Monday, June 13, 2005

US Policy Toward Europe

Gerard Baker, US Editor of the Times (London), authored the editorial in the current Weekly Standard:
In the Brussels bunker, . . . the familiar instinct has kicked in--pretend nothing has happened. Incredibly, the official plan is that the other E.U. countries should simply carry on ratifying the constitutional treaty that was essentially detonated by the French and Dutch voters.

In the real world, whose characteristics are not readily recognizable to the inhabitants of the bureaucratic fantasy theme park that is the European Commission, serious reconstruction work must now begin. The "No" votes should in fact provide a real opportunity for Europe to revisit the very purpose and meaning of its union. Whatever else they have shown, the popular rejections ought surely to prompt a serious effort both to devolve power from an overweening Brussels and to reconnect the E.U. with the voters of Europe. All that is a question for the Europeans themselves to decide.
Baker also answers Ulrich Speck's fear that America's become indifferent to Europe:
The United States . . . has always had a vital national interest in the direction Europe takes, and the events of the last month provide an opportunity for much needed reflection in Washington about the transatlantic relationship. Many of the countries of Europe have been reliable allies over the last 50 years or more. A healthy functioning relationship with this other pole of Western civilization, with its similar values and objectives, remains important to the United States. But it is time for Washington to reevaluate the best way of bringing that about.

First, the Bush administration should take a vow of silence when it comes to specific discussions of how Europe should develop. Though some may be tempted to indulge in a little schadenfreude at the sight of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder contemplating the fragments of their superpower ambitions, they should resist it. Even the merest hint in Europe that Washington is actively seeking to undermine European unity would be enough to strengthen it.

But this silence must, at long last, be genuinely symmetrical. The administration should stop forthwith insisting that it believes ever deeper and closer European integration is in America's best interest. This was true in the Cold War, when Western European fragmentation would have been a real problem in the fight against communism. But in the more complex post-9/11 world, in which threat perceptions and strategies differ across the Atlantic and within Europe, it is no longer self-evidently in U.S. interests that the E.U. try to eliminate national policies. . .

Washington, then, should resist the usual attempts of Europe's political elites to enlist it as an enabler in their efforts to bypass the popular will and pursue their own grand visions. Studied neutrality, with a bias towards supporting the will of the peoples of Europe, should now guide the institutional U.S. approach towards the E.U. Second, Washington should take this opportunity to reassert the primacy of NATO. A not very well hidden aspect of the E.U. integrationists' agenda has long been the supplanting of NATO (a transatlantic alliance that incidentally already includes Turkey) with a specific E.U. defense identity. Despite protestations to the contrary, it was always clear that the prime movers behind this--the French--intended it to become an alternative locus for European nations to pursue their own foreign policy goals. . .

Finally, and perhaps most important, the United States should gently urge the Europeans now to address the real challenge they face. Washington has a powerful interest in seeing a strong Europe in the world as a vigorous partner for American foreign policy objectives. But creating an ever more rococo panoply of bureaucracy and superstatehood is not the way to achieve that.

What the bulk of the E.U. desperately needs is economic growth. Instead of creating hundreds more jobs for Eurocrats, Euro-diplomats, and Euro-politicians with global pretensions, it should be creating millions of real jobs for the growing army of unemployed that truly threatens economic vitality and political stability.
(via MaxedOutMama)

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