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Joschka Fischer

Articles by Joschka Fischer

History’s Barriers to European Joint Security

26 days ago

Although France and Germany are more reliant on each other than ever, the two heavyweights at the heart of Europe still have vastly different ideas about defense and security policy. And, because these attitudes are deeply rooted in history, reconciling them will require perpetual compromise.

BERLIN – Ever since the United States began reconsidering its engagement in world politics, it has been withdrawing – strategically and mentally – from many regions and pivoting toward the Indo-Pacific, particularly China, its only real rival for twenty-first-century global leadership. In this new context, what should Europe aspire for? Can the European Union at least partly fill the resulting security gap?

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Xi’s Backward Odyssey

November 26, 2021

Chinese President Xi Jinping is on track to become the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong – a change that will be felt far and wide. But by abandoning the principle of collective leadership and resurrecting absolutism, the ruling Communist Party of China is increasingly out of step with the times.

BERLIN – Momentous changes are casting a long shadow on China. The country’s political system will soon undergo a profound reform, pending final approval (a quasi-formality) at next year’s congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). President Xi Jinping, the Party chairman and the “navigator” of the country, has decided on a new course, abandoning the principle of collective leadership. Xi is leading China

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The Promise of European Power

October 26, 2021

While some in Europe beat the drum of “strategic autonomy” and set their sights on faraway regions, the specter of renewed nationalism and war still stalks the bloc’s immediate neighborhood. A serious EU security and foreign policy would address these nearby threats before venturing farther afield.

BERLIN – In light of ongoing global political changes, there is much discussion in the European Union about the need for “strategic autonomy.” The thinking in EU institutions in Brussels, and among leaders in Paris and some other capitals, is that the global rebalancing of political and economic power away from the North Atlantic requires Europe to develop a more forceful security and defense policy so that it can engage

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Germany’s New Beginning

October 1, 2021

Although Germany’s fragmented federal election result has left a cloud of uncertainty about the next government, it also left the old consensus in favor of muddling through in tatters. A new generation recognizes the need for a carefully managed fresh start to confront the challenges of the twenty-first century.

BERLIN – Germany has voted, and its seemingly eternal chancellor, Angela Merkel, is finally stepping down after 16 years. In fact, that is the only certainty that the election has offered. Everything else remains ambiguous.
China’s Risky Business Crackdown

Qilai Shen/In Pictures via Getty Images

America’s Lost World

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National Egoism vs. Planetary Responsibility

August 20, 2021

A summer featuring unprecedented climate-driven disasters and a new warning from the world’s premier climate-science body has underscored the inadequacies of the existing order. Tackling the climate crisis is fundamentally incompatible with our understanding of sovereignty.

BERLIN – The man-made climate crisis is generating headlines this summer. There were record-breaking heat waves along the US and Canadian west coast; torrential rain and floods (and significant casualties) in Central Europe and along the Yangtze River in China; and wildfires in Greece, Turkey, Southern Italy, Northern Africa, and even Siberia. And on top of all this, climate scientists warned this month that the Atlantic Gulf Stream – that great

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Whither the US-German Relationship?

July 23, 2021

With German Chancellor Angela Merkel on her way out, and America still vulnerable to Trumpism, Germans can neither rely on their traditional protector nor pursue outright strategic autonomy. In a world beset with risk and uncertainty, the long, complicated history of the bilateral relationship may be about to enter a new phase.

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s farewell visit to the White House this month offers an ideal opportunity to reflect on the state of US-German relations. But it is not a sentimental opportunity. The long, complicated history of the bilateral relationship may be about to enter a new phase.
America’s Republicans Are Killing Their Voters

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The Last Thing This Century Needs

June 21, 2021

The idea of a Cold War II between the West and China has quickly evolved from a misleading analogy into a self-fulfilling prophecy. But contemporary China is nothing like the Soviet Union, and in today’s world, we simply cannot afford another clash of mutually exclusive systems.

BERLIN – This month’s G7 summit seemed to confirm what has long been apparent: The United States and China are entering into a cold war similar to the one between the US and the Soviet Union in the second half of the twentieth century.
The Gaps in Bidenomics

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Killer Politics

PS OnPoint


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America Remains Indispensable

June 1, 2021

The latest resurgence of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has also laid bare a crucial geopolitical reality. While many countries aspire to be global power brokers, only America has the ability to do so.

BERLIN – In addition to a pandemic, this decade has already been overshadowed by the return of great power rivalries. Few developments could be more threatening to world peace. Three world wars – two of them hot, one cold – during the twentieth century highlighted the danger of high-stakes geopolitical competition.

European and African Leaders Call for a New Deal for Africa

Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


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Darkness Over Kabul

April 23, 2021

Now that President Joe Biden has formally declared an end to the US troop presence in Afghanistan, conflict and chaos are all but certain to follow. The Afghan people will be the first to suffer, but they are unlikely to be the last.

BERLIN – The Afghan drama is nearing its end, at least as far as Western militaries are concerned. Exactly two decades after al-Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, the last Western troops are, if US President Joe Biden sticks to his timetable, scheduled to leave Afghanistan on September 11, 2021. The war had to end at some point. But after so much blood and treasure spent, many will be wondering what, if anything, has been achieved.

Build Back the State

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Building Back Together

February 26, 2021

The world is confronting three great ruptures: the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital revolution, and climate change. Unfortunately, it is confronting them with the nation-state, which is no longer fit for purpose.

BERLIN – Human beings are creatures of habit. We tend to envisage a future much the same as the past, so we cling to familiar tools, approaches, and perspectives, even as the world changes. But, at this moment of profound social, political, and economic transformation, we must take care not to permit our habits to lead us astray.

An Open Letter to Joe Biden on International Corporate Taxation

Stefani Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images

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The Empires Strike Back at Europe

February 1, 2021

Among the many foreign-policy challenges on Europe’s plate, few are as pressing as the escalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey’s neo-Ottoman pretensions are threatening European interests. Because Turkey has chosen its own path, the task now is to secure coexistence, rather than integration.

BERLIN – Donald Trump’s presidency is now history, which puts renewing the transatlantic relationship back on the European agenda. But there can be no return to the old, cozy dependencies of the Cold War era and the period thereafter, when America – the great protector – decided all important security matters, and Europe followed as a matter of course. To renew transatlanticism, Europe will need to make its

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It’s Europe’s Turn to Reject Trump

December 28, 2020

Although Donald Trump will soon depart from the White House, his toxic legacy of America-first nationalism and isolationism will continue to dominate the Republican Party. The worst thing European leaders could do now is to sit back and resume their previous subordinate role within the transatlantic relationship.

BERLIN – Despite all his whining and wailing, Donald Trump’s presidency will end on January 20, 2021. He will be history; but, sadly, his political legacy will endure. With almost 75 million Americans voting for him (and 82 million for Joe Biden), Trump mobilized an extraordinary and unexpected level of support among a base that will continue to steer the Republican Party toward his brand of nationalist isolationism.

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China Won 2020

December 1, 2020

After a rocky start, China has clearly ended 2020 on a high note, having brought the pandemic under control and strengthened its position both in Asia and on the global stage. Though the world has been spared another four years of Donald Trump, America and its allies will have their work cut out for them.

BERLIN – In future history books, 2020 will be known as the year of the great COVID-19 pandemic, and rightly so. But it will also be remembered as the year when US President Donald Trump’s vile tenure was brought to an end. Both episodes are closely connected and will leave lasting traces, partly because they unfolded during a broader global transition from the US-dominated twentieth century to a Chinese-dominated twenty-first

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Last Call for Transatlanticism

October 26, 2020

With polls having consistently favored Joe Biden in this year’s momentous US presidential election, Europeans should be preparing to seize the opportunity that would come with a new administration. But the biggest threats to the transatlantic relationship have little to do with Donald Trump, and Europeans ignore them at their peril.

BERLIN – Many Americans have already voted, and many more will soon go to the polls in what will be the world’s most important political event of the year. The 2020 US presidential election is a fateful moment in every sense of the word, not just for American democracy but also for transatlanticism and the future of the West.

The Everlasting Mao

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The End of Western Opportunism

August 24, 2020

For the past 50 years, the West has clung to the hope that modernization would automatically transform China into a capitalist liberal democracy. For decades, maintaining this illusion was good for the bottom line, but now the implications of China’s ascendancy have become disturbingly clear.

BERLIN – The confrontation between China and the West is escalating almost daily. The conflict is about technology, trade, global market share, and supply chains, but also about fundamental values. Underpinning this economic and ideological competition is the goal of global predominance in the twenty-first century.

Belarus’s Revolution of Dignity

PS OnPoint

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Responsibility or Ruin

July 27, 2020

Although the top priority today is to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its economic fallout, we must not ignore the long-term implications of the crisis. Our actions now determine the fate of all other species on the planet, yet we are not fully in control of nature.

BERLIN – After many months, the global economy is still reeling from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. Never before in peacetime has our technology-driven modern society experienced anything remotely similar to this.

From American to European Exceptionalism

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

What If There’s No COVID Vaccine?

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The Triple Crisis Shaking the World

June 26, 2020

More than just a public-health disaster, the COVID-19 pandemic is a history-defining event with far-reaching implications for the global distribution of wealth and power. With economies in free-fall and geopolitical tensions rising, there can be no return to normal: the past is passed, and only the future counts now.

BERLIN – The COVID-19 pandemic is entering its second phase as countries gradually reopen their economies and loosen or even revoke strict social-distancing measures. Yet, barring the arrival of an effective, universally available therapy or vaccine, the transition back to “normal” will be more aspirational than real. Worse, it risks triggering a second wave of infections at the local and regional level,

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The Future of Global Power

May 25, 2020

Although the Sino-American rivalry was escalating long before the COVID-19 crisis erupted, it has since been thrown into overdrive. But while both countries are pursuing a zero-sum vision of the future, only one is doing so with a long-term strategy.

BERLIN – The COVID-19 pandemic is arguably the first truly global crisis of the twenty-first century. The only modern historical parallels to the economic disruption triggered by a microscopic pathogen are to the last century’s world wars.

The Lonesome Death of Hong Kong

PS OnPoint

Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images

Toward a

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The Politics of the Pandemic

April 1, 2020

Although the full implications of the COVID-19 pandemic remain to be seen, it is already clear that domestic and international politics will – and must – change to prevent an even deeper disaster. We are entering a brave new world in which "big government" and international solidarity are both unavoidable.

BERLIN – The asteroid has hit, and suddenly everything has changed. But the asteroid that has crashed into our planet is invisible. One needs a microscope, rather than a telescope, to see it.
Insuring the Survival of Post-Pandemic Economies

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This Time Truly Is Different

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The West’s Final Countdown?

February 27, 2020

With the US presidential election approaching, no one can say they didn’t foresee the possibility of Donald Trump winning a second term – an event that would pose an existential threat to the very idea of "the West." So why are European leaders spending their time squabbling over agriculture subsidies?

BERLIN – The year is still young, but its historical significance is already clear. At least as far as the West is concerned, foreseeable events in the coming months will have an overwhelming and decisive impact on the future. The moment of truth will come on November 3, 2020, when voters in the United States elect the country’s next president.
Solidarity Now

PS OnPoint

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What Kind of Great Power Can Europe Become?

January 30, 2020

While EU policymakers cavil over constitutional questions about desired levels of European integration, global forces are imposing a political transformation on Europe. The only real question facing Europeans is whether they will establish themselves as a global power, or become a mere pawn of others.

BERLIN – World War II, and the period of decolonization that followed it, brought to an end the centuries-long global domination of Europe’s great powers. After 1945, neither of the global powers – the United States and the Soviet Union – was European, and a plethora of newly independent nation-states bounded onto the world stage.
Britain Enters the Unknown

Peter Summers/Getty Images

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Toward a Privileged EU-UK Partnership

December 23, 2019

After the United Kingdom’s general election this month, the Brexit debate is over. The country will leave the European Union on January 31, 2020, which means that now is the time to start drafting a blueprint for the future relationship, particularly regarding security policy.

BERLIN – Following Boris Johnson’s landslide victory in the United Kingdom’s general election this month, Britain is now on track to leave the European Union on January 31, 2020. Johnson has a clear parliamentary majority with which to secure a deal for an orderly exit from the bloc. Although the UK and the EU now face long and difficult negotiations to establish a mutually beneficial trade arrangement, Brexit itself is now a certainty.

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The Day After NATO

December 4, 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron has drawn criticism for describing NATO as brain dead and pursuing a rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But now that a wayward America could abandon the continent at any moment, Macron’s argument for European defense autonomy is difficult to refute.

BERLIN – Despite having been written off numerous times, NATO survives. But another fox has entered the hen house, and it has met with the typical European response to danger: furious cackling and an explosion of feathers.
Democratic Leadership in a Populist Age

PS OnPoint

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The Middle East’s Dangerous New Hegemonic Confrontation

October 21, 2019

Although Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed credit for the sophisticated nighttime strike on Saudi oil facilities last month, the attack was almost certainly launched by Iran. By giving Iran no other option but to demonstrate its military prowess, US President Donald Trump has exposed himself and his Saudi allies as paper tigers.

BERLIN – In the old Middle East, a single overarching conflict – between Israel and the Arab countries – had many fronts, and it was the West’s prerogative to protect the flow of oil to the global economy. In the new Middle East, the defining conflict is a broader struggle among multiple players seeking regional primacy.
The High Price of Trump’s Great Betrayal

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What’s Freezing Europe-Russia Relations?

September 25, 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron is right to worry about the disintegration of the global arms-control regime and a Russia that is increasingly tied to China. But given that the divide between Russia and the European Union is over fundamental values, there is no reason to think that the relationship can be improved anytime soon.

BERLIN – Although the European Union and Russia are part of the same landmass, they don’t have all that much in common. In fact, Russians have yet even to decide where their country resides in the world. The bulk of its territory is in Asia, but over 70% of its people live west of the Ural Mountains. Russians have no interest in associating themselves with East Asia or the Islamic South, so

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Two Systems, One World

August 30, 2019

Like the twentieth-century Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the new rivalry between China and the West is a contest between fundamentally incompatible political systems. And the idea that freedom and democracy will prevail can no longer be taken for granted.

BERLIN – With the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaching, the issue of freedom has returned to the fore in Moscow and Hong Kong, albeit under very different historical and political circumstances. We are reminded that the modern era was built on freedom, and on the recognition that all people are born equal. This radical Enlightenment idea, when it took hold, constituted a break from all previous history.

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Who Will Win the Twenty-First Century?

July 30, 2019

For years, Europeans were lulled into thinking that the peace and prosperity of the immediate post-Cold War period would be self-sustaining. But, two decades into the twenty-first century, it is clear that the Old Continent miscalculated and now must catch up to the digital revolution. 

BERLIN – The first two decades of the twenty-first century are beginning to cast a long shadow over the Western world. We have come a long way since the turn of the century, when people everywhere, but particularly in Europe, indulgently embraced the “end of history.”
Their Faintest Hour

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Facebook’s Libra

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Trump’s Lose-Lose Iran Strategy

June 28, 2019

As the Trump administration spins its wheels over Iran, the world is reminded of why the Obama administration and the Europeans went to such lengths to develop a new approach to dealing with the country. By resuscitating a failed strategy, Trump and his advisers are risking yet another catastrophic war in the Middle East.

BERLIN – One can only guess what US President Donald Trump hopes to achieve in Iran. Does he have designs on a “better” nuclear treaty than the 2015 deal from which he withdrew the United States? Are he and his advisers assuming that if they pile up enough demands, the regime will be forced to submit, or even abdicate? Or are they setting the stage for an attempt at regime

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The End of the World As We Know It

June 3, 2019

Last month, under pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administration, Google terminated its cooperation with Huawei, thereby depriving the Chinese smartphone maker of the license to use Google’s Android software and related services. The move marks both a new pinnacle in the Sino-American conflict and the end of US-led globalization.

BERLIN – After three decades of moving toward a single global market governed by the rules of the World Trade Organization, the international order has undergone a fundamental change. The United States and China are locked in a tariff war that at first seemed to be about the bilateral trade balance, but has turned out to be about much more. Until recently,

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The Commercial Case for EU Solidarity

May 2, 2019

In the 15 years since the European Union expanded eastward, cultural, political, and historical divisions between East and West have continued to stand in the way of genuine solidarity. But the continent’s integrated industrial ecosystems – the value of which even staunch nationalists cannot ignore – still gives reason for hope.

BERLIN – The European Union’s great eastward expansion in 2004 was a moment for hope and optimism. After 15 years, however, Eastern and Western Europe are culturally and politically divided as ever.
Capitalism’s Great Reckoning

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Brexit Fever is Breaking

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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