The Legend of Wooley Swamp

What ever happened to nuance? Jabberwocky is being spewed up by the left and right as they try to drag us into their Wonderlands. This blog charts a path out of this swamp of simple truths and false certainties. And from time to time, it'll be a place for more light-hearted musings.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

More on Joschka; and (of course) White Phosphorus

My recent post on Germany’s new Chancellor, Angela Merkel, will likely require plenty of updates as we learn how she takes to the job. At the end of that post, I went off a somewhat random tangent about the former government. In particular, I felt mysteriously compelled to touch upon the Joschka Fischer phenomenon, and give it my best shallow treatment. To make up for this transgression, I offer a couple of more links to stories that do more justice to a man you either love, hate or know nothing about. I guess you might put me in the fine line between ‘love and hate’ camp.

Over the years, I have often tried to explain what this man was up to; both to me, myself and I as well as to others. Nowadays I tend to disagree with his positions, but having once fallen under his spell, I can fess up like the former cult member I am. During almost all of Schröder´s government, he was the most popular of all politicians, a veneer that lost some of its luster when he could not remember much when he testified in front of a parliamentary committee investigating the role of the Foreign Ministry in a visa scandal. Funny, how memory lapses just when it would come in so handy.

Anyway, here are the promised links that highlight some of deeds of Joschka. And if you´re still wondering why it´s worth dwelling on him – and not e.g. Schröder himself, I´ll get back to that some other time (besides, I don´t feel like going negative right now) – what can I say? It was the Germany he represented, some of his visions for Europe, his voice of relative reason on this side of the transatlantic relationship, his support for Israel and hovering above this: a capacity to be constructive in his criticism and to offer more than an ounce of self-deprecation in sea of egotism.

Berlin-based Michael Scott Moore (no, not the Flint-Thing) wrote this piece as it became clear that Fischer was going to be gracious about losing power. I recall the election night TV-discussion (watch this, link upper right, you do NOT need to understand German to comprehend that Gremlins had crept into the Chancellor’s brain) I alluded to last time, and how I wrote then that Fischer probably couldn’t believe his eyes and ears. His boss was losing it right there, so perhaps he was thinking ‘Time to exit with the opposite approach, i.e. dignity.’ And if not, no matter since that’s what happened.

At the bottom of Moore’s article, there are some other great links (including some on Merkel and the election campaign.) I’ll mention two of them here as well. The first is an article by Fischer’s former comrade-in-arms Paul Berman (I hope to read his brand new book ) on how and why they could agree to disagree on Iraq. Just the kind of civil, normal debate I long for; the kind that Schröder usually did his best to scuttle. Secondly, a pre September 11th piece by Anne Applebaum on how Fischer symbolized something new in Germany.


And just in case people continue to share my interest in the White Phosphorus story (this just keeps on giving, so I’d feel cheap if I didn’t share just a little with you,) allow me to guide you to two recent blogosphere takes on it. Yes, they both ‘conveniently’ support the instinct I had all along (insufferable i know, but whatyagonnado?) but they come from very different starting points.

On the right, John Cole over at 'Balloon Juice' sifts through the nitty-gritty of this mess (click here and here.) Meanwhile, over on the left at 'Informed Comment' Professor Juan Cole (I know the names are eerily similar, but there is no conspiracy) debunks the myths being propagated by the likes of the Guardian columnist George Monbiot. I take particular pleasure in this since in my slugfest with the Wizard of Id (see comment section here) I had made some of the same points. Again, isn’t it nice to agree, but still agree to disagree, all the while sticking to the facts?

OK, that’s all folks. Off to have a belated Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s. Considering that my contribution consists of five bottles (not all for me…please!) of the trusty ol’ Aventinus, I expect to feel particularly happy and stuffed (Schneider, show me the money, i.e. Wo ist mein Geld?) Have a nice rest of the weekend.

Goes particularly well with oven-roasted turkey, and makes its cousin tofurkey (right, Neal?) just that much more palatable.


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