Joe Nocera wonders why is that Europe could call 'Daddy' and demand 'how could you do that, it is no longer just an American problem' during 2008 while why America cannot be so demanding in turn. Joe, Germans will answer your question - 'it is all silly election talk in America which should be all ignored' if Obama dares to talk anything like that (and in any case, they have the backup plan ready, to talk about American fiscal woes).
Or may be a short answer is - whether Uncle Sam is able to see through this crisis or not; America dons the mantle of 'leader of free world'. Followers always 'demand' answers from leaders whereas job of a leader is to 'endure and find a new path'.
We in America very well may bring down an incumbent president, we very well may accept ideological excess of GOP in the process and help dismantle all the common welfare we worked to erect over last 6 decades; but in the end we will have to find our own path without blaming others. That is the meaning of 'self-help and leadership'. Do I have guarantee that America will do that again? I read Jeb Bush's pessimism as a good sign - at least one serious politician is starting to talk some sense here. If I have to bet on a society, despite the dictum 'past performance is no guarantee for future'; I would bet on America. How and in which manner America will face her issues - we all will see how it unfolds. With or without Barack Obama, the day of reckoning is approaching fast for us.
Joe Nocera further says
"The reason Europe lacks a lender of last resort is that its citizens don’t want one."
to which I say, scars of past conflicts still have not been fully healed nor folks in Europe have grown up. One sovereign country and a civil war among states of that country, that does not compare with multiple wars among multitude of sovereign countries; which is what European History is to American one. I believe Merkel knows this and hence she is taking such a gradual approach. That way Germans themselves start sensing the crisis as troubled waters reach their shores while remaining 'too proud history to succeed' nations of Europe start accepting inevitability of conceding their sovereignty. In a way I do believe Angela Merkel is the one who is grasping the mantle of leadership in very unusual ways; probably more appropriate to the current situation.
No one is saying that Germany did not benefit from Euro and combined market. But to underplay what that society has achieved through hard work, reforms and discipline means to get following type of reactions from Germans:
- Is it about deeper integration or about simply getting more cash from Germans?
- It is not easy for Germans to accept hard work till 67 to retire so that a Frenchman can retire and enjoy wine after 60.
No doubt these are angry reactions and not valid assertions after scrutiny. But for rest of the world to miss the 'sense' and thinking of Germans here is not correct, nor productive. May be what messers Paul Krugman, Martin Wolf and other learned people are advocating is true - that Germany should simply shell out more money right now and ask questions later. But some where in all this cacophony, to ignore the substance of 'reform and discipline' which Germans are insisting is a sure sign of not being a good follower.