Thursday, May 02, 2002
Breakfast mit Joschka in the Daily Standard is too full of the solopsistic drivel that too often characterizes these pieces. But, hidden behind ruminations about the nature of German cutlery and sandwich meats and the like is the following substantive section:
Fischer believes a Palestinian state should be declared "on provisional grounds" and not include the disputed territories or Jerusalem (at first). It would just be a starting point. He calls Israel's behavior (namely its blocking U.N. observers in Jenin) "not helpful to the friends of Israel" but also states that from what he has seen and read, there is, as of now, "no sign of a massacre." (At this moment, a fellow journalist gets up out of his seat and proceeds to the buffet for seconds. How audacious! He returns to his seat with nonchalance and a plate of fruit. No one else joins him.)
I asked Fischer about Germany's commitment to Israel in spite of rumblings that the Europeans were ready to issue an arms embargo. With utmost seriousness he says that the embargo "was never going to happen." Fischer spoke about his own personal commitment to the "continuing existence of Israel," echoing the sentiments of his chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, who just the other day talked of the "historic responsibility" of Germans when it comes to defending Israel.
As for the strained transatlantic relationship, Fischer threw a curveball: "My overall assessment is that the relationship between the United States and Europe depends on Europe. If anything, we need more of the United States and less of Europe. In a way, we are 200 years behind you--we're only now getting to the 'Federalist Papers.'" (Fischer once said that whenever he visits America, he heads for the Barnes and Noble and straight to the Founders and Constitution aisle.)
Let me note two things in this regard:
(1) Establishing a Palestinian State provisionally in Gaza and, potentially, Areas A and B (these are the only territories that are not disputed) is Sharon's official policy (though, technically, not the policy of his government).
(2) Joschka Fischer is the head of Germany's Green Party, out on the left-most end of the center-left governing coalition.
In other words, the left-wing leaders of Germany want Europe to become more American, and want America more involved in Europe; favor a short-term endgame in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is fairly congruent with what the right-wing government of Israel wants; and feel a personal, moral and historic responsibility to ensure the continuing existence of the Jewish state.
I don't care if it's because of guilt or wisdom: the Germans are the good guys now. Our government should make it clear: if the French and the Belgians want to pursue a policy of anti-Americanism, we will actively support a pro-German policy within Europe. Let the Eurocrats smoke that for a change.