Helmut Kohl was the Chancellor of West Germany and then a re-unified Germany from 1982 to 1999. He was an ardent promoter of the European Union. Back in 2002—the year the Deutschmark was replaced by the euro—Kohl granted an interview that was not published until recently. In that interview, Kohl made striking admissions about how the EU was started with Germany as a member state:
“If a Chancellor is trying to push something through, he must be a man of power. And if he’s smart, he knows when the time is ripe. In one case – the euro – I was like a dictator … The euro is a synonym for Europe. Europe, for the first time, has no more war.”
The no-war claim is stupid. The EU started officially in November 1993. There were no real “European wars” until about that time in Bosnia. The EU has had nothing to do with a lack of wars in Europe. On the other hand, it seems easily possible to envision a war starting soon because of the economic mess that the EU has produced.
A more likely reason for the lack of wars between many nations is the advent of nuclear weapons. Now, for the first time in history, there is a reasonable chance that a real war would result in mass deaths among the ruling classes of the nations. Since they can no longer be sure that they won’t be killed when they start wars, political elites have learned to not start them.
Thus, Kohl’s justification that he has saved Europe from war sounds completely fictitious. Nevertheless, he freely admits that he used raw political power to force his nation and others into a political system that they did not want.
“Mr. Kohl justified overcoming the German public’s reluctance to relinquish the Deutsche Mark by saying that democratic politics had to be based on convictions rather than the ebb and flow of elections. ‘Political life is like this – elections go back and forth. Representative democracy can only be successful if one sits down and says – “that’s it. I will connect myself” – as I did – “connect my existence to a political project.” Then you automatically have in your party a lot of people who say: “if that fails, so do I.”’”
Kohl in 2002 left out another possibility. Maybe a “political project” can succeed at first and then, long after the politician has been rewarded, lead to total destruction. In the meantime, not only did Kohl reap political rewards at the expense of the future of Europe, he basked in his own self-righteousness for forcing Germans to take what was “good for them.”
Europeans would have been better off listening to Margaret Thatcher about the euro. The same year Kohl gave his unpublished interview, Thatcher wrote that, a single currency “is bound to fail — economically, politically, and indeed socially.” She did not see how nations could share a fiat currency without having one united budgetary system.
That is exactly why the EU is turning into a debt and austerity disaster. The people of Europe should be given the choice that Kohl boasted he never allowed them to have.