Joschka Fischer published an editorial yesterday in the Washington Post. He makes three points. First, Iran’s acquisition of the bomb "would call Europe’s fundamental security into question." Second, Iran should not be lulled into thinking that high oil prices, and the "disastrous U.S.-led war in Iraq," have completely distracted the U.S. The question of whether Iran or the U.S. will dominate the Middle East is an "explosive" one for the U.S., and may lead to a confrontation that "Iran simply cannot win."
However, bombing Iran is not an option. It could well fail, and will certainly provoke a backlash: "[A]s a victim of foreign aggression, Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions would be fully legitimized… [A] military attack on Iran would mark the beginning of a regional, and possibly global, military and terrorist escalation — a nightmare for all concerned."
Fischer proposes a "grand bargain" in which the U.S. gives Iran the security guarantees and aid Iran wants:
The high price for refusing such a proposal has to be made absolutely clear to the Iranian leadership: Should no agreement be reached, the West would do everything in its power to isolate Iran economically, financially, technologically and diplomatically, with the full support of the international community. Iran’s alternatives should be no less than recognition and security or total isolation.
Op-eds by retired diplomats are always interesting. On one level, the writer may well be stating his own position (Fischer’s English is very good, so I have little doubt he wrote this piece himself). On another level, he’s can take liberties which he couldn’t while he was in office. The use of the word "disastrous" to describe the Iraq war wasn’t necessary to make the point, but I’m sure Fischer couldn’t help himself. Finally, he’s probably sending a few messages across the Atlantic. From Europe to the U.S.: we understand a nuclear Iran is a threat, but bomb Iran? Are you nuts? From the U.S. to Europe: so if you want to take the military option off the table, there has to be some other meaningful threat, such as a cut-off of lucrative trade relations with EU members states.
I don’t see much new here, though. Fischer’s position seems to be just a beefed-up version of the current German government’s approach, but perhaps I’m missing something.