Relationships and Processes
States/Weak States/Sovereignty/Blood 13-47
Just War/War Crimes/Genocide 48-94
Human Aggression 95-131
Ethnic Conflict/Nationalism 155-184
Revolution/Internal Conflict 185-233
U.N./Peacekeeping/Humanitarian Intervention 247-259
Nuclear Weapons/Weapons of Mass Destruction 260-268
*Kagan: article and Asmus & Pollack article 269-295
1. Robert Kagan POWER AND WEAKNESS #power
2. Ronald D. Asmus and Kenneth M. Pollack THE NEW TRANSATLANTIC PROJECT #transatlantic
IT IS TIME to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world. On the all-important question of power -- the efficacy of power, the morality of power, the desirability of power -- American and European perspectives are diverging. Europe is turning away from power, or to put it a little differently, it is moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation. It is entering a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity, the realization of Kant's "Perpetual Peace." The United States, meanwhile, remains mired in history, exercising power in the anarchic Hobbesian world where international laws and rules are unreliable and where true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might. That is why on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus: They agree on little and understand one another less and less. And this state of affairs is not transitory -- the product of one American election or one catastrophic event. The reasons for the transatlantic divide are deep, long in development, and likely to endure. When it comes to setting national priorities, determining threats, defining challenges, and fashioning and implementing foreign and defense policies, the United States and Europe have parted ways.
It is easier to see the contrast as an American living in Europe. Europeans are more conscious of the growing differences, perhaps because they fear them more. European intellectuals are nearly unanimous in the conviction that Americans and Europeans no longer share a common "strategic culture." The European caricature at its most extreme depicts an America dominated by a "culture of death," its warlike temperament the natural product of a violent society where every man has a gun and the death penalty reigns. But even those who do not make this crude link agree there are profound differences in the way the United States and Europe conduct foreign policy.
The United States, they argue, resorts to force more quickly and, compared with Europe, is less patient with diplomacy. Americans generally see the world divided between good and evil, between friends and enemies, while Europeans see a more complex picture. When confronting real or potential adversaries, Americans generally favor policies of coercion rather than persuasion, emphasizing punitive sanctions over inducements to better behavior, the stick over the carrot. Americans tend to seek finality in international affairs: They want problems solved, threats eliminated. And, of course, Americans increasingly tend toward unilateralism in international affairs. They are less inclined to act through international institutions such as the United Nations, less inclined to work cooperatively with other nations to pursue common goals, more skeptical about international law, and more willing to operate outside its strictures when they deem it necessary, or even merely useful.1
Europeans insist they approach problems with greater nuance and sophistication. They try to influence others through subtlety and indirection. They are more tolerant of failure, more patient when solutions don't come quickly. They generally favor peaceful responses to problems, preferring negotiation, diplomacy, and persuasion to coercion. They are quicker to appeal to international law, international conventions, and international opinion to adjudicate disputes. They try to use commercial and economic ties to bind nations together. They often emphasize process over result, believing that ultimately process can become substance.
This European dual portrait is a caricature, of course, with its share of exaggerations and oversimplifications. One cannot generalize about Europeans: Britons may have a more "American" view of power than many of their fellow Europeans on the continent. And there are differing perspectives within nations on both sides of the Atlantic. In the U.S., Democrats often seem more "European" than Republicans; Secretary of State Colin Powell may appear more "European" than Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Many Americans, especially among the intellectual elite, are as uncomfortable with the "hard" quality of American foreign policy as any European; and some Europeans value power as much as any American.
Nevertheless, the caricatures do capture an essential truth: The United States and Europe are fundamentally different today. Powell and Rumsfeld have more in common than do Powell and Hubert Védrine or even Jack Straw. When it comes to the use of force, mainstream American Democrats have more in common with Republicans than they do with most European Socialists and Social Democrats. During the 1990s even American liberals were more willing to resort to force and were more Manichean in their perception of the world than most of their European counterparts. The Clinton administration bombed Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and Sudan. European governments, it is safe to say, would not have done so. Whether they would have bombed even Belgrade in 1999, had the U.S. not forced their hand, is an interesting question.2
What is the source of these differing strategic perspectives? The question has received too little attention in recent years, either because foreign policy intellectuals and policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic have denied the existence of a genuine difference or because those who have pointed to the difference, especially in Europe, have been more interested in assailing the United States than in understanding why the United States acts as it does --or, for that matter, why Europe acts as it does. It is past time to move beyond the denial and the insults and to face the problem head-on.
Despite what many Europeans and some Americans believe, these differences in strategic culture do not spring naturally from the national characters of Americans and Europeans. After all, what Europeans now consider their more peaceful strategic culture is, historically speaking, quite new. It represents an evolution away from the very different strategic culture that dominated Europe for hundreds of years and at least until World War I. The European governments -- and peoples -- who enthusiastically launched themselves into that continental war believed in machtpolitik. While the roots of the present European worldview, like the roots of the European Union itself, can be traced back to the Enlightenment, Europe's great-power politics for the past 300 years did not follow the visionary designs of the philosophes and the physiocrats.
As for the United States, there is nothing timeless about the present heavy reliance on force as a tool of international relations, nor about the tilt toward unilateralism and away from a devotion to international law. Americans are children of the Enlightenment, too, and in the early years of the republic were more faithful apostles of its creed. America's eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century statesmen sounded much like the European statesmen of today, extolling the virtues of commerce as the soothing balm of international strife and appealing to international law and international opinion over brute force. The young United States wielded power against weaker peoples on the North American continent, but when it came to dealing with the European giants, it claimed to abjure power and assailed as atavistic the power politics of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European empires.
Two centuries later, Americans and Europeans have traded places -- and perspectives. Partly this is because in those 200 years, but especially in recent decades, the power equation has shifted dramatically: When the United States was weak, it practiced the strategies of indirection, the strategies of weakness; now that the United States is powerful, it behaves as powerful nations do. When the European great powers were strong, they believed in strength and martial glory. Now, they see the world through the eyes of weaker powers. These very different points of view, weak versus strong, have naturally produced differing strategic judgments, differing assessments of threats and of the proper means of addressing threats, and even differing calculations of interest.
But this is only part of the answer. For along with these natural consequences of the transatlantic power gap, there has also opened a broad ideological gap. Europe, because of its unique historical experience of the past half-century -- culminating in the past decade with the creation of the European Union -- has developed a set of ideals and principles regarding the utility and morality of power different from the ideals and principles of Americans, who have not shared that experience. If the strategic chasm between the United States and Europe appears greater than ever today, and grows still wider at a worrying pace, it is because these material and ideological differences reinforce one another. The divisive trend they together produce may be impossible to reverse.
The power gap: perception and reality
EUROPE HAS BEEN militarily weak for a long time, but until fairly recently its weakness had been obscured. World War II all but destroyed European nations as global powers, and their postwar inability to project sufficient force overseas to maintain colonial empires in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East forced them to retreat on a massive scale after more than five centuries of imperial dominance -- perhaps the most significant retrenchment of global influence in human history. For a half-century after World War II, however, this weakness was masked by the unique geopolitical circumstances of the Cold War. Dwarfed by the two superpowers on its flanks, a weakened Europe nevertheless served as the central strategic theater of the worldwide struggle between communism and democratic capitalism. Its sole but vital strategic mission was to defend its own territory against any Soviet offensive, at least until the Americans arrived. Although shorn of most traditional measures of great-power status, Europe remained the geopolitical pivot, and this, along with lingering habits of world leadership, allowed Europeans to retain international influence well beyond what their sheer military capabilities might have afforded.
Europe lost this strategic centrality after the Cold War ended, but it took a few more years for the lingering mirage of European global power to fade. During the 1990s, war in the Balkans kept both Europeans and Americans focused on the strategic importance of the continent and on the continuing relevance of NATO. The enlargement of NATO to include former Warsaw Pact nations and the consolidation of the Cold War victory kept Europe in the forefront of the strategic discussion.
Then there was the early promise of the "new Europe." By bonding together into a single political and economic unit -- the historic accomplishment of the Maastricht treaty in 1992 -- many hoped to recapture Europe's old greatness but in a new political form. "Europe" would be the next superpower, not only economically and politically, but also militarily. It would handle crises on the European continent, such as the ethnic conflicts in the Balkans, and it would re-emerge as a global player. In the 1990s Europeans could confidently assert that the power of a unified Europe would restore, finally, the global "multipolarity" that had been destroyed by the Cold War and its aftermath. And most Americans, with mixed emotions, agreed that superpower Europe was the future. Harvard University's Samuel P. Huntington predicted that the coalescing of the European Union would be "the single most important move" in a worldwide reaction against American hegemony and would produce a "truly multipolar" twenty-first century.3
But European pretensions and American apprehensions proved unfounded. The 1990s witnessed not the rise of a European superpower but the decline of Europe into relative weakness. The Balkan conflict at the beginning of the decade revealed European military incapacity and political disarray; the Kosovo conflict at decade's end exposed a transatlantic gap in military technology and the ability to wage modern warfare that would only widen in subsequent years. Outside of Europe, the disparity by the close of the 1990s was even more starkly apparent as it became clear that the ability of European powers, individually or collectively, to project decisive force into regions of conflict beyond the continent was negligible. Europeans could provide peacekeeping forces in the Balkans -- indeed, they could and eventually did provide the vast bulk of those forces in Bosnia and Kosovo. But they lacked the wherewithal to introduce and sustain a fighting force in potentially hostile territory, even in Europe. Under the best of circumstances, the European role was limited to filling out peacekeeping forces after the United States had, largely on its own, carried out the decisive phases of a military mission and stabilized the situation. As some Europeans put it, the real division of labor consisted of the United States "making the dinner" and the Europeans "doing the dishes."
This inadequacy should have come as no surprise, since these were the limitations that had forced Europe to retract its global influence in the first place. Those Americans and Europeans who proposed that Europe expand its strategic role beyond the continent set an unreasonable goal. During the Cold War, Europe's strategic role had been to defend itself. It was unrealistic to expect a return to international great-power status, unless European peoples were willing to shift significant resources from social programs to military programs.
Clearly they were not. Not only were Europeans unwilling to pay to project force beyond Europe. After the Cold War, they would not pay for sufficient force to conduct even minor military actions on the continent without American help. Nor did it seem to matter whether European publics were being asked to spend money to strengthen NATO or an independent European foreign and defense policy. Their answer was the same. Rather than viewing the collapse of the Soviet Union as an opportunity to flex global muscles, Europeans took it as an opportunity to cash in on a sizable peace dividend. Average European defense budgets gradually fell below 2 percent of GDP. Despite talk of establishing Europe as a global superpower, therefore, European military capabilities steadily fell behind those of the United States throughout the 1990s.
The end of the Cold War had a very different effect on the other side of the Atlantic. For although Americans looked for a peace dividend, too, and defense budgets declined or remained flat during most of the 1990s, defense spending still remained above 3 percent of GDP. Fast on the heels of the Soviet empire's demise came Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the largest American military action in a quarter-century. Thereafter American administrations cut the Cold War force, but not as dramatically as might have been expected. By historical standards, America's military power and particularly its ability to project that power to all corners of the globe remained unprecedented.
Meanwhile, the very fact of the Soviet empire's collapse vastly increased America's strength relative to the rest of the world. The sizable American military arsenal, once barely sufficient to balance Soviet power, was now deployed in a world without a single formidable adversary. This "unipolar moment" had an entirely natural and predictable consequence: It made the United States more willing to use force abroad. With the check of Soviet power removed, the United States was free to intervene practically wherever and whenever it chose -- a fact reflected in the proliferation of overseas military interventions that began during the first Bush administration with the invasion of Panama in 1989, the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and the humanitarian intervention in Somalia in 1992, continuing during the Clinton years with interventions in Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo. While American politicians talked of pulling back from the world, the reality was an America intervening abroad more frequently than it had throughout most of the Cold War. Thanks to new technologies, the United States was also freer to use force around the world in more limited ways through air and missile strikes, which it did with increasing frequency.
How could this growing transatlantic power gap fail to create a difference in strategic perceptions? Even during the Cold War, American military predominance and Europe's relative weakness had produced important and sometimes serious disagreements. Gaullism, Ostpolitik, and the various movements for European independence and unity were manifestations not only of a European desire for honor and freedom of action. They also reflected a European conviction that America's approach to the Cold War was too confrontational, too militaristic, and too dangerous. Europeans believed they knew better how to deal with the Soviets: through engagement and seduction, through commercial and political ties, through patience and forbearance. It was a legitimate view, shared by many Americans. But it also reflected Europe's weakness relative to the United States, the fewer military options at Europe's disposal, and its greater vulnerability to a powerful Soviet Union. It may have reflected, too, Europe's memory of continental war. Americans, when they were not themselves engaged in the subtleties of détente, viewed the European approach as a form of appeasement, a return to the fearful mentality of the 1930s. But appeasement is never a dirty word to those whose genuine weakness offers few appealing alternatives. For them, it is a policy of sophistication.
The end of the Cold War, by widening the power gap, exacerbated the disagreements. Although transatlantic tensions are now widely assumed to have begun with the inauguration of George W. Bush in January 2001, they were already evident during the Clinton administration and may even be traced back to the administration of George H.W. Bush. By 1992, mutual recriminations were rife over Bosnia, where the United States refused to act and Europe could not act. It was during the Clinton years that Europeans began complaining about being lectured by the "hectoring hegemon." This was also the period in which Védrine coined the term hyperpuissance to describe an American behemoth too worryingly powerful to be designated merely a superpower. (Perhaps he was responding to then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's insistence that the United States was the world's "indispensable nation.") It was also during the 1990s that the transatlantic disagreement over American plans for missile defense emerged and many Europeans began grumbling about the American propensity to choose force and punishment over diplomacy and persuasion.
The Clinton administration, meanwhile, though relatively timid and restrained itself, grew angry and impatient with European timidity, especially the unwillingness to confront Saddam Hussein. The split in the alliance over Iraq didn't begin with the 2000 election but in 1997, when the Clinton administration tried to increase the pressure on Baghdad and found itself at odds with France and (to a lesser extent) Great Britain in the United Nations Security Council. Even the war in Kosovo was marked by nervousness among some allies -- especially Italy, Greece, and Germany -- that the United States was too uncompromisingly militaristic in its approach. And while Europeans and Americans ultimately stood together in the confrontation with Belgrade, the Kosovo war produced in Europe less satisfaction at the successful prosecution of the war than unease at America's apparent omnipotence. That apprehension would only increase in the wake of American military action after September 11, 2001.
The psychology of power and weakness
TODAY'S TRANSATLANTIC problem, in short, is not a George Bush problem. It is a power problem. American military strength has produced a propensity to use that strength. Europe's military weakness has produced a perfectly understandable aversion to the exercise of military power. Indeed, it has produced a powerful European interest in inhabiting a world where strength doesn't matter, where international law and international institutions predominate, where unilateral action by powerful nations is forbidden, where all nations regardless of their strength have equal rights and are equally protected by commonly agreed-upon international rules of behavior. Europeans have a deep interest in devaluing and eventually eradicating the brutal laws of an anarchic, Hobbesian world where power is the ultimate determinant of national security and success.
This is no reproach. It is what weaker powers have wanted from time immemorial. It was what Americans wanted in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when the brutality of a European system of power politics run by the global giants of France, Britain, and Russia left Americans constantly vulnerable to imperial thrashing. It was what the other small powers of Europe wanted in those years, too, only to be sneered at by Bourbon kings and other powerful monarchs, who spoke instead of raison d'état. The great proponent of international law on the high seas in the eighteenth century was the United States; the great opponent was Britain's navy, the "Mistress of the Seas." In an anarchic world, small powers always fear they will be victims. Great powers, on the other hand, often fear rules that may constrain them more than they fear the anarchy in which their power brings security and prosperity.
This natural and historic disagreement between the stronger and the weaker manifests itself in today's transatlantic dispute over the question of unilateralism. Europeans generally believe their objection to American unilateralism is proof of their greater commitment to certain ideals concerning world order. They are less willing to acknowledge that their hostility to unilateralism is also self-interested. Europeans fear American unilateralism. They fear it perpetuates a Hobbesian world in which they may become increasingly vulnerable. The United States may be a relatively benign hegemon, but insofar as its actions delay the arrival of a world order more conducive to the safety of weaker powers, it is objectively dangerous.
This is one reason why in recent years a principal objective of European foreign policy has become, as one European observer puts it, the "multilateralising" of the United States.4 It is not that Europeans are teaming up against the American hegemon, as Huntington and many realist theorists would have it, by creating a countervailing power. After all, Europeans are not increasing their power. Their tactics, like their goal, are the tactics of the weak. They hope to constrain American power without wielding power themselves. In what may be the ultimate feat of subtlety and indirection, they want to control the behemoth by appealing to its conscience.
It is a sound strategy, as far as it goes. The United States is a behemoth with a conscience. It is not Louis XIV's France or George III's England. Americans do not argue, even to themselves, that their actions may be justified by raison d'état. Americans have never accepted the principles of Europe's old order, never embraced the Machiavellian perspective. The United States is a liberal, progressive society through and through, and to the extent that Americans believe in power, they believe it must be a means of advancing the principles of a liberal civilization and a liberal world order. Americans even share Europe's aspirations for a more orderly world system based not on power but on rules -- after all, they were striving for such a world when Europeans were still extolling the laws of machtpolitik.
But while these common ideals and aspirations shape foreign policies on both sides of the Atlantic, they cannot completely negate the very different perspectives from which Europeans and Americans view the world and the role of power in international affairs. Europeans oppose unilateralism in part because they have no capacity for unilateralism. Polls consistently show that Americans support multilateral action in principle -- they even support acting under the rubric of the United Nations -- but the fact remains that the United States can act unilaterally, and has done so many times with reasonable success. For Europeans, the appeal to multilateralism and international law has a real practical payoff and little cost. For Americans, who stand to lose at least some freedom of action, support for universal rules of behavior really is a matter of idealism.
Even when Americans and Europeans can agree on the kind of world order they would strive to build, however, they increasingly disagree about what constitutes a threat to that international endeavor. Indeed, Europeans and Americans differ most these days in their evaluation of what constitutes a tolerable versus an intolerable threat. This, too, is consistent with the disparity of power.
Europeans often argue that Americans have an unreasonable demand for "perfect" security, the product of living for centuries shielded behind two oceans.5 Europeans claim they know what it is like to live with danger, to exist side-by-side with evil, since they've done it for centuries. Hence their greater tolerance for such threats as may be posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq or the ayatollahs' Iran. Americans, they claim, make far too much of the dangers these regimes pose.
Even before September 11, this argument rang a bit hollow. The United States in its formative decades lived in a state of substantial insecurity, surrounded by hostile European empires, at constant risk of being torn apart by centrifugal forces that were encouraged by threats from without: National insecurity formed the core of Washington's Farewell Address. As for the Europeans' supposed tolerance for insecurity and evil, it can be overstated. For the better part of three centuries, European Catholics and Protestants more often preferred to kill than to tolerate each other; nor have the past two centuries shown all that much mutual tolerance between Frenchmen and Germans.
Some Europeans argue that precisely because Europe has suffered so much, it has a higher tolerance for suffering than America and therefore a higher tolerance for threats. More likely the opposite is true. The memory of their horrendous suffering in World War I made the British and French publics more fearful of Nazi Germany, not more tolerant, and this attitude contributed significantly to the appeasement of the 1930s.
A better explanation of Europe's greater tolerance for threats is, once again, Europe's relative weakness. Tolerance is also very much a realistic response in that Europe, precisely because it is weak, actually faces fewer threats than the far more powerful United States.
The psychology of weakness is easy enough to understand. A man armed only with a knife may decide that a bear prowling the forest is a tolerable danger, inasmuch as the alternative -- hunting the bear armed only with a knife -- is actually riskier than lying low and hoping the bear never attacks. The same man armed with a rifle, however, will likely make a different calculation of what constitutes a tolerable risk. Why should he risk being mauled to death if he doesn't need to?
This perfectly normal human psychology is helping to drive a wedge between the United States and Europe today. Europeans have concluded, reasonably enough, that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein is more tolerable for them than the risk of removing him. But Americans, being stronger, have reasonably enough developed a lower threshold of tolerance for Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction, especially after September 11. Europeans like to say that Americans are obsessed with fixing problems, but it is generally true that those with a greater capacity to fix problems are more likely to try to fix them than those who have no such capability. Americans can imagine successfully invading Iraq and toppling Saddam, and therefore more than 70 percent of Americans apparently favor such action. Europeans, not surprisingly, find the prospect both unimaginable and frightening.
The incapacity to respond to threats leads not only to tolerance but sometimes to denial. It's normal to try to put out of one's mind that which one can do nothing about. According to one student of European opinion, even the very focus on "threats" differentiates American policymakers from their European counterparts. Americans, writes Steven Everts, talk about foreign "threats" such as "the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and 'rogue states.'" But Europeans look at "challenges," such as "ethnic conflict, migration, organized crime, poverty and environmental degradation." As Everts notes, however, the key difference is less a matter of culture and philosophy than of capability. Europeans "are most worried about issues . . . that have a greater chance of being solved by political engagement and huge sums of money." In other words, Europeans focus on issues -- "challenges" -- where European strengths come into play but not on those "threats" where European weakness makes solutions elusive. If Europe's strategic culture today places less value on power and military strength and more value on such soft-power tools as economics and trade, isn't it partly because Europe is militarily weak and economically strong? Americans are quicker to acknowledge the existence of threats, even to perceive them where others may not see any, because they can conceive of doing something to meet those threats.
The differing threat perceptions in the United States and Europe are not just matters of psychology, however. They are also grounded in a practical reality that is another product of the disparity of power. For Iraq and other "rogue" states objectively do not pose the same level of threat to Europeans as they do to the United States. There is, first of all, the American security guarantee that Europeans enjoy and have enjoyed for six decades, ever since the United States took upon itself the burden of maintaining order in far-flung regions of the world -- from the Korean Peninsula to the Persian Gulf -- from which European power had largely withdrawn. Europeans generally believe, whether or not they admit it to themselves, that were Iraq ever to emerge as a real and present danger, as opposed to merely a potential danger, then the United States would do something about it -- as it did in 1991. If during the Cold War Europe by necessity made a major contribution to its own defense, today Europeans enjoy an unparalleled measure of "free security" because most of the likely threats are in regions outside Europe, where only the United States can project effective force. In a very practical sense -- that is, when it comes to actual strategic planning -- neither Iraq nor Iran nor North Korea nor any other "rogue" state in the world is primarily a European problem. Nor, certainly, is China. Both Europeans and Americans agree that these are primarily American problems.
This is why Saddam Hussein is not as great a threat to Europe as he is to the United States. He would be a greater threat to the United States even were the Americans and Europeans in complete agreement on Iraq policy, because it is the logical consequence of the transatlantic disparity of power. The task of containing Saddam Hussein belongs primarily to the United States, not to Europe, and everyone agrees on this6 -- including Saddam, which is why he considers the United States, not Europe, his principal adversary. In the Persian Gulf, in the Middle East, and in most other regions of the world (including Europe), the United States plays the role of ultimate enforcer. "You are so powerful," Europeans often say to Americans. "So why do you feel so threatened?" But it is precisely America's great power that makes it the primary target, and often the only target. Europeans are understandably content that it should remain so.
Americans are "cowboys," Europeans love to say. And there is truth in this. The United States does act as an international sheriff, self-appointed perhaps but widely welcomed nevertheless, trying to enforce some peace and justice in what Americans see as a lawless world where outlaws need to be deterred or destroyed, and often through the muzzle of a gun. Europe, by this old West analogy, is more like a saloonkeeper. Outlaws shoot sheriffs, not saloonkeepers. In fact, from the saloonkeeper's point of view, the sheriff trying to impose order by force can sometimes be more threatening than the outlaws who, at least for the time being, may just want a drink.
When Europeans took to the streets by the millions after September 11, most Americans believed it was out of a sense of shared danger and common interest: The Europeans knew they could be next. But Europeans by and large did not feel that way and still don't. Europeans do not really believe they are next. They may be secondary targets -- because they are allied with the U.S. -- but they are not the primary target, because they no longer play the imperial role in the Middle East that might have engendered the same antagonism against them as is aimed at the United States. When Europeans wept and waved American flags after September 11, it was out of genuine human sympathy, sorrow, and affection for Americans. For better or for worse, European displays of solidarity were a product more of fellow-feeling than self-interest.
The origins of modern European foreign policy
IMPORTANT AS THE power gap may be in shaping the respective strategic cultures of the United States and Europe, it is only one part of the story. Europe in the past half-century has developed a genuinely different perspective on the role of power in international relations, a perspective that springs directly from its unique historical experience since the end of World War II. It is a perspective that Americans do not share and cannot share, inasmuch as the formative historical experiences on their side of the Atlantic have not been the same.
Consider again the qualities that make up the European strategic culture: the emphasis on negotiation, diplomacy, and commercial ties, on international law over the use of force, on seduction over coercion, on multilateralism over unilateralism. It is true that these are not traditionally European approaches to international relations when viewed from a long historical perspective. But they are a product of more recent European history. The modern European strategic culture represents a conscious rejection of the European past, a rejection of the evils of European machtpolitik. It is a reflection of Europeans' ardent and understandable desire never to return to that past. Who knows better than Europeans the dangers that arise from unbridled power politics, from an excessive reliance on military force, from policies produced by national egoism and ambition, even from balance of power and raison d'état? As German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer put it in a speech outlining his vision of the European future at Humboldt University in Berlin (May 12, 2000), "The core of the concept of Europe after 1945 was and still is a rejection of the European balance-of-power principle and the hegemonic ambitions of individual states that had emerged following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648." The European Union is itself the product of an awful century of European warfare.
Of course, it was the "hegemonic ambitions" of one nation in particular that European integration was meant to contain. And it is the integration and taming of Germany that is the great accomplishment of Europe -- viewed historically, perhaps the greatest feat of international politics ever achieved. Some Europeans recall, as Fischer does, the central role played by the United States in solving the "German problem." Fewer like to recall that the military destruction of Nazi Germany was the prerequisite for the European peace that followed. Most Europeans believe that it was the transformation of European politics, the deliberate abandonment and rejection of centuries of machtpolitik, that in the end made possible the "new order." The Europeans, who invented power politics, turned themselves into born-again idealists by an act of will, leaving behind them what Fischer called "the old system of balance with its continued national orientation, constraints of coalition, traditional interest-led politics and the permanent danger of nationalist ideologies and confrontations."
Fischer stands near one end of the spectrum of European idealism. But this is not really a right-left issue in Europe. Fischer's principal contention -- that Europe has moved beyond the old system of power politics and discovered a new system for preserving peace in international relations -- is widely shared across Europe. As senior British diplomat Robert Cooper recently wrote in the Observer (April 7, 2002), Europe today lives in a "postmodern system" that does not rest on a balance of power but on "the rejection of force" and on "self-enforced rules of behavior." In the "postmodern world," writes Cooper, "raison d'état and the amorality of Machiavelli's theories of statecraft . . . have been replaced by a moral consciousness" in international affairs.
American realists might scoff at this idealism. George F. Kennan assumed only his naïve fellow Americans succumbed to such "Wilsonian" legalistic and moralistic fancies, not those war-tested, historically minded European Machiavels. But, really, why shouldn't Europeans be idealistic about international affairs, at least as they are conducted in Europe's "postmodern system"? Within the confines of Europe, the age-old laws of international relations have been repealed. Europeans have stepped out of the Hobbesian world of anarchy into the Kantian world of perpetual peace. European life during the more than five decades since the end of World War II has been shaped not by the brutal laws of power politics but by the unfolding of a geopolitical fantasy, a miracle of world-historical importance: The German lion has laid down with the French lamb. The conflict that ravaged Europe ever since the violent birth of Germany in the nineteenth century has been put to rest.
The means by which this miracle has been achieved have understandably acquired something of a sacred mystique for Europeans, especially since the end of the Cold War. Diplomacy, negotiations, patience, the forging of economic ties, political engagement, the use of inducements rather than sanctions, the taking of small steps and tempering ambitions for success -- these were the tools of Franco-German rapprochement and hence the tools that made European integration possible. Integration was not to be based on military deterrence or the balance of power. Quite the contrary. The miracle came from the rejection of military power and of its utility as an instrument of international affairs -- at least within the confines of Europe. During the Cold War, few Europeans doubted the need for military power to deter the Soviet Union. But within Europe the rules were different.
Collective security was provided from without, meanwhile, by the deus ex machina of the United States operating through the military structures of NATO. Within this wall of security, Europeans pursued their new order, freed from the brutal laws and even the mentality of power politics. This evolution from the old to the new began in Europe during the Cold War. But the end of the Cold War, by removing even the external danger of the Soviet Union, allowed Europe's new order, and its new idealism, to blossom fully. Freed from the requirements of any military deterrence, internal or external, Europeans became still more confident that their way of settling international problems now had universal application.
"The genius of the founding fathers," European Commission President Romano Prodi commented in a speech at the Institute d'Etudes Politiques in Paris (May 29, 2001), "lay in translating extremely high political ambitions . . . into a series of more specific, almost technical decisions. This indirect approach made further action possible. Rapprochement took place gradually. From confrontation we moved to willingness to cooperate in the economic sphere and then on to integration." This is what many Europeans believe they have to offer the world: not power, but the transcendence of power. The "essence" of the European Union, writes Everts, is "all about subjecting inter-state relations to the rule of law," and Europe's experience of successful multilateral governance has in turn produced an ambition to convert the world. Europe "has a role to play in world 'governance,'" says Prodi, a role based on replicating the European experience on a global scale. In Europe "the rule of law has replaced the crude interplay of power . . . power politics have lost their influence." And by "making a success of integration we are demonstrating to the world that it is possible to create a method for peace."
No doubt there are Britons, Germans, French, and others who would frown on such exuberant idealism. But many Europeans, including many in positions of power, routinely apply Europe's experience to the rest of the world. For is not the general European critique of the American approach to "rogue" regimes based on this special European insight? Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya -- these states may be dangerous and unpleasant, even evil. But might not an "indirect approach" work again, as it did in Europe? Might it not be possible once more to move from confrontation to rapprochement, beginning with cooperation in the economic sphere and then moving on to peaceful integration? Could not the formula that worked in Europe work again with Iran or even Iraq? A great many Europeans insist that it can.
The transmission of the European miracle to the rest of the world has become Europe's new mission civilisatrice. Just as Americans have always believed that they had discovered the secret to human happiness and wished to export it to the rest of the world, so the Europeans have a new mission born of their own discovery of perpetual peace.
Thus we arrive at what may be the most important reason for the divergence in views between Europe and the United States. America's power, and its willingness to exercise that power -- unilaterally if necessary -- represents a threat to Europe's new sense of mission. Perhaps the greatest threat. American policymakers find it hard to believe, but leading officials and politicians in Europe worry more about how the United States might handle or mishandle the problem of Iraq -- by undertaking unilateral and extralegal military action -- than they worry about Iraq itself and Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. And while it is true that they fear such action might destabilize the Middle East and lead to the unnecessary loss of life, there is a deeper concern.7 Such American action represents an assault on the essence of "postmodern" Europe. It is an assault on Europe's new ideals, a denial of their universal validity, much as the monarchies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe were an assault on American republican ideals. Americans ought to be the first to understand that a threat to one's beliefs can be as frightening as a threat to one's physical security.
As Americans have for two centuries, Europeans speak with great confidence of the superiority of their global understanding, the wisdom they have to offer other nations about conflict resolution, and their way of addressing international problems. But just as in the first decade of the American republic, there is a hint of insecurity in the European claim to "success," an evident need to have their success affirmed and their views accepted by other nations, particularly by the mighty United States. After all, to deny the validity of the new European idealism is to raise profound doubts about the viability of the European project. If international problems cannot, in fact, be settled the European way, wouldn't that suggest that Europe itself may eventually fall short of a solution, with all the horrors this implies?
And, of course, it is precisely this fear that still hangs over Europeans, even as Europe moves forward. Europeans, and particularly the French and Germans, are not entirely sure that the problem once known as the "German problem" really has been solved. As their various and often very different proposals for the future constitution of Europe suggest, the French are still not confident they can trust the Germans, and the Germans are still not sure they can trust themselves. This fear can at times hinder progress toward deeper integration, but it also propels the European project forward despite innumerable obstacles. The European project must succeed, for how else to overcome what Fischer, in his Humboldt University speech, called "the risks and temptations objectively inherent in Germany's dimensions and central situation"? Those historic German "temptations" play at the back of many a European mind. And every time Europe contemplates the use of military force, or is forced to do so by the United States, there is no avoiding at least momentary consideration of what effect such a military action might have on the "German question."
Perhaps it is not just coincidence that the amazing progress toward European integration in recent years has been accompanied not by the emergence of a European superpower but, on the contrary, by a diminishing of European military capabilities relative to the United States. Turning Europe into a global superpower capable of balancing the power of the United States may have been one of the original selling points of the European Union -- an independent European foreign and defense policy was supposed to be one of the most important byproducts of European integration. But, in truth, the ambition for European "power" is something of an anachronism. It is an atavistic impulse, inconsistent with the ideals of postmodern Europe, whose very existence depends on the rejection of power politics. Whatever its architects may have intended, European integration has proved to be the enemy of European military power and, indeed, of an important European global role.
This phenomenon has manifested itself not only in flat or declining European defense budgets, but in other ways, too, even in the realm of "soft" power. European leaders talk of Europe's essential role in the world. Prodi yearns "to make our voice heard, to make our actions count." And it is true that Europeans spend a great deal of money on foreign aid -- more per capita, they like to point out, than does the United States. Europeans engage in overseas military missions, so long as the missions are mostly limited to peacekeeping. But while the EU periodically dips its fingers into troubled international waters in the Middle East or the Korean Peninsula, the truth is that EU foreign policy is probably the most anemic of all the products of European integration. As Charles Grant, a sympathetic observer of the EU, recently noted, few European leaders "are giving it much time or energy."8 EU foreign policy initiatives tend to be short-lived and are rarely backed by sustained agreement on the part of the various European powers. That is one reason they are so easily rebuffed, as was the case in late March when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon blocked EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana from meeting with Yasser Arafat (only to turn around the next day and allow a much lower-ranking American negotiator to meet with the Palestinian leader).
It is obvious, moreover, that issues outside of Europe don't attract nearly as much interest among Europeans as purely European issues do. This has surprised and frustrated Americans on all sides of the political and strategic debate: Recall the profound disappointment of American liberals when Europeans failed to mount an effective protest against Bush's withdrawal from the ABM treaty. But given the enormous and difficult agenda of integration, this European tendency to look inward is understandable. EU enlargement, the revision of the common economic and agricultural policies, the question of national sovereignty versus supranational governance, the so-called democracy deficit, the jostling of the large European powers, the dissatisfaction of the smaller powers, the establishment of a new European constitution -- all of these present serious and unavoidable challenges. The difficulties of moving forward might seem insuperable were it not for the progress the project of European integration has already demonstrated.
American policies that are unwelcome on substance -- on a missile defense system and the ABM treaty, belligerence toward Iraq, support for Israel -- are all the more unwelcome because for Europe, they are a distraction. Europeans often point to American insularity and parochialism. But Europeans themselves have turned intensely introspective. As Dominique Moisi noted in the Financial Times (March 11, 2002), the recent French presidential campaign saw "no reference . . . to the events of September 11 and their far-reaching consequences." No one asked, "What should be the role of France and Europe in the new configuration of forces created after September 11? How should France reappraise its military budget and doctrine to take account of the need to maintain some kind of parity between Europe and the United States, or at least between France and the UK?" The Middle East conflict became an issue in the campaign because of France's large Arab and Muslim population, as the high vote for Le Pen demonstrated. But Le Pen is not a foreign policy hawk. And as Moisi noted, "for most French voters in 2002, security has little to do with abstract and distant geopolitics. Rather, it is a question of which politician can best protect them from the crime and violence plaguing the streets and suburbs of their cities."
Can Europe change course and assume a larger role on the world stage? There has been no shortage of European leaders urging it to do so. Nor is the weakness of EU foreign policy today necessarily proof that it must be weak tomorrow, given the EU's record of overcoming weaknesses in other areas. And yet the political will to demand more power for Europe appears to be lacking, and for the very good reason that Europe does not see a mission for itself that requires power. Its mission is to oppose power. It is revealing that the argument most often advanced by Europeans for augmenting their military strength these days is not that it will allow Europe to expand its strategic purview. It is merely to rein in and "multilateralize" the United States. "America," writes the pro-American British scholar Timothy Garton Ash in the New York Times (April 9, 2002), "has too much power for anyone's good, including its own." Therefore Europe must amass power, but for no other reason than to save the world and the United States from the dangers inherent in the present lopsided situation.
Whether that particular mission is a worthy one or not, it seems unlikely to rouse European passions. Even Védrine has stopped talking about counterbalancing the United States. Now he shrugs and declares there "is no reason for the Europeans to match a country that can fight four wars at once." It was one thing for Europe in the 1990s to increase its collective expenditures on defense from $150 billion per year to $180 billion when the United States was spending $280 billion per year. But now the United States is heading toward spending as much as $500 billion per year, and Europe has not the slightest intention of keeping up. European analysts lament the continent's "strategic irrelevance." NATO Secretary General George Robertson has taken to calling Europe a "military pygmy" in an effort to shame Europeans into spending more and doing so more wisely. But who honestly believes Europeans will fundamentally change their way of doing business? They have many reasons not to.
The U.S. response
IN THINKING ABOUT the divergence of their own views and Europeans', Americans must not lose sight of the main point: The new Europe is indeed a blessed miracle and a reason for enormous celebration -- on both sides of the Atlantic. For Europeans, it is the realization of a long and improbable dream: a continent free from nationalist strife and blood feuds, from military competition and arms races. War between the major European powers is almost unimaginable. After centuries of misery, not only for Europeans but also for those pulled into their conflicts -- as Americans were twice in the past century -- the new Europe really has emerged as a paradise. It is something to be cherished and guarded, not least by Americans, who have shed blood on Europe's soil and would shed more should the new Europe ever fail.
Nor should we forget that the Europe of today is very much the product of American foreign policy stretching back over six decades. European integration was an American project, too, after World War II. And so, recall, was European weakness. When the Cold War dawned, Americans such as Dean Acheson hoped to create in Europe a powerful partner against the Soviet Union. But that was not the only American vision of Europe underlying U.S. policies during the twentieth century. Predating it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt's vision of a Europe that had been rendered, in effect, strategically irrelevant. As the historian John Lamberton Harper has put it, he wanted "to bring about a radical reduction in the weight of Europe" and thereby make possible "the retirement of Europe from world politics."9
Americans who came of age during the Cold War have always thought of Europe almost exclusively in Achesonian terms -- as the essential bulwark of freedom in the struggle against Soviet tyranny. But Americans of Roosevelt's era had a different view. In the late 1930s the common conviction of Americans was that "the European system was basically rotten, that war was endemic on that continent, and the Europeans had only themselves to blame for their plight."10 By the early 1940s Europe appeared to be nothing more than the overheated incubator of world wars that cost America dearly. During World War II Americans like Roosevelt, looking backward rather than forward, believed no greater service could be performed than to take Europe out of the global strategic picture once and for all. "After Germany is disarmed," FDR pointedly asked, "what is the reason for France having a big military establishment?" Charles DeGaulle found such questions "disquieting for Europe and for France." Even though the United States pursued Acheson's vision during the Cold War, there was always a part of American policy that reflected Roosevelt's vision, too. Eisenhower undermining Britain and France at Suez was only the most blatant of many American efforts to cut Europe down to size and reduce its already weakened global influence.
But the more important American contribution to Europe's current world-apart status stemmed not from anti-European but from pro-European impulses. It was a commitment to Europe, not hostility to Europe, that led the United States in the immediate postwar years to keep troops on the continent and to create NATO. The presence of American forces as a security guarantee in Europe was, as it was intended to be, the critical ingredient to begin the process of European integration.
Europe's evolution to its present state occurred under the mantle of the U.S. security guarantee and could not have occurred without it. Not only did the United States for almost half a century supply a shield against such external threats as the Soviet Union and such internal threats as may have been posed by ethnic conflict in places like the Balkans. More important, the United States was the key to the solution of the German problem and perhaps still is. Germany's Fischer, in the Humboldt University speech, noted two "historic decisions" that made the new Europe possible: "the USA's decision to stay in Europe" and "France's and Germany's commitment to the principle of integration, beginning with economic links." But of course the latter could never have occurred without the former. France's willingness to risk the reintegration of Germany into Europe -- and France was, to say the least, highly dubious -- depended on the promise of continued American involvement in Europe as a guarantee against any resurgence of German militarism. Nor were postwar Germans unaware that their own future in Europe depended on the calming presence of the American military.
The United States, in short, solved the Kantian paradox for the Europeans. Kant had argued that the only solution to the immoral horrors of the Hobbesian world was the creation of a world government. But he also feared that the "state of universal peace" made possible by world government would be an even greater threat to human freedom than the Hobbesian international order, inasmuch as such a government, with its monopoly of power, would become "the most horrible despotism."11 How nations could achieve perpetual peace without destroying human freedom was a problem Kant could not solve. But for Europe the problem was solved by the United States. By providing security from outside, the United States has rendered it unnecessary for Europe's supranational government to provide it. Europeans did not need power to achieve peace and they do not need power to preserve it.
The current situation abounds in ironies. Europe's rejection of power politics, its devaluing of military force as a tool of international relations, have depended on the presence of American military forces on European soil. Europe's new Kantian order could flourish only under the umbrella of American power exercised according to the rules of the old Hobbesian order. American power made it possible for Europeans to believe that power was no longer important. And now, in the final irony, the fact that United States military power has solved the European problem, especially the "German problem," allows Europeans today to believe that American military power, and the "strategic culture" that has created and sustained it, are outmoded and dangerous.
Most Europeans do not see the great paradox: that their passage into post-history has depended on the United States not making the same passage. Because Europe has neither the will nor the ability to guard its own paradise and keep it from being overrun, spiritually as well as physically, by a world that has yet to accept the rule of "moral consciousness," it has become dependent on America's willingness to use its military might to deter or defeat those around the world who still believe in power politics.
Some Europeans do understand the conundrum. Some Britons, not surprisingly, understand it best. Thus Robert Cooper writes of the need to address the hard truth that although "within the postmodern world [i.e., the Europe of today], there are no security threats in the traditional sense," nevertheless, throughout the rest of the world -- what Cooper calls the "modern and pre-modern zones" -- threats abound. If the postmodern world does not protect itself, it can be destroyed. But how does Europe protect itself without discarding the very ideals and principles that undergird its pacific system?
"The challenge to the postmodern world," Cooper argues, "is to get used to the idea of double standards." Among themselves, Europeans may "operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security." But when dealing with the world outside Europe, "we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era -- force, preemptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary." This is Cooper's principle for safeguarding society: "Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle."
Cooper's argument is directed at Europe, and it is appropriately coupled with a call for Europeans to cease neglecting their defenses, "both physical and psychological." But what Cooper really describes is not Europe's future but America's present. For it is the United States that has had the difficult task of navigating between these two worlds, trying to abide by, defend, and further the laws of advanced civilized society while simultaneously employing military force against those who refuse to abide by those rules. The United States is already operating according to Cooper's double standard, and for the very reasons he suggests. American leaders, too, believe that global security and a liberal order -- as well as Europe's "postmodern" paradise -- cannot long survive unless the United States does use its power in the dangerous, Hobbesian world that still flourishes outside Europe.
What this means is that although the United States has played the critical role in bringing Europe into this Kantian paradise, and still plays a key role in making that paradise possible, it cannot enter this paradise itself. It mans the walls but cannot walk through the gate. The United States, with all its vast power, remains stuck in history, left to deal with the Saddams and the ayatollahs, the Kim Jong Ils and the Jiang Zemins, leaving the happy benefits to others.
An acceptable division?
IS THIS SITUATION tolerable for the United States? In many ways, it is. Contrary to what many believe, the United States can shoulder the burden of maintaining global security without much help from Europe. The United States spends a little over 3 percent of its GDP on defense today. Were Americans to increase that to 4 percent -- meaning a defense budget in excess of $500 billion per year -- it would still represent a smaller percentage of national wealth than Americans spent on defense throughout most of the past half-century. Even Paul Kennedy, who invented the term "imperial overstretch" in the late 1980s (when the United States was spending around 7 percent of its GDP on defense), believes the United States can sustain its current military spending levels and its current global dominance far into the future. Can the United States handle the rest of the world without much help from Europe? The answer is that it already does. The United States has maintained strategic stability in Asia with no help from Europe. In the Gulf War, European help was token; so it has been more recently in Afghanistan, where Europeans are once again "doing the dishes"; and so it would be in an invasion of Iraq to unseat Saddam. Europe has had little to offer the United States in strategic military terms since the end of the Cold War -- except, of course, that most valuable of strategic assets, a Europe at peace.
The United States can manage, therefore, at least in material terms. Nor can one argue that the American people are unwilling to shoulder this global burden, since they have done so for a decade already. After September 11, they seem willing to continue doing so for a long time to come. Americans apparently feel no resentment at not being able to enter a "postmodern" utopia. There is no evidence most Americans desire to. Partly because they are so powerful, they take pride in their nation's military power and their nation's special role in the world.
Americans have no experience that would lead them to embrace fully the ideals and principles that now animate Europe. Indeed, Americans derive their understanding of the world from a very different set of experiences. In the first half of the twentieth century, Americans had a flirtation with a certain kind of internationalist idealism. Wilson's "war to end all wars" was followed a decade later by an American secretary of state putting his signature to a treaty outlawing war. FDR in the 1930s put his faith in non-aggression pacts and asked merely that Hitler promise not to attack a list of countries Roosevelt presented to him. But then came Munich and Pearl Harbor, and then, after a fleeting moment of renewed idealism, the plunge into the Cold War. The "lesson of Munich" came to dominate American strategic thought, and although it was supplanted for a time by the "lesson of Vietnam," today it remains the dominant paradigm. While a small segment of the American elite still yearns for "global governance" and eschews military force, Americans from Madeleine Albright to Donald Rumsfeld, from Brent Scowcroft to Anthony Lake, still remember Munich, figuratively if not literally. And for younger generations of Americans who do not remember Munich or Pearl Harbor, there is now September 11. After September 11, even many American globalizers demand blood.
Americans are idealists, but they have no experience of promoting ideals successfully without power. Certainly, they have no experience of successful supranational governance; little to make them place their faith in international law and international institutions, much as they might wish to; and even less to let them travel, with the Europeans, beyond power. Americans, as good children of the Enlightenment, still believe in the perfectibility of man, and they retain hope for the perfectibility of the world. But they remain realists in the limited sense that they still believe in the necessity of power in a world that remains far from perfection. Such law as there may be to regulate international behavior, they believe, exists because a power like the United States defends it by force of arms. In other words, just as Europeans claim, Americans can still sometimes see themselves in heroic terms -- as Gary Cooper at high noon. They will defend the townspeople, whether the townspeople want them to or not.
The problem lies neither in American will or capability, then, but precisely in the inherent moral tension of the current international situation. As is so often the case in human affairs, the real question is one of intangibles -- of fears, passions, and beliefs. The problem is that the United States must sometimes play by the rules of a Hobbesian world, even though in doing so it violates European norms. It must refuse to abide by certain international conventions that may constrain its ability to fight effectively in Robert Cooper's jungle. It must support arms control, but not always for itself. It must live by a double standard. And it must sometimes act unilaterally, not out of a passion for unilateralism but, given a weak Europe that has moved beyond power, because the United States has no choice but to act unilaterally.
Few Europeans admit, as Cooper does implicitly, that such American behavior may redound to the greater benefit of the civilized world, that American power, even employed under a double standard, may be the best means of advancing human progress -- and perhaps the only means. Instead, many Europeans today have come to consider the United States itself to be the outlaw, a rogue colossus. Europeans have complained about President Bush's "unilateralism," but they are coming to the deeper realization that the problem is not Bush or any American president. It is systemic. And it is incurable.
Given that the United States is unlikely to reduce its power and that Europe is unlikely to increase more than marginally its own power or the will to use what power it has, the future seems certain to be one of increased transatlantic tension. The danger -- if it is a danger -- is that the United States and Europe will become positively estranged. Europeans will become more shrill in their attacks on the United States. The United States will become less inclined to listen, or perhaps even to care. The day could come, if it has not already, when Americans will no more heed the pronouncements of the EU than they do the pronouncements of ASEAN or the Andean Pact.
To those of us who came of age in the Cold War, the strategic decoupling of Europe and the United States seems frightening. DeGaulle, when confronted by FDR's vision of a world where Europe was irrelevant, recoiled and suggested that this vision "risked endangering the Western world." If Western Europe was to be considered a "secondary matter" by the United States, would not FDR only "weaken the very cause he meant to serve -- that of civilization?" Western Europe, DeGaulle insisted, was "essential to the West. Nothing can replace the value, the power, the shining example of the ancient peoples." Typically, DeGaulle insisted this was "true of France above all." But leaving aside French amour propre, did not DeGaulle have a point? If Americans were to decide that Europe was no more than an irritating irrelevancy, would American society gradually become unmoored from what we now call the West? It is not a risk to be taken lightly, on either side of the Atlantic.
So what is to be done? The obvious answer is that Europe should follow the course that Cooper, Ash, Robertson, and others recommend and build up its military capabilities, even if only marginally. There is not much ground for hope that this will happen. But, then, who knows? Maybe concern about America's overweening power really will create some energy in Europe. Perhaps the atavistic impulses that still swirl in the hearts of Germans, Britons, and Frenchmen -- the memory of power, international influence, and national ambition -- can still be played upon. Some Britons still remember empire; some Frenchmen still yearn for la gloire; some Germans still want their place in the sun. These urges are now mostly channeled into the grand European project, but they could find more traditional expression. Whether this is to be hoped for or feared is another question. It would be better still if Europeans could move beyond fear and anger at the rogue colossus and remember, again, the vital necessity of having a strong America -- for the world and especially for Europe.
Americans can help. It is true that the Bush administration came into office with a chip on its shoulder. It was hostile to the new Europe -- as to a lesser extent was the Clinton administration -- seeing it not so much as an ally but as an albatross. Even after September 11, when the Europeans offered their very limited military capabilities in the fight in Afghanistan, the United States resisted, fearing that European cooperation was a ruse to tie America down. The Bush administration viewed NATO's historic decision to aid the United States under Article V less as a boon than as a booby trap. An opportunity to draw Europe into common battle out in the Hobbesian world, even in a minor role, was thereby unnecessarily lost.
Americans are powerful enough that they need not fear Europeans, even when bearing gifts. Rather than viewing the United States as a Gulliver tied down by Lilliputian threads, American leaders should realize that they are hardly constrained at all, that Europe is not really capable of constraining the United States. If the United States could move past the anxiety engendered by this inaccurate sense of constraint, it could begin to show more understanding for the sensibilities of others, a little generosity of spirit. It could pay its respects to multilateralism and the rule of law and try to build some international political capital for those moments when multilateralism is impossible and unilateral action unavoidable. It could, in short, take more care to show what the founders called a "decent respect for the opinion of mankind."
These are small steps, and they will not address the deep problems that beset the transatlantic relationship today. But, after all, it is more than a cliché that the United States and Europe share a set of common Western beliefs. Their aspirations for humanity are much the same, even if their vast disparity of power has now put them in very different places. Perhaps it is not too naïvely optimistic to believe that a little common understanding could still go a long way.
1One representative French observer describes "a U.S. mindset" that "tends to emphasize military, technical and unilateral solutions to international problems, possibly at the expense of co-operative and political ones." See Gilles Andreani, "The Disarray of U.S. Non-Proliferation Policy," Survival (Winter 1999-2000).
2The case of Bosnia in the early 1990s stands out as an instance where some Europeans, chiefly British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were at times more forceful in advocating military action than first the Bush and then the Clinton administration. (Blair was also an early advocate of using air power and even ground troops in the Kosovo crisis.) And Europeans had forces on the ground in Bosnia when the United States did not, although in a un peacekeeping role that proved ineffective when challenged.
3Samuel P. Huntington, "The Lonely Superpower," Foreign Affairs (March-April 1999).
4Steven Everts, "Unilateral America, Lightweight Europe?: Managing Divergence in Transatlantic Foreign Policy," Centre for European Reform working paper (February 2001).
5For that matter, this is also the view commonly found in American textbooks.
6Notwithstanding the British contribution of patrols of the "no-fly zone."
7The common American argument that European policy toward Iraq and Iran is dictated by financial considerations is only partly right. Are Europeans greedier than Americans? Do American corporations not influence American policy in Asia and Latin America, as well as in the Middle East? The difference is that American strategic judgments sometimes conflict with and override financial interests. For the reasons suggested in this essay, that conflict is much less common for Europeans.
8Charles Grant, "A European View of ESDP," Centre for European Policy Studies working paper (April 2001).
9John Lamberton Harper, American Visions of Europe: Franklin D. Roosevelt, George F. Kennan, and Dean G. Acheson (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 3. The following discussion of the differing American perspectives on Europe owes much to Harper's fine book.
10William L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, The Challenge to Isolation, 1937-1940 (Harper Bros., 1952), 14.
11See Thomas L. Pangle and Peter J. Ahrensdorf, Justice Among Nations: On the Moral Basis of Power and Peace (University Press of Kansas, 1999), 200-201.
THE NEW TRANSATLANTIC PROJECT
By Ronald D. Asmus and Kenneth M. Pollack http://www.policyreview.org/OCT02/asmus_print.html
FOR 50 YEARS and more, the United States and our European allies cooperated in a grand strategic venture to create a democratic, peaceful, prosperous continent free of threats from within and without. At the dawn of a new century, that task is approaching completion. This autumn both NATO and the EU are likely to launch so-called "Big Bang" rounds of enlargement, encompassing up to seven and 10 countries, respectively. If successful, these moves will help lock in democracy and security from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
Relations between Russia and the West are also back on track. Russian President Vladimir Putin has opted to protect Moscow's interests by cooperating with the U.S. and Europe rather than by trying to play a spoiler role. The certitude of that decision and, above all, the depth of Moscow's commitment to democracy at home remain open questions. But Putin's turn to the West has further reduced the risk that Russia might again become a strategic adversary and has instead opened a window to put the West's relations with Russia on a more stable and cooperative footing.
There is still work to be done. Not all of the European democracies are fully functional and not all of the European economies are prosperous. Completing Central and Eastern Europe's integration will take time even after they join NATO and the EU. Balkan instability has been stemmed but the underlying tensions are not yet resolved. Ukraine's westward integration and that of Russia will remain works in progress for years to come. And the West is only waking up to the challenge of the Caucasus and Central Asia.
But the key cornerstones of a new, peaceful European order are in place. The grand strategic issues that preoccupied statesmen and strategists for the second half of the twentieth century -- Germany's internal order and place in Europe, the anchoring of Central and Eastern Europe to the West, and the establishment of the foundation for a democratic Russia to integrate itself with Europe -- have been or are in the process of being largely resolved. Europe today is at peace with itself and more democratic and secure than at any time in history. If Harry Truman and his European counterparts could look down upon us today, they would no doubt be proud of what has been accomplished in their names.
Unfortunately, there is bad news too. The extraordinary accomplishment of the Atlantic alliance does not mean that America and Europe are now safe and secure. Success on the continent has been matched by the emergence of new threats from beyond. September 11 has brought home what a number of strategists have been predicting for years -- that the new century would usher in new, different, and potentially very dangerous threats to our societies. On the verge of eradicating the danger to our societies from intra-European war and thermonuclear exchanges, we are faced with new scourges -- terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, mass migrations, rogue and failed states, and the threat of disruptions to the economic lifelines of the world.
September 11 has become a symbol and metaphor for the new perils looming on the horizon. No one can doubt that Osama bin Laden would have used weapons of mass destruction on September 11 if he had had them. We know that al Qaeda and similar groups are trying to obtain such weapons and will, in all probability, use them if they succeed. The odds of their success are too good for comfort. Indeed, the likelihood of weapons of mass destruction being used against our citizens and societies is probably greater today than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis.
While America is the target of choice for these terrorists, Europe may not be far behind. It was certainly no accident that the United States was struck September 11, but it is not much of a stretch to imagine a similar attack on Europe in the future. There is already ample evidence of past terrorist plots by these groups on the continent. As the U.S. hardens as a target, the temptation to strike in Europe may grow. If one examines the ideology and goals of many of these groups, their hatred is rooted as much in who we are as in the details of specific policies. For them, it is not a great leap to shift from striking Washington to hitting London, Paris, or Brussels.
Even if Europe is only a distant second on the target list of most terrorists today, it is threatened by other problems spawned by the same undercurrents that created al Qaeda and its anti-American allies. Terrorists have often made Europe their preferred shooting gallery, even when their victims have been Americans, Israelis, or their own dissidents. Weapons of mass destruction and medium-range ballistic missiles in the hands of rogue Middle Eastern states would be able to target European cities. Finally, the instability of the states on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean poses a threat to trade across the inland sea, potentially producing vast waves of desperate immigrants headed north and west toward the riches and opportunity of Europe.
The intersection of these trends requires the United States and Europe to rethink the purpose of the transatlantic relationship. For the past half-century, our common purpose was to defend Europe from threats on the continent. Today the most dangerous threats to both American and European security emanate from beyond Europe. The greatest risk of large numbers of Americans and Europeans being killed no longer comes from a Russian invasion or even ethnic war in the Balkans. It is the threat of terrorists or rogue states in the Greater Middle East armed with weapons of mass destruction attacking our citizens, our countries, or our vital interests abroad.
Addressing this threat is the strategic challenge of our time. It is for our generation of leaders the equivalent of what facing down Stalin was for Truman and his counterparts in 1949. The question is whether both sides of the Atlantic will demonstrate the wisdom and strategic foresight of their predecessors to recast the transatlantic relationship to meet this new test. Like building a secure and democratic Europe, the task will not be easy, it will not be cheap, and it will not be quick. But it will make our lives and the world a much better place, and it is a challenge we must meet, lest it threaten not only the Atlantic alliance, but the lives and livelihoods of our peoples themselves.
The new challenge
EITHER THE U.S. nor Europe has yet fully come to terms with the nature of the new threat we face, our inherent vulnerabilities as Western democracies, and the consequences for our future national security policies. This threat is not just terrorism of the sort many countries, particularly in Europe, have known in past decades. It is the interweaving of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and failed and rogue states from Marrakesh to Bangladesh. Moreover, these problems are themselves only symptoms of the deeper economic and political turmoil afflicting the region.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher has called the combination of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists driven by anti-Western ideologies a "new totalitarian threat." Like other twentieth century totalitarians, today's Islamic fanatics claim that they possess absolute truth, despise Western modernity yet borrow from its technological accomplishments in an effort to destroy it, and believe that force and terror are necessary for a new utopia to replace the current corrupt and decadent world.1
This new form of terrorism is fed by wells of hatred and disaffection throughout the region. The result is a Maoist "sea" in which terrorists swim and hide. Their ideologies and causes encourage attacks on American military targets one day, attacks on Israeli, German, or British civilians the next, and attacks on French businesses the day after that. Unfortunately, it may be only a matter of time before it involves the potentially catastrophic use of weapons of mass destruction by either terrorists or rogue states. The only question is whether those weapons will be used first by al Qaeda against the United States, by GIA against France, by Kashmiri separatists against India, or by some other group against some other nation.
It is understandable that the initial reaction to September 11, especially in the United States, has been the desire to bolster homeland defense and to go after the perpetrators of the attacks militarily. Yet the more we come to understand the challenge we face, the clearer it becomes that our current approach, though necessary, is inadequate. We can reduce but never eliminate our inherent vulnerabilities as democratic nations whose strength and vitality rest on our openness to the world. Even if we dramatically improve our defenses at home, we will never build anything near a failsafe system. A 90 percent success rate may be excellent in many areas, but it is not good enough when we are dealing with terrorist groups and regimes willing to use weapons of mass destruction against us. A 10 percent or even 1 percent failure rate can lead to the deaths of thousands or tens of thousands of our citizens.
It would therefore be wrong to adopt a modern-day version of a Maginot Line strategy. Instead, we need to go on the offensive to address the root causes and not just the symptoms of terrorism and the other problems we face. To be sure, such a strategy must have a military component. But terrorism is primarily a political problem and the war against terrorism must be won on the political battlefield as well as the military one. We need to think not only in terms of military preemption but political preemption as well.
While we often talk about the terrorist threat as a global one, the challenge we face is de facto concentrated in one specific geographic region -- the Greater Middle East. That region starts with Northern Africa and Egypt and Israel at the eastern end of the Mediterranean and extends throughout the Persian Gulf to Afghanistan and Pakistan. In some ways, it can be seen as encompassing the turbulent regions of the Caucasus and perhaps even Central Asia to the extent that those regions suffer from the same underlying problems. It is from this region that the greatest threats to our security come -- in the form of foot soldiers for future terrorist attacks, the funding and financing for such attacks, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that can be used against us, the overflow of civil wars from one state to the next, and the refugee flows that all of these developments inevitably trigger.
To make matters worse, the region itself is becoming a geopolitical tinderbox. Violent conflict there can have a direct impact on our economic livelihood and civilization. A new Arab-Israeli war could spark spillover effects in both Europe and the United States. One need only imagine the consequences of a radicalized anti-Western successor regime in Saudi Arabia or a nuclear-armed Pakistan in the hands of an anti-Western Islamic regime to understand the far-reaching impact that events in the region can have on Western security.
The Greater Middle East suffers from a crisis of governance coupled with the inability of its states to meet the challenges of modernity and globalization. While most of the world marches into the twenty-first century, the Greater Middle East clings to the fourteenth. Its regimes are increasingly out of step with its people. Its economies, even those buttressed by massive oil wealth, fail to provide prosperity or even dignity to its people. Its educational systems produce masses of literate but maleducated young people whom the floundering social safety net can no longer support, leaving them ripe for exploitation by the purveyors of hate and terror. Meanwhile, a new wave of modern communications has awakened the region to its own comparative backwardness and given voice to hatemongers seeking to blame that backwardness on the plots of the West.
The failure of the Greater Middle Eastern regimes in the most basic sense has, in turn, helped breed the extreme ideologies, movements, and rogue states that now pose a potentially existential threat to the West. Not all of the region's woes can be traced directly to the underlying problems of political, economic, and social stagnation, but even those that cannot have been greatly exacerbated by these larger effects of the failure of the Greater Middle East. The Arab-Israeli conflict started for other reasons, but these deeper problems are now feeding it. Saddam Hussein is as much a symptom of the problem as its cause, but he too is capitalizing on it, making himself a far greater threat to the West than he would be if the region were not so volatile. America's problems are with Saddam Hussein while Europe's problems are with North African and Middle Eastern emigration and extremist groups, yet both are threatened by the Arab-Israeli violence that might detonate the entire region.
To meet this challenge, the West needs a strategy that is more than a military campaign. While killing Osama bin Laden and toppling Saddam are important objectives, by themselves they are not enough. Indeed, if pursued in isolation, they could fail or even be counterproductive. While we need to attack the capacity of terrorists and rogue states to inflict harm on us, we also need to change the dynamics that created such monstrous groups and regimes in the first place. If we do not, the names of the failed states, rogue states, and terrorists will change, but their causes and the threats we face will not. Instead, in five or 10 years, we could face new terrorist groups and new rogue states that have learned from the experience of their predecessors, and so will pose even greater dangers.
Western strategy must address the root causes of this problem, not just the symptoms. While continuing to wage the military war on terrorism, we must make an equally firm commitment to a political strategy that would help transform the Middle East itself. It would mean changing the nature of the anti-Western regimes from which our enemies draw sanctuary, support, and successors by seeking to create more participatory, inclusive, and accountable regimes that can live in peace with one another. It would mean a new form of democracy in the Greater Middle East. It would mean a new economic system that could provide work, dignity, and livelihoods for the people of the region. It would mean helping Middle Eastern societies come to grips with modernity and create new civil societies that allow them to compete and integrate in the modern world without losing their sense of cultural uniqueness. Working to secure these kinds of changes must be at the center of our strategy. In the end, these issues will be critical to winning the war on terrorism and eradicating the litany of threats to our security from this region.
This is a tall order. Heretofore, such goals have been considered unreachable or simply a bridge too far. Talk about political and economic change has rarely turned into action. All too often we have embraced whichever autocratic leader seemed least undesirable and/or most inclined to share our views, ignoring the aspirations of the people of the Greater Middle East. Indeed, there are few places in the world where Western values and principles on one hand, and the reality of our policy on the other, stand in greater contradiction. This has only contributed to the widespread perception that the U.S. is a hypocritical country pursuing a double standard and caring little about the peoples of the region despite its lofty principles.
September 11 has shown us that the status quo is no longer tolerable and that our past policies have led us into a strategic dead end. Many of the regimes in the region are failing, and one of the consequences of their failures is a growing, possibly existential, and unacceptable threat to our countries. We therefore need a strategy to help this region transform itself from within into more equitable and open societies that no longer produce ideologies and people intent on killing us. Regime change cannot mean only getting rid of the current set of bad guys. It must also mean a long-term commitment to ensuring that the right kind of successor regimes follow in their wake.
This is a strategic project that will take not years, but decades. Its accomplishment exceeds the ability of any one country, including the United States. It will require sustained political, economic, and military cooperation. Critics will say that such a strategy is too ambitious, that we should scale back our goals and hope that a more circumscribed approach will be sufficient to stem the threat. But hope is not a policy.
Elements of a strategy
HAT WOULD A COMMON transatlantic strategy to address this threat look like in practice? The starting point would be the recognition that the greatest threats to both sides of the Atlantic today no longer come from within the continent but beyond it and in particular from the Greater Middle East. Those threats are not second-tier risks but very real and potentially existential dangers because they involve the growing likelihood of the use of weapons of mass destruction against our homelands.
We also need to stop looking at the problems and crises in the Greater Middle East as separate or distinct problems that can be addressed in isolation. A common set of driving forces across the region from Northern Africa to Pakistan is contributing to the toxic combination of radical anti-Western ideologies, terrorism, rogue states, failed states, and the drive to acquire weapons of mass destruction. The problems we face in Afghanistan, the Israeli-Arab conflict, Iraq, and Iran are all parts of the same interwoven tapestry and a larger strategic problem. Indeed, to some extent, their impact can be felt in the problems of the Caucasus and Central Asia as well.
Most of the people of the region suffer from underlying problems of economic stagnation, political alienation, maleducation, and an inability to come to terms with modernity. We need to encourage them to address these problems themselves, while we provide them with assistance -- both resources and expertise. Too often in the past, we have allowed democratization and economic liberalization to slip to the bottom of our list of concerns with our allies in the region. This must stop. The need for transformation must move to the top of both American and European priorities, which must also recognize that this will not be easy for the states of the region.
The West cannot and should not seek to impose its own models of governance on the region. The transformation of the Greater Middle East will inevitably entail elements of democratization, free market economics, rule of law, and progressive education as we understand them. But it is not up to us to dictate the final shape the region adopts. Instead, our goal should be to help the voices for progress in the region be heard and to help craft a new society. We do not know what Arab or Islamic modernity will look like. We can help the peoples of the region to lay the foundation for achieving it. But it will be up to them to define it.
The first place to start implementing this policy should be Afghanistan. We must be just as committed to the success of the new government in Afghanistan as we were to the military defeat of the Taliban. We cannot shy from the task of nation-building. The United States made the mistake of walking away from Afghanistan last time -- and reaped the harvest of that mistake on September 11. If the U.S. again disengages, we will send the message to the rest of the region that we are only interested in destroying Islamic societies, not in building them. It will fuel the hatreds and the lies spread by Osama bin Laden and his ilk. It will make allies less willing to let us repeat Enduring Freedom against Saddam's Iraq -- after all, the last thing they will want is for us to topple his regime if we plan to leave behind Afghan-style chaos.
Afghanistan is also an opportunity to set a precedent for positive change and transformation, and to show the rest of the region what the West is committed to. The opening up of Central Asia to an expanded U.S. and Western presence should also be used to encourage these regimes to reform and modernize and not as an excuse not to do so. After all, these countries -- as members of the OSCE and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council -- are already officially part of the Euro-Atlantic community. Our priority must be to ensure they become part of the solution and not part of the problem.
The second area in which the United States and Europe need to work together to help the region modernize is the Arab-Israeli conflict. The United States and Europe must bury their differences and make a more determined and sustained effort to address the problems there. Although solving this puzzle may take years or decades, we have learned that ignoring the problem only makes it much worse -- and makes it harder for the United States to do anything else in the region. Political and economic transformation can greatly ease the process of Arab-Israeli reconciliation, and this needs to be furthered. President Bush is certainly right that a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Palestinian state will require democracy and therefore, at some point, the old leadership will have to go. But the administration is putting the cart before the horse: We can't wait for a new Palestinian society to emerge before resuming negotiations because we cannot allow a festering Arab-Israeli wound to prevent the pursuit of our broader agenda in the region. We may not be able to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem in the near term, but we need to get it under control so that we can get to work on the other threats. Consequently, the U.S. and Europe must find a way to come together behind a common approach -- and to use their political, economic, and military clout to help maintain a settlement once it has been reached. If required, NATO allies should be prepared to help monitor such a settlement.
Third, Saddam Hussein and his regime must go, both because his pursuit of nuclear weapons endangers the vital Persian Gulf region and because a longer-term strategy of promoting democratic change in the Greater Middle East is all but impossible as long as this modern-day Stalin maintains his brutal totalitarian state. This is going to require a full-scale invasion of Iraq. It would be far better for all concerned if the U.S. and Europe wage this campaign together, relying on NATO if possible. Not merely to bring the collective power of NATO to the military operation, which may be the less demanding part of such an endeavor, but because securing and rebuilding Iraq will be a long and potentially costly operation that will require a sustained security presence (albeit not nearly so costly as many suspect, thanks to Iraq's fabulous oil wealth) better handled collectively. Establishing a more democratic successor regime is as critical to our collective future as the destruction of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.
Fourth, Iran too is a country where the United States and Europe need to help the process of regime change, albeit in ways very different from those appropriate to Iraq. The good news is that nowhere is the process of change more apparent than in Iran, where reform is only a matter of time and demographics. The bad news is that the country continues to be run by a narrow theocracy that has fought the process of democratic change at every step and pursues a foreign policy that is anathema to the United States and Europe. In the short term, this means finding ways to prevent the current Iranian government from terrorizing the region while finding ways to help the emergence of a new Iranian polity.
Finally, the United States and Europe need to promote change not only in our adversaries but also among our friends and allies in the region. We cannot credibly insist on regime change in countries like Iraq and look the other way when it comes to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. September 11 drove home that the recruiting and financial base for many terrorist groups is in these countries. New opportunities to facilitate change may also be starting to emerge. There are now political forces in the region and an emerging civil society that themselves embrace the need for change. In spring 2002, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development published Arab Human Development Report: Creating Opportunities for Future Generations, authored by 22 distinguished Arab social scientists, which identified the same problems of political disenfranchisement, corruption, economic stagnation, arbitrary legal codes, and maleducation as the sources of regional ailments. The report called on the countries of the region to begin a process of transformation and on the developed world to provide the assistance necessary to make such a transformation a reality. Thus our job is not necessarily to force change on a wholly reluctant region, but to empower those striving for change and provide them with the support necessary to achieve it.
Consequently we should not assume we will be alone in this endeavor. We will have allies in the men and women of the Greater Middle East who are seeking to embrace modernity and take advantage of globalization. In Saudi Arabia, the crown prince himself is working to reform Saudi education and law, curtail the corruption of his own family, create a more viable economy that is not wholly dependent on oil revenues, foster Islamic values of tolerance and charity, and give the Saudi people a greater say in their own governance. Among the Palestinians, there are groups who recognize that the Middle East does not need yet another corrupt Arab kleptocracy and are calling for political change, transparency, and accountability. Even in Egypt, where time is measured in centuries rather than years, President Hosni Mubarak has at times taken halting steps to privatize Egypt's moribund national industries and energize the Egyptian economy.
Taken together, even such tentative initiatives could serve as the blueprint for a grand strategy not only to win the war on terrorism, but also to build the foundation for peace in the region through political transformation and regional cooperation. Successfully implementing such a strategy will in all likelihood take decades. It will require systematic and sustained U.S.-European coordination and cooperation. In other words, it requires an alliance. Neither the U.S. nor Europe can fix the Greater Middle East by itself. By itself, Europe is not in a position to pursue such an ambitious agenda. Although the U.S. wields power on a far grander scale, American will and might have their limits. We may not be able to do it even together. But together, and working with those in the region who aspire to the same changes, we would certainly have a much better chance to succeed.
Can it be done?
AN THIS GENERATION of Western leaders perform the modern-day equivalent of what Truman and European leaders did in 1949? The tone of recent transatlantic discourse suggests that the answer may be no. Although September 11 initially produced a tremendous outpouring of solidarity across the Atlantic, the mood has since soured into one of the ugliest U.S.-European spats in recent memory. It has become fashionable on both sides to argue that the differences today are deeper than ever, and that the values and interests that held this relationship together may be in danger of fraying or even breaking. Euro-trashing is as much in vogue in some right-wing circles in Washington as America-bashing is in left-wing circles in Europe.
Current transatlantic differences are real. But it is also important to look beyond the current intellectual fads and see what underlies them -- and what doesn't. U.S.-European differences fall into two categories. The first are those disputes that arise from the fact that our societies are more integrated than any two parts of the planet. Clashes over the environment, child custody, the death penalty, and genetically modified food are important and make for great headlines. But they are not strategic in nature. The fact that we are debating them so intensely is a sign of how closely integrated our societies have become. They are the problems of success, not failure. Such differences were far greater in 1949. They did not prevent us from creating a strategic alliance then. They should not prevent us from working together on a new strategic agenda today.
But there is also a second category of differences. These disputes revolve around how the U.S. and Europe view the outside world, assess threats, and seek to meet them. They are rooted not only in our respective interests but are shaped by our size, historical experiences, strategic cultures, and the asymmetry in power and responsibility that both sides of the Atlantic bring to the table.2 Such differences directly affect our ability, or lack thereof, to cooperate on questions of war and peace. They can become strategic in nature. The central question in the transatlantic relationship today is whether the U.S. and Europe can still harmonize these differences and coalesce around a new strategic purpose and paradigm to guide future cooperation across the Atlantic.
At first glance there are few issues or places where the gap across the Atlantic would appear to be greater than the thorny strategic issues of bringing peace to the Greater Middle East. Making this challenge the centerpiece of transatlantic cooperation is akin to mission impossible, critics will suggest. Without underestimating or downplaying these differences, several caveats are nevertheless needed to put them into perspective.
First, until the present, neither the U.S. nor Europe felt a compelling strategic need to have a common strategy on these issues. Neither side of the Atlantic has been willing to make the political commitment to develop one. When it came to dealing with Moscow during the Cold War, both sides of the Atlantic relied on each other's counsel, cooperation, and commitment to forge a common approach. But this has rarely been the case in the Greater Middle East. The U.S. has often preferred to keep Europe on the sidelines, and key European countries had their own reasons to pursue a go-it-alone approach. Both sides no longer have that luxury in the wake of September 11.
Second, U.S.-European differences on the key issues in the Greater Middle East, while often bitter, are largely tactical and not strategic in nature. They relate not to ends but to the means by which to reach them. Americans and Europeans do not disagree over Israel's right to exist or the need for a Palestinian state and a peace settlement -- and, at the end of the day, Europe is likely to support almost any settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict that the U.S. can bring about. Nor does Europe oppose toppling Saddam Hussein, although it has grave doubts about how the Bush administration might go about doing so and what Washington's policy is for the day after. Yet these differences are not necessarily deeper than the issues that divided us during the Cold War over how best to deal with Moscow.
Third, past U.S.-European differences did not prevent the West from winning the Cold War. The alliance won not because we agreed on everything all the time but because there was a commitment to face the challenge together, to share risks and responsibilities, and to work within a common framework to iron out differences. U.S.-European consultations were not always a hindrance but often led to better policy as many a foolish American or European idea got shot down in the process. Nor did the West prevail simply because of U.S. military power. Americans and Europeans still debate whether Ronald Reagan's arms buildup or Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik was more important in bringing communism to its knees. Ultimately, it was the one-two punch of soft and hard power provided by Europe and America that helped undermine and eventually topple communism.
All of this suggests that bringing the U.S. and Europe together around such a new and ambitious strategic agenda, while certainly difficult, is doable. The fundamental problem bedeviling the transatlantic relationship today is the lack of a common strategic purpose and a shared commitment on both sides of the Atlantic that would generate the will to harmonize divergent views and create a joint strategy.
Achieving such a new consensus would have clear-cut strategic benefits for both sides. A common U.S.-European front would leave our adversaries with less room for maneuver. Working together would give Washington a degree of political acceptance and international legitimacy the U.S. cannot acquire on its own. While the U.S. will be a dominant partner in many areas, there are other areas where Europe is not only more willing, but also potentially more able, to achieve the kinds of results we need.
A common approach could also give the U.S. more and better strategic options. If the U.S. chooses to go it alone, our actions will be circumscribed by what we can do on our own. It could lead us to opt for a more limited, largely military approach -- but also one that would fail to get at the root causes of the problem and would therefore be less likely to succeed. While the administration often points to the problems that can come from trying to mount a coalition effort, unilateral action may also lead us into dangerous strategic choices.
As strong as the United States is today, we are deluding ourselves if we think we can meet this strategic challenge by ourselves. Afghanistan is a sober reminder in this regard. While the U.S. did the lion's share of fighting to defeat the Taliban, we soon discovered that our dependence on European assistance was considerable. Today there are more European forces on the ground than American. When it comes to the arduous effort of rebuilding Afghanistan, our policy is dependent on the close cooperation and support of our European and other allies.
The same is likely to be true when it comes to the other pieces of the Greater Middle Eastern puzzle. A sustainable peace settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict will require close U.S.-European support and cooperation. Some Americans may prefer that the U.S. fight Saddam Hussein on its own, but a common U.S.-European front would make the job much easier.3 And when it comes to the thorny question of securing and rebuilding Iraq after Saddam is gone, we will be even more dependent on the assistance and support of our European allies. The list is almost endless.
Is Europe up to this challenge? Our allies have not yet had their own "Pearl Harbor," forcing them to fundamentally rethink their national priorities the way Americans have since September 11, 2001. One can only hope that Europe will learn from America's mistakes. It may take a major terrorist attack in Europe to provide that jolt -- just as it did here. But this does not mean that European elite and public attitudes have not shifted at all. European governments have already gone farther than many expected in providing intelligence support, cooperating on law enforcement issues, and working together on the financial and economic aspects of the war on terrorism. While Europe has fallen behind the United States, collectively they remain the second most powerful set of militaries in the world. With modest investments in key areas, our allies can take on an even greater share of the burden in the future.
Europeans are also feeling increasingly vulnerable. In terms of public support, a recent study conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the German Marshall Fund, as well as the U.S. government's own public opinion polls, suggest that potential majority support exists in many key European states for the use of force to rid Saddam of his weapons of mass destruction. In spite of all the press coverage over European nervousness regarding U.S. policy on Iraq, many allies in private are signaling that they are prepared, in principle, to go to war in Iraq as long as they are convinced that it will be done right -- that Washington will obtain UN authorization, has a credible strategy for ensuring that such a war does not destabilize the region, and is committed to working with Europe to rebuild Iraq after Saddam is gone.
Ultimately, Europeans, precisely because they share our values, are likely to be the most dependable allies we have. Indeed, for the more ambitious strategy this article lays out, their cooperation is indispensable. And in fact, the more ambitious agenda called for here is more likely to attract European support than the Bush administration's current approach.
This does not mean that Europe will give the U.S. a blank check. As they did during the Cold War, Europeans will ask realistic and, at times, pointed questions. We will have to work to gain their support. They are looking for a common strategic framework and a say commensurate with the risks they assume and the resources they devote. That is normal among friends and allies -- and we would behave no differently if roles were reversed. We should listen to their questions and criticism. If we can't answer them, maybe we need to take a second look at our own strategy. If we are convinced that we need to go ahead in any case and despite their doubts, we can always do so.
Toward a new purpose and paradigm
N APRIL 4, 1949, Harry Truman spoke at NATO's founding in Washington, D.C. He defined NATO as an alliance to defend the common values and civilization of the democracies on both sides of the Atlantic. The existential threat that Truman and his colleagues faced was Stalin and the Soviet Union. In establishing NATO, Truman and his counterparts overcame the doubts of those who did not believe the U.S. and Europe could forge a common strategy vis-à-vis Moscow. Fortunately, Truman ignored such counsel and decided that the strategic imperative of the day required the U.S. and Europe to forge a common strategy. In doing so, he changed the course of history. He would later view NATO's founding as one of the accomplishments of which he was most proud.
Today the United States and Europe once again face a potentially existential threat. There is little doubt that the same values and civilization that Truman spoke about defending in 1949 are again at risk. Meeting this very different challenge today requires no less unified a strategic response. What is less clear is whether today's leaders on either side of the Atlantic are capable of coming together around a new common purpose and the strategic framework needed to modernize and mobilize the Atlantic alliance for this task.
During the twentieth century, Europe was the locus of some of the greatest wars mankind has known. During the Cold War the greatest threat to international security emanated from the East-West standoff on the continent. Today, the Greater Middle East is the region with that distinction. In Europe, it took two world wars for us to understand that the key to an enduring peace on the continent was not simply managing or muting age-old hatreds and geopolitical rivalries, but overcoming them through political transformation, democracy, and integration. If history teaches us anything, it is that our best hope for a durable peace in the Greater Middle East, too, lies in the transformation of these countries into more democratic and prosperous societies capable of working together.
Forging a new strategic purpose across the Atlantic is not going to happen without the leadership of the United States and the president personally. While there is plenty that Europe must do, the lead in establishing this new direction and purpose must come from this side of the Atlantic. No one else has the authority and the influence to set the kind of new and bold strategic direction and priorities this article calls for. Yet that is precisely one of the ingredients that is missing today -- a U.S. commitment to crafting a common U.S.-European approach to confront the most pressing strategic issues of the day -- and to make the modernization of America's most important alliance a priority in meeting that challenge. The starting point for such an overhaul of the transatlantic agenda must be in Washington. Unilateralism and ad hoc coalitions will not be good enough.
Europe also needs to change. It must wake up to the fact that the threat we face is a common one -- as well as one for which it, too, is woefully unprepared. It must stop seeking to define its identity and role in the world in contradistinction to that of America. It should learn from the mistakes of the United States -- and not wait until it, too, suffers a major attack resulting in horrific loss of life. If Europe wants to remain the great partner of the United States, it must put its money where its mouth is and devote the resources required for it to assume the stature to which it aspires.
History occasionally grants leaders opportunities to turn tragedies into opportunities. September 11 has given President Bush such an opportunity. As before, a U.S. president and his European counterparts have a chance to recast the transatlantic relationship to meet the new dangers of this new era. Thus far neither side of the Atlantic has stepped up to that challenge -- and that needs to be the first change we make together.
1 For a comparison of today's Islamic terrorists with twentieth century totalitarians see Jeffrey Herf, "What is Old and What is New in the Terrorism of Islamic Fundamentalism?" Partisan Review LXIX:1 (Winter 2002).
2 See Robert Kagan, "Power and Weakness," Policy Review 113 (June-July 2002).
3 For a discussion of the utility of a coalition effort against Saddam Hussein, see Kenneth M. Pollack, The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (Random House, forthcoming).
Feedback? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send us a Letter to the