Berlin, Germany. The world of today is more evolved and sophisticated than 1917, but you might question that as a real battle heats up between Germany and England yet again over their Brexit divorce.
Britain, like Germany, has been a contributor to the EU budget. They fear that Brexit will weaken the EU’s foreign and defence policy. And some worry that Brexit will make Germany even more dominant within the union, thus fuelling resentment towards Berlin from other member states.
Great Britain has long misread the German attitude to Brexit, with many observers wrongly assuming that Angela Merkel’s government will be driven by economic self-interest to ensure Britain gets a good deal.
The German view is strikingly hardline this time around and Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election in June will not change that. In Berlin there is some optimism that a larger parliamentary majority will make Theresa May an easier negotiating partner to deal with.
The coming UK 2017 election campaign may erode some of the goodwill that Britain will need from other European governments to secure a half-decent deal. It is true that many Germans regret the departure of a country that is committed to free trade and free markets, and opposed to the economic interventionism of France, Italy and others.
Donald Trump’s ascent to power in the US has exacerbated German worries over Brexit. The Trump presidency is probably more traumatic for Germany than any other country, his values being diametrically opposed to the liberal, postmodern, rules-based, multilateral worldview that has flooded Europe with migrants.
Germany’s Atlanticists, who include Merkel, see that Trump is shaking one of the two pillars of Germany’s international identity, namely close ties to the US. That makes preserving the EU the remaining pillar even more important.
But then this German desperation as its values collapse, population changes and challenge to its status quo as the center of Europe becomes by-passed with events moving faster than the forever anal Germans can control, sets the stage for a conflict-of sorts, between Germany and post Brexit Great Britain.