Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Rebel Realist

Joschka Fischer

Has the European Union’s project reached its end? Is further EU enlargement antagonistic to deeper integration? Should the global community of democracies assume greater responsibility for fixing the world’s problems? How can the Islamic world’s democratic deficit be closed? How dangerous is the threat of a nuclear Middle East? Is an independent EU defense capability compatible with NATO?

Nowadays, government is increasingly seen as a technocratic pursuit. Passion and moral commitment seem things of the past. Not for Joschka Fischer, Germany’s former foreign minister and vice chancellor. An enragé of the 1960’s and 1970’s, a founder of Germany’s Green Party, and the man who led the Greens out of the political wilderness, Fischer was not merely a popular and effective foreign minister; he epitomized the "68ers," the generation of men and women who took their first political steps when democracy was "in the streets."

As former German Foreign Minister and a former Green MP, Fischer has personified a maverick form of leftist politics - at once principled, pragmatic, and pro-American. As foreign minister, he again stood against the mainstream and faced down the majority of Green Party members who opposed German military participation in the Kosovo campaign, arguing against pacifism in the face of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Yet, as the Iraq war loomed, he clashed memorably with Donald Rumsfeld, America's defense secretary.

In each of his incarnations, Fischer has never lost his fervor for controversial big ideas. He stirred new passions over Europe by proposing the ultimate creation of a true "European government," with a much smaller role for the nation-states. Nor has he lost the personal integrity that has made him one of Europe’s most admired politicians. Every month in The Rebel Realist, written exclusively for Project Syndicate, Joschka Fischer brings his unique perspective to global developments.

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