"A Hundred Years of Chaos"
Bundestag vice-president Antje Vollmer (Greens) on the German No to the Iraq War
[This interview originally published in: DIE ZEIT 05/2003 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://zeus.zeit.de/text/2003/05/Vollmer.]
die zeit: Ms. Vollmer, the red-green German government declared its opposition to an Iraq war again and again. Will you vote against the war if it comes to a second decision in the UN Security Council?
Antje Vollmer: We were criticized for making the anti-war attitude into the election question. The Bundestag election was actually a plebiscite against war involvement. Similar "plebescites" in Europe or worldwide will confirm our attitude. The peoples are against this war. We decided we could not endure the fracture between a domestic No to the war and an international Yes in the Security Council.
zeit: The mood in Germany is critically against a war. However the worry that Germany could be isolated internationally is widespread.
Vollmer: We were obviously under extreme pressure as the only western country that would not participate. Contrary to the skeptical media debates in Germany, respect for the attitude of the German government and the chancellor is growing internationally. The longer the debate runs, the less convincing are the discoveries of the inspectors as justification for war. The more clearly the US presses to war without a concept for the time afterward, the more voices applaud the war-critical position of one of the friends from the alliance. If the German chancellor changed his position today, he would lose respect, first with the American president.
zeit: If the German government remains consistent, it is suspected of isolationism. If it washes over dissent or criticism, it is quickly regarded as opportunist. This is not a simple situation.
Vollmer: Sometimes I think Americans have too much patriotism and Germans have too little. In the US, the opposition uncritically and alarmingly supports the president. In Germany, the clear announcement that we will not participate only prompts the question: When will you yield? The Union cannot endure the fracture between a Yes in the Security Council and a domestic No to war. The Union must answer the question whether and when German soldiers should march into Baghdad.
zeit: The US sees a clear withdrawal from solidarity in the struggle against terrorism in the German attitude to the Iraq war.
Vollmer: Germany made the greatest achievement for stabilizing regions in the Balkans and Afghanistan. Part of our engagement is to lead the debate about the effectiveness of the means of the anti-terrorist struggle instead of preventing the debate... War could possibly be waged successfully in the first round. There are no answers to the question of a stabilization of a partisan battle. Engendering the union of the Islamic masses and the Arab nationalists with a war would be the worst outcome. Such a development could plunge the whole region into a hundred-year chaos.
zeit: The risks of a war are incalculable. However Americans refer to the risk of Saddam.
Vollmer: Saddam is presently the best-controlled dictator of the world. If this were not true, the war would never end. In the meantime the Middle East, the Caucasus region and Central Asia are so destabilized that no one can give any guarantees any more where the fuse will be first lit and the powder keg explode. For me, the categorical imperative of stabilizing concepts arises here. Strengthening the UN, international law, legality, building political structures and institutions - all this has priority before war fantasies.
zeit: The buildup of the military in the region suggests that war has become inevitable.
Vollmer: One can only warn of a dynamic where the legitimation of one's own role coincides with the successful removal of the enemy. An ominous psychological abduction is occurring in the confrontation of Bush and Saddam. Can the greatest power of the world be coupled in such a constellation so its freedom of decision is restricted? Both politics and diplomacy lose their right when there is no freedom any more in the choice between war and peace.