International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

May 14, 2002

May 14, 2002





**  "All is not well with the transatlantic relationship" was a unifying theme in recent European editorials, as writers cited a "rising tide of public distrust and mutual incomprehension." 

**  While commentators were quick to blast U.S. "unilateralism," they also found fault with European "hubris."

**  Observers concluded that the U.S. and Europe, "condemned" to remain close allies, must do more to avoid letting the current "alienation" devolve into a crisis.




Frontburner disputes over trade, Iraq, Mideast reflect growing "mutual disrespect."  Editorialists worried that differences over trade and security issues, and even over how to fight terrorism, reflected divergent priorities.  For many, 9/11 was the philosophical point of departure.  As London's independent Financial Times put it:  "Europeans believe that Washington now interprets foreign policy...against the background of 9/11....  U.S. officials find it hard to believe that Europeans still care about environmental a time when the world is threatened by terrorists seeking [WMD]."  On Iraq, pundits argued that where Europeans still advocate diplomacy, the U.S. appears committed to military action.  In the Mideast conflict, they contrasted the U.S.' perceived bias in favor of Israel with the Europeans' sympathy for the Arab/Palestinian cause.  Writers worried that the U.S. interpreted this as European "anti-semitism."  


Both sides guilty of "bouts of moral superiority," negative stereotyping.  Europe is "weak" and "whining;" the U.S. is ham-fisted, "arrogant" and possessed of a simplistic "missionary zeal"--such were the "dangerous" caricatures gaining currency among publics on both sides, said analysts.  Asserting that "anti-Europeanism on the American right now matches anti-Americanism on the European left," commentators implored Washington and European capitals to devote more resources to public diplomacy in order to improve their respective images. 


Despite tension points, transatlantic cooperation "crucial."   Dailies in all the major NATO capitals stressed the need for transatlantic cooperation, especially after 9/11.  "The world's most stable democracies" must join forces to tackle problems, said a Frankfurt daily, which put terrorism, the Mideast crisis and the "social consequences of globalization" at the top of the list.  Some analysts suggested that clarifying NATO's role in addressing "the very different threats we now face" will be a key test of transatlantic solidarity.


EDITOR:  Katherine Starr


EDITOR'S NOTE: This report is based on 32 reports from 10 countries, May 1- May 14.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  'Europe's Struggle To Be Heard"


Under the subhead, "insensitivity in Washington and disunity in Brussels have damaged transatlantic trust.  A war with Iraq would harm it further," Philip Stephens, editor of the independent Financial Times, argued (5/10):  "America's self-confidence is Europe's frustration.  The transatlantic relationship is now viewed by Europeans with irritation and gloom....  Conversations on the state of transatlantic relations are liberally sprinkled with references to arrogance and unilateralism.  At NATO's sprawling complex just beyond the city centre, officials put on a braver face....  Yet even here the public confidence scarcely conceals a private air of resignation....  European annoyance is directed not at the U.S. per se but at George W. Bush's administration....  Bush has made a big mistake in allowing rightwing outriders to set the tone for transatlantic relations.


"Consultation consists of European endorsement of American policy.  Europeans sense, rightly, that NATO is being weakened, not strengthened.  Enlargement, the Europeans know will dilute NATO's military identity.  The U.S. does not mind.  The military side is still useful but NATO's relevance for the U.S. is as a security organisation that entrenches its interests across a widening expanse of Europe.  The U.S. is happy to belong when it can lead or control; and determined to opt out of commitments that challenge its freedom of action.  Only this week, the U.S. asserted that states rather than multilateral institutions bore responsibility for ensuring justice in the international system.  What, I wonder, do statements such as that say of Washington's view of the UN?  There is not great crisis in the transatlantic relationship at present, more an erosion of trust.  But that in its way is more dangerous....  A looming confrontation with Iraq threatens to deepen the divide.  Europe is right to be gloomy.  The U.S. would do well to be careful."


"U.S. Farm Subsidies Undermine Free Trade"


The liberal Guardian stated (5/10):  "George Bush came to office committed to free trade.  But his claims seem about to be exposed once more as a fraud, only weeks after his action to protect American steel.  It is indefensible to give billions more to rich farmers while poverty afflicts so many in a time of plenty.  This is not just bad economics, it is bad politics.  Beyond America's borders, the move will be viewed as another example of the U.S. acting unilaterally.  Washington used to flaunt its international begin phasing out farming subsidies.  By increasing them, Bush damages more than his own credibility.  He also undermines European attempts to reform the common agricultural policy.  After all, if America can renege on its undertaking to open markets, why should Europe not follow?"


"Fears Brought Into The Open"


The conservative Daily Telegraph opined (5/9):  "There seems to be confusion, not to say cowardice, within European states.  There is confusion on the question of whether the events of September 11 have produced any substantive change in global priorities, whereas Americans are absolutely clear that they have.  Even more significantly for the internal politics of many European countries, there is cowardice about facing the consequences of an Islamic presence within their borders....  Partly for fear of alienating a sizeable Muslim electorate, but also out of historical post-colonial guilt, most mainstream European parties refrain from confronting the dilemma that liberal democracies face in absorbing illiberal minorities with theocratic proclivities.  Mr. Fortuyn was labelled 'extremist' for voicing a pride in the values of his own political culture that few Americans would question.  America inducts waves of immigrants into its society by forcefully and enthusiastically propagating its constitutional convictions.  The unashamed patriotism of American society may strike the European political establishment as primitive or embarrassing, but the numbers of Dutch, French and even British voters attracted to parties that speak openly of national pride may hold a lesson that they will no longer be able to avoid."


"Transatlantic Turbulence"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (5/7):  "The U.S. and the Europeans need to get their collective acts together.  In spite of official protestations to the contrary, all is not well with the transatlantic relationship.  Whether it is in the field of trade relations, international security or finding solutions to the conflict in the Middle East, misunderstandings abound.  The danger is that both sides are indulging in one of their periodic bouts of moral superiority.  Many Europeans see America as blindly unilateralist, determined to find muscular military solutions to complex situations, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq.  For their part, many Americans now feel clear moral justification in the war against terrorism.  They see Europeans as half-hearted and, with far-right movements such as the National Front in France apparently seeing some political success, they believe there has been a revival of anti-semitism in Europe, leading to hostility to Israel in its own war against terrorists.  Both sides are guilty of oversimplifying the political processes on the other side of the ocean.  The Middle East is not the only point of friction.  The future of the NATO alliance, the most powerful manifestation of transatlantic cooperation, is another.  Its military arm is increasingly irrelevant.  Enlargement will make it more cumbersome.  There is an urgent need for the U.S. and European allies to agree on a vision of NATO's future if they do not want it to whither.  If they are going to cooperate in seeking to promote greater peace and stability, as they must, they need to understand far better each other's political processes and what is driving them.  What does not help at all is for either side to claim a monopoly on the moral high ground."


"Different Views"


Judy Dempsey and Richard Wolfe commented in the independent Financial Times (5/2):  "When Bush meets [EU] leaders in the White House on Thursday, there may be some uncomfortable echoes of the past....  Once again, the U.S. sees itself involved in a moral battle--the war against terrorism.  And once again, European questioning of its fervour and tactics have provoked resentment in Washington....  For the Europeans, the issue is clear.  The U.S. cannot win the battle alone, either in Afghanistan or if it chooses to strike against Saddam Hussein....  But in the U.S., European opposition appears part of a broader cultural and political divergence from U.S. values....  In Congress, there is an emerging consensus among Democrats and Republicans that Europe's opposition to U.S. policy in the Middle East is at least partly motivated by anti-semitism....  There are other strains in the relationship than differences over terrorism and foreign policy.  There is a looming trade war over Washington's recent decision to impose heavy tariffs on steel imports to protect its struggling steel industry....  There is European disappointment too over what is seen as U.S. unilateralism on global issues....  Two fundamental tensions remain.  The first is that the Europeans, scarred by centuries of war, tend to believe in exhausting all the instruments of diplomacy before bowing to U.S. military pressure....  Second, the Europeans believe that Washington now interprets foreign policy and shapes alliances against the background of September 11....  In the U.S., administration officials find it hard to believe that Europeans still care about environmental protocols and genetically modified food at a time when the world is threatened by terrorists seeking nuclear, chemical and biological weapons."


"U.S. Pounces On An Old European Prejudice"


According to the foreign editor's briefing by Bronwen Maddox in the conservative Times (5/2):  "Europe's greatest problem at today's summit with the U.S. in Washington is that the Continent is suddenly accused across much of America of being anti-semitic....  The next problem is that European leaders seem not to have picked up on the new mood....  But they may find themselves walking unsuspecting into the path of a tsunami of explicitly anti-European rhetoric.  The past fortnight's comment in the media and politics have been so poisonous, so homogenous, and so voluminous, that it amounts to a sharp change of national mood, and is a real diplomatic problem of its own.  Blame Le Pen for triggering it, although he is not the only thing that has given the new mood its furious voice.  The French elections are coupled in every comment with the burning of synagogues in France and Europe's perceived sympathy for the Palestinians and Yassir Arafat."


"A Moment Of Truth"


According to the independent weekly Economist (5/2):  "Both boosters and detractors call it the most successful military alliance in history.  But does it have a future?...  It is harder than it used to be to imagine NATO, as it is, advancing far into the 21st century.  Before September 11th, the question dangling over the transatlantic alliance was what it was for....  Since the attacks on the U.S., and with Europe, too, more worried than it used to be about unfettered terrorism and the spread of [WMD], the value of 'collective defence' is no longer in so much doubt.  But does America, with its unrivalled military power, need NATO any more?  And, assuming someone wants and needs it, how can the alliance be adapted to defend its members against the very different threats they now face?  If good answers are not found before the NATO summit in Prague in November, the future of NATO looks bleak indeed....  The challenge now is to make the alliance more effective against the new threats....  Not only NATO, through its defence-capabilities initiative launched in 1999, but also the EU, with the goal it has set for its rapid-reaction force, have promised more than European governments have delivered....  These meagre efforts are recognised in defence ministries across NATO as the greatest threat to the ability of Americans and Europeans to sustain NATO as a military alliance....  But an alliance limited merely to that sort of burden-sharing, based on America's hard power and Europe's soft power, would give Europeans little real say over the strategic agenda.  As Mr Lindley-French puts it, they would just be America's 'garbage collectors.'  To avoid that fate, the European members of NATO will have to contribute more and better military capabilities....  If new capabilities are the test of Europe's commitment to NATO, the handling of enlargement will be a test of America's....  So what sort of NATO will emerge after Prague?  A somewhat bigger, more political NATO, inevitably.  A more militarily capable one, too?  That depends on the resources everyone, especially the Europeans, puts into it.  Whatever future awaits NATO, the past will be no guide."


"No One Should Underestimate Current Deterioration In Relations"


William Wallace, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, wrote this op-ed in the independent Financial Times (5/1):  "Neither side should underestimate the current deterioration in political relations across the Atlantic.  European leaders approach these exchanges with an overloaded agenda, against the background of declining respect within the U.S. for European opinion and rising criticism within European media of U.S. policies.  One immediate cause of increased mutual disrespect is the divergence of Americans and European perspectives on the Arab-Israeli conflict, the proclaimed war on terrorism, and the 'axis of evil' and what to do about Saddam Hussein....  Long-term differences flow from the Bush administration's commitment to a more assertive--and less multilateral--foreign policy and from disagreements about the management of the world economy.  Europeans have been shaken by the vigor with which Americans denounce their governments as 'appeasers' and 'whiners'; Americans protest at the barrage of 'unconstructive' criticism of U.S. leadership that they face.  Anti-Europeanism on the American right now matches anti-Americanism on the European left....  Private diplomacy cannot succeed against a rising tide of public distrust and mutual incomprehension.  It is time to pay much more attention to public diplomacy, on both sides.  It is easy for Europeans to point to the failures of U.S. presentation....  It is harder for European governments to admit that their own public diplomacy towards the U.S. has been sadly deficient."


"No Rift, But Summit Will Be More Tense Than Usual"


Bronwen Maddox, foreign editor of the conservative Times, judged (5/1):  "Of the three disputes set to dominate tomorrow's summit in Washington between the U.S. and the EU, the bitter and growing row over the steel trade still looks like the easiest to solve....  The intercontinental gulf remains [over Iraq] with the Bush administration hankering after an attack and continental European leaders opposing one....  Israel is the most bitter and the most intractable....  Does this amount to a rift in American-European relations?  Not really, although this year's summit clearly will be more clipped and tense than for some time....  The themes in the background will be European anxiety about American unilateralism, set against American irritation at Europe's perceived timidity, backsliding and unreliability....  More usefully, Washington has called a meeting of the 'Quartet'...[which] provided that it does not amount to a trio and an American dissenting voice, can provide the invaluable role of endorsing Powell's cautious and steady brand of diplomacy within the administration as well as within the Middle East.  Even more reason to talk about steel.  There is a real danger of wide and spreading trade war.....  The move by Bush was gratuitous, clearly motivated with both eyes on the congressional elections in November.  It continues to look as if he had not given the international implications any thought.  At least in its Middle East policy, and now Iraq, the Bush administration gives the impression of knowing where the objections are coming from."


FRANCE:  "America And Europe: A Cordial Disunion"


Right-of-center Les Echos said in its editorial (5/3):  "The trade differences which put Americans and Europeans at odds yesterday in Washington cannot hide the obvious: the U.S. and Europe have similar objectives.  As Condoleezza Rice rightly pointed out, their fundamental interests are more important than their differences....  Proof of this close relationship is the fact that in the aftermath of September 11, the Europeans expressed their solidarity with the American people without hesitation....  France included....  President Bush summarized the situation well: by working together, America and Europe are more effective.  Nevertheless, there are many reasons for disagreements: on the attitude to be adopted towards Iraq...on Afghanistan...and on the Middle East.  In spite of Bush's personal commitment...Europe regrets that America's pressure on Israel is not more forceful.  And Europe continues to worry over America's unilateralism in matters of environment and disarmament....  The summit, which was followed with a four-way meeting between the U.S., the EU, Russia and the UN could not, as if by magic, dispel all the transatlantic differences.  In spite of the reassuring remarks."


"Protectionist Reflexes"


Philippe Gelie opined in right-of-center Le Figaro Economie (5/3):  "Even during the trade war, transatlantic cooperation continues.  This is the message that American and European leaders tried to send during the summit that brought them together.  While there are several subjects that divide them and catch the attention of the public, this does not mean that relations between the EU and the U.S. are getting worse, but rather just the opposite....  Europe hopes that its method, a cocktail of dialogue and determination, will in time be able to neutralize Bush's latest plans regarding agricultural subsidies.  But between Europe and the U.S., protectionist reflexes are not that easy to get rid of."


"France's Anti-Semitism Alarms Bush"


Jean-Jacques Mevel held in right-of-center Le Figaro (5/2):  "The recent wave of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe and particularly in France is not going unnoticed in the White House....  In his speech on Tuesday, Bush was careful to avoid putting the blame on the French people in general or on France's political class.  His remarks were carefully worded.  Still, such criticism coming from the top will do nothing to change the horrible image a growing number of Americans have of France.  While there are many reasons for such feelings, Europe's support of the Palestinians in the Middle East conflict plays an important role....  For some commentators and groups, this is also an opportunity to settle accounts on (France's) anti-Americanism....  Behind America's wake-up call there is of course the poisoned transatlantic tug-of-war over the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  In the U.S., any criticism of Ariel Sharon is immediately equated with anti-semitism."


GERMANY:  "NATO: Size Does Not Mean Strength"


Michael Stuermer penned in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (5/14) and right-of-center Berliner Morgenpost of Berlin (5/14):  "When NATO's defense ministers meet in Reykjavik, they will deal mainly with three questions: enlargement to the East, inner transformations for greater efficiency, and, as NATO Secretary-General Robertson said: 'capabilities, capabilities, capabilities.'  This will prompt the Americans to get promises from the Alliance that the planned Rapid Reaction Force is meant seriously and that it will not weaken the Alliance.  There is the great concern that NATO is turning into a hollow alliance which is at best suited to preserve peace but is unable to act during conflicts and disasters that happen in the Islamic region.  Behind the questions that are being discussed in Reykjavik...are fundamental questions of Europe's architecture.  Europe, even the EU, is not yet a self-supporting construction, and the integration of Europe could happen only within the framework of the Pax Americana....  As an organizational principle, the war on terrorism will not be enough....  In reality the question is to be or not to be:  a hollow, and, in the end, superfluous alliance--or a renewed Atlantic Alliance that guarantees security, anchors the United States in Europe, makes Russia a partner and that keeps the Europeans in a balance with each other."


"Diary Of Alienation"


Washington correspondent Malte Lehming filed the following for centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (5/6):  "Since it has taken office, the Bush administration has flexed its muscles.  Ranging from missile defense to the Kyoto Protocol, from the war in Afghanistan to the plans to oust Saddam Hussein:  in principle, the United States does whatever it likes.  At the beginning, Europe was shocked, but in the meantime, at least the powers-that-be have accepted this.  Every visitor to Washington wears velvet gloves and makes a deep bow.  This feeling of helplessness is being strengthened by the lack of gratitude with which the United States responds to gestures of subordination.  The United States is satisfied with its power.  The agenda is dominated by issues in which Europe does not play a role.  Washington only registers anti-semitic and pro-Palestinian tendencies, because they fit the picture.  The transatlantic gap is widening not because of different interests but because of the self-complacency of the last superpower and the devotions of the Europeans.  The United States is swinging between ignorance and criticism, Europe between ingratiation and resignation.  This combination cannot produce much good."


"Maintaining Appearances"


D. Geers told listeners on national radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (5/3):  "Currently, Americans and Europeans have not too much to say to each other, while they are desperately trying to maintain the nice appearance of close transatlantic cooperation, as they did [at the summit] in Washington....  From a U.S. point of view, the EU is at best a junior partner who has little to offer because military and security policy cooperation in the EU is still in its infancy and all member states do too little to increase their defense budgets....  But the United States urgently needs a corrective, too.  We may only recall Bush's stupid formulation of the axis of evil and the subsequent considerations for a military adventure that could be directed against Iraq."


"Growing Toward America"


Stefan Kornelius stated in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (5/3):  "Washington keeps refusing to acknowledge the political entity growing in Brussels as a full-fledged political partner.  Instead, it is still caught up in the European post-war structures revolving around the antagonistic centers of London and Paris....  However, there are good reasons for the U.S.' ignorance:  Europe is weak when it comes to making political decisions, especially with respect to its armed forces and questions of security.  It also diminishes its potential by enforcing consensus in Brussels and by relying on complicated bureaucratic processes.  But there are exceptions:  Trade Commissioner Lamy has demonstrated how dangerous Brussels can be for the United States.  Europe's sanctions in reaction to U.S. steel tariffs...hurt the Bush administration in a sensitive place--in electoral districts with uncertain Republican majorities, in regions of domestic significance.  Another reason why Europe has been pushed to the margins in the U.S.' political framework is a basic shift in topics and interests, especially with respect to the fight against terror.  A very outspoken part of the U.S. political establishment has turned away from the Old World, because it no longer sees U.S. problems linked to European ones....  It does not help Europe much to lament this shift of focus and loss of standing.  Instead, it needs to ask itself what role it should play in U.S. life and what role the United States should play in European life.  It does not make much sense to give in to readily available anti-American sentiments and then to be surprised to find out that the object of one's scorn has already slipped out of reach and cannot be influenced any longer.  To put it differently: The United States has the problem of having too much power for one nation.  However, Europe's problem is that it is not building up enough power to achieve a balance, develop compromises, and push through alternative strategies for dealing with the world's problems."


"Partnership Without Illusions"


Martin Winter pointed out in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (5/3):  "The prejudice that the Europeans are weaklings and cannot get their act together is nothing new in U.S. politics.  But now this point of view has become a guiding principle of U.S. policy--in part, because Bush is eager to pursue a strategy that makes him popular at home and prevents him from being hamstrung by the restrictions of a true partnership.  In the current situation, it does not come as much of a surprise that Europe, too, has begun to revive outdated stereotypes:  The Americans are unable to find complex answers to complex problems; they are politically inexperienced; they are too clumsy and filled with too much missionary zeal.  In the end, arrogance, no matter on what side, is never a position of strength, and it only deepens the crisis.  The United States and the EU have never before gotten along as badly as right now.  But it is absolutely crucial that the world's biggest and most stable democracies cooperate in order to tackle problems reaching from the social consequences of globalization to the war against terrorism....  What Europe and the United States need is a partnership based on the idea of equality....  But this can work only if both sides abandon illusions.  The United States must realize that it cannot solve the world's problems alone.  Europe must realize that it cannot stay only partially involved in these matters....  The Middle East may teach the United States that strength belongs to the team.  And it may convince the Europeans that the complexity of a problem does not justify hesitation.  The United States must become a little more European, and Europe a little more American."


"Europe's Hubris" 


Jochen Hoenig pointed out in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (5/2):  "The EU has long since established itself as an economic power, and the Americans recognize this.  However, the EU also considers itself an equal in matters of foreign policy.  What the organization is overlooking in this context is that foreign policy influence is largely determined by security resources.  Due to their structures and slim defense budgets, the 15 member countries have only limited resources in this area.  The Europeans are overestimating themselves.  How much the United States needs Europe quickly became obvious after September 11.  [But] while the United States may have the military capability to fight international terrorism alone, it does not have the political resources to do so.  Americans and Europeans are dependent on each other.  In order to foster good relations, the Americans must recognize Europe as an equal partner despite its weaknesses.  At the same time, the Europeans must address the many problems of its shared foreign and security policy." 


ITALY:  "Europe-Russia-U.S., Technical Tests For An Alliance"


A commentary by Aldo Rizzo in centrist, influential La Stampa said (5/6):  "May 2002 might go down in history books as the month when an unprecedented geopolitical bloc concretely emerged--a three-continent bloc formed by America (United States and Canada), Europe and Russia.  Two summits--the Bush-Putin summit in Moscow on May 23, and the NATO-Russia summit in Rome on May 28--are expected to sanction this historic development....  Free-market democracy has reunited Europe, while Putin's Russia is going through the most major turn westward since Peter the Great....  This is the result of the end of Communism and the Cold War that would have remained vague and contradictory had another epoch event--the September 11 attacks--not occurred....  That is what prompted Putin to play his cards for 'Westernization,' and for the West to aim at the political 'acquisition' of Russia....  The prospects are good, as they have never been in the past.  Yet they would be even better if America, Europe and Russia, together, would immediately make their voices heard, by exerting decisive influence regarding the most serious crisis of the moment, between Jews and Muslims in Palestine."


“Why Bush And Prodi Do Not Communicate”


An unsigned column in elite, classical liberal Il Foglio read (5/3):  “The meeting between the American president and the European delegation was an opportunity to verify the scope of the differences among the Western Alliance partners; but it will take more than one meeting to solve them.  The two most critical issues concern the latent trade war and different concepts of how to continue the fight against terrorism.  The extension of market globalization is creating defensive reactions that are leading to new forms of protectionism.  America introduced restraints to imports of steel products and is getting ready to do the same with agriculture products.… The post-9/11 climate is pushing America to move in a unilateral way.… And in Europe there are also protectionist pressures....  There is the risk that, due to these pressures, a retaliatory process will begin that might lead to a trade war....  American unilateralism also stems from the conviction that its European ally is lukewarm in its determination to push an all-out the war against terrorism--for example, to Baghdad.  The two issues, which might seem independent, influence one another.  But power relations are asymmetrical: while the economies can be compared, the political and military powers cannot at all.  This makes an agreement more difficult--an agreement that is convenient for America, but which is indispensable for Europe.”


“America Relaunches The Dispute On Agriculture”


Mario Platero filed from New York in leading business Il Sole 24 Ore (5/3):  “Agriculture adds up to the same total as the tax relief the U.S. government gives to its exporting firms.  And because it violates WTO rules, Europe asked for a 100 percent tariff on the $4 billion worth of American exports....  The thorny issue of American tariffs on steel imports then remains open....  The EU is planning to develop retaliatory measures that are able to hit directly at some of the states that will be very important for the Republicans in the midterm elections.”


BELGIUM:   "The United States Is Resisting"


U.S. correspondent Nathalie Mattheiem opined in left-of-center Le Soir (5/13):  "The success of the special UN General Assembly on Children consisted in not stepping back.  What was achieved with the Convention which was signed in 1990--and which the United States is now the only one refusing to ratify--was preserved.  But it was a meager victory and a tough lesson for the children....  The United States played a key role, siding with the most retrograde countries--the Vatican and Islamic countries--both on questions of sexual health and of death penalty, not fearing becoming the spearhead of conservatism nor confirming its unilateralism."


"Once Again, U.S. Shows It Barely Cares About World Opinion"


Foreign affairs writer Catherine Vuylsteke held in independent De Morgen (5/13):  "Once again, the United States showed, this time at the UN Children's Summit in New York, that it barely cares about world opinion....  Washington does not want to hear about a ratification of the Rights of the Child....  These dangerous American caprioles are unbelievable.  Or, perhaps not: the list of American unilateral diplomatic actions is growing longer.  Think about the (U.S.) resignation from the Kyoto Protocol, the ABM Treaty, the conventions on small arms and biological weapons and the convention on bio-safety.  Or, look at the American rejection of the [ICC] in The Hague and how the Summit for Development in Monterrey failed because the absence of the Americans had to be avoided at any price--cf. the UN Summit on Racism in Durban.  The message is clear now: The United States does not care about the rest of the world--except when it is ravaged by September 11-type disasters and when it threatens everyone with its view that 'those who are not with us are against us.'  However, even that need for friendship is apparently relative--as is clear from the absurd U.S. expenditures on defense.  Much less evident is the question of what Europe--Uncle Sam's best friend after all--should do about that asocial and bullying U.S. behavior....  Europe's passiveness is not without danger: to remain silent is to agree.  The non-Western world sees it that way already.  Ultimately, all Europeans will run the risk of being viewed as 'Americans' and being treated like that.  We are collectively unwelcome because Europe does not have the guts to kick the Americans' shins, although, basically, we would render a service to (the U.S.) by doing that.  Or do you believe that so much flagrant American injustice will remain without a reaction forever?"


"Difficult Issues"


EU affairs writer Bernard Bulcke remarked in independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard (5/2):  "EU Commission President Prodi and EU President Aznar will be received today at the White House for the semi-annual U.S.-EU summit.  Prodi intends to use this opportunity to urge the American president to show more decisiveness vis-à-vis Sharon's government.  Together with the war against terrorism and the current trade conflicts...the Middle East is one of the main items....  Prodi and Aznar must also discuss the war against terrorism....  (Prodi) referred to the cooperation between American police services and Europol, aviation security measures, the freezing of assets of terrorist organizations, but remained completely silent about the difficult negotiations regarding the extradition of suspects....  The other difficult issue is the series of trade conflicts between the EU and the United States--with the American steel tariffs as the most recent offense....  Prodi said that the EU cannot but react against the U.S. import tariffs on steel....  As a matter of fact, the EU is divided over the countermeasures against the United States.  Germany and Sweden, inter alia, believe that the EU must not act too quickly."


DENMARK:   "Avoiding A Transatlantic Trade War"


Apolitical Børsen commented (5/3):  "It would be most unfortunate if the current tensions between the U.S. and the EU developed into a regular trade war....  Just as tariffs are not the answer to dumping, neither is retaliatory action against the U.S....  Agricultural subsidies, both in the U.S. and in the EU, are preventing [much needed] domestic structural changes." 


LITHUANIA:   "Best Friendship Is A Distant Friendship"


Violeta Mickeviciute wrote in second-largest national Respublika (5/7):  "After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center observers were agreeing with politicians and saying in unison 'nothing will be the same.'  Today we should extend the phrase to include 'except the relationship with Europe.'  In the U.S.' eyes, Europeans are still the same emotional Europe-builders lost in search of compromise....  Americans in the eyes of Europeans are no better--they advocate democracy, but cannot get rid of the death penalty; they are quick to judge others, but cannot recognize the [ICC]."


THE NETHERLANDS:  "Agricultural Subsidies"


Influential independent NRC Handelsblad said in its editorial (5/11):  "This week, the United States has taken a step backward on the terrain of agricultural policy....  President Bush has announced that he will sign the bill.  With this, in a short time, he strikes a second blow against free trade.  Last month he announced drastic raises of import tariffs on steel to protect the American steel industry.  The agricultural bill is going even further....  While the EU is occupied with a gradual pushing back of agricultural subsidies, the U.S. chooses the opposite course....  In the longer run, the U.S. is placing international trade institutions at risk....  The Bush administration has made itself impossible as a protagonist of free trade."


SPAIN:  "Condemned To Understand One Another"


Left-of-center El País wrote (5/6):  "[The U.S.-EU summit] advanced, little or not at all, the economic issues, which are the nucleus of the disputes between the two transatlantic parties and the only ones in which both sides share a role, given that in crucial questions of global security only the United States holds the baton....  Nothing relevant was said in Washington about the steel 'war' or the foreign sales corporation--two of the most contentious issues that are poisoning relations now--except for a few vague promises from Bush....  Washington can't pretend to dominate the global economic scene as it controls the military, and the EU is, for good or ill, its only compatible ally in terms of wealth and culture."


"The Transatlantic Agenda"


Centrist La Vanguardia wrote (5/6):  "The summit hasn't produced any grand agreements, but has followed the previously-agreed script....  It hasn't made progress in resolving commercial differences...[but] the United States and the EU are allies because there are more things that unite than separate.  And cooperation shouldn't only be for economic reasons, but because we share democratic values....  [However,] in the interests of both parties, transatlantic relations shouldn't be constantly submitted--as has been the case for the last six months--to unilateral actions that evince a damaging lack of confidence."


"The Summit In Washington"


Conservative La Razon commented (5/3):  "The [U.S.-EU] a magnificent opportunity for George Bush to repair some of the broken ties with his great continental ally and to normalize relationships that have suffered evident distortions in the last months....  Aznar, as the current [EU] president....has the task of reinforcing cooperation in the war on terrorism and within this alliance to call on Bush for new efforts in the fight against ETA.  The U.S. and the EU are firm allies in this war, and the existence of debates and differences...hasn't weakened the commitment, as the course of the meetings yesterday showed....  The commercial aspect is the most thorny and complex issue of the summit...which is looking for a formula to avoid a trade war with the North American giant.  For this reason the EU is trying to resolve in a reasonable time frame the 'steel war' started by Washington, and to convince Bush and his administration to respect the rules of the game."


"Europe And The U.S. After September 11"


Conservative ABC wrote (5/3):  "The annual summit between the U.S. and the EU...confirms full harmony in areas like anti-terrorist cooperation--and the existence of distinct points of view over commercial disputes and the Middle East....  9/11 created a new perception of terrorism as a real threat to democracies, and--thanks to Spain's work convincing [other EU countries]--a transatlantic culture against terrorism...has been created....  The Middle East, however, reveals great differences....  The Americans are unable to understand the sympathy Europeans have towards the Palestinian cause...and the Europeans abhor the methods of Sharon and criticize the laissez-faire attitude of Bush towards his Israeli ally."


TURKEY:  "U.S. Dynamites The Global Order"


Osman Ulagay blasted the farm bill in mass-appeal Milliyet (5/13): "The U.S., driven by its superpower status, continues to ignore the outside world.  By giving political bribes to rich American farmers, Bush is ignoring the reactions of Europeans as well as of the poor countries whose economies are based on agriculture....  In fact, the new farm bill proves that the Bush administration is a champion of protectionism rather than free trade....  The U.S. under the Bush administration makes rules and imposes them on Turkey and other countries sometimes directly, sometimes via the IMF.  Yet the same U.S. does not observe any of these rules....  One wonders if the U.S. will eventually be faced with a crisis simply because it ignores the rules and principles that it asks others to obey."



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