joschka fischer to Iran


As I mentioned before, the modern history of Iran is full of constant humiliation and interventions from outside. Therefore I understand the desire for independence, security, and dignity. But there is a red line, where such a legitimate national policy threatens to transform itself into a hegemonial policy. Iranian culture and history are much older than those of Europe and Germany. So I am not entitled to be a history teacher. But allow me one remark about our own historical experience.

Europe developed the balance of power system after our religious wars in 1648. And we experienced its benefits and its nightmares over the centuries and finally its definitive collapse in two world wars between 1914 and 1945. My country challenged this European system twice in the first half of the twentieth century. At the beginning of the last century, Germany was the leading power of Europe, but we made the wrong decisions and ended in a complete disaster. What was our strategic mistake? We followed hegemonial aspirations that relied on military might and prestige, and we miscalculated the anti-hegemonial instincts of Europe. And twice we underestimated the strategic potential, the power, and the political will and decisiveness of the United States. Otto von Bismarck, perhaps the greatest German statesman of the nineteenth century, defined Germany’s role in his century as either “hammer or anvil.” In the second half of the twentieth century, it turned out that he was completely wrong, because this had never been a serious alternative. A new European system based on a peaceful balance of interests, common European institutions in the framework of the EU, and guaranteed security, produced by NATO and the transatlantic alliance, completely changed the course of German and European history for the better.

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