Merkel is under heavy fire - even from Der Spiegel. But a disgraced French editor has found new and very creative ways of turning reality on its head
The Guardian has run an opinion piece by former Le Monde editor Natalie Nougayrède hailing Merkel's Brisbane speech as potentially "a major shift in European geopolitics".
Nougayrède's spell as Le Monde editor was short-lived. After just a year Le Monde's senior staff revolted against her. Feeling "undermined" she left, searching for "new horizons".
Her new horizon, however, seems to be sharing deep thoughts with Anne Appelbaum. Nougayrède is a neo-con whose articles, full of wishful thinking, are just as short-lived as her tenure as Le Monde editor.
On Nov 12, for example, she wrote: "Forget the BRICS: America and China will reshape the world order". One week later, Putin first used the word "alliance" in relation to China during his ARD interview. And on Nov 22, China officially recognized the Crimean referendum. Forget the BRICS? Forget it, Natalie.
This time Nougayrède's Russia-bashing article was refuted by developments in Germany that took place days before, not after, her article was published.
As RI readers found out last week, Merkel's Brisbane speech may actually bring in a major shift in... wait for it... German politics. A shift from a long phase of Merkel's undisputed leadership to one where she gets increasingly challenged.
Last week, Der Spiegel's cover read "Cold Warriors" in large, icy letters, against the backdrop of Putin and Merkel staring at each other. The captions added: "History of a Showdown: How Merkel and Putin brought Europe to the Edge of the Abyss".
On the same day, Spiegel Online added a damning editorial in English entitled "Summit of Failure: How the EU lost Russia over Ukraine"
Signed, in an unprecedented move, by Spiegel Staff as a whole - hence indicating an overall editorial stance – the leading article refused to blame Putin for the Ukraine crisis. It instead blamed Merkel.
There you go. Just as Merkel's political opponents "smell blood" – a coincidence? - Germany's leading weekly equates Merkel's faults to Putin's.
And just a week earlier, ARD had given 30 minutes of airtime to Putin, who was finally able put forward his views in full before a major Western audience. ARD's editorial decision was also unprecedented.
Meanwhile, as we reported, a senior German politician endorsed the Russian annexation of Crimea.
It was all happening in Germany as The Guardian published: "Why Angela Merkel is saying farewell to Ostpolitik".
Had they been into journalism, instead of Russia-bashing, they would have asked: "Why is Germany saying farewell to Angela Merkel?", given the current situation in Berlin!
Besides, Merkel's Brisbane speech just cannot bring in any major shift in European geopolitics for a technical reason: how more subservient to the US, and deaf to her own citizens and businesses, can a German Chancellor be?
A video shot at the end of August in Dresden gives a taste of how strongly many Germans resent Merkel's handling of the Ukraine crisis.
The crowds are shouting "Kriegstreiber" (=“Warmonger“) at her. Some of the placards read: "Peace with Russia", "All Media lies". Others are portraits of former Chancellor Schröeder.
The resentment that Merkel's stubborn Atlanticism arouses among ordinary Germans is thus an old story, surely one The Guardian has yet to catch up with, but an old story nonetheless.
The news is that even senior politicians and business leaders are now getting tired of Merkel's Atlanticism, and this may eventually lead to Merkel's downfall.
The way Nougayrède described Germany's unwillingness, back in 2003, to join the "Coalition of the Willing" sends her article straight into the Neocon Hall of Fame: "Gerhard Schröders cosying up to Putin over the Iraq war". Refusing to destroy a country and kill multitudes is now "cosy".
In her eagerness to bad mouth Schroeder, Nougayrède also makes factual mistakes. Schröder did not go to "head one of Gazprom’s companies in Europe", he joined the board of directors of South Stream, an international joint venture in which Italy's ENI, France's EDF, Germany's Wintershall, as well as Gazprom, have a stake.
Nougayrède then describes ordinary Germans as being wary of "outright lies of state propaganda, as demonstrated by Russia over Ukraine and the downing of the MH17 plane".
In fact, Germans have been busy with their own country's "state propaganda“, at least since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis.
Ordinary Germans also inundated ARD, Germany's first channel, with complaints, until in June, ARD advisory board met to evaluate them. The resulting report upheld viewer's complaints and criticized ARD's own reporting of the Ukraine crisis for being „inadequate, one-sided, biased“.
As for MH17, why doesn't Nougayrède tell us about its black boxes, sent to London three months ago and not yet released, instead of making dishonest, unfounded innuendos?
And what about the non-disclosure agreement signed by Ukraine, Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands that allows Ukraine to veto the results of the inquiry?
Is that too an example of "outright state propaganda lies“?
Next Nougayrède laments that "Russland Versteher Crowd“ is "very powerful“.
It is certainly strong among businesses and ordinary citizens. It is getting stronger among those very SPD politicians, Merkel's rivals, who are not ready to say farewell to Germany's Ostpolitik. They would rather say farewell to Merkel as Chancellor.
Nougayrède also describes Russia as being „economically fragile and swarming with militaristic nationalism“.
I for one know of another, neighbouring country, which is economically bankrupt and swarming with an aggressive nationalism of the worst kind. But it is clear that while the Odessa massacre, or the shelling of homes, schools and hospitals in Donetsk took place – the latter are still taking place - Nougayrède was looking the other way. It must be all "outright lies of state propaganda"!
As for Russian economy, Nougayrède seems to ignore that Russia's GDP is at 3,500 Billion USD, the world's sixth largest as measured in PPP - roughly as big as Germany's.
Besides, if the Russian economy really were so "fragile", then why are so many businesses - Nougayrède herself mentions "Italy's industrial lobbies" - are opposing sanctions?
Could it be that sanctions, as Putin suggested, are hurting both sides - mostly Russia of course, but also, gradually, Germany and the EU?
In her deluded, wishful-thinking mood, Nougayrède doesn't even address the issue.
But German businesses, as well as former Chancellor Schroeder, have long warned against a "sanctions spiral", precisely because they know how fragile the EU own economic recovery is.
And now, at long last, the gloves might be off for Merkel.
So much for a speech that "may go down as a major shift in European geopolitics".