If there is a modern day saint able to walk on water it has got to be Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign minister.
This former terrorist supporter is Germany's media darling and the country's most popular politician.
What's rather astonishing in the face of his high popularity: he's a person void of almost any political substance. If you are in need of a telling example - here is one, a transcript of an interview Fischer gave to Australian tv station ABC on February 7, 2005:
German Foreign Minister looks to rebuild ties with Australia
TONY JONES: As you know, East Timor gained its independence after international intervention. A referendum followed. The people of East Timor were able to say what their will was. Now, after Iraq's first elections, we're starting to get a picture of the will of the Iraqi people. Given the high turnout of voters in Iraq, are you rethinking your opposition to the war to get rid of the dictator Saddam Hussein?
JOSCHKA FISCHER: Our position was that it was not wise to wage this war. But when it happened, it was also quite clear that it cannot end with the defeat of the coalition. Europe - not only Germany - Europe has not only strategic interests in the region, in the Middle East, but we are direct neighbours. So if there would be a negative outcome for the coalition - we are not part of the coalition - we would be hurt directly. Whether we were against or pro war, this was a case of the past, but now, we have any interest. Since the very beginning of the end of the war, we work with our American friends. Unfortunately, one year was lost until the Security Council resolution was produced, and based on the efforts of Lakhdar Brahimi, the special representative of the United Nations, we worked out a Security Council resolution which led now to elections. It was very courageous of many voters to go to the ballots, and now we have to wait for the outcome. We must see. As far as I see, the Shi'ites will have a great victory, but we have to wait until we know the definite outcome. It was a step forward. Hopefully, this will reduce the violence and hopefully this can produce democratic stability. We will contribute to that.
Analysis: Fischer doesn't address the question asked. But wait...
TONY JONES: Let's talk, if we can, about some of the questions of principle that were involved there, though. In his recent State of the Union address, President Bush said his ultimate goal was to end tyranny in the world. Now, do you accept that as a legitimate guiding principle of foreign policy?
JOSCHKA FISCHER: Looking to the history of my continent of Europe, we had two totalitarian challenges. The first one was the challenge of the Nazis in my country, which led to almost a complete destruction of my country, not only in a physical sense but morally; and the second one was Bolshevism and the Stalinist threat. At the end, Europe overcame all these challenges, and today Europe is a continent moving forward to the integration. We had the enlargement, May 1 last year, with 10 more member states. We crossed the Iron Curtain, the former Iron Curtain. Europe today is a continent of peace. There's a tremendous challenge. Tyranny is a chapter of the past, and we had a lot of tyranny in Europe. Looking forward to the coming challenges in the globalised world, I think that we should move forward with such a transitional approach. We never had, after 9/11, dispute about the need to change the status quo in the Middle East; the dispute was about which tools should be used, and is it wise to use the tools which were used then by the United States and the coalition against Iraq? But definitely, we work very hard in Iran, in the Middle East, Israel and Palestinian conflict, in other countries. We invented, together with our American friends, the concept of the broader Middle East for a transition. We believe in that, yes, definitely, because we live in one world, and in one world, I think it might be a short-term perspective to suppress people, but in the middle-term perspective, I don't believe that this is an option for the future.
Analysis: I'm lost in an ocean of words. Europe somehow managed to end tyranny, but it isn't clear how, except: "Europe overcame all these challenges". And I like the "challenge of the Nazis in my country". The Nazis "challenged" Germany? Poor Germans... But I'm sure Fischer will now get into details...
TONY JONES: I know you are talking about it as if it were a thing of the past, but the war in Iraq was incredibly controversial in Europe. Do you accept that it was a war to end tyranny?
JOSCHKA FISCHER: We must work on that, that the outcome will be an end of tyranny and not an escalation of the problems. We have any interest and therefore - I had negative predictions, but I'm in a contradictionary situation, because I must work very hard for a positive outcome. It's a dispute about the past, the reasons of the war. I mean, we must work very hard that we really can move forward with the transformation of this region, because this will define our security in the 21st century.
Analysis: Hmm... Was it a war to end tyranny, Mr. Fischer? Mr. Fischer? Joschka!!?
TONY JONES: I mean, I put these questions of principle to you because, as a green, in spite of being a green, in fact, you are not a pacifist.
JOSCHKA FISCHER: I'm not a pacifist. I mean, my government, the Chancellor, myself, we led our country twice to war in the Balkans, in Kosovo, and in Afghanistan, and...
TONY JONES: In fact, in the case of Kosovo, you had to convince your own party - you had to face them down in order to send Germans to war for the first time since the Second World War. I'm asking what the difference in principle is between the war in Kosovo and the war in Iraq.
JOSCHKA FISCHER: Well, for me, war is the very last option. I cannot deny that sometimes there will be a situation where you must fight, but before, all other options, especially diplomatic options, must be exhausted. So this is a means of last resort for us, for our government. It was for us quite clear after 9/11, this terrible criminal attack on the people and the government of the United States, that there was a big road of evidence leading to Afghanistan and to al-Qai'da, and in Kosovo, all other options were exhausted, and it was quite clear that Milosevic will not agree to a peaceful solution. Everything was done before, everything - all negotiations came to a negative outcome, and there was no other option than to use military means in Kosovo, so this is the general position of our government.
TONY JONES: But you're indicating that that wasn't the position in Iraq, and that...
JOSCHKA FISCHER: Well, from our view, the diplomatic options were not exhausted at that time. But this is a discussion of the past. Today, today, we have any interest, both sides - "yes" and "no" position - that the outcome now will be a democratic stability in Iraq, because negative consequences would be terrible for all of us.
Analysis: The guy is amazing. No mention of the fact that Saddam had stalled all diplomatic efforts for years. No mention of the fact that we now know that Saddam's Iraq was a heaven for the "Oil for Food" embezzlement crowd, who would have done everything to boycott all "diplomatic solutions". And Mr. Fischer - why not mention the fact that the UN Security Council hadn't approved of the Kosovo war?
TONY JONES: You essentially appear to be saying that you have to deal with, in real politics, the consequences of bad US foreign policy.
JOSCHKA FISCHER: I would never say that - never. We had our disputes. But we are looking forward now, and I think - I was in Washington DC last week. I had a long talk with my new colleague Condoleezza Rice, and it's quite clear this is now an ongoing discussions between the Europeans and the American side, and I think very productive discussions.
My sympathy goes to Condi Rice for having "a long talk" with Mr. Fischer...
(Hat tip Ian)