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From Poland’s desire to criminalise claims that the country or any of its citizens might have been complicit in Nazi war crimes, to Viktor Orban’s attempts to rehabilitate Hungary’s fascist wartime leader, there is a vogue in certain corners of Europe for rewriting history. In others, new developments prompt strong attachments to the past: think of Brexit Britain’s appetite for all things Churchillian, or objections by many Greeks to Macedonia’s renaming, seeing it as an unjustified claim on ancient glories.
With the approach of next week’s Munich Security Conference, the annual gathering for defence policy chiefs from the western democracies, what should we make of such a rash of controversies? In this week’s column, Philip Stephens argues that Germany has a uniquely healthy attitude to confronting historical horrors, which allows it, in most senses, to make the most of the present.
But is Germany ready to, for example, shoulder more of the defence burden? An examination of the draft coalition deal sows some doubt in the mind, as too, argues Philip, does a tour of the determinedly low-key Invaliden cemetery in Berlin. This “stubborn pacifism” is the correct response to Germany’s role in the 20th century, he writes, but it may prevent Angela Merkel stepping into the leadership vacuum vacated by Donald Trump.
Caution is their watchword: When it comes to the prospects for Germany’s next grand coalition, do not expect fireworks or radicalism. Tony Barber explains that six months after the elections, Angel Merkel is about to form a government with Martin Schulz while both leaderships keep at least one eye on mollifying their party supporters.
Tech-savvy Muslim women on the rise: Saadia Zahidi paints a picture of female science and tech graduates across the Muslim world populating start-ups and corporations, empowered by the gig economy and lack of restrictive stereotypes about female career paths.
Trump gets under the skin of US elites: Ed Luce uses this week’s column to explore how Donald Trump riles highly-educated Americans by exposing their illusions: as Ed observes, “the gap between the self image of meritocratic openness and reality is wide”.
Best of the rest
Peace through bombings: The US strategy in Afghanistan by Krishnadev Calamur in The Atlantic
Why Team Corbyn aren’t worried about the polls by Stephen Bush in the New Statesman
Stable instability — Germany’s grand coalition by Jasper von Altenbockum in the Frankfurter Allgemeine (German)
Cognitive neurology and the dangers of excessive faith in science — Yves Charles Zarka in Le Monde (French)
What you’ve been saying
Other models will suit Americans better — letter from Noam Chimmel in response to ‘The American way of healthcare’ by Rana Foroohar
“Ms Foroohar is right that moving to a nationalised system would provide higher quality, lower cost and more widely accessible healthcare in the US. It would lead to greater health justice and equity and would improve health outcomes. But there is a great deal of diversity in how ‘nationalised’ systems work. The French, German, Dutch and Swiss systems which provide universal coverage but are not structured like the NHS are likely to be more relevant to the US and better able to apply to its unique and uniquely challenging healthcare and health insurance infrastructure as well as American cultural and social values and healthcare provision expectations.”
Comment on Martin Wolf’s column ‘Modi’s India is on course to top China for growth’ by FT reader Paul A Myers
“The information I gleaned from the IMF World Growth Report of October 2018 was that by the years 2024-25, the advanced economy world would have half the relative GDP and the developing world the other half. This is a very different world than the ‘postwar normal’ most westerners have grown up with. Growth rates from the IMF indicated that in 2022 China would be around 6 percent and India at 8 percent while the US would slow down to 1.7 percent. And India and China will be much larger economies by the middle of the next decade. So, if we want to ‘understand’ western economies in the coming decade, getting a grip on India and China is a first stop.”
Comment from Academic Voice on Janan Ganesh’s column ‘Jacob Rees-Mogg pounces on Britain’s vulnerable institutions’
“Comments such as Rees-Mogg’s are a pretty unedifying political spectacle, but the underlying point — that the Treasury’s modelling is a fancy way of dressing up a set of beliefs and calling it truth — is bang on. Which is not to say that the beliefs aren’t perfectly respectable, faithfully held, and the message honourably intentioned. They can still be wrong.”
Instant Insight: Forget the bravado — Elon Musk’s SpaceX achievement is stunning
It is easy to see why Nasa has come to admire his hard-charging attitude
Free Lunch: Brexit rollercoaster
Prospects oscillate between (relative) heaven and hell
Bittersweet campaign to liberate Japan’s office workers
Buying chocolates on Valentine’s Day is just one of many workplace tyrannies
Instant Insight: Caution beats innovation in Angela Merkel’s grand coalition deal
Europe will be left waiting as a weakened partnership tends to its base
The discreet terror of the American bourgeoisie
Elites thought they could have it both ways: capital gains and moral certainty
Larry Summers’ blog: Wells Fargo and the future of corporate responsibility
It is pretty clear that the board has manifestly failed in its duties of supervision
FT View: A new grand coalition for Merkel’s Germany
The SPD has won important concessions from the chancellor
FT View: Trade deficit reality starts to bite for Trump
The White House is slowly discovering the limitations of US policy
The Big Read
The Big Read: Latin American elections: a year of living dangerously lies ahead
Populists on the left and right are riding high in what will be a stiff test of the region’s democratic mettle