times this year there has been reason to wonder whether Europe could continue to exist, not culturally or geographically but as a historic experiment in ambitious statecraft. Merkel had already emerged as the indispensable player in managing Europe’s serial debt crises; she also led the West’s response to Vladimir Putin’s creeping theft of Ukraine. But now the prospect of Greek bankruptcy threatened the very existence of the euro zone. [1] The migrant and refugee crisis challenged the principle of open borders. [2] And finally, the carnage in Paris revived the reflex to slam doors, build walls and trust no one. [3]

Each time Merkel stepped in. Germany would bail Greece out, on her strict terms. [1] It would welcome refugees as casualties of radical Islamist savagery, not carriers of it. [2] And it would deploy troops abroad in the fight against ISIS. [3] Germany has spent the past 70 years testing antidotes to its toxically nationalist, militarist, genocidal past. Merkel brandished a different set of values—humanity, generosity, tolerance—to demonstrate how Germany’s great strength could be used to save, rather than destroy. It is rare to see a leader in the process of shedding an old and haunting national identity. “If we now have to start apologizing for showing a friendly face in response to emergency situations,” she said, “then that’s not my country.”

And so this time, the woman who trained as a quantum chemist did not run the tests and do the lab work; she made her stand. The blowback has come fast and from all sides. Donald Trump called Merkel “insane” and called the refugees “one of the great Trojan horses.” German protesters called her a traitor, a whore; her allies warned of a popular revolt, and her opponents warned of economic collapse and cultural suicide. The conservative Die Welt published a leaked intelligence report warning about the challenge of assimilating a million migrants: “We are importing Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism, national and ethnic conflicts of other people as well as a different understanding of society and law.”

Despite the supposed wondrousness of Merkel's responses to these three items, the problems remain, and are getting worse.

[1] — As to Greece, a July Wall Street Journal editorial asserted that the latest bailout of Greece "solved nothing":

The modern Greek tragedy isn’t over—after an interlude, there will be more acts. The deal struck with European leaders on July 13 will, with luck, avert an immediate financial collapse. But three underlying problems remain: Greece must escape from the current depression, reduce its debt burden and restore its competitiveness.

[2] — As to the migrants largely mischaracterized as "refugees," the points previously made above and the leaked intelligence described in the excerpt suffice. But Gibbs really took an uncalled-for deep dive into the admiration well when she wrote the following:

At a moment when much of the world is once more engaged in a furious debate about the balance between safety and freedom, the Chancellor is asking a great deal of the German people, and by their example, the rest of us as well. To be welcoming. To be unafraid. To believe that great civilizations build bridges, not walls, and that wars are won both on and off the battlefield.

The problem with Gibbs' rose-colored characterization should be obvious: Merkel didn't "ask" the German people if opening up their borders to unfettered immigration was a good idea. She simply imposed the policy on them, just as several other governments in the EU have done. (Meanwhile, the Arab world "is doing "next to nothing" to resettle "refugees"; perhaps they know something about these migrants we don't, or that our alleged leaders won't acknowledge.)

The Obama administration in the U.S., which has told a supermajority of the its states' governors that it must accept "refugees" placed there by the federal government, is also attempting to impose its preferences against popular will.

[3] — Bombing and deploying troops against ISIS is probably a good idea, but it will do almost nothing to prevent future terror attacks like Paris as long as the EU allows the migrant horde to continue to resettle without anything resembling proper vetting.

Finally, it's impossible to let one comparison Gibbs made slide by without comment, as she likened the pre-2015 Merkel to President Obama in the following fashion:

Her political style was not to have one; no flair, no flourishes, no charisma, just a survivor’s sharp sense of power and a scientist’s devotion to data. Even after Merkel became Germany’s Chancellor in 2005, and then commanded the world’s fourth largest economy, she remained resolutely dull—the better to be underestimated time and again. German pundits called her Merkelvellian when she outsmarted, isolated or just outlasted anyone who might mount a challenge to her. Ever cautious, she proudly practiced what Willy Brandt once called Die Politik der kleinen Schritte (the politics of baby steps), or as we call it in the U.S., leading from behind.

Time has named Obama Person of the Year twice. This nation's president has notoriously "led from behind" for seven years, with ever more disastrous results. That's a bad but unfortunate precedent for Merkel, Germany and the European Union. The likelihood that she, her country and the EU will emerge unscathed, let alone better off, from her recent misadventures seems prohibitively low — but at least she'll have a Person of the Year cover from Time to admire when it all hits the fan.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.