Geopolitics

Ghosts Of Defeat Inside Deserted NATO Base In Afghanistan

The new Taliban commander shows reporters from Die Welt around the deserted Camp Marmal, the German army's former headquarters in Afghanistan.

Fries, beer and barbecued meat. That's what was on the menu every year when the German troops stationed at Camp Marmal celebrated German Unity Day. "That was always a special day," remembers Mohammed Sayed (names have been changed to protect identities), who worked as an interpreter for the German army.

"It was a big celebration," he says, with a wistful look. "Ambassadors from other countries came to visit, as well as governors from various provinces in Afghanistan." This year, at Camp Marmal near the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, there was no Oct. 3 holiday celebration in sight.

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Germany Weighs Coalition Of Conservatives And Greens

Austria's conservative-green coalition, though currently facing a crisis linked to corruption allegations, has been cited as a possible model for Germany's current post-election talks to form a new government. Could there be a logic to pairing the center-right CDU and the Greens in Berlin?

-Analysis-

BERLIN — It was late September, 2019. Austria's elections had just taken place and the political parties, which had attacked each other throughout their campaigns, suddenly started talking, sounding each other out about joining forces. Three months later, on New Year's Day, a coalition government was formed, an alliance between the Austrian People's Party and the Greens.

Before the elections, the Greens' left-wing base was adamant they would never sell their soul to the devil by forming a coalition with their arch-enemy Sebastian Kurz, the man who had previously governed alongside the right-wing nationalist Freedom Party of Austria.

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Biden v. Democrats, Australia To Lift Travel Ban, Beery Japan

👋 Szia!*

Welcome to Friday, where President Biden suffers a blow as the vote on his trillion-dollar agenda gets delayed, Australia and South Africa are set to ease COVID restrictions, and a wild encounter leaves Shakira shaking. For Russian daily Kommersant, Anna Geroeva reports on how Lake Baikal, the world's largest and oldest lake, is silently being crippled by plastic pollution.

[*Hungarian]

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Post-Merkel, Macron And Draghi Will Try To Ease Europe's Debt Rules

Coalition negotiations in Berlin will make for a period of political uncertainty that French President Emmanuel Macron is keen to exploit. He already has a new Italian partner, with whom he wants to steer the EU in a new direction.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — In the coming weeks — perhaps even months — a power vacuum will reign in Berlin. But just like their colleagues in the world of science, political observers know that nature abhors a vacuum. It's just a matter of time, in other words, until the void is filled.

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Geopolitics
Alfonso Masoliver

Immigrants Don't Drive Up Crime: Here Are The Facts

Crunch the numbers, or just look around...and we see that immigrants, wherever they may come from, are not a disproportionate cause of crime or cultural degradation across Europe.

Standing outside Hamburg's Arts and Crafts Museum, I observe a little the traffic and bustle of this historic German port, home to two million people. I notice to my right two German women sitting on the grass in the Carl Legien Platz, gaunt but eager as they prepare themselves a syringe full of some drug. To the left, sitting on the museum's steps, is an African man, wearing a pretty checked shirt and white cap. He wipes his face in despair, trying to decipher a manual for a gadget or contraption.

Once they have had their injection, the women recline to enjoy the buzz, until two policemen arrive. They dryly nod at the African and ask the women for their ID. I observed with fascination and must say, no travel journalist should omit to record these little bits of reality. They are as informative to readers as sight-seeing recommendations or dining tips.

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Economy
Tobias Kaiser, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister

European Debt? The First Question For Merkel's Successor

Across southern Europe, all eyes are on the German elections, as they hope a change of government might bring about reforms to the EU Stability Pact.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) is the front-runner, according to recent polls, to become Germany's next chancellor. Little wonder then that he's attracting attention not just within the country, but from neighbors across Europe who are watching and listening to his every word.

That was certainly the case this past weekend in Brdo, Slovenia, where the minister met with his European counterparts. And of particular interest for those in attendance is where Scholz stands on the issue of debt-rule reform for the eurozone, a subject that is expected to be hotly debated among EU members in the coming months.

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Geopolitics

Angela Merkel: Germany's Global Cover Story For 16 Years

Approaching Angela Merkel's final days in office, we take a look back at the major chapters in her reign as German Chancellor and an unlikely political icon on magazine covers around the world.

As Angela Merkel makes her final preparations to leave the world stage, it's hard to imagine what politician could fill the shoes of the woman Germans came to call "Mutti": the mother of the nation. Having spent most of the first 35 years of her life in the former East Germany, trained as a quantum chemist, this unassuming daughter of a Lutheran pastor had an unlikely rise to lead Europe's largest country for a generation.

Fast forward to today, and Germany's first female leader is heralded both at home and abroad as a supreme tactician, skillful problem-solver and guarantor of European stability.

Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld summed up Merkel's achievements in an interview with Swedish broadcaster SVT: "She is well-read, she is calm, she thinks ahead in a world where everyone is nervous, moody and short-sighted."

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Geopolitics
Matthias Kamann

German Election: How Far-Right AfD Hit Its Ceiling

Germany's anti-immigrant far-right party has so far been unable to benefit from the decline of the Merkel's CDU party and find new voters.

BERLIN — When the results of the German federal election arrive Sunday, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party should have something to celebrate: the party, which has made nationalist, anti-immigration rhetoric a staple of its electoral program, could become the leading political party in the states of Thuringia and Saxony. In addition, the party is likely to elect several members of Parliament in the two states.

Security is also a major concern.

And yet, increasingly, we say that every AfD gain is relative. While the AfD may be making small gains in some German states, its share of the vote is poised to decrease compared to the last federal election in 2017. In nationwide polling surveys, the party has been stuck between 10-12% for months: While the ruling CDU hemorrhages voters as it seeks to build its future after the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the far-right doesn't seem to have been able to exploit the opportunity. Its modest advances are largely happening in places that were already party strongholds, like Saxony and Thuringia.

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Economy
Daniel Eckert

Merkel's Legacy: The Rise And Stall Of The German Economy

How have 16 years of Chancellor Angela Merkel changed Germany? The Chancellor accompanied the country's rise to near economic superpower status — and then progress stalled. On technology and beyond, Germany needs real reforms under Merkel's successor.

BERLIN — Germans are doing better than ever. By many standards, the economy broke records during the reign of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel: private households' financial assets have climbed to a peak; the number of jobs recorded a historic high before the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020; the GDP — the sum of all goods and services produced in a period — also reached an all-time high.

And still, while the economic balance sheet of Merkel's 16 years is outstanding if taken at face value, on closer inspection one thing catches the eye: against the backdrop of globalization, Europe's largest economy no longer has the clout it had at the beginning of the century. Germany has fallen behind in key sectors that will shape the future of the world, and even the competitiveness of its manufacturing industries shows unmistakable signs of fatigue.

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Geopolitics
Klaus Geiger and Christoph B. Schiltz

Afghan Refugee Crisis: Why Merkel Closed Her Open Border

The Syrian refugee crisis in 2015 ignited a bitter rivalry between Germany's Angela Merkel and Austria's Sebastian Kurz. Merkel was in favor of a "culture of welcome," while Kurz argued for border protection. But with the current Afghan refugee crisis, the German leader is shifting course.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — Six years ago, the now outgoing German Chancellor,Angela Merkel argued that borders cannot be divided by walls. That was on Oct. 26, 2015. Her future Austrian counterpart, Sebastian Kurz, disagreed. "It's simply not true to claim that it doesn't work," he said in an Austrian radio interview. "The question is whether we want to do it or not."

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In The News
Clémence Guimier, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Norway Votes Against Its Oil, Putin Self-Isolating, Potty-Training Cows

👋 Ia Orana!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Norway veers left, Putin is self-quarantining, and German scientists try to potty-train cows. Meanwhile, Delhi-based news website The Wire applauds India's recent Olympic gold medals but asks why it can't win Nobel Prizes?

[*Tahitian]

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Coronavirus
Melanie Loos, with contributions from Tobias Kaiser and Maximilian Kalkhof

Vaccine Hoarding: The False Promise Of Global Herd Immunity

Developed countries have promised to supply poorer countries with vaccines, but so far Europe is lagging behind in donations. With pure politics determining which countries receive vaccines, the broken vow is a threat to everyone.

BERLIN — In Germany, like in other Western countries, politicians and scientists are debating the merits of vaccines for children and booster jabs. Yet elsewhere, authorities are facing far more fundamental problems in tackling coronavirus. In many countries, especially across Africa, older people and other at-risk groups haven't even had their first vaccine, as there aren't enough doses available.

Although more than 4 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide, not every country has had an equal share: in more developed countries, around half of the population is fully vaccinated, while in the poorest it's less than 2%.

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Geopolitics
Jacques Schuster

Will Afghanistan Tarnish The End Of Angela Merkel's Tenure?

The German leader's aloofness on the collapse of Afghanistan has surprised many. For the past few months, her government has taken the issue too lightly and failed to debate it properly. This could prove a big mistake in her last weeks as German chancellor.

Anyone who summarizes Angela Merkel's government statement on the situation in Afghanistan comes up with the same words: "somewhat stupid." The coolness with which the chancellor and her government are approaching the collapse of the Afghan state has been breathtaking. It almost seems as if Merkel and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz have agreed to talk about abstract mistakes, in an effort to consign the Afghan failure to history's rubbish heap as quickly as possible.

Merkel is helped by the fact that she's about to leave: Her 16-year tenure as chancellor will end in less than a month. And four weeks before the election, hardly anyone seems to want to ask hard questions and uncover the breadth of the Afghanistan debacle. But this is what is urgently needed to draw the necessary conclusions for future operations. The Bundestag federal parliament could have used its meeting on Wednesday to set up a committee of inquiry, but it wasted this opportunity.

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Future
Meike Eijsberg

Why The World’s Military Leaders Are Drafting Science Fiction Writers

The year is 2056. Decades of war have resulted in constant advances in weapon technology — including one such novelty dubbed the "hypervelocity missile." Moving at six times the speed of sound, these weapons have changed the rules of combat. In order to protect themselves against attacks, armies have designed a sophisticated shield that can protect an entire city. Still it is not impenetrable, and the simmering war worsens when one government tries to break through the shield of another.

What sounds like the premise of a new binge-worthy series is instead the beginnings of an intricate scenario developed by science fiction writers hired by the French military. As Le Monde reported recently, the unusual collaboration between the French Ministry of Defense and the University of Paris Sciences and Lettres (PSL) has just launched the second season of this project.

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Sources
Manuel Brug

Diversity Efforts in Opera Fall Flat

BERLIN - Now, in the opera, there are Black people portraying Germanic gods, Russians appearing as Chinese people, and Don Giovanni may even be played by a trans woman. If ethnically correct casts are required to be politically correct, this would mean the end for many classics and several would become unemployed.

Trinidadian-born soprano Jeanine De Bique just starred as a forester's daughter at the 200th anniversary performance of "Der Freischütz" ("The Freeshooter") at the Berlin Konzerthaus, just as South African Golda Schultz did earlier this year in a similarly touching and powerful way. She will sing again soon at the Munich Opera Festival. Two people of color sang in "new German," the soprano was remarked as "so German and genuine" that Richard Wagner would probably have praised.

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Sources
Marlen Hobrack

Really? The Feminist Case Against Prostitution

Some feminists celebrate women who sell sex, claiming they are the pinnacle of self-determined empowerment. If that were true, millions of men would be queueing up to go in the game. Those who defend sex work are missing the point.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — As an outspoken feminist, from time to time I find myself in opposition to the movement's popular discourse. But among the apparently unimpeachable tenets of today's mainstream feminism, there is none that I find more questionable than its vehement defense of sex work. Certain feminists have even coined a phrase to refer to feminists who are opposed to sex work: SWERF (Sex-Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist). It's meant as an insult.

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