German politicians are alarmed following President Bush's comment that he would not rule out military force against Iran. Many are warning against an escalation of the conflict.
Iran's nuclear ambitions are prompting concerns
American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh's report that the US military has been actively carrying out military preparations for a preemptive strike against Iran and President Bush's statement that he would not rule out military force against Iran over its nuclear program have sent alarm bells ringing in Germany.
Representatives from across the political spectrum have responded with varying degrees of concern about the possibility of another conflict in the region.
In an interview with daily Berliner Zeitung, Claudia Roth, party chairwoman of the Greens, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, said diplomatic solutions were needed and not "threats of force." It's a stance that's backed by all party members. Greens spokeswoman Krista Sager called such plans a “very dangerous policy”.
The governing Social Democratic Party (SPD) has reacted similarly.
SPD foreign affairs expert, Gernot Erler, does not see eye to eye with Bush administration's Iran policy
Foreign affairs expert Gernot Erler has demanded that the US provide its NATO partners with all its plans regarding Iran. He called threats against the Iranian government at odds with European Union efforts to reach a diplomatic solution for Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
"The approach provided by the three European governments of the United Kingdom, France and Germany is not compatible with the American approach of threatening with military intervention," Erler said.
The EU, led by the United Kingdom, France and Germany, has negotiated numerous times with Teheran to try and persuade the country to give up its goals of producing atomic weapons. In November, Iran succumbed to the demands of the EU and the International Atomic Energy Agency to halt all activities related to the enrichment of uranium.
US should be more willing to negotiate
While those in the Green Party and the SPD are more critical of the potential for conflict between the US and Iran, the center-right opposition party, the Christian Democrats, think that cooperation between the US and the EU is the best way to bring about a lasting solution.
There are concerns in Europe that such photos of US troops will be coming from Iran
Former German Defense Secretary, Volker Ruhe, suggested that the US should determine how it can best support European nuclear negotiations with concrete proposals to motivate Iran’s mullahs to permanently reject an atomic weapons option.
Long-time foreign policy expert from the Christian Democratic Union, Wolfgang Schäuble, warned against over-dramatizing the situation. In an interview in the newspaper Die Welt, Schäuble asserted that it is Iran’s attempts to become an atomic power that pose the real threat, not the position of the United States.
The Christian Democrats' Iran expert, Ruprecht Polenz, bemoaned that the Bush administration does not bring any political solutions to the negotiating table.
Threat blown out of proportion?
Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, whose country holds the EU presidency, said he could not possibly believe that after the bad experience in Iraq, that the US would possibly attack Iran.
"I can't imagine that this is serious American policy," said Asselborn.
Yet it is exactly the policy during the first four years of the Bush administration that frightens some European politicians.
Good cop, bad cop
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer doesn't think the US will be too patient too long with Iran
The EU is eager to negotiate with Iran. Just last week, it again met with Iranian representatives in Brussels to discuss a possible trade agreement, something that Iran has long been striving for. But the EU cannot and will not forever play the role of the good cop while the US holds a big stick in its hand.
Asselborn shares this belief. And so does German Foreign Minister and unofficial Green party leader, Joschka Fischer. In the past few months, he has repeatedly told the regime in Teheran that it may be miscalculating the EU's ability to hinder the US from using military force.
"I can only appeal to those responsible to not come to false conclusions that isn't in the interest of Iran, isn't in the interest of regional stability and isn't in the interest of the European Union," Fischer said.