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Old 04-13-2003, 06:21 PM   #1
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End of an Alliance???? Start of something New???

The Atlantic Alliance Lies in the Rubble

By Charles A. Kupchan

Financial Times, April 10, 2003


Now that the war in Iraq appears to be close to its end, Americans and Europeans will inevitably begin asking how to repair the transatlantic bond. They need not bother. The diplomatic divide that has opened between the US and continental Europe is bringing the Atlantic alliance to a definitive end.

Even before the outbreak of war, the anguished stand-off at the United Nations Security Council made it amply evident that European and American security are no longer indivisible. By steadfastly opposing the US, France, Germany and Russia revealed that they are ready for a Europe without its American pacifier. Having already made clear that shifting priorities necessitate a diminished US presence in Europe, Washington is sure to oblige, casting aside the western alliance in spirit, if not also in fact.

The central question facing US and European policy makers is thus not how to repair the transatlantic relationship but whether the end of alliance will take the form of an amicable separation or a nasty divorce. The former is far preferable in that it keeps open the possibility of revived co-operation down the road, but it will take a great deal of hard work by Americans and Europeans alike.

For its part, George W. Bush's administration will have to realise that the guiding principles of its foreign policy have put Washington on a collision course with Europe. Those principles must now change if there is to be any hope of post-war rapprochement across the Atlantic. In particular, the administration must redress three miscalculations about the use of US power.

First, Washington has operated under the assumption that the more powerful the US is, and the more uncompromising its leadership, the more readily the rest of the world will get in line. But the opposite has transpired. Mr Bush's swagger may appear determined at home, but in Europe and the rest of the world it smacks of arrogance. Far from evoking deference, the US policy of pre-emption and pre-eminence is inviting European resentment and resistance.

The second misconception is that a country as strong as the US does not need international institutions; they only constrain America's room for manoeuvre. Mr Bush is right that institutions contain US power, but that is precisely why they are so integral to international stability. By obliging Washington to adhere to common rules, they increase confidence in the purpose and predictability of US power. When Washington walks away from international institutions, the rest of the world runs for cover.

Third, Mr Bush has vastly overestimated the autonomy that comes with military supremacy. The administration has been dismissive of allies because it feels it does not need them. Washington should look again. The war on terrorism requires extensive international co-operation. Afghanistan is being held together by a broad multinational coalition. Although France, Germany and Russia could not stop the war against Iraq, they ultimately denied Washington the legitimacy of UN backing, making the war in Iraq an especially risky gamble.

These strategic misconceptions are continuing to tear down what little remains of the Atlantic community. Before it is too late, Washington must rediscover the principles of restraint, multilateralism and alliance. Otherwise, estranged allies will become outright adversaries, and Europe will have no reason even to contemplate working on its end of a new bargain.

For its part, Europe must redouble efforts to build a union capable of acting collectively on the international stage. The European Union is currently in a no-man's-land. It is too strong to be Washington's lackey, but too weak and divided to be either an effective partner or a formidable counterweight.

Although debate over Iraq has unquestionably weakened European unity, the current crisis does have the potential to be a turning point. Preserving the Atlantic link has been one of the key motivations inducing Britain, Spain and most central European countries to side with the Bush administration. But now that the Atlantic alliance is expiring, an Atlanticist Europe is no longer an option.

France and Germany have realised as much - one of the main reasons they are discussing with Belgium deeper defence co-operation. The Poles have yet to give up hope of a strong Nato, but they can ignore reality for only so long; Warsaw and other like-minded capitals will soon realise that they have no choice but to settle for a strong EU. The sooner that current and prospective EU members face up to the fact that the US is in the midst of decamping from Europe - for good - the sooner they will begin throwing their weight behind a more effective and collective union.

The Atlantic alliance now lies in the rubble of Baghdad. Perhaps that sad truth will awaken US leaders to their strategic mis-steps, and at the same time impress on Europe's leaders the urgent need for a deeper union.

If so, the seeds of a more mature and balanced Atlantic order may also lie in Baghdad's ruins.
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Old 04-13-2003, 06:31 PM   #2
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I think the Bush Administration hates Europe anyway. It's probably too effeminate for the macho American archetype.

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Old 04-13-2003, 08:49 PM   #3
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I think you're right Melon. Bush hates Europe. There's one problem with all of this. I don't. I'm encouraging my parents to go ahead with their August vacation in Provence. We don't want the French to think we hate their guts. It's not true. When France does something with us, such as recognize the new Iraqi government or whatever, maybe people will stop saying the alliance is over. None of this stuff is over. Maybe we'll put the guns down, but that's not the same thing as closure on this dispute.
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Old 04-14-2003, 03:38 PM   #4
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I hope that the US people are resistant to the stupid anti-european (anti-french) propaganda from the us government and the european people are resistant to the anti-american speeches of some conservatives and neo-communists

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Old 04-14-2003, 03:48 PM   #5
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I hope that the US people are resistant to the stupid anti-european (anti-french) propaganda from the us government and the european people are resistant to the anti-american speeches of some conservatives and neo-communists

Klaus

agreed....I dont want to see america and europe divided...it will not bode well for teh security and prosperity of the world.
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Old 04-14-2003, 03:51 PM   #6
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Nothing to bother about. Atlantic solidarity will be restored... in the worst case when next US administration comes. I think even sooner. US protection is indispensable for Europe's security.
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Old 04-14-2003, 05:50 PM   #7
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I hope that the US people are resistant to the stupid anti-european (anti-french) propaganda from the us government and the european people are resistant to the anti-american speeches of some conservatives and neo-communists

Klaus
Me too. I don't want to see a split, and I don't think it's going to happen. The press is really blowing this stuff up. We've had policy disagreements with alot of countries and didn't end up hating their guts. Turkey for example--the government wouldn't let us use their bases for military purposes but we can use them for humanitarian relief. The relief agencies are very pleased that they can go through Turkey. They found a common bond. A common bond on something with France and Germany is going to happen and then they'll stop this nonsense. I think we already found one with Russia. I saw Condi Rice on the news last week meeting with Vladimir Putin who is on record as wanting to keep the Russian-U.S. friendship even though they didn't agree on Iraq. I think the Administration agrees.
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