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A Deal for Greece May Have Been Reached, but It Is Germany Who Should Be Humble

14/07/2015 22:51 BST | Updated 14/07/2016 10:59 BST

We live in a German-created world. So it is not surprising that Germany should be propelled into the leadership over whether or not Greece should be resuscitated or expelled.

After all, the whole concept of a united, borderless Europe grew out of the need to submerge Germany in a bustle of nations, so that Germany's concerns would become about Europe rather than about itself.

You might call it a fluffy-tailed version of a united Europe that Kaiser Wilhelm II planned for a post Great War world in which Germany had won. Or even what Hitler planned for his European contemporaries. The European community was conceived as a way of ending Germany's hegemonic domination, replacing it with more of the cooperation.

Even Winston Churchill realised in 1945 that you can't keep going to war with the strongest and most resilient economy in Europe, if not the world. You had to bury it in other nations.

Hence this one-time single-handed defender of the British Empire saw that peace might be better achieved by submersion of both the UK and Germany in a federation, so they didn't periodically have to fight each other to a standstill.

So Europe is a Keep Germany Constrained project. Keep it caged. But the problem is that Germany so outsmarts and outperforms the whole of Europe that it cannot but raise the major problems of what happens when someone becomes too strong.

Germany is in an invidious position. It outstrips its fellow Europeans. It knows how to run a successful economy at a time when most European economies are lame and dependent on high levels of government support. It knows and demonstrates that hard work and fiscal maturity rewards all.

Unfortunately it does not understand its own history and the history of Europe. It does not understand that the Germanic grabbing of Europe in two world wars has screwed with the economies and cultures of Europe.

The two wars were essentially about the internal problems of a German economy that needed breathing space. Now Europe provides that lebensraum without the need to militarily control its neighbours.

Germany, because of the nature if its recent history, cannot talk about history. They cannot in their current vitriol against Greece deal with history. They cannot talk about their own saving by the US taxpayer on two major occasions - the inter-war Dawes Plan and the post war Marshall Plan, two investments in reconstructing their society by vast handouts.

If Germany did honestly reflect on its recent history they might have to accept that where Greece is today is where they might have been a mere 70 years ago - relying on the generosity of strangers, receiving money from people who never met them, looking for a handout with appealing eyes.

There are other ways in which Germany dominates in the world. Consider the two superpowers who dominated for much of the post war world. How did a depressed US economy in 1939 end up with half the world's wealth in 1945? And how did a Soviet economy that was suffering from its forced rapid industrialisation become the most powerful military force in the world?

Germany not only dominated the Greek financial talks, it created much of the modern world. Can you imagine Israel existing without the murder of nearly six million Jews by the Nazis in the course of the Second World War? Can you imagine impoverished and subjugated Poland, still struggling to recover from the effects of its multi occupation, without German intervention?

Germany is now at the centre of things. What might help Germany in its engagement in the world is to fall in love with its uniqueness. To stop denying itself. To digest its own terrible responsibilities and bless the fact that it was largely unpunished in the post war world.

And to cut a bit of slack to other failing economies and give them the chance to arise from their own limitations.

Modern Germany is a Europely created miracle; Germany did not do it all itself. Even more abject and self-harming than anything Greece has done to itself Germany owes Europe, and Russia and America. It's time now for Germany to grasp its specialness and put that to the benefit of the Europe and the world that it, more than anyone, has created.

Putting Europe together was an insurance policy that Germany would not rise again, and to stop it thrusting its specialness down the throat of its neighbours ever again. It was either create a European federation, or do what the US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, suggested - turning post war Germany into an entirely agricultural country, stripping it of its industrial and technological power. In other words, emasculating this dynamic powerhouse.

The Europe that was created was a fine idea, and was embraced by Germany. But Europe would still throw up historically created complications. The imbalance of Europe's development, by combining the original historical founders of Europe as a political and social concept, particularly Greece and Portugal, with the powerhouse of Germany, was bound to come to grief.

Forgetting and forgiving is a great idea. But it cannot be done by an act of blind denial. We only have a powerful Russia and a powerful America in the forms that they take because Germany upset the world with its murderous war of domination under Hitler. It helped create these two superpowers that then lorded over the post war world with dreadful consequences. The current inflaming of the Middle East was greatly enhanced by the two superpowers that Germany gifted to the post war world, and by a troubled Europe, much of it the leftovers of a Russian European empire that grew directly out of that German war.

Perhaps Stalin would have arrived at the gates of Prague and Budapest at some time or other. But armed to the teeth and with little opposition would have been unimaginable without the way Germany militarised and strengthened Russia by its invasion. And give it the means to control the lands it 'liberated', having forgotten to go home.

Even the continuing stand-off over Ukraine comes about because of Putin's intransigence in having Russia's Cold War enemies at its gate. Putin does remember, even if others forget, Yalta 1944 when the world was divided as spheres of influence by Russia and the US. What you might call the 'You keep out of my back yard and I'll keep out of yours' form of horse trading.

Even now Europe, including Germany, cannot seem to grasp that Russian ambition is largely the result of how Germany changed Eastern Europe, and Russia forever.

Russia was industrially, politically and diplomatically transformed by its Great Patriotic War against Germany. And now we live with the results of all of this relatively recent history.

Germany should bite the bullet and not quibble about supporting a peripheral economy that has been brought into the European exercise, created to accommodate a Germany that shares rather than controls Europe. It should be humble from its pinnacle of plenty, a plenty that was orchestrated by the US as a bulwark against a Russia that Germany made all-powerful.

Greece does not need our support because it is where democracy was birthed, nor because it is an economy and political unit that was blighted by the German War, but because in order for Europe to work it has to learn to face up to its own history and why it was created.

The community of Europe, I repeat myself, was created to keep Germany sane and neighbourly. Germany was forgiven its mass trespasses against Europe and the world.

Now is the time for Germany to give back to that Europe some of the largesse that is was allowed in the interests of real politik to make.

A dirty but real history of Europe, not a cleaned up anodyne version, demonstrates that Germany owes it to us all to keep Greece buoyant and growing. It's time for sins to be forgiven. And bills to be paid.

For Greece to continue in its present purdah we demonstrate more than a shortness of memory; we show a lack of forgiveness. Which is something that Germany has demanded from us in buckets.

There is, let me add, a touch of the Versailles Treaty about the current handling of Greece. What's being offered is cross-generational pain, followed by even more pain. If Germany does have any legitimate claim to going on the rampage in 1939 it is always couched in what the Versailles Treaty did to it and its economy after the First World War. Now Greece is asked to go through similar humiliations, as well as financial crippling. It was wrong then and it's wrong now.

But as to who started the whole history-distorting ball rolling in the first instance I leave that to a short Corsican who presently is being bathed in praise. But that's even deeper history. And it won't help Greece, the mother and father of Europe, out if its present logjam.