Meet the potential new European Union boss, Frau Merkel’s twin:
A polyglot Brussels native who reared seven children and earned a medical degree on the side before storming to the top of German politics.
News that this Wunderfrau — aka German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen— could become the Commission’s next president left European capitals abuzz on Tuesday. “Finally some good news” was the general tenor. Who needs a Spitzenkandidat when you can have a Homecoming Queen?
At first glance, the affable 60-year-old minister with a camera-ready smile looks to be a perfect fit, with the requisite experience, political pedigree and personality to handle the EU’s toughest job.
And yet a nagging question remains: Is she too good to be true?
In the German capital, the answer is clear.
“Von der Leyen is our weakest minister. That’s apparently enough to become Commission president,” former European Parliament President Martin Schulz seethed in a tweet Tuesday evening.
Though Schulz is a Social Democrat, his analysis of the minister’s record is shared by many of von der Leyen’s fellow Christian Democrats, though most are reluctant to criticize her publicly. Instead, they point to the state of the German military.
“The Bundeswehr’s condition is catastrophic,” Rupert Scholz, who served as defense minister under Helmut Kohl, wrote last week before von der Leyen was nominated to the EU’s top post. “The entire defense capability of the Federal Republic is suffering, which is totally irresponsible.”
Among friends and foes alike, von der Leyen’s stewardship of the defense ministry, which she has headed since 2014, is regarded as a failure.
The women who says “My aim is the United States of Europe” will probably do to Europe what she has done to German army. From a certain Eurosceptic point of view, we should be cheering on the appointment to the EU’s highest offices of the member nations’ most incompetents, where they can mainly do damage to the Eurocrats’ sand castles.
Here’s today’s Bundeswehr, by the way:
Fighter jets and helicopters that don’t fly. Ships and submarines that can’t sail. Severe shortages of everything from ammunition to underwear.
If it sounds like an exaggeration to compare Germany’s Bundeswehr to “The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” look no further than the army’s standard-issue assault rifle, Heckler & Koch’s G36. The government decided to scrap the weapon after discovering that the gun misses its target if it’s too hot…
On a recent trip to Lithuania, where about 450 German soldiers are stationed as part of a NATO mission to deter Russian aggression, U.S. officials were dismayed to discover Bundeswehr personnel communicating on unsecure mobile phones due to a shortage of secure radio equipment.
Fewer than 20 percent of Germany’s 68 Tiger combat helicopters and fewer than 30 percent of its 136 Eurofighter jets could fly in late 2018. Pilots, frustrated that they can’t fly, are quitting.
Rommel wept. Not that I’m personally not enjoying this moment when the Polish army could easily kick the German army’s ass for a change, but it’s a problem for everyone, not just the Krauts.