Saturday, July 23, 2011

Joschka Fischer in 2009, looking forward to what might have been

Now that we seem to be entering the post-Obama era with the President's advocacy of cuts in Social Security and Medicare, it's sad to think back not so long ago to 2008-9 and the real possibilities that the Obama Administration has squandered, probably more out of ideological and political choice than out of fecklessness, though there has been too much of the latter, as well.

Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer gave a speech in the British House of Commons on 02/25/2009, whose text was published in Democratiya 16 Spring/Summer 2009 under the title Europe and America After Bush:

Europe and America After Bush

Now, before it ended up in the ruins of Mesopotamia, Tony Blair, the former prime minister, had a great idea. He said the national interest number one of the UK is the special relationship with the United States. But to preserve that special relationship in the twenty first century Britain is not big enough any longer. Britain must be able to deliver Europe more than it has in the past. And to deliver Europe, Britain must move into the centre of the European Union and not sideline itself with opt-outs or whatever. I think the idea was the right one, unfortunately it was not implemented as the former prime minister developed this plan.

But we [Europeans] are now in a very serious situation. America – and this was the decision between McCain and Obama – had to decide whether to go on with its decline (and if you compare the United States in 2000 with 2008, nobody can question the relative decline of American power). The choice was: we can go on with that decline, or, in the midst of the most severe crisis since 1929, we can reinvent ourselves. And that was the election of Barack Obama. America will go through a very painful period, but with this decision I think they have a very serious chance to come out of the crisis.
Now a Lost Decade or more looks far more likely than a near-term exit from economic hard times. How different the Obama Administration looked even to the hard-nosed back then:

Now, if you compare this [decision] in the midst of a crisis,
to go for a reinvention of the country, with the reaction of all of us in Europe, the results are very different.
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"It is the logic of our times
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