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The Cold War Between Europe And Bush

by Lucy Komisar

Europe May Donate To Iraq Fund -- As Long As Bush Can't Touch Money
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When the U.S. entered WWI, Franco-American relations were warm, as shown on sentimental postcards from the day
(AR) -- The U.S. and Europe have never been so estranged. The widespread European hostility to U.S. policy on Iraq builds on anger provoked by the Bush administration's scuttling of numerous global accords on environment, weapons and international justice. The opposition to Washington policy exists on both citizen and high political levels. The rift between the U.S. and its European allies will damage America unless both sides act to heal it -- and unless the U.S. acts to deal with the causes of European anger.

That message, widely heard in Europe, was reflected in a frank and blunt discussion sharply entitled, "Who Needs Friends Like This? -- The Future of Transatlantic Relations" at Forum 21, an annual meeting of Americans and Europeans from the worlds of business, diplomacy, science and culture, held this year at LaBaule, on the Atlantic coast of Brittany, in France. The conference was started in 2001 by Paul Weinstein and Abby Hirsch Weinstein, Americans living in Paris. He is president of Rive Droite International Investments and she is a journalist.

The three approached the crisis with different emphases. Berg blamed the behavior of the U.S. in the global sphere, Cohen-Tanugi sees a different ideology on how to deal with the world; and Parmentier said the problem is America's confusion of power with force. The essence of their views, presented here, sums up the key concerns by European citizens, policy makers and analysts about the U.S. and its relations with Europe.

MP Axel Berg blamed the division between America and Europe on both growing international opposition to American global policies and U.S. unilateralism, on its failure to deal with the economic and environmental issues facing the world.

Globalization plays an important role in anti-U.S. feeling. Berg said that the U.S. does not contain and even promotes the "unbreakable oligarchy of transnational companies." He said the U.S. acts unilaterally, through "the modern political secret societies -- WTO, International Monetary Fund, multilateral agreement on investments -- to try to sell its own interests as the world's interests." He condemned the U.S. for rejecting the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto and nonproliferation treaties. He said, "Saddam is not the only one who doesn't follow treaties."

Berg said the hostility of the world is accelerated by "the lack of credibility of Bush and his administration. He sells himself as a big fighter for democracy, but I don't see democracy on his agenda." He cited the American policy that "overstresses this Axis of evil and at the same time supports the arrogance Israel shows concerning the Palestinian problem."

He said that Germans have viewed Americans as the people who "closed the concentration camps, brought us democracy, freed our country. The Americans have been our shield against communism." He said the biggest surprise, "the historical kick," is Germany's new attitude. "This time, for the first time since the war, Germany knows what we want. Now, we need a change of paradigm. The menace isn't communism anymore. We think it's the problem of sustainability. This is why Germany changed its mind."

He explained, "The true battle for world leadership in the next decades will be decided over the problem of sustainability, because this is the answer to globalization. All our societies in Europe came out of the grueling labor of very poor farmers, and for hundreds of years we suffered under the warmongering of our kings. The USA is more the result of a very successful colonial experiment. People came to a country which was virgin and rich with resources. The success of the USA is built on the exhaustion of resources. Now these resources are running short." He said the most important thing for America is control over worldwide resources and that the U.S. is more dependant on the rest of the world than vice-versa. But it is "cloaking its decline by theatrics, by military actions against underdogs."

"The third world is on the way to more democracy," said Berg, "so, we no longer have a global menace which needs the engagement of the U.S. to seek freedom." He said, it's the opposite, that "the biggest risks for our planet come from our countries, the OECD countries. The USA changed from a peacekeeping to a destructive power. Every step the U.S. takes strengthen its grip on the world causes negative reactions on the other side." And he said that weakens the strategic position of the U.S.

Berg said, "The Europeans have been obedient kids of the U.S. paternal power for a longtime, but slowly we have more doubts. We worry about the stability of our leading power. After the end of the Soviet Union, the U.S. thought it could spread its hegemonic interests throughout the whole world. In reality, we see that the power over its own sphere of influence is growing weaker. We increasing feel the need for a common international responsibility. The dominance of a single power isn't acceptable any more."

"Old Europe" Remark Shows Bush Admin Disconnect
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The estrangement between the U.S. and Europe exists because their relations have changed, Berg said. "Friendship is something you have between partners. There are several conditions for that -- sympathy, confidence, and mutual respect." But, he said, "The U.S. sees Europeans as second-class citizens. The Europeans on the other hand haven't decided yet between integration into the American system or emancipation from it." Europe's problem, he said, is that, "The USA protects and oppresses at the same time." He said if America returns to the international treaties it left, if it doesn't break international law, it will have real friends.

Attorney and author Laurent Cohen-Tanugi sees the problem as having roots in the end of the Cold War the reunification of Europe and a different approach to dealing with the world.

He said, "The Iraq crisis is just a factor in public opinion, but it's been cooking for a while. It started at the end of the Cold War." He said the end of the Cold War meant "for the U.S. that Europe was no longer a strategic priority, and at the same time, Europeans thought they needed Americans and American military protection less."

It also meant that the U.S. became the only global superpower, with no equivalent or counterweight while, the Maastricht treaty moved Europe from an economic community to a political entity. He said, "That identity has become more and more defined in opposition to the U.S. What one may call the European ideology is what we've been talking about -- peace, solidarity, law, compromise -- all those things that have done incredible good things for Europe, and that has become an ideology to be applied to the rest of the world." He says Europe sees that opposed to "the more security-oriented ideology of the United State."

He said, "The opposition to U.S.- led policy and the U.S. being the only global superpower" has caused the rise in the 90's of global neoantiamericanism. He said, "This European antagonism towards America has to seen in the light of this global neoantiamericanism."

The question now, said Cohen-Tanugi, is: "Is the transatlantic relationship important, still needed, still relevant?" He said, "A number of people on both sides think it is not. In the U.S, you have neoconservatives who are very aggressive and say that Europe has now become irrelevant, and what just happened in Iraq has reinforced that view."

He said in Europe also there were "extremists" who promoted the idea of "the clash of civilizations between Europe and the U.S., who think that we don't have the same values any more. They talk about the Kyoto protocol, the death penalty, the criminal court." He said they contend that all this together means Europe and the U.S. no longer share the same values, no longer have the same interests, "so, let's get rid of the Atlantic relationship. It was a thing of the Cold War, it's no longer relevant."

He called those attitudes on both sides "dangerous." He explained, "Atlantic solidarity is more important than ever in the 21st century. Europe needs the U.S. as much as ever for security, because Europe has no defense whatsoever, and there are threats to Europe."

He said Europe also needs the United States for economic reasons, that it was unable to restart the world economy and was waiting for the U.S. to pick up again.

"But conversely," he said, "America needs Europe, because it cannot remain for a long time in opposition to the international community. It needs a partner, a counterweight between itself and the international community." And, he said, "The world needs Europe and America to work together. There are a lot of global challenges, and cooperation between the two is the only way to confront these challenges."

He said Europe must abandon the notion that it can reproduce in the world the principles that have worked in Europe. He said, "They have worked, because Europeans share a common history. They have the same culture." And, he added, "They were under American protection; they could never have achieved that without it." He said, "The ball is significantly in Europe's court. Europe has to become a world power that is not hostile to the United States, that does not define itself in opposition to the United States. Europe needs to become a political partner for the United States. It needs to have a foreign policy, it needs a defense capability." But he said, the U.S. also has to "change its attitude, become more open, take Europe seriously."

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Guillaume Parmentier is former Director of the Civilian Affairs Committee of the North Atlantic Assembly, a meeting of European and American parliamentarians and Deputy Director of Information and Head of External Relations at NATO. He is author of "Reconcilable Differences, French-US Relations in the New Era, 2002." Parmentier began his talk with the quip that, "We have heard the defense secretary talk about new and old Europe. Of course I dispute this division, especially coming from the oldest defense secretary in the history of the United States." There was laughter. Then he added serious, "But I think that we have to see that we are facing a new U.S. and a new Europe, but in very different sense."

The problem, said Parmentier, is the confusion of power with force. He said that is apparent in the writings of the administration's ideologues. He said, "What counts on the international scene from their perspective is the ability to use force, to constrain others." He said this is contrary to America's past. He said, "The U.S. has always had very strong instruments of coercion, but also very strong and, in fact, stronger powers of conviction. And U.S. policy would never have been so powerful internationally and historically if the U.S. had not combined the two and given perhaps even more relevance to conviction than to coercion."

He said he feared that because the U.S. is now without equal in the instruments of coercion, there was a movement towards increasing their relevance and value to American policy. He pointed out, "It is only in the military field that the U.S. is really without any peer whatsoever. In the economic field, the U.S. is stronger than the others, but the European Union is pretty strong, and Asia is moving up. In the cultural field, the U.S. is stronger, but there are other influences as well. What I fear today is that because there is a discrepancy between the different dimensions of power, the U.S. tends to stress the military dimension to excesses."

Parmentier noted that, "In the U.S. body politic today, it's incredibly easy to get money for anything pertaining to security and defense. You say 'defense,' and you get the money. In Europe, we've got the opposite. In Europe, it's not difficult to get money for international aid and international institutions, but getting money for defense -- though France and Britain are exceptions -- is incredibly difficult. In some countries, it is nearly impossible."

He said some of that was because, "Atlanticism in the Cold War formula meant that the Europeans were discouraged from investing in defense. Because every time you invested in defense, people told you, and Americans often told you, that you were running the risk of letting the United States go away, because you would be able to defend yourself by yourself against the Soviet Union. That created a psychology, a view of things in Europe that the military doesn't matter, or matters little."

He said, "We should have changed this immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall. We should have changed the Atlantic institutions." He said there was a lot of defensiveness over this on the part of the U.S. but also by Europeans, who liked using NATO to "pass the buck" to the U.S. Parmentier said, "What we are witnessing today is the price we pay for not having reformed the Atlantic system in the early 1990s."

The result, he said, is that "the instinctive reactions on both sides of the Atlantic are exactly opposed, because everyone tries to go for his competitive advantages. And the competitive advantage in the United States is in the military field; the competitive advantage of the Europeans is in the non-military field."

Parmentier said this had consequences for policy and for the standing of the United States in the world. He said, "Every time the Europeans and the Americans see a crisis, the Europeans tend to stress the elements of conviction, negotiations, and the Americans tend to stress the elements of coercion. That's been the case since the end of the Cold War." He said the U.S. would pay a price for that.

He said, "We cannot continue to have such widely different instinctive reactions to international crises and maintain a steady transatlantic relationship."

Parmentier and Cohen-Tanugi agreed that the solution of the European-American problem was linked to European unity. Parmentier explained, "If the Europeans want to have a dialogue with the United States at the appropriate level, they have to take responsibility." He said, "I think the way to restore the European-American leadership today is to assure the success of the European convention." That is the meeting to modernize the rules of the European Union.

Cohen-Tanugi, said Europeans had to confront the issue: "What kind of Europe do we want, what kind of foreign policy do we want?" And he said, "The clue to making progress in Europe is to have a clear discussion among Europeans about the position of Europe toward the U.S."

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Albion Monitor August 21, 2003 (

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