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Germany's new foreign minister Annalena Baerbock in September 2021.) Flickr-Bündnis 90/Die Grünen Nordrhein-Westfalen, CC BY 2.0

The American Interest

Winter of European Discontent

When British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey famously said on the eve of the Great War that “the lamps are going out all over Europe,” his metaphor struck a chord with generations of Europeans both then and in the ensuing decades. Grey’s words are worth recalling now, as the Old Continent enters the new year more divided and less confident of its future than at any time since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Of course the moment is not as pregnant with tragic foreboding as it was in August 1914, but millions of Europeans share a sense of anxiety about the future. As a French New Year’s card quipped, “May 2022 be not as bad as its predecessor!”

The closing weeks of 2021 were grim on several fronts. Huge protests erupted across Europe at the onset of the second winter of COVID-related restrictions. The protesters focused their anger at the introduction of government COVID “green passes” which prevent the unvaccinated from entering restaurants, museums, public transport, and most shops. Tens of thousands protested from the Netherlands and Belgium...

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