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Merkelism grounded. A metaphor is needed

Friday, 30 November, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will miss the opening of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires today after her Airbus A340 plane made an unscheduled landing in Cologne last night when it developed technical problems. The German government aircraft plane turned back while it was over the Netherlands and Mrs Merkel will now travel on to Buenos Aires today via Madrid in the company of the huddled masses. Well, Business Class, of course, but still it’s a bit of a come down.

By the way, the very same plane was grounded in Indonesia in October after rodents gnawed through its electrical cables during a meeting of the International Monetary Fund. It would be insensitive at this point to make a joke about rats boarding a sinking ship instead of leaving it, so we’ll leave that to others, but these aircraft incidents offer rich pickings for those seeking metaphors. Merkel’s ebbing chancellorship is the obvious one, but there’s Airbus itself. President Emmanuel Macron’s recent plea for an EU army was welcomed by most factions in Berlin, and Franco-German co-operation on the development and production of Airbus aircraft was cited as example of what can be done when the neighbours agree to bury their bloodied old hatchets. The elation didn’t last long, however, because reality, in the shape of Putin, has given the fantasy army a nasty knock on the head. Despite all the lauded EU mediation over the years, Russia continues to violate Ukrainian sovereignty by waging a brutal, slow-motion war in eastern Ukraine, and Moscow’s thugs took the aggression to the sea at the weekend when they upped their harassment of Ukrainian ships transiting the Kerch Strait.

In response, Merkel and Macron made the usual bleating noises, of course, but boots on the ground in the Donbass region and Ukrainian sailors being paraded before a Crimean kangaroo court show that in the world’s wilder places the belief that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, as the Chinese mass murderer Mao Zedong once said, continues to rule the airwaves.

Maybe it’s best to stick with George Orwell’s dictum: “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”


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