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A European force

An editorial from the New York Times – covering a topic oft covered on this blog. The growing thirst in Europe for a greater military power, to rival the United States, is something that seems to have affected the Bush administration.

The Bush administration has identified yet another threat abroad. This time it’s the proposal by France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg to create a European Union military planning and command center separate from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, declared this no less than “one of the greatest dangers to the trans-Atlantic relationship” and summoned the allies to give an emergency display of fealty in Brussels.

It was as if the Europeans were seriously considering the creation of a European army that could challenge the United States, rather than another bureaucracy that might be simply redundant militarily and irritating politically. A separate headquarters is not a good idea, and the French and Germans should be regularly cautioned against letting defiance of the United States, or of NATO, go too far. There is ample provision in procedures agreed between NATO and the EU to cope with the sorts of limited operations France and Germany cite. But Washington’s overreaction only feeds the spreading fear that the United States seeks to maintain total control over Europe, a fear that could create just the sort of danger that Burns warns against.

What so worried the Bush administration was not only more insubordination from the French and Germans, but also that Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain did not leap to Washington’s side. Last month, Blair met in Berlin with President Jacques Chirac of France and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany to talk over European defenses. Exactly what transpired is not clear, but from all indications Blair rejected a separate headquarters as unnecessary, and talked instead of letting interested EU members, Britain among them, pursue greater unity through “structured cooperation.” There’s nothing particularly radical in that. Blair and Chirac had already spoken in 1998 of a European force. Britain, moreover, has been consistently staunch in its rejection of any European structures that could weaken trans-Atlantic ties. And a separate European headquarters would never have the forces or assets to conduct more than minor operations. Yet in the aftermath of the bitter disputes over Iraq, the Bush administration saw “structured cooperation” as a potential seed for the decoupling of Europe and the United States, and lost its cool.

U.S. delays plan that could deter foreign visitors

The Bush administration has decided to postpone enforcement of new antiterrorism regulations that had threatened to block millions of Western Europeans and citizens of other developed nations from traveling to the United States unless they obtained new, computer-coded passports, according to senior administration officials.

The new passport rules, which were supposed to take effect Oct. 1 and which were mandated by Congress as an antiterrorism measure, will not be enforced until October 2004.

Power and Weakness By Robert Kagan

I got this one via Horst, cheers!

Bob Kagan with a very lenghty essay on US-EU relations. I don’t have time to read the whole thing now, but it looks great, I will get time tomorrow. It is from June 2002, so was written long before the fallout over the UN resolution.

Meanwhile in the current issue, Frederick Kagan has what looks like another excellent essay on a great topic. How technology has affected our perception of warfare and politics.

Europeans' doubt over U.S. policy rises

An interesting poll in the IHT this week:

The yawning political divide between Europe and the United States that was opened by the war in Iraq has continued to widen, according to a new survey of trans-Atlantic attitudes.

The survey of 8,000 Americans and Europeans, conducted by the German Marshall Fund, found citizens on both sides of the Atlantic raising similar concerns about global security, but expressing increasingly divergent views on how to respond.

“It is clear that the trans-Atlantic rift has deepened over the last year,” said William Drozdiak, executive director of the Brussels- based Transatlantic Center of the fund. “Europeans are increasingly dismayed by U.S. leadership and the use of U.S. force.”

Conducted in June, shortly after the end of the Iraq war, the survey showed Americans and Europeans sharing as their top five concerns: international terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, the Arab-Israeli conflict and weapons of mass destruction in North Korea and Iran.

French Wine Still Collecting Dust on American Shelves

Nick Fauchald reports on the drop in sales of French wine in the United States. This is an example of the world gone crazy, Americans boycotting French products and Europeans thinking that Americans are all fat couch potatoe morons who live in trailer parks.

Grow up! Both of you and start behaving like ordinary people!

Germany rejects a U.S. rivalry

John Vinocur is back in the Herald Tribune – with another piece on transatlantic relations. He discusses Joschka Fischers designs on becoming the EU’s first Foreign Minister, and his declaration that Germany for its own purposes does not want the EU to become a rival to the United States. Germany is instead seeking the “primacy of multilateral institutions”.

A pity the UN is dead then.

Johnson: Anti-Americanism Is Racist Envy

The eminent British historian Paul Johnson writes something of a polemic in Forbes magazine. In it he attempts to show that anti-Americanism is in fact latent racism. He also argues that there is no real democracy in Europe, that “European elites tend to look at Americans as a subcivilized mass, whose function is to be obedient consumers in a system run by big business.”

He concludes:

The truth is, any accusation that comes to hand is used without scruple by the Old World intelligentsia. Anti-Americanism is factually absurd, contradictory, racist, crude, childish, self-defeating and, at bottom, nonsensical. It is based on the powerful but irrational impulse of envy–an envy of American wealth, power, success and determination. It is an envy made all the more poisonous because of a fearful European conviction that America’s strength is rising while Europe’s is falling.

But what I am left wondering is what does anti-French sentiment in the US amount to? Is that not also racism?

Our fake patriots

So why is it deemed by the right to be patriotic both to oppose the EU and to appease the US? Why has the old reactionary motto “my country, right or wrong” been so smoothly replaced with another one: “their country, right or wrong”? Why does the British right now believe it has a God-given duty to defend someone else’s empire?

American empire, unlike European convergence, is also unequivocally a project of the right; it establishes the political and economic space in which men like Murdoch and Black can work without impediment. But perhaps most importantly, our fake patriots know where real power lies. Having located it, they wish to appease it. For the very reason that the United States is a greater threat to our sovereignty than the European Union, they will not stand up to it.

George Monbiot wonders why the British right is not getting angry about becoming America’s doormat. He talks about recent news reports saying that British citizens may be extradited to the US, at the request of the US, without any evidence before a court. He then goes on to wonder about recent comments by Geoff Hoon, in which he suggests that the UK military may never fight a war without the US.

So why is it deemed by the right to be patriotic both to oppose the EU and to appease the US? Why has the old reactionary motto “my country, right or wrong” been so smoothly replaced with another one: “their country, right or wrong”? Why does the British right now believe it has a God-given duty to defend someone else’s empire?

American empire, unlike European convergence, is also unequivocally a project of the right; it establishes the political and economic space in which men like Murdoch and Black can work without impediment. But perhaps most importantly, our fake patriots know where real power lies. Having located it, they wish to appease it. For the very reason that the United States is a greater threat to our sovereignty than the European Union, they will not stand up to it.

Seeing mortal danger in a superpower Europe

William Pfaff with another excellent contribution to the transatlantic debate. Well worth the read.

France is systematically denigrated, as to a lesser extent is Germany – Germany is thought salvageable, or open to intimidation, once Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is gone. France is portrayed as suffering from “a profound pathology,” and America’s enemy. In Washington power-corridor leaks to the press, in neo-conservative magazines and on the Internet, France is said to be driven by hatred, national vanity and the personal vanity of Jacques Chirac, and as allied with the radical Arab world out of fear of France’s unassimilated Muslim population.

It is described as incorrigibly and dangerously anti-Semitic. The French, like the Germans (the Daniel Goldhagen argument), are described as instinctively anti-Semitic and culturally disposed to totalitarianism.

France even is “not a Western country anymore” since in “many” cities “no teenage girl can go out in the evening, at least without a full burqa.” (These quotes are from the neo-con Web site www.FrontPageMagazine.com, whose contributors include quite well-known figures, including some from the political right in France itself).

This kind of nonsense sets the tone. Few Americans acknowledge any intellectual or moral weight or merit on the “old” European side, and certainly not on that of France.

Only one person in the Bush administration has acknowledged a European intellectual challenge, and she is National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Speaking in London last week , she made a reasoned condemnation of an international system of multipolarity, and implicitly of the “efficacious multilateralism” (the EU’s term) that Europe defends.

She said multipolarity is outmoded, in the past “a necessary evil that sustained the absence of war but did not promote the triumph of peace.” Something different, under American leadership, must take its place.

The argument, however, is not only a European-American one. It is an American-American debate.

How easy it was for the US to become somewhat hostile to France. And how much anti-Americanism do I come across in Europe? Lots. How much more of a step is it to go from anti-France to anti-European, or to go from anti-American to yet colder relations?

Philip Bobbitt: Spooks and spin doctors

Philip Bobbit, author of the excellent Shield of Achilles writes a thought provoking piece in todays Guardian. He talks about WMD, the media and the intelligence services. He is really siding with Tony Blair on this one, is he not?

I venture no opinion on the merits of this matter. I have complete confidence in the integrity of the select committee investigating this matter, and in the statements of Scarlett and his colleagues on the JIC. And I have no opinion on the behaviour of the BBC, whose journalists have, like their counterparts in the commercial press, taken up the role of “critique” of all governments, liberal or conservative, that was once the province of the left parties. This development is unavoidable, even if its worst excesses of contempt for politicians and civil servants can perhaps be mitigated by thoughtful editors and presenters, of whom the BBC has many.


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