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Realpolitik vs. Values at Foreign Policy Conference of German Greens

Heinrich Böll Stiftung Berlin (image file)The 'Heinrich Böll Stiftung' - the political foundation affiliated with the German green party - is having its annual foreign policy conference next week, on September 11th and 12th. It will be a big issue conference, focusing on the question of ideals versus interests in foreign policy. The German greens are one of the broadest green parties that exist, and have a lively internal debate between party leaders on realism versus a more pacifistic foreign politics. It was Joshka Fischer, German Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, who took the Germans into the Kosovo war back in 1999.

Fischer, now something of a foreign policy star, won't be attending. However, a former MFA of Poland, Adam Daniel Rotfeld, will. Rotfeld is also a former Director of SIPRI. Other speakers include Ahmed Rashid, Steven Weber, and two members of the current leadership of the greens, Renate Künast and Reinhard Bütikofer.

You can find the programme via this page (page in German, programme also available in English)

The Heinrich Böll Stiftung recently moved to a new office in Berlin Mitte, which frankly looks boring, but is very energy-efficient! We hope to give you some details of the view from the inside, next week.

Obama Keeps it Global

One of the first things I picked up in the audience after Obama's speech was 'fast genau eine halbe Stunde' (almost exactly half an hour). The audience was keeping time. After many had waited for two hours or longer, they were perhaps expecting more? Certainly, it took some time to get the people around me to warm up beyond 'polite applause'. About halfway in some big applause lines came on seeking a nuclear free world, taking responsibility to fight climate change and ending the war in Iraq. Of those, only putting the idea of a nuclear free world in the spotlight might be unexpected.

Newsworthy on the side of the audience would be that there was quite some applause for Obama's lines about fighting together in Afghanistan, and even roaring applause for his line 'Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?'. The liberal internationalist sentiment championed by Joshka Fischer has clearly not yet perished in Germany.
Continue reading "Obama Keeps it Global"

Afghanistan: Merkel Has "No Time" for Burden Sharing Proposals

Chancellor Merkel attacked suggestions that Germany had taken the easy option in Afghanistan: "We're not just digging wells and building houses; we also have a military mission."  Hugh Williamson reports in the Financial Times:

In her most outspoken comments on Afghanistan since Germany came under pressure this month to send more troops, the German chancellor said she had "absolutely no time" for proposals to redeploy Nato troops within Afghanistan.

According to Williamson she made those comments in a meeting with foreign correspondents in Berlin. It's bad diplomacy to tell the foreign press that she has no time to consider proposals for better burden sharing in Afghanistan. Usually, Merkel is more careful. Continue reading "Afghanistan: Merkel Has "No Time" for Burden Sharing Proposals"

Fischer: "One day we'll be the ones asking for help, and no one will help us"

Spiegel International has interviewed former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer about "opposition against the Iraq war that threatened to put Berlin in the same camp as Syria, the threat of a Tehran-led arms race in one of the world's most unstable regions and the mixed legacy of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder."

The quote in the headline is from Fischer's response to a question on Afghanistan:
I believe that the current German government missed an opportunity a year ago when the Canadians and other allies were under great pressure in the south and asked us for help. Despite the many risks, Germany should have stepped up to the plate. One day we'll be the ones asking for help, and no one will help us.
UPDATE: Consul-At-Arms considers Fischer's criticism odd and comments on his blog: "It would seem equally applicable to the regime of which Herr Fischer was part." Indeed.