Rutte doesn’t deserve the Rathenau prize

I keep pinching myself: This can’t be happening ?!

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was presented with the Walther Rathenau Preis & Medaillion, last November 21, and Angela Merkel was invited to present the prize !

Angela Merkel presents Mark Rutte the Rathenau Medaillion (Source: NOS tv screenshot)

Angela Merkel presents Mark Rutte the Rathenau Medaillion (Source: NOS tv screenshot)

Rathenau’s motto was: “I want self-determination, fate and freedom of our own making.” Walther Rathenau (1867-1922) was an intellectual and minister of Foreign Affairs of the Weimar Republic, and was murdered in 1922 by right wingers. The murder was an important element in the failure of the Weimar Republic to develop into an alternative to the rise of Adolf Hitler with his coup in 1933.

Walther Rathenau memorial medaille (Source: wikimedia commons)

Walther Rathenau memorial medaille (Source: wikimedia commons)

The purpose of the prize is: “mit dem ein herausragendes außenpolitisches Lebenswerk gewürdigt wird”. 

What did Mark Rutte ever do to qualify ?

What comes to mind is that Rutte handled the shooting down of the MH17 airplane over the Ukraine on July 17 2014 in such manner that it did not develop into a casus belli between Europe and Russia. But this approach seems rather obvious and it would be hard to believe another scenario – also the gunshots in Sarajevo 1914 come with a more complex story.

Looking for reasons:

  • Rutte has hardly written anything in his life, and hardly about foreign policy.
  • Rutte hasn’t presented anything “quite out of the ordinary”.
  • Rutte is rather young and already failing bitterly, so where is that “work of a lifetime” ?

Trying to look at it more positively, particularly w.r.t. freedom:

  • Rutte went along in a minority cabinet in 2010-2012 with right-wing Geert Wilders, known for discrimination against immigrants, also fellow-Europeans from Poland.
  • Rutte took a hard line on austerity in the economic crisis since 2007, while economists mostly doubted whether that was wise. Rutte is no economist but has a degree in history, apparently not on the Great Depression, and he is an ideological adept of Margaret Thatcher – see this lecture in Dutch (one of his few texts if he wrote all of it himself) and my comments.
  • Rutte has been a member of Dutch parliament and government since 2003, which government censors economic science since 1990, and related to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

You might now check the text at the German Embassy in The Hague and practise your German with the laudatio by Angela Merkel. I might make various comments but feel somewhat restrained by that a laudatio is no effort at balanced evaluation. But: (a) Merkel has a misguided view on Rutte’s notion of freedom, see e.g. his comment “Black Pete is black” at the Nuclear Summit that Merkel refers too, see the video and the comments from the Caribean island of Dutch Sint Maarten, (b) Holland failed in providing a counterbalance to the German fears on budget austerity – and Rutte is now praised for it !

Another surprise is that Rutte was born in 1967, thus 100 years after Rathenau. Rutte still is younger than when Rathenau was murdered. Perhaps, with this prize, Rutte might feel obliged to start writing many essays about freedom, before he would meet his fate of being murdered in 2022 by right wingers from the stable of Geert Wilders ? While the European Union collapses like the Weimar Republic, for lack of respecting the integrity of economic science …

 

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