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The State of the World: Germany’s Strategy

Mr. George Friedman is the CEO and chief intelligence officer of Stratfor, a private intelligence company located in Austin, TX.

This article is published here in by permission of Stratfor.

The idea of Germany having an independent national strategy runs counter to everything that Germany has wanted to be since World War II and everything the world has wanted from Germany. In a way, the entire structure of modern Europe was created to take advantage of Germany’s economic dynamism while avoiding the threat of German domination. In writing about German strategy, I am raising the possibility that the basic structure of Western Europe since World War II and of Europe as a whole since 1991 is coming to a close.

If so, then the question is whether historical patterns of German strategy will emerge or something new is coming. It is, of course, always possible that the old post-war model can be preserved. Whichever it is, the future of German strategy is certainly the most important question in Europe and quite possibly in the world.

Origins of Germany’s Strategy

Before 1871, when Germany was fragmented into a large number of small states, it did not pose a challenge to Europe. Rather, it served as a buffer between France on one side and Russia and Austria on the other. Napoleon and his campaign to dominate Europe first changed the status of Germany, both overcoming the barrier and provoking the rise of Prussia, a powerful German entity. Prussia became instrumental in creating a united Germany in 1871, and with that, the geopolitics of Europe changed.

What had been a morass of states became not only a unified country but also the most economically dynamic country in Europe — and the one with the most substantial ground forces. Germany was also  inherently insecure. Lacking any real strategic depth, Germany could not survive a simultaneous attack by France and Russia. Therefore, Germany’s core strategy was to prevent the emergence of an alliance between France and Russia. However, in the event that there was no alliance between France and Russia, Germany was always tempted to solve the problem in a more controlled and secure way, by defeating France and ending the threat of an alliance. This is the strategy Germany has chosen for most of its existence.

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THE GREEK ECONOMY AND THE GREEK UNIVERSITIES

Without effective higher education that includes significant R&D, it is very difficult for Greece to achieve economic development and social progress at rates that will accelerate her convergence with the other European Union partners.

The picture at Greek universities is very disappointing. Universities in Greece do not have the necessary autonomy. They hardly conduct any R%D. They have no continuous “dialogue” between universities and society. The universities produce graduates without the education / training required to work for the country’s progress. Graduates are not absorbed by the labor market while the country is losing ground in both educational level and competitiveness, holding down its growth rates and undermining convergence with the other EU countries. The universities should continuously search for the trends and requirements in society and economic life with a view to their graduates’ integration.

Progress and development should not only be measured by whether Greece has, for instance, more roads or cars than in the 1970’s, but also by its present situation in relation to other countries. Greece’s position on this comparison is not at all flattering, but what is worse is the inability of the system to adapt and keep abreast with present requirements.

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