May 14, 2002
U.S.-EUROPEAN RELATIONS: FAMILIAR IRRITANTS, NEW CHALLENGES
"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."
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."
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 protocols...at 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.
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
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.
'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
"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
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 commitment...to 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
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."
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
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 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
"No Rift, But Summit Will Be More Tense
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
"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."
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."
"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
"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."
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
"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."
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
"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
“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
“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
"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?"
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."
"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."
"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]."
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."
"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] summit...is 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
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."
"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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