The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), under the auspices of the Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair, and with the support of the CSIS Europe Program, recently convened a meeting of senior representatives from approximately 40 think tanks in the United States and Europe. The event was held over two and a half days at the Wye Plantation in Maryland on April 15-17, 2005. The purpose of this Think Tank Summit was obvious: as President Bush’s second administration was about to start, it was imperative to assess the state of a transatlantic partnership that had been fading in recent years.
Our agenda called for an intensive review of many of the highest priority issues faced by the United States and the states of Europe, as well as the main institutions to which they belong: economic issues, including the persistent U.S. twin deficits and the evolution of a virtual Euro-Atlantic economy relative to the global economy; the Middle East, including Iran’s nuclear development, postwar conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Israeli Palestinian conflict, and the need for democratic reform in the region, however defined; the future of NATO and the EU as institutions, but also the transformation of NATO-EU and EU-U.S. relations; the threat of nuclear terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; unfinished security business in Europe, including the status of Europe’s institutional orphans like Ukraine, as well as Russia’s evolution; and the so-called U.S. European values gap as an obstacle to the renewal of the transatlantic partnership. That
we could do so much in so little time is a tribute to the participants, who were all willing to limit their interventions while drawing on the substantial papers many of them had agreed to write prior to the meeting.
The paper that follows builds upon the many contributions made by each participant at the Wye Summit. Indeed, I am especially grateful to them, my many friends – most from many years and some more recent – who made this meeting possible, agreed to write papers and traveled long distances to attend despite their busy schedules. I am also enormously thankful for their nearly unanimous willingness to endorse “the general thrust, but not every word” of the paper presented in this Report – though in their own name rather than in that of their respective institutions. The paper also builds upon an earlier Report released in the name of the CSIS Initiative for a Renewed Transatlantic Partnership. That Initiative was itself born out of a Joint Declaration I had written in May 2003, at a time when the Atlantic partnership seemed truly at risk: the Declaration, endorsed by a bipartisan group of 19 prominent Americans, was the catalyst for an extraordinarily spontaneous exchange with similar groups of equally prominent Europeans. Taken together, these documents seek to provide a conceptual and practical foundation for a much-needed renewal of the transatlantic partnership.
I want to thank my young colleagues with the CSIS Europe Program for helping me develop and implement this project – especially Michelle Sparkman, Derek Mix, and Jeremy Thompson. Special thanks also go to Robin Niblett, the CSIS Europe Program Director, for his support of, and many contributions to, this project. Finally, we are tremendously grateful to those whose funding made our work possible, including financial support from the European Union and NATO for this project specifically, and support from the Richard Fairbanks Foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the United States for the Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair and the Europe Program respectively.
Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy Center for Strategic and International Studies
The United States, the European Union, and NATO
AFTER THE COLD WAR AND BEYOND IRAQ
• The transatlantic debate is not over American power and European weakness, but over how a combination of
American and European power can best contribute to global order in spite of the weaknesses found on each side of the Atlantic.
• For all the differences that exist between the United States and the states of Europe, Europe matters toAmerica, and America to Europe, because converging concerns, compatible values, and overlapping interests make of each the other’s partner of choice.
• Overlapping interests (though not always common) and compatible values (though no longer converging) can shape a transatlantic community of action if there is a credible commitment to consultation between the two sides of the Atlantic before decisions are made by either.
Tests Of Will
• This is a critical juncture that parallels the start of President Truman’s second term in office in 1949, when decisions and the events that prompted them were to shape the history of the following four decades.
• By March 2007, for the fiftieth anniversary of the Rome Treaties that launched the European Union (EU), and by April 2009, for the sixtieth anniversary of the Washington Treaty that launched the Atlantic Alliance and its Organization (NATO), the EU, NATO, and EU-NATO relations will be either much better off or much worse off—depending on the decisions made on both sides of the Atlantic during the intervening years.
About the EU
• Conditions for Europe’s institutional growth and dynamism do not seem to be met, and the future of the states of Europe and their Union should be a source of general concern about the transatlantic partnership.
• Faced with the unpredictable turns of Europe’s debate over its constitutional treaty, the United States should stand ready to reassert its unequivocal commitment to an increasingly united and progressively stronger Europe.
• The “case against the case against Europe” is compelling. The EU is a very important U.S. interest, if for no other reason but that it is a vital interest for the states of Europe, America’s most vital allies.
• More should be done to explain the historic achievements of European policies that nurtured the rise of the EU with a decisive assist from the United States, which also shared the benefits of such achievement.
• Differences in values are often exaggerated, their significance is often misrepresented, and their impact is usually felt more directly in domestic political terms, and only indirectly on foreign policy.
• President Bush’s trips to Europe in February and May 2005 helped reassert a Euro-Atlantic solidarity between the 32 countries that belong to either the EU or NATO, but which also extends to other European countries belonging to neither yet.
• Beyond 2005, the EU, too, should seek additional ways to show ever more clearly that “Europe” is being completed with, rather than in spite or at the expense of, the United States.
• U.S. participation in the opening dinner held for one of the two yearly European summits that conclude each six-month EU presidency, would privilege the increasingly close relationship between the United States and the EU and complement usefully the annual U.S.-EU summit meetings that enable the U.S. president to meet with his EU counterparts from the EU Council and Commission.
• A public commitment to an ever closer transatlantic market, adapted from Europe’s initial idea of an “ever closer union,” could provide a goal for launching a finality debate that acknowledges the American presence within the European Union, as well as the virtual presence of the EU within the American Union.
• More than a decade after the Cold War, a reorganized NATO is still in business, but the Alliance itself has not been reorganized.
• The European members of the Alliance must help stock their organization with “a usable warehouse” of improved military forces without which it will not be possible to respond to the global mandate that the alliance members gave NATO at the Summits in Prague and Istanbul in November 2002 and July 2004 respectively.
• Opening the Quad to an additional two to three large members (Italy, Spain, and Poland) will be politically difficult but may be institutionally desirable.
• The heads of state and government of all 32 NATO and EU members (including the 19 European countries that belong to both institutions) ought to open discussions for a new Atlantic Compact for the new century.
• Over time, there should be complementarity of European membership in NATO and the EU, meaning that European members of NATO should ultimately be members of the EU, and all EU members should also become NATO members.
Tests Of Efficacy
• Tests of efficacy abound. To pass these tests, the allies need not always act together on each issue, but they do need to be sure that together they act on all these issues, lest their respective or shared ability to influence them wane over time.
• Do not ask what NATO can do for the EU, or the EU for NATO, but ask what the EU can do with NATO, and NATO with the EU.
• The states of Europe and their Union must assume a larger role commensurate with their current capabilities, interests, and influence.
• For the United States to call on the European allies for help is not to submit the United States to a global test; it is instead to respond to a test of global efficacy.
• A coalition of the willing is likely to remain insufficient unless allies that are willing are also capable, and allies that are both willing and capable are also relevant.
• Stabilization as a unitary and democratic state is a goal shared by all NATO and EU members. Failure, should it occur, would spread throughout the region, and, perceived mainly as an American failure, would encourage radical views and terror-inducing policies said to have been confirmed by events in Iraq.
• The end game aims at a gradual withdrawal of the remaining coalition forces by the earliest possible date, but a date that only a democratically elected Iraqi government can determine and make certain on the basis of its assessment of local conditions.
• European allies that did not join the coalition of the willing should make the additional commitments needed for the training of sufficient levels of effective Iraqi military and police capabilities—a precondition for the reasonably orderly exit of coalition forces, an outcome that is wanted by all provided that it does not take the form (or even the appearance) of a retreat that is equally feared by all.
• Iran has the potential to become even more divisive in 2005-2006 than Iraq was in 2003-2004.
• The EU allies cannot assume the burden of negotiations alone. A more active U.S. engagement with the EU negotiating teams will be required.
• In the absence of sustained consultations that define a consensus before the crisis deepens, including a consensus for appropriate military action of last resort, Iran might soon turn into a self-defeating exercise in brinksmanship—a bomb-or-grovel strategy that would leave scars unlikely to heal for many years, not only between the United States and the states of Europe, but also between them and Iran, within Iran, and indeed throughout the region.
• Postwar conditions present not only a test for NATO, but also a test for Europe’s commitment to the war on terrorism, and its willingness to provide the non-military tools needed to contain its roots while addressing its consequences.
• While the deployment of additional NATO forces needs to be extended and even enlarged to ensure security for the whole country, reconstruction of the country is a prerequisite for both rehabilitation of the state and reconciliation among its people.
• Investing in improving the UN’s capabilities—in addition to reforming its structures—to handle ever-larger contingencies is a legitimate goal for both NATO and the EU, as well as for their individual members, in Afghanistan.
For the Middle East
• Entering the twenty-first century, the Middle East stands where Europe used to stand during the past century. There can be no order in the world without order within that region.
• There is no alternative to working together as each other’s indispensable ally lest, working separately, each becomes the victim of the other’s failings.
• Notwithstanding widespread doubts in Europe about the U.S. commitment to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an immediate priority, the U.S. role as a fair and honest broker remains central for lack of any credible alternative.
• To achieve a viable Palestinian state by 2009, the new Palestinian leadership must gain credibility among its own people. The EU is especially well placed to help meet that need, and the EU states, no less than the United States, are especially well placed to understand, as in Afghanistan, the imperative of reconstruction as a basis for reconciliation.
Elsewhere, in Europe
• In late 2004, Ukraine was an especially good example of transatlantic efficacy, achieved through the EU with the active participation of several new members and with additional U.S. contributions. In 2005, the United
States and the EU, as well as NATO, should pursue their complementary efforts with an integrated and comprehensive strategy toward that country.
• NATO and EU relations with other non-EU, non-NATO member countries in Europe should be more effectively coordinated. About Russia especially, more and better coordination—a Euro-Atlantic Ostpolitik—would help avoid a wedge within Europe and between the two sides of the Atlantic.
• The United States and the states of Europe should actively support the development of regional multilateral institutions, closely associated to both NATO and the EU, to help with the search for, and implementation of, regional solutions to the development and security problems that are being faced regionally.
• No nation can contain, let alone prevent or pre-empt the nuclear threat alone, and none can escape the consequences of a unilateral failure to do so or even prepare for its aftermath.
• As shown on March 11, 2004, Europe may be more vulnerable to terrorism than the United States on grounds of geographic proximity, economic dependence, and cultural sensitivities.
• There is evidence of growing cooperation in counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation in Europe within the EU, as well as between Europe and the United States within NATO and the G-7, and between both the EU and NATO within the UN. But more, much more needs to be done.
Test Of Vision
• The end of “the American era” will not come for lack of military power, which is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon, or for a lack of will, which remains unwavering, but for lack of international legitimacy out of which there might ultimately emerge a shortage of national power and will.
• In the emerging multipolar environment, America is not a European power; but as a world power, it is a power in Europe. As a Union, Europe is a power in the world; but lacking political unity and military capabilities, it is not a world power.
• As the unipolar moment closes, the new multipolarity will prove more stable if it can rest on a Euro-Atlantic partnership that the other major powers can join but which they cannot weaken: If not with each other, with whom?
• The transformation of Euro-Atlantic relations will take time. But if not now, when? In June 2005, the next U.S.-EU summit will present another opportunity to make the will credible, the efficacy convincing, and the vision plausible.
THE UNITED STATES, THE EUROPEAN UNION, AND NATO VII
After the Cold War And Beyond Iraq
This paper, written by Simon Serfaty, draws on the extensive discussions of a group of experts affiliated with
Think Tanks in NATO and EU countries, and gathered at the Wye Plantation on April 15-17, 2005. The general
thrust of the paper—but not every word—was endorsed, in their own name, by
Graham Allison Director, Belfer Center, Harvard University
Ronald Asmus Executive Director, Transatlantic Center, German Marshall Fund, Brussels
Alyson Bailes Director, International Peace Research Institute, Stockholm
Christoph Bertram Director, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Berlin
Hans Binnendijk Director, CTNSP, National Defense University
Gianni Bonvicini Director, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome
Per Carlsen Director, Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen
Steven Clemons Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
Rob de Wijk Senior Researcher, Netherlands Institute of International Relations, The Hague
James Dobbins Director, International Security and Defense Policy, RAND
Susan Eisenhower Senior Fellow & Chairman Emeritus, The Eisenhower Institute
Cathleen Fisher Deputy Director, American Institute for Contemporary German Studies
Charles Grant Director, Centre for European Reform, London
Jacqueline Grapin President, European Institute
Istvan Gyarmati Senior Advisor, Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, Geneva
Dan Hamilton Executive Director, Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS
Randall Henning Visiting Senior Fellow, Institute for International Economics
Robert Hunter Senior Advisor, RAND
Suat Kiniklioglu Executive Director, German Marshall Fund Turkey, Ankara
Ivan Krastev Program Director, Political Research, Center for Liberal Strategies, Sofia
Charles Kupchan Director, European Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Washington DC
Emilio Lamo de Espinosa Director, Real Instituto Elcano, Madrid
Michael Landesmann Research Director, Institute for International Economic Studies, Vienna
Atis Lejins Director, Latvian Institute of International Affairs, Riga
Tod Lindberg Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
Peter Linton EU Rapporteur, Transatlantic Policy Network, Brussels
Raimundas Lopata Director, Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius
Christopher Makins President, Atlantic Council of the United States
Thierry de Montbrial President, Institut Français des Relations Internationales, Paris
Vince Morelli Senior Fellow, Center for Transatlantic Relations, SAIS
Robin Niblett Executive Vice President and Director, Europe Program, CSIS
George Perkovich Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Clyde Prestowitz President, Economic Strategy Institute
Joaquin Roy Director, EU Center, University of Miami, Miami, FL
David Rudd President & Executive Director, Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, Toronto
Alberta Sbragia Director, EU Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Martin Schain Co-Director, EU Center, New York University, New York, NY
Simon Serfaty Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, CSIS
Jeremy Shapiro Director of Research, Center on the US and Europe, Brookings Institution
Radek Sikorski Executive Director, New Atlantic Initiative, American Enterprise Institute
Bruce Stokes Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Alexandr Vondra Member of the Board, PASS, Security Studies Institute, Prague
Steven Weber Director, Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley
THE UNITED STATES, THE EUROPEAN UNION, AND NATO
AFTER THE COLD WAR AND BEYOND IRAQ
Notwithstanding the noticeable change of tone in U.S.-European relations since the re-election of President George W. Bush, the transatlantic partnership remains at risk. For the first time since the United States of America assumed, on behalf of the West, a leadership it had earned the old-fashioned way, the United States is viewed by large pluralities in most European states as having a negative influence in the world. No less significantly, closer to an institutional finality that its Founding Fathers never anticipated, the European Union (EU), too, faces unprecedented tensions among its members and open public challenges in most of them.
In the face of such risks, for both the United States and the states of Europe, as well as for the central institutions to which they belong, this is a critical juncture that parallels the start of President Truman’s second term in office in 1949, when decisions and the events that prompted them were to shape the history of the following four decades.
The strategy put in place at the time was neither an American nor a European strategy. It was a Western strategy that relied on U.S. power and leadership to shape an institutional order that relied primarily on an Atlantic Alliance whose integrated military organization would help restore the European dimension of America’s identity, and on an idea of Europe whose “ever closer” community was designed to deflate the national dimensions of the new European allies. Now, however, a Western strategy may prove to be a goal that is not wanted on both sides of the Atlantic, or one that can be denied by either side irrespective of the other’s preferences.
Insisting that the changed security conditions unveiled on September 11, 2001, can best be fought with passing “coalitions” that are built one “mission” at a time will
marginalize the Atlantic Alliance at the expense of all its members: after the Cold War and beyond Iraq, solidarity between America and Europe, as well as within Europe, remains the best recipe for global stability. In other words, the transatlantic debate is not over American power and European weakness, but over how a combination of American and European power can best contribute to global order in spite of the weaknesses found on each side of the Atlantic.
That America’s military preponderance is beyond the immediate reach of any friend, rival or adversary, is not in question. But as shown in Iraq, such preponderance does not suffice: even a nation without peers cannot remain for long a nation without allies that are not only willing but also capable and relevant. Nor can power be confined to its military dimension only, while excluding the non-military dimensions. Thus, current economic conditions do not point to conditions of power and weakness but argue for conditions of power and order. With most world economic powers less susceptible to
U.S. pressures for policy changes than in the past, the coming global adjustments will also be best achieved with closer cooperation between the United States and the EU over monetary policy and fiscal policy. Absent such cooperation, the disruptions that can be anticipated during an adjustment process distorted by glaring currency manipulations could create a serious protectionist backlash in global trade relations.
The risks of U.S. failures in sustaining either dimension of its power, or both, should not leave Europe indifferent. However awesome Europe’s transformation, and however real its ability to exert genuine influence in the world, its past achievements and renewed capacity to act have been mostly measured under conditions of U.S. successes; Europe has not been truly tested in the context of U.S. failures comparable to what would follow an inability to complete well what was started, arguably unevenly, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. Nor has Europe been seriously tested, since the end of the Cold War, under conditions of a lasting slowdown in overall U.S. economic activity with recessionary implications for the global economy. That, economics and security, is the linkage that matters most: now that the unifying threat raised by the Soviet Union during the Cold War is gone, transatlantic commercial ties best serve to illustrate and ensure the need for continued cooperation in the face of mounting divisions in political and security relations.
In short, for all the differences that exist between the United States and the states of Europe, and for all the personal clashes between heads of state and government on
both sides of the Atlantic, Europe matters to America, and America to Europe, because converging concerns, compatible values, and overlapping interests make of each the other’s partner of choice.
When thinking about the future, the pull of allegedly irresistible analogies is eerie.
Which parallels will best apply—those, encouraging, of 1949 and 1957, which range from the Washington Treaty to the Rome Treaties, or those, troubling, of 1914 and 1929? Succumbing to the best of these analogies would be complacent, but giving in to the worst of them would be unduly defeatist. In a moment impregnated with a certain air of destiny, what is most needed is threefold: a will for partnership and a will for union nurtured by the historically extraordinary achievements that lie behind, but reinforced by the compelling challenges that stand ahead; an efficacy of action, centered on the most urgent issues of the moment—including Iraq, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as Cold War legacies that still abound outside the Euro-Atlantic zone; and a test of vision, related to the various non-military dimensions of the war on terror, the control of catastrophic weapons able to inflict mass destruction on its civilian targets, and the management of a new multipolarity populated by fallen empires, meaning Russia, and ascending powers, including China and India. What all three tests have in common is their urgency. For even over the vision thing—the passing of the unipolar moment and the coming of a new multipolar world—the long term has run out of time, locking events into a short term timetable for which we, on both sides of the Atlantic, may not be fully prepared.
TESTS OF WILL
For nearly five decades, Europe’s transformation has depended on several main
conditions that influenced the scope, pace, and success of each new initiative embraced by a growing number of European states: robust, sustained, and widely shared economic growth; stable and confident centrist national leadership able to resist pressures from both political extremes; a reliable core of at least two of Europe’s largest states, able to pull the other members within the community; credible U.S. support, often extended at
some economic or political cost to the United States, but justified by broader U.S. goals; regional stability, to the East of Germany, but also to the South of the Mediterranean.
Early in 2005, these conditions for Europe’s institutional growth and dynamism are in question, and the future of the states of Europe and their Union at a moment when they are openly struggling to achieve “finality” for a “more perfect union” should be a source of general concern about the transatlantic partnership.
There is not enough economic growth: having performed below potential for the past several years, Europe’s economies remain weak, and prospects for sustained recovery are dim—expected to amount to 1.2 percent in 2005, barely one third of what is anticipated in the United States. Europe’s economy suffers from serious structural weaknesses—low levels of utilization of labor and R&D investment, the ageing of the population, and uncertainty about the economic costs and benefits of enlargement—and can depend on no easy fix either. In order to remain competitive and match levels of growth in the United States, Europe will need to improve external and internal migration policies, increase R&D spending, benefit from improved general technologies and establish both venture capital firms and business-to-university links, to name but a few.
In short, Europe needs to enforce the reform program—the “Lisbon agenda”—it launched with much fanfare and optimism in the spring of 2000. Under current political conditions, that, however, will not be easy and may even be unlikely.
Cause or consequence of these economic conditions, there is also much political volatility: in 2004, previously strong governments became weak or were voted out of office (as in Spain, Slovenia, and Romania), and weak governments became even weaker and are at the mercy of the next national election (as in Poland and Germany this fall, Italy in 2006, if not earlier, and France in 2007). That the most significant test of national will for the pursuit of European integration would take place at this most difficult time and over the most unsettling question of a “constitutional” treaty is not reassuring. In a true sense, the national referenda for ratification of the treaty signed in Rome in October 2004 are about the legitimacy of the Union and the facts of membership in the Union. Nearly 50 years ago, it is from the top down that nation-states began to build institutions out of the commitments their governments were willing to make after two devastating wars; now, it is from the bottom up that these commitments must be renewed in order to complete institutions that have become increasingly more intrusive and less productive— a task predictably more difficult and accordingly less predictable.
Even in the absence of a constitutional treaty, there is much public ambivalence in and about Europe: on the eve of its so-called finality, the construction of Europe is questioned not only for the “constitution” allegedly imposed on its members but also for its expanding membership and for an unwanted influence on each member’s daily life.
Such ambivalence could become outright hostility should there be further evidence of failures in either the economic or security areas. What will become of Europe, and what will become of its relations with the United States, if Europeans, having slumbered through several years of slow growth, are asked to pay for U.S. profligacy, against which they argued but about which they proved incapable of doing anything? What will happen, too, should other acts of terror in Europe transform the continent’s resentment of its growing Muslim population into public anger, including anger at the United States whose policies would be said to have worsened Western relations with Islam?
As Europe moves toward the fiftieth anniversary of the Rome Treaties, in March
2007, America’s flawed understanding of the EU facilitates a recurring temptation to describe the fundamental goal of the EU in competitive or adversarial terms. EU-phobic or anti-American noises born out of plain ignorance or worse are mounting. More should be done on both sides of the Atlantic to explain the historic achievements of European policies that nurtured the rise of the EU with a decisive assist from the United States, which also shared the benefits of such achievements. Admittedly, the completion of the European Union is not a U.S. responsibility: it is the responsibility of its members. But public diplomacy matters, and whatever perception there is in Europe concerning U.S. neglect of, and resistance to, Europe should be actively dispelled by the United States. Because of the continued U.S. influence on a number of EU members, decisions or even mere declarations that reinforce or weaken the fact or even the perception of the U.S.
commitment will affect EU choices during the difficult period ahead. The point is not for the United States to take public positions on issues that are best left to Europeans themselves; more modestly, the point is for the states of Europe and their people to
understand that the U.S. commitment to an increasingly united and progressively stronger Europe remains unequivocal. In past years, the United States often helped the states of Europe re-launch or proceed with their quest for union, from the dark days that
followed the French rejection of the European Defense Community in the summer of 1954, past a benign neglect of the Gaullist challenges in the 1960s, through the erratic drive toward the 1992 single market, and up to an active encouragement of Europe’s timetable for the launch of the single currency in the 1990s. Faced with the unpredictable consequences of a rejection of the constitutional treaty by one of the leading EU powers, the United States should stand ready to reassert its commitment to, and preference for, a Europe that is made whole now that it has become mainly free.
There can be no ambiguity: the EU is a very important U.S. interest, if for no other reason but that it is a vital interest for the states of Europe, America’s most vital allies. So it was during the Cold War, so it remained after the Cold War when NATO and EU enlargement continued to move in unison. Entering the twenty-first century, an institutional fragmentation of Europe, however defined and however achieved, would benefit neither the states of Europe nor the United States. The “case against Europe” lacks convincing evidence that Europe could become anything like the adversarial counterweight that is evoked to make that case. At worst, Europe is, or could become, a “soft balancer” that might be too strong to be ignored but would remain too weak to pose an existential threat to the United States; at best, it will become a cooperative counterpart with enough weight to make the contributions that the United States anticipated at the start of the Cold War. Stated simply, the European Union is needed by the European states, but it is also needed by the United States, because Europe’s relevance is best measured—and its influence is most effectively asserted—not one national capital at a time but all of them simultaneously. Thus, President Bush ought to be applauded for his decision to go to Europe in late February 2005, earlier than had ever been the case after a presidential election and following three other European trips in June 2004. In so doing,
Bush forcefully reaffirmed his commitment to a renewed and cohesive transatlantic partnership. By choosing to go first to Brussels, as opposed to any specific national capital, by placing his visit in the dual institutional context of both NATO and the EU, as opposed to NATO alone, by avoiding playing favorites among his main counterparts, and by speaking out forcefully on behalf of the former Soviet republics that are still sensitive to Russia’s influence, the U.S. president also acknowledged his confidence in a Euro- Atlantic solidarity extended to the 32 countries that belong to at least one of the two central Western institutions but also includes other European countries that belong to neither yet.
Renewing the transatlantic dialogue, however, cannot depend on the United States alone. Europe must also demonstrate its will for partnership: Americans, too, want their leadership to be wanted, not after it has worked but during the difficult moments that precede success. To this extent, the states of Europe also deserve praise for their response to President Bush in February 2005: for the constructive role they have assumed in Iran, Ukraine, and Lebanon in recent months; for some of the decisions they made, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, immediately after the U.S. elections; and for some of the actions they have agreed to review further, including the previously certain lifting of the EU embargo against China.
Admittedly, there is much in America’s recent political and cultural evolution that is equally puzzling in Europe, whose Union seems to be moving in different cultural directions than across the Atlantic. But these differences are often exaggerated, and their significance is often misrepresented. Seemingly more important than reality are public perceptions that encourage the manipulation of specific value claims for narrow political gains. Yet, on such broad issues as the Kyoto Protocol and the environment, for example, or more specifically on social issues ranging from homosexuality and abortion to the death penalty, the differences are less significant than generally assumed, and their impact is usually felt more directly in domestic political terms, and only indirectly on foreign policy. In short, most of these differences across the Atlantic ultimately make little difference, and especially when compared to America’s or Europe’s differences with other parts of the world, the transatlantic partnership points to a community of values that have converged sufficiently over the past decades to be now compatible in most areas.
Beyond 2005, the EU should seek additional ways to show ever more clearly that “Europe” is being completed with, rather than at the expense of, the United States. The nature of crisis and conflict in the post-Cold War, post-9/11 world increases the demand for effective cooperation between two unions, one American and the other European, which, together, form the largest, deepest, broadest, and most intimate global relationship in the world. Although prospects of additional European influence in the world do not seem appealing to a majority of Americans, as opposed to generally receptive European audiences, it stands to reason that the states of Europe and their Union must assume a larger role commensurate with their current capabilities, interests, and influence. That, however, cannot be done by any one European country alone: Europe’s influence will be exerted most effectively if the countries of Europe and their union are able to show a cohesion that has been absent in recent years. In some cases, that could be best achieved if Europe moves progressively towards single representation in some preeminent multilateral financial institutions, as was done earlier at the World Trade Organization (WTO), that address issues about which the EU is already nearing institutional finality. Pending such steps, the EU and EU-U.S. summits are especially good venues for more effective consultation. More specifically, U.S. participation to the opening dinner held for one of the two yearly European summits that conclude each six month EU presidency, would privilege the increasingly close relationship between the United States and the EU. A precedent was established when President Bush was invited for that occasion at the EU summit in Göteborg, Sweden. Repeated with some regularity, it would complement usefully the annual U.S.-EU summit meetings that enable the president to meet with the Presidency and the Commission.
TESTS OF EFFICACY
The “idea” of American power and European weakness is misleading because it neglects both Europe’s power and America’s weaknesses. For the United States to call on the European allies for help is not to submit the nation to a global test; it is instead to respond to a test of global efficacy. A coalition of the willing is likely to remain insufficient unless allies that are willing are also capable, and allies that are both willing and capable are also relevant. Past the tests of will, there are, therefore, tests of efficacy not only for ad hoc coalitions but for an enduring alliance whose like-minded member states expect to be consulted before decisions are made, but are also expected to contribute after consultation has been completed and an agreement has been reached.
In Iraq, few allies are able—and if able, even fewer among them are willing—to add to the military efficacy of the coalition. The opposite is true: many, if not most
European members of the coalition are preparing to withdraw much or all of their forces, as started by Ukraine, expected for Poland, and anticipated in Italy—thereby threatening to leave the United States and Britain awkwardly isolated within the alliance. That such would be the case is not surprising. Why would the “unwilling” allies of yesteryear contribute to a war that was launched and fought under premises now acknowledged to have been wrong and which they view as having been misleading? At some point in the future, the Bush administration should provide for an end game that aims at a gradual withdrawal of the remaining coalition forces by the earliest possible date, but a date that only a democratically elected Iraqi government can determine and make certain on the basis of its assessment of local conditions. Indeed, it is in anticipation of that moment that European allies that did not join the coalition of the willing should make the additional commitments needed for the training of sufficient levels of effective Iraqi military and police capabilities—a precondition for the reasonably orderly exit of coalition forces, an end game that is wanted by all provided that it does not take the form of a retreat that is equally feared by all.
NATO is the logical choice to take on such a role, which its members agreed to assume in late February 2005, although to an admittedly limited extent. However, because NATO lacks the resources and the culture needed for addressing the social, economic, and political obstacles to the rehabilitation of the Iraqi state, which demands the reconstruction of the country and reconciliation among its people, NATO cannot suffice for these stability-building missions. In Iraq now, as elsewhere later, any extended security operation involving NATO members is likely to involve tasks that exceed the organization’s capacity—to deploy police forces pending the training of local forces, to promote the development of civil society, to stimulate economic development, and much more. The United States, alone or with a few NATO allies, do not suffice to attend to all of these tasks in more than one or two countries. That being the case, the EU is a partner of choice for such missions, in a United Nations context whenever possible (because it is in that context that the European allies now feel most comfortable, especially when the mission does or might entail the use of military force), and outside that context whenever necessary, including a NATO context within which the European allies continue to have a measure of comfort that exceeds any available alternative. Whether this degree of cooperation can be achieved with some efficacy will be tested in Iraq, whose stabilization as a unitary and democratic state is a goal shared by all NATO and EU members.
The logic that took the allies to this point can be questioned, but that is where it has taken them nonetheless. Success in Iraq ceased to be convincing when the mismanagement of postwar conditions after May 1, 2003, seemed to overcome the U.S.- led coalition’s impressive display of military power during the previous few weeks. But failure never was an acceptable option on either side of the Atlantic. Such a failure, should it occur, would spread throughout the region, and, perceived mainly as an American failure, would encourage radical views and terror-inducing policies said to have been confirmed by events in Iraq. Issues in the region suffer from a negative form of linkage whereby anything that goes wrong in one area spills over into the others, but whatever goes well somewhere need not have the same effects elsewhere. Thus, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (viewed in the broader context of the transformation of the Greater Middle East) and conditions in Iran (as part of a broader attempt to contain the further spread of weapons of mass destruction) are two priority issues that would not be resolved by success in Iraq, as it was argued in early 2003, but would be significantly affected by the evidence of failure in and beyond 2005.
With new opportunities opened by the Palestinian elections of January 9, 2005, it would be historically tragic to allow past tensions and parochial interests to overshadow the allies’ shared goals in this vital region. Admittedly, the United States and Europe respond to different concerns and aspirations in the Middle East—distinct priorities and specific vulnerabilities that often stand in the way of common policies. Yet, these differences can provide for a diversity of influence and a complementarity of action that would be beneficial to all. Moreover, on the whole, differences among the EU countries, as well as between them and the United States, have been getting smaller, and Euro- Atlantic initiatives that embody a coordinated policy rather than isolated national interests are more likely to succeed than used to be the case. In early 2005, the impact of unprecedented French pressure on Syria, which increased after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, reinforced the predictable U.S. pressure to force the withdrawal of the Syrian military forces in Lebanon. When moving to the “mundane” Arab-Israeli issues, it is important, therefore, to speak with a distinct Euro- Atlantic voice on behalf of interests that are overlapping even when they are not common, and for the fulfillment of objectives that are compatible even when they are not evenly shared.
That such would be the case is a matter of common sense. No region in the world is more volatile and more important than the Middle East—more disruptive (terrorism), dangerous (four wars), unstable (socioeconomic conditions), expensive (for the cost of peace no less than for the costs of war), and intrusive (because of the domestic dimensions of policy decisions in the area). For the next several decades, no other region will offer the same potential for exporting chaos and war on a global scale. Because of this unusual combination—vital significance and explosive potential—the Middle East can best test the cohesion and vision of the transatlantic partnership. Indeed, events in or emanating from the “Greater” Middle East have already triggered large fluctuations of mood: from the solidarity that prevailed following 9/11 and into Afghanistan to the rupture over Iraq. Not surprisingly, then, it is in the Middle East that the partnership will meet its most demanding test—but it is also there that the partnership can least afford to fail. When it comes to the Middle East, the Euro-Atlantic predicament is that there is no alternative to working together as each other’s indispensable ally lest, working separately, each becomes the victim of the other’s failings. For the whole region, Europe’s apprehension over U.S. leadership is about what the senior partner fails to do no less than over what it actually does—how, and above all how effectively; similarly, America’s concern over the lack of European followership is about what it knows it cannot do alone, or at least not as well as with its allies in Europe. In short, entering the twenty-first century the Middle East stands where Europe used to stand during the past century. That there can be no order in the world without order within that region is a matter of facts; but whether the analogy with Europe is based on the memories of the interwar years that followed 1919, or of the postwar years that followed 1945, is only, at best, a matter of speculation about the future.
Doubts in Europe about the U.S. commitment to proceed with the management and resolution of this conflict as an immediate priority are widespread. After September
2001, the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister shared an understandable revulsion over the atrocities committed in their respective countries and against their respective citizens. Nonetheless, the need for the United States to retain its privileged role as a fair and honest broker is imperative for lack of any alternative, and urgent because the new Palestinian leadership must gain credibility among its own people. However difficult it may be to achieve a viable Palestinian state by 2009, as endorsed anew by President Bush shortly after his re-election, the main benchmarks along the way are by now well known: no right of return for the Palestinians, though significant incentives might be tantamount to giving them a right of no-return; no automaticity in the enforcement of the 1967 lines, but specific reciprocity in whatever territorial alterations might be needed to enforce these lines; a demilitarized Palestinian state, though not necessarily neutral; and, perhaps most difficult and most controversial, a shared capital in Jerusalem. To adhere to such a map, a united and strong Palestinian Authority is very much needed, and acting in consultation with the United States, the EU is especially well placed to provide the new Palestinian leader with the support needed to rehabilitate the idea of a Palestinian state among his own disabused and long-suffering people.