So there is plenty of discussion this weekend about cutting Russia off from SWIFT. This is not something to be done lightly, ever. It is the equivalent of a utility cutting off your power or a telco cutting your phone line. Generally speaking, its the last straw before military intervention. In this case, I am all for it.
My criticism of Germany in particular here is that they have let their Green left antinuclear faction run an energy policy which led to their chemicals and energy sector selling its soul to Gazprom. Oddly, I see no shuffling of feet nor do I hear any clearing of throats by these groups that would indicate they are rethinking this position - if they did, BASF and the broader German industrial complex might be a little more constructive regarding the prospect of doing the right thing and making it clear that Europe cannot let these acts of aggression go unpunished. For now, German polity has allowed their energiewende to stall and to put themselves in a painful position of having to choose between their economic interests and showing some backbone. It did not and does not have to be this way.
Merkel should at this point use this situation to wedge the Green left and make it clear that sometimes in life you have to choose between overcoming deeply irrational emotive fears and enabling dictators. Europe as a whole should harden up and push for a radical re-engineering of their energy system towards more renewables, nuclear, and less gas use.
Some might say this would be costly, hard or expensive. Two things on this point: firstly, Europe is in deflation and is suffering a chronic deficit of aggregate demand and investment. Secondly, construction and investment in large scale infrastructure generates a lot of jobs and demand. Now I know the German public is irrationally opposed to deficit spending and has been fairly intransigent on this point to date but a massive investment program in Germany and Eastern Europe - one which could be sold as nation building and a fight for what is right - would probably go across pretty well at this point in time. German autos appear to be on the cusp of rolling out a wide range of electric car models. German corporates have extensive expertise in renewable technologies. If building a lot of wind turbines is bad for Siemens and nuclear plants is bad for Areva someone needs to tell me how because for the life of me I cannot figure it out.
This really should be Europe’s moment - a time at which we see Europe come together and unite against an evil that is similar to the evils that Europe once fought together and which formed the nascent pan-European consciousness.
Get it together guys.