I’ve just been told I’m on child-minding duty all day, so this is a rush job at 7.30am . . .
Cosas de España/Galiza
Spanish prosecutors have now dropped all investigations into the finances of Spain’s former king, Juan Carlos I, which had led him to ‘flee Spain’ in 2020, following corruption scandals. I’m sure you and I would get the same treatment. Especially if we were a member of the royal family of a very senior politician.
I said yesterday that a camino in Galicia would expose you to both much beauty and much ugliness(feismo) but then neglected to post fotos of the latter. So, here goes . . .
When it comes to extolling beauty, few can outdo the team of Fascinating Spain. Here is their paean of praise to Santiago de Compostela, written in fascinating English.
As you approach Esclavitud/Escravitude on the Camino Portugués, you reach a milestone(majón) saying you’re now only 19.595km from SdC. This is standard/ridiculous Spanish precision and I had an image of a weary pilgrim saying: ‘Thank-god it’s not 19.6km, as I’d have to give up in that case’.
‘Slavery’ gets its name from the story of a very sick woman stopping at the fountain in front of the church, raising her arms and face to the sky to implore God to rid her of the slavery of her illness. Naturally, he complied. Nice story.
Here’s the FB page of there Bar Plaza/Praza in Pontevedra I recently cited I
A rather surprising claim: The Brexit shortfall of EU workers has already been filled by staff from the rest of the world, official figures show.
Understandably, now hell bent of finding/returning to alternative energy sources, so as to reduce dependence on Russia.
Merkel’s legacy is in ruins, and a good thing too, says the writer of the article below.
Quote of the Day/Social Media
The myth at the heart of the metaverse is that because every individual now has a voice, every individual voice now matters. No, it doesn’t. Never did. Never will.
The Way of the World
Trans ideology has captured universities, in the UK at least.
Finally . . .
More internet wisdom:-
For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.
Merkel’s legacy is in ruins, and a good thing too. Former chancellor’s caution and compromise brought disaster but Scholz’s stunning reversal will help revive Europe Iain Martin, Times
Angela Merkel’s monument, the embodiment of her calamitous tenure as chancellor, lies in the Baltic Sea. Nord Stream 2 was the pipeline that was going to deliver fresh supplies of gas from Russia to Germany. How appropriate then that it went bust yesterday. The Swiss-based firm owned by Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, has denied that it is technically bankrupt but has fired its staff. And its sole customer, Germany, won’t be using the pipeline. The project is in ruins, and with it the reputation of Angela Merkel.
It was Merkel who stressed year after year that it was fine to become reliant on Russian gas, smoothing German industry’s transition to greener energy decades down the line. It wasn’t as though Vladimir Putin was going to do anything completely crazy. There was surely too much at stake for him when huge chunks of the German business elite and political establishment were close to him. There was no need to scale up defence spending to deter Putin, Merkel said. Such demands were excitable talk from unsophisticated Americans. With careful handling, she stressed, Putin the autocrat could be managed, criticised constructively and contained.
This was an epic delusion, one of the worst geopolitical miscalculations since the Second World War. The ultra-cynical Putin can hardly have believed his luck, watching Germany close its nuclear power stations and make plans to phase out coal in favour of a gas fix from Moscow. Germany gets 55 per cent of its gas, 45 per cent of its coal and 40 per cent of its oil from Russia.
In this way, Merkelism emboldened Putin, filled the Kremlin’s coffers, and helped to persuade him that the wider West was decadent, self-satisfied and too weak to care about responding to aggression, which we too often have been. In seven days, 16 years of Merkelism has gone up in smoke.
For years a certain kind of smart opinion in the West extolled Merkel’s virtues. Supposedly she was a geopolitical genius, the grown-up leader of a grown-up country, epitomising realism and wisdom. If only we could have a Merkel.
On retiring as chancellor last year she was hailed as a very great personage by Barack Obama, another overrated leader who got it badly wrong on Putin. The old smoothie poured on the praise: “Your beloved German people, and the entire world, owe you a debt of gratitude for taking the high ground for so many years.”
In Brussels, Merkel received a standing ovation at a farewell ceremony last October. The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said meetings of EU leaders minus Merkel would be like Paris without the Eiffel Tower: “Your style is your coolness . . . You are a compass and a shining light of our European project.” The prime minister of Luxembourg, sounding as though he might cry, described her as the ultimate dealmaker: “Mrs Merkel was kind of a compromise machine.”
There should be no Schadenfreude from those of us who criticised Merkel at the time, even as it is now understood that miscalculations by the compromise machine have helped to produce this calamity. The invasion of Ukraine is a historic tragedy that should have been avoidable. Now the costs of decades of western policy failure, in which Merkel was a central player, are being paid by the brave Ukrainians.
To his enormous credit, the new chancellor recognises this and has transformed German policy in just a week. Perhaps Olaf Scholz had few options other than to announce an overhaul of Germany’s depleted armed forces with a €100 billion increase in the defence budget and to meet Nato’s spending target of 2 per cent of GDP. German energy policy is also being retooled, with great difficulty, in case oil and gas stops flowing via the older Nord Stream 1, which it may do.
Nonetheless, Scholz’s stunning announcements in the Bundestag were a remarkable act of clear-sighted leadership of the kind lacking in recent decades.
There will be those who ask what could possibly go wrong with this awakening of Germany. This is to misunderstand modern Germany and the way in which a great country and culture has reckoned with its past. Germany promising to step up and play a proper role in European defence is a hugely positive development that will strengthen collective security.
The Scholz shift capped the most consequential 72 hours in Europe since 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The EU, having not believed US and British intelligence briefings about an invasion, rallied. What we’re seeing is the birth of a new worldview. There is huge investment in defence coming to fortify the continent, especially countries such as Poland and the Baltics, when American commitment cannot be guaranteed after the next US presidential election.
In Britain, this must also mean a rethink and a rebuilding of links. I voted for Brexit, and I’m sure like many who did I’ve had a few flickers of doubt in recent weeks, seeing the West initially so divided. The notion, popular among hardline Brexiteers and some Remainers-turned-Brexiteers in the Tory party, that Britain is simply a third country like any other with no need for a special relationship with the EU, looks ridiculous.
Britain is out of the EU, but a key Nato player and the leading intelligence power in Europe. There will now be much debate about the make-up of the new security architecture. It must involve Nato and non-Nato countries, EU and non-EU members. Britain will be at the heart of it and so, thank goodness, will be Germany now that Merkelism is over.