Mumiensturm

“Storm of mummies.” Joschka Fischer was in the German Green Party the first time it managed to join a ruling federal coalition. He became foreign minister (Secretary of State). Years later it turned out the Foreign Office (State Department) had a cadre of elderly and/or retired diplomats who objected to the new government’s decision to stop publishing obituaries of colleagues who had been former nazis, egregious former nazis in the case they chose to start a ruckus over, in the foreign ministry’s small in-house magazine.

Joschka convened an international “Historians Commission” that spent five years researching the history of ex-nazis in the post-WWII German foreign service. They brought sunlight to a problem that had been made possible by, among other things, the fact that FO was the only cabinet ministry allowed to manage its own document archive and thus control and rewrite its own history; all the other cabinet ministries had had to submit their documents to a central federal government archive. Joschka was particularly irked by the following issue as well: there had been a few brave German diplomats during the 1930’s and 40’s who tried to resist the nazis; most were killed for their troubles; and they tended to be communists. After the war, many of the diplomats with a nazi past or who supported post-nazi colleagues pretended to have been in the resistance. Right wingers hiding behind the communists, Joschka called them. He also called their obituary-based revolution a “mummies storm” like in the Brendan Fraser movies.

(MOOM ee en SHTOORM.)

Bärbeissig

“Bear bitey.” A very important force behind the amazing success of the German Green party over the last three decades was Joschka Fischer, a high-school dropout and one of the world’s most amazing politicians. The director of a documentary about Joschka described his relationship with the media as “bärbeissig” but also said, “It wasn’t always easy, but it was always open.” When the Greens were governing Germany in a coalition with the SPD, and Joschka Fischer was foreign minister, I remember my surprise at how he would answer the questions journalists asked—not providing an answer to a different question entirely, as I had gotten used to since Reagan—and yet not make the situation worse. While speaking openly and well, he makes situations better.

There’s a new book by Joschka Fischer that came out in 2011 about the war in Iraq, which occurred while the Greens and SPD were in charge. Its title is taken from something he told Donald Rumsfeld: “Excuse me, I’m not convinced.”

16-second video on YouTube:

“You have to make the case. And to make the case in the democracy you must convince by yourself. Excuse me, I am not convinced. This is my problem. And I cannot go to the public and say, well, let’s go to war because there are reasons and so on, and I don’t believe in them!”

(Bear BICE ichh.)

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