Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat who is mayor of Hamburg and has been assumed to be a capable politician, was a member of the ruling elite. Future chancellor or party leader – the world was his oyster. But after this weekend’s events he is damaged goods. In the run-up to the G20 summit in their city, the people of Hamburg were promised an orderly event, like the 2017 anniversary celebrations of their port. Instead they got an orgy of violence by left-wing radicals. Scholz might not step down, but this is certainly not a step forward for him either.
It wasn’t exactly a secret that Hamburg’s radical activists hate globalization and saw the G20 summit, staged just around the corner from their favored haunts, as a provocation. Even so, 20,000 police officers were still unable to cope with 1,500 violent protestors. And they protected the politicians, but not the people. They cleared some tent camps thrown up by demonstrators, but then didn’t show up when cars and stores were in flames. If you decide you’re going to be tough, then you have to carry it through.
The summit proved that Germany has got a security problem with left-wing fascists. It also proved that the whole G20 pomp and circumstance really wasn’t worth the effort. And despite all the spin doctors, it didn’t even help Chancellor Angela Merkel’s election campaign. The events in Hamburg showed that the G20 summits don’t encapsulate globalization; instead, they reflect the threat to globalization. Why not have these get-togethers in New York at the UN in future?
Merkel is getting kudos from all sides, despite the chaos overshadowing the weekend’s events. You have to make the most out of every opportunity. Most of all, you can’t help but admire her realism, with her statement, “Where no consensus can be achieved, the declaration must reflect dissent.” Or as French writer Guy de Maupassant said, “The best way to stop having lots of problems is to have only one problem.” In this case, that would be the problem of Donald Trump and what he could yet do to America.
The world’s most powerful nation turned the G20 into the G19. The US continued to stall over the Paris agreement’s climate demands, demanding that “clean” fossil fuels be included. That’s about as likely as the Hamburg radicals becoming a peace movement. Despite the lip service to free trade, Trump insisted on recognizing “the role of legitimate trade defense instruments”, his euphemism for protectionism. Back in Washington and back on Twitter, he said that the US needed to fix bad trade agreements. And his darling daughter Ivanka personally explained to Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Merkel and Theresa May what to do about Africa, taking the president’s place in one session at the last minute. This particular aid program smells like nepotism to me.
The press was back on Trump’s trail in Washington, revealing that his campaign chief and son-in-law met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, on June 9, 2016, in Trump Tower. Allegedly, she didn’t disclose any negative details about Hilary Clinton, Trump’s election rival. Meanwhile, Trump proposed setting up a joint cyber security unit with Russia to prevent election hacking, before backtracking on the plan. It’s “time to move forward” with Russia, he said. But Veselnitskaya already knew that.
How do you define German courage? Maybe Christian Lindner, leader of the liberal Free Democratic Party, can provide an answer. After all “German courage” is the party’s motto. Today the FDP will present their election manifesto. Lindner, 38 years old, prefers not to be called German’s analogue to Emmanuel Macron – after all, his party isn’t “En Marche!” all over the place like Macron’s. It takes courage, Christian.