Would the world be better off with more women at the helm? A recent book by
Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of our Nature: Why
Violence Has Declined, quoted by Prof. Joseph S. Nye in Project Syndicate,
concludes that the answer is definitely yes.
He refers to the time of
tribal societies, where man went to fight rival tribes while women looked to
cooperate with their neighbors. Now, given the information revolution, the
hierarchical pyramid of power has been transformed into a more circular
multi-power network of players, with the main decision-makers in the
The pyramid power structure is better suited to man’s tendency to
govern “by command,” while in the more circular system, women, who are more
inclusive “by nature,” perform better in positions of governance (despite a
still gross under-representation in all walks of life).
One of the “Better
Angels of our Nature” seems to be Angela Merkel, the first female chancellor of
Germany, who came to office in 2005. Merkel definitely fits well with the idea
of governing in more inclusive systems – be it in a unified Germany or a unified
Both are more integrated and peaceful systems thanks to the quite
unique character of leadership shown by Merkel. She is not an “angel in
disguise” but if anything quite the contrary – one gets a sense with Merkel that
what you see or hear is what you get.
An outspoken and courageous woman
who states her views directly and openly with candor and forcefulness, her style
of leadership is compelling, a leadership that aptly represents Germany’s
strength in Europe and the world.
Her compassion for the weak does not
allow for excuses or ambiguity from her counterparts.
achievement is that she succeeded in turning her country into the uncontested
leader of Europe.
With the German economy best weathering the global
economic crisis, Merkel leads Europe in rescuing Greece and the euro zone, and
in keeping the United Kingdom in the EU. When she disagreed with prime minister
George Papandreou’s retreat from implementing Greece’s economic reforms she was
tough as nails, and at the same time she made the EU come to the rescue of
Greece. It seems no one fears a strong Germany at the heart of Europe anymore –
Europe would be a much more fragmented continent today without
She is a euro ideologue, leading with economic and political
pragmatism. In her own words: “Nobody in Europe will be abandoned. Nobody
will be excluded. Europe only succeeds if we work together.”
work together she does, especially with France, walking in the footsteps of
Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle who made the peace and unity of Europe
The German-French connection is historically far from obvious.
Two countries at war throughout the centuries, Germany and France are now in
full political and economic cooperation and coordination. By her strengthening
the alliance with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, peace in Europe is
guaranteed, not just by these two leaders but by the system they have put in
place – a system of economic interdependence and political, social, cultural and
educational cooperation – from the EU to UEFA.
The young play an
important role in the plans of Merkel, who served from 1991 to 1994 as minister
for women and youth. The youth of Germany are given the highest level of
education and are part of a vast program of European youth exchange, and as a
result many of them play a prominent role in shaping the new Germany. In her own
no-nonsense way Merkel said, “It is nonsense to say that Germans are unable to
And under Merkel, a new Germany it is indeed. She speaks with
vigor about the dark age of the nation and the Holocaust, and of a new liberal
Germany based on the respect of human rights. Under her rule Germany is putting
much emphasis on coming to terms with the horrendous past and developing a
liberal, non-xenophobic society.
Under Merkel, Germany became a much more
united country – few remember the former Stalinist East Germany. The economic
gaps between the various parts of Germany have shrunk and integration has
Angela Merkel is internationally popular.
On her last state
visit to Washington in August 2011, President Barack Obama received her as a
close ally, awarding her the highest civilian award – the Presidential Medal of
Freedom. Both leaders spoke of the quality and importance of the trans- Atlantic
An important angle to view every German leader is his or
her relationship to the State of Israel. Here too it seems that Merkel succeeds
in striking the right balance. She has put in place important education
programs, dealing with the darkest chapter of Germany’s past – Nazism and the
Holocaust. In her official visit to Israel in March 2008, she spoke to the
Knesset in German about her own “Holocaust shame.”
The large exchange
programs she has helped establish allows young Germans and Israelis to get to
know the others’ new society.
The programs enable 6,500 youngsters from
the two countries to meet every year and links 100 Israeli cities with German
sister cities. Under Merkel, Germany is one of Israel’s main economic partners,
and No. 3 when it comes to imports from Israel.
Most Israelis recognize
that there is a new Germany – part of a reconciliation process without ever
forgetting the past – a necessary, slow, yet important healing process for both
sides. As a result tourism between the countries is flourishing. This historical
process does not stop Chancellor Merkel from developing a comprehensive Middle
Germany is an important defense partner for Israel,
supplying it with strategically significant submarines. On the other hand
Germany has developed a good relationship with the Palestinian Authority, as
Merkel expressed via Mahmoud Abbas’s recent visit to Berlin.
generally votes with Israel in international and UN organizations, yet Merkel is
probably the most outspoken critic of Israel’s settlement policies. When the
line from Berlin rings in Binyamin Netanyahu’s office, it is often Merkel
criticizing him, as her spokesperson said after their last call a few months
ago: “The chancellor expressed her total disapproval of Israel’s settlement
expansions that endanger the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.”
Merkel is a new type of leader – ruling by inclusion, integration and honesty,
and adapting her country and continent to a new age – a model leader for a new
world. As The Washington Post described her, she is “Europe’s quiet
Quiet or not, given Germany’s new status in Europe and the
world, we would all do well to listen to her.The writer is president of
the Peres Center for Peace and served as Israel’s chief negotiator for the Oslo