Switzerland is known for many thins including cheese and chocolate, but in politics the Swiss are known for their neutrality. Well that WAS until 2002 when Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey became foreign minister. Now instead of being neutral Switzerland is just...well..strange. There was that Natural Gas deal with Iran, adorned with a shmata on her head she met with Iranian President Aym-a-shithead. Giving the tyrant money to move his weapons program ahead, Calmy-Rey ignored the UN Sanctions. Then there was the time this crazy lady went BALISTIC on Colin Powell at the Davos World Economic Forum, scolding him about the build up to the Iraq war. Is she crazy or crazy like a fox--maybe its just roid-rage:
Somebody Stop Calmy-Rey By ROGER KÖPPEL
Switzerland is seen as harmless and boring, at best a site for conferences, banking and skiing. The Confederation, as its founders intended, is supposed to keep out of big-time politics. This neutrality has not always been heroic, but generally wise and proper for a small country.
Since taking office nearly six years ago, Social Democratic Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has preached and practiced a break with this past. What critics at first dismissed as the annoying activism of a naive self-promoter has become a threat to Swiss interests.
The embarrassing low point in a chain of clumsy gestures and mistakes was Ms. Calmy-Rey's recent appearance in Tehran, where she was photographed, smiling and wearing a headscarf, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The photo was gratefully registered by the mullahs as a propaganda coup for the ostracized theocracy. Although Ms. Calmy-Rey claims she harshly criticized the president for his policies, such as stoning adulterers, the prevailing impression was that she let herself be manipulated as a useful idiot by a brutal regime.
What's more, Ms. Calmy-Rey was in Iran for the signing of a $20 billion gas deal, which rightly caused displeasure in the U.S. Washington requested a copy of the contract. The agreements might violate the U.S. Iran Sanctions Act and the United Nations' sanctions against Tehran. If so, this would be a diplomatic embarrassment for Switzerland, to say the least.
It is wrong to see the minister's lapses as the result of a clever master plan. The reality is more banal and more dangerous. Ms. Calmy-Rey acts by instinct, erratically, emotionally, without any strategic framework. What she argues today with the greatest sincerity is no longer of interest tomorrow. The aim is not lasting effectiveness, but media effect.
In 2003, the camera-hungry Social Democrat walked across the North Korean border in red sneakers to make a statement that no one understood. In the same year at the Davos World Economic Forum, she almost violently thrust herself upon then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to read him the riot act about the impending Iraq war. Her foreign policy actions are reminiscent of the student movement's agit-prop methods: much moral indignation and narcissism, little realism. Ms. Calmy-Rey calls it "active neutrality." Critics speak of "finger wagging" and "emotion diplomacy."
Ms. Calmy-Rey wants to turn Switzerland into a moral superpower. It is a morality, however, that is firmly anchored in the left-liberal mainstream that seems to have lost its moral compass. She shares the aversion of Europe's general public toward the U.S. and Israel. There is an emotional resentment of globalization and a belief against all evidence that, in the end, only broad-based development aid can improve the lives of the poor.
It was only logical then that Ms. Calmy-Rey would recommend the old socialist Jean Ziegler, of all people, as a human rights adviser to the United Nations. The controversial co-founder of the "Moammar Gadhafi Human Rights Prize" is a friend of Fidel Castro and an advocate of Hugo Chávez and naturally an unmerciful critic of "American imperialism" and Israel. Switzerland was also the only European country to vote in favor of last month's one-sided anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council. Ms. Calmy-Rey has a natural talent for alienating Switzerland's most reliable partners.
It is a miracle that her most disastrous act so far went almost unnoticed. In December 2006, she received an Iranian delegation for talks on the nuclear program. To the horror of her closest colleagues, she came up with the idea of improving relations by holding a "seminar on differing perceptions of the Holocaust." One must understand the enormity of this: Ms. Calmy-Rey suggested a debate in Switzerland with Iranian Holocaust deniers on whether the murder of six million Jews actually happened. Fortunately, nothing came of this idea. It would not only have been outrageous, but also illegal, since genocide denial is a crime in Switzerland. She is isolated in the government, and her colleagues seem to grow more skeptical. But they do not speak out openly against her.
To avoid any misunderstanding, Ms. Calmy-Rey is no Holocaust denier, and is undoubtedly against Iran's nuclear weapons program. But the episode makes clear the carelessness with which the foreign minister risks her country's reputation for the sake of public appeal. Her "active neutrality" threatens to destroy neutrality through sheer, usually misguided, activism.
Most important, it's counterproductive. The point of the talks with Iran was to convince the mullahs to make their nuclear plans transparent. Instead, the regime in Tehran gained time and a positive image through the contact. The problem is that Ms. Calmy-Rey is forcing a foreign policy role on Switzerland that the small country cannot and should not play. This new, wrong-headed visibility harms Switzerland and causes international confusion. The very fact that Swiss foreign policy has become an issue at all is evidence enough that Ms. Calmy-Rey must be stopped.
Mr. Köppel is owner and chief editor of the Swiss weekly "Die Weltwoche." Belinda Cooper translated this essay from the original German.