November 10, 2004
TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS IN BUSH II: CAN THE 'FRACTURE' BE FIXED?
** Bush's re-election leaves a "question mark" over Atlantic ties and the EU's future.
** European leaders seem to be waiting for Bush "to make the first move" to improve ties.
** Some hope for "balanced" partnership; for others, the "value gap" with U.S. is too wide.
A 'new chapter' for U.S., Europe?-- Following President Bush's re-election, European dailies lacked consensus on how the "misunderstanding...on both sides of the Atlantic" might be repaired. Some asserted that both sides "have valid reasons to reconcile" and that Europe and the U.S. still "need each other." Washington will need "its historical allies to tackle some of its key challenges," particularly Iraq, stated Spain's left-of-center El País. A centrist Polish daily contended the electoral outcome "has convinced the EU states that the Bush presidency is not a four-year episode" and that Europe now "cannot afford to maintain cold relations" with the U.S. Other analysts called for a "lucid and realistic" analysis of U.S.-European relations, asserting that the need to recognize the "common challenges and how we deal with them should transcend personal preferences and ideologies."
Bush: 'the invisible guest' at the party-- More widespread was a feeling of uncertainty about achieving rapprochement. While "every European leader" expects an improvement in relations, papers noted that following their recent summit, EU leaders appear to be waiting for Bush "to make the first move." This, according to a German commentator, is just: Bush can decide if he will be a "merciless neo-conservative imperialist or...a global leader" demonstrating responsibility; "it is up to Bush to emphasize reconciliation or to continue his alleged mission and divide the world as he has" the U.S. France's right-of-center Le Figaro agreed: Why should the initiative to fix transatlantic relations come from Europe, "when the divisions came from America’s intervention in Iraq?" A German contrarian held instead that Europeans needed to show "diplomatic courage" and "take the initiative" to rebuild ties.
'Optimism is not appropriate'-- Skeptics believed that "much will not change" because the "trench between Europe and America has now widened even more." The "values gap" between the two "is growing, rather than shrinking." Europeans look on Bush's voters as "bigot crusaders, while Europeans are godless cowards" in American eyes. Norway's newspaper of record Aftenposten declared it was "wishful thinking" to believe Bush would be "more cooperative," adding that Europeans had to "stand fast" in their convictions about international cooperation, "the inviolability of international law...and the dangers" of unilateralism. The "old claim of the U.S. to lead" the Western alliance has been "shaken," these writers concluded, and "returning to a transatlantic alliance based on the model of pre-9/11 is perfectly unrealistic." Iraq "will continue to poison" the Atlantic partnership. Transatlantic relations, one outlet said, must be based on "as much cooperation as necessary and as much autonomy as possible."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 39 reports from 18 countries November 4-10, 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "NATO Is A Threat To Europe And Must Be Disbanded"
Columnist Jonathan Steele wrote in the left-of-center Guardian (11/8): "NATO gives the U.S. a significant instrument for moral and political pressure. Europe is automatically expected to tag along in going to war, or in the post-conflict phase, as in Afghanistan or Iraq. Who knows whether Iran and Syria will come next? Bush has four more years in power and there is little likelihood that his successors in the White House will be any less interventionist."
"A Disaster In The Making For Europe"
William Keegan commented in the center-left Observer (Internet version, 11/7): "We should be grateful for Tony Blair's advice on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election...'America has spoken. The rest of the world should listen.'... If it was [a message to European leaders], it wasn't a very tactful way for our prime minister to attempt to resume his rather feeble bridge-building activities between the Bush administration and continental Europe. If anybody is in a state of denial, it is Blair himself--not merely over the risks [to] his continued leadership of the Labor Party...--but also about the degree of his influence on Bush. True, the re-elected U.S. president has promised to 'reach out'. But on past form that will only be to punch Europeans and the UK in the face.... As a senior Bush aide has proclaimed: 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality'.... Yes, under George W. Bush the U.S. does not need to make disaster movies any more; they just create real disasters.... According to our prime minister...'there was a real sense that in the second term the president has space and energy to develop an agenda that I hope can unify Europe and America'.... One early test will be Iran. Serious U.S. commentators are divided between those who think that the Washington neo-cons have learned lessons in Iraq, and those who fear they wish to follow their adventures in Iraq with an invasion of Iran.... I have heard alarming suggestions that Blair has been talking in private about the possibility of some sort of strike against Iran. This would be the last straw for his relations with the rest of Europe, not to say his own party. So we must be reassured by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's firm declaration last week that he did not see 'any circumstances' that would justify such a move. The prime minister hopes for progress from Bush on Israel and Palestine. We shall see. There is precious little evidence from Washington to justify such hopes. Indeed, when Bush removed the rug of his 'road map' policy from beneath the feet of Tony Blair earlier this year, Blair was so embarrassed that he came home and changed the subject, announcing that we would have a referendum on the European constitution."
"Suddenly, The Atlantic Has Become A Whole Lot Wider"
Associate editor Philip Stephens argued in the independent Financial Times (11/5): "Part of the shift owes as much to a natural erosion of the bonds forged by the cold war as to American policy during the past two or three years. Europe no longer needs the U.S. to guarantee its very existence; and the threats to America's security lie further afield. Mr. Bush has simply discarded other long-term assumptions. Washington no longer sees a strategic interest in fostering European integration; it sees multilateralism as a constraint on, rather than a multiplier of, U.S. power; NATO is viewed as a military tool instead of an expression of deeper political solidarity."
FRANCE: "America Will Have To Change"
Jean-Francois Poncet, former foreign minister, opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/10): “President Bush will not be able to ignore the harsh international realities America has had to face since its intervention in Iraq...and the political reality of its deteriorating image abroad, especially in the Middle East...its deteriorating relations with its allies and of the crumbling coalition hastily built in Iraq.... In the Middle East, but also in Iran, the U.S. will need Europe. Europe will not refuse to help, but there will be two conditions: a closer association in defining a global Middle East policy, and a re-evaluation of all the issues which are weighing on transatlantic relations. Is President Bush ready for this aggiornamento (fresh start)? It is clear that a new and balanced transatlantic relationship is necessary for world peace.”
Denis Jeambar opined in right-of-center weekly L’Express (11/8): “The misunderstanding which has settled on both sides of the Atlantic has deep ideological and political roots.... What is the number one purpose of politics? By re-electing President Bush the American people have reminded us that it is domestic and foreign security.... The fact that for the past 50 years Europe’s construction has not been able to give birth to a joint army proves to what extent we have forgotten that peace is a rare commodity, costly and temporary, which we must protect incessantly.... Our incomprehension in the face of President Bush’s re-election stems from our political paralysis. Bin Laden and terrorism have put foreign security at the heart of the American voter’s preoccupation. The president was able to answer this preoccupation with the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. This last conflict, which the Europeans have condemned, has become the key to the security of every American.... President Bush is at war to protect his country and guarantee democracy in the world. His re-election will re-enforce his beliefs and his strategy. If we do not make the effort to understand this, it is clear that the fracture between the U.S. and Europe will worsen.”
"For A Transatlantic Europe"
Bruno Tertrais remarked in left-of-center Liberation (11/8): “We in Europe need to become more lucid and realistic about foreign policy.... It is quite doubtful that President Bush will feel magnanimous after his electoral victory and offer Europe an olive branch.... This is not about denying the political and cultural differences which separate a majority of Americans from a majority of Europeans. This is about recognizing that common challenges and how we deal with them should transcend personal preferences and ideologies. President Bush’s re-election is a test for Europe: will it harp on the divergences or deal with reality? This is Europe’s moment of truth.”
"Bush II: A Major Challenge For Europe"
Nicole Gnesotto of the Institute for EU Security Issues posited in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/8): “While we may regret the cultural fracture which has settled between the two closest allies of the 20th century...we can also feel concern about the political repercussions of this cultural and moral rift between the two continents.... Every European leader is expecting a new phase of transatlantic cooperation to emerge from the new Bush presidency.... But why should the initiative come from the Europeans, when the divisions came from America’s intervention in Iraq? The ball to bridge these differences is in the hands of the Americans.... But whatever the attitude adopted by the U.S., arrogance or international cooperation, returning to a transatlantic alliance based on the model of pre-9/11 is perfectly unrealistic.... The EU’s internal divisions over Iraq have essentially deprived the U.S. of the help they might have expected from their European allies. While these divisions may have hampered the emergence of a political Europe, they have also essentially reduced America’s means. Considering America’s position in Iraq, one hopes that the ideologues will be able to interpret the situation.”
"Europe Hopes For A New Transatlantic Partnership"
Luc de Barochez commented in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/5): “Arafat’s agony is leading the EU to hope that Washington will put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict back into the forefront of its international policy. Most EU leaders have asked the newly re-elected president to cooperate with the EU in order to bring stability to the Middle East.... But the EU has offered nothing in exchange, except the strict minimum for Iraq. The Iraqi question continues to divide the Europeans...who also believe that the Middle East is the main issue over which the transatlantic partnership should be built.... But the Bush administration has made it clear that it will be more attentive to the EU only if the Europeans help the U.S. in Iraq.... It is clear that Iraq will continue to poison transatlantic relations.”
GERMANY: "Crash Course in European Studies"
Stefan Ulrich commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (11/6): "With Eastern enlargement done, the Constitution signed, and the new Commission in place, the European Union should be able to breathe freely again. But there is no time to do so. New obstacles are barring its way. This time it is not internal affairs, but major crises in the field of foreign policy. Iraq, Iran, and Palestine--they will keep the EU busy over the next few years. This is not all there is: the Old Continent has to keep battling with George Bush of the New World for another four years. Relations with the United States were the one topic that the EU summit was worrying about outside the official agenda.... [Commission President-designate] Barroso's good relationship with the U.S. president offers a chance to improve things. Yet Europe's governments continue to follow differing concepts. Tony Blair decided to use an interview to advise his partners: 'America has spoken. The rest of the world should listen.' Meanwhile, France has demanded to set up a counterforce. Everything will now depend on whether the new President Bush is not simply the old one. Should he decide to stay the course of confrontation, some EU states will feel obliged to establish, if not a counterforce, then at least an additional force. However, it is also quite conceivable that a common enemy will soon force the United States and Europe to move closer together. Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's spiritual leader, said in Friday's sermon yesterday: 'Our country does not reach for the nuclear bomb, our country is the nuclear bomb.'"
"Tony Blair Is Wrong"
Rainer Burchardt commented on national radio station "Deutschlandfunk" of Cologne (11/6): "There is a reason why George W. Bush feels strengthened in his strict unilateralism that could even reach isolationism. That is why upright U.S. vassal Tony Blair is totally wrong with his assessment that Europeans should finally move closer to the United States. The opposite is true. It was Bush who deepened the transatlantic trench. Europe must now activate more than its self-assertiveness. This refers to the economy but also to the military, let alone moral values.... The good, old Europe would be ill-advised if it gave up its wise and critical course right now. In addition, it would be important that the European Constitution...be implemented as soon as possible, allowing Europe to speak with more than with one voice. The motto of transatlantic relations must be: as much cooperation as necessary and as much autonomy as possible."
"Lack Of Understanding To Continue"
Center-right Nordsee-Zeitung of Bremerhaven had this to say (11/6): "It is not surprising that both the United States and the European Union consider the U.S. vote the right time for an improvement of relations. They suffered a lot since the old and new U.S. president instigated the Iraq war. Now it is necessary to make a new beginning. But what should it look like? And how could relations improve if the basic positions remain unchanged? Bush is only talking about explaining his policy better than before. This shows that the U.S. president is not tormented by any self-doubt. That is why the dialogue with the European critics will not lead too far. In the end, a lack of understanding...will prevail on both sides."
Right-of-center Pforzheimer Zeitung wrote (11/5): "Where to go, Europe? The prospect for four more Bush years with all thinkable foreign policy implications should be reason enough for the European leaders to work with all force for turning Europe not only into one economic area but also make it independent in foreign and security policies of the United States, a country that ignores the United Nations, tramples on international law and evades international jurisdiction. Europeans should distance themselves from this America and offer themselves as a reliable partner to the rest of the world, which acts according to the rules of the international community. The only path to overcome the great threats in the world, leads via the United Nations. Bush is marching in the opposite direction. It is one thing to help him if he recognizes his mistake, it is another to join him."
"Diplomatic Courage Needed"
Center-right Leipziger Volkszeitung opined (11/5): "Instead of waiting for decisions from the United States, German foreign policy must take the initiative, first and foremost towards the Bush administration, not in a toadying, know-it-better way but out of global responsibility."
Guenter Nonnenmacher opined in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/5): "Much will not change in transatlantic relations. If we look at the reasons for the vote that caused Bush's victory...the allegation could be made that the trench between Europe and America has now widened even more. In Europe, many consider Bush voters bigot crusaders, while Europeans are godless cowards for Americans. Hopefully, this will not again burden the level of governmental talks as it did before the Iraq war, but the mood has not improved after these elections. It is right that the world would be safer if America and Europe worked closer together. But of what use is an agreement on a goal if the path to this goal remains controversial?"
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg argued (11/5): "George W. Bush's re-election signals a cut for the Europeans that should not be underestimated. The question must be raised in European governments, but also in public, what should and what can link Europe and the United States in the future. Even if the president showed himself more conciliatory in the future, a return to former habits in the transatlantic Alliance will be unlikely. The old claim of the United States to lead is shaken and the issue of a common European foreign policy is top on the list in Brussels--and will not disappear even if the disunited Europeans needed many years before they would be capable of acting together.... Many critics of U.S. policy reiterated again and again that they are not opposed to America but to Bush. Now Bush is re-elected.... Europe has close cultural relations with the United States, but they reach primarily to the large cities on the East and the West Coast that elected Kerry...while the conservative America or the religious South is at best known in economic circles. For the majority of Europeans, this is terra incognita. The most recent elections have shown that this part of the U.S society is getting increasingly important. It is high time that Europe gets more curious about America's provinces."
"The Usefulness Of Optimism"
Bettina Vestring judged in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (11/5): "Optimism is not appropriate for the analysis of the future U.S. policy, while it is indispensable for political practice. There will never be a peace process for the Middle East that will deserves the name if there is no transatlantic cooperation. Without this cooperation, it would be much more difficult to slow down the distribution of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. If Europe and the United States are having a feud, then this will reduce the attractiveness of democracy in the rest of the world and also weaken the fight against terrorism. NATO...cannot survive such a division for too long. And those who dream about a Europe becoming a counter power to America should wake up quickly: if Europeans oppose Americans, they will mainly divide Europe itself. Only an optimist can think that Bush can change and that is why he is the only one who can reach out to the new president."
"Europe And America"
Washington correspondent Ingolf Karnahl commented on regional radio station rbb 88.8 of Berlin (11/4): "George W. Bush...can decide on his own how he wants to enter the history books: as merciless neo-conservative imperialist or as a global leader showing a feeling of responsibility and a willingness for peace. This is true for the fight against terrorism but also for a future perspective for the Middle East, the treatment of Iran and North Korea's nuclear program, climate protection and other international treaties. We Europeans are involved in all these issues. But our influence will remain small, as long as Bush does not moderate himself but pins his hopes on threatening military force and does not shy away from unilateral moves. The allies are waiting for a signal that they will be included more than in the past, as Chancellor Schroeder said in his congratulatory telegram. He knows that there will be no cordial relationship between him and the man in the White House, but political challenges must be resolved anyway and one will be a real partner only if one is taken seriously. That is why it is up to Bush to emphasize reconciliation or to continue his alleged mission and divide the world as he has done with his own country."
ITALY: "The Allies And The Unhealed Rift"
Franco Venturini opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (11/7): “If it’s true that in politics as well 'a good start is the guarantee for good results,' then the first European summit following the re-election of George W. Bush did very little to fulfill expectations of improved transatlantic relations.... With the exception of Blair and Berlusconi, the principal protagonists of the European scenario seemed to tell Bush that they’re waiting for him to make the first move for a new transatlantic course.... The inevitable conclusion following George Bush’s re-election is that the game of transatlantic relations is being played out amidst great peril.”
AUSTRIA: "Mourning And Hope"
Foreign editor Georg Hoffamnn-Ostenhof editorialized in independent political weekly Profil (11/9): "Much as George Bush may feel that the American people have confirmed him in his global go-it-alone strategy: in order to find a way out of the Iraqi hotspot, he needs Europe after all. America's truculent alliance partners could specify conditions for their assistance in the Iraqi crisis, and those could include demanding a U.S. change of course in the Middle East policy to put pressure on Israel to return to the negotiation table with the Palestinians."
"U.S -- Europe: Worlds Apart"
Senior editor Erhard Stackl editorialized in independent Der Standard (11/5): “So Strong are the Christian fundamentalists in the U.S that, according to liberal commentators, the only chance for a return to power of the Democrats, who are currently preaching tolerance, is to adopt the fundamentalists’ basic values. The situation in Europe is totally different: when the Italian Christian Democrat and advisor to the Pope Buttiglione encountered resistance among the leftist and liberal members of the EU Parliament, he did not even get sufficient backing from the conservatives. Nobody questioned his right to hold traditional Catholic convictions. However, according to the European concept of state, there is consensus that religion is a private matter.... Of course, there are those in Europe that argue for a rapprochement with the U.S in this regard, just as during the cold war the so-called pro-Atlanticists went along with every move of U.S politics. However, it seems to be easier for Europeans to agree to the deployment of missiles or give up smoking if they must than to make religious faith rather than reason the basis of their political action.”
BELGIUM: "Four More Years"
Foreign editor Jean Vanempten commented in financial daily De Tijd (11/8): "The Americans have voted for four more years of the same. That is obvious. The frustrating thing is that not only the Americans but also the Europeans will have to bear the consequences. It is difficult to predict what the United States and the world will look like in 2008."
"The Atlantic Gap"
Chief editor Michel Konen had this to day in independent La Libre Belgique (11/8): "Everything...indicates that [Bush] will not change course.... Of course, he will hold out his hands, but only to those who share his objectives. It is as if George Bush--whom experts predicted would be a colorless president--had received the revelation on September 11, 2001, that he had a mission for mankind, and as if a large part of American public opinion had also become convinced that they had to convert the rest of the world to their values. Since the almost 15 years and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States and Europe have been constantly disagreeing in their analysis on the future of the planet. The role of religion in politics, disagreements on the Kyoto Protocol, death penalty, homosexual marriage, and terrorism: there is a long list of issues on which both sides of the Atlantic do not agree. Some are even speaking of a schism. 'In this sense, George Bush--and America--appears as a genuine challenge for Europe. The latter is often passive, following the evolution of the world rather than leading it, and discovering problems when the United States addresses them. We hope that this American president--and this America--will force the Old Continent to wake up and to take its responsibilities."
CROATIA: "Blair In New Reconciliation Mission"
Bruno Lopandic wrote in Zagreb-based, government-owned Vjesnik (11/9): “It is logical to expect that Bush will, in his second mandate, work on relations with Europe, without whose partnership he objectively cannot do, including the most important strategic issue, fight against terrorism. Regarding Iraq, continuation of the security limbo will in the end force Bush to agree to concessions, but will also force the until-yesterday opponents to the war to get involved in recovery of the situation in Iraq.... Both the U.S. and the EU have valid reasons for the reconciliatory course. The only question is whether they have learned valid lessons from the past four years.”
HUNGARY: "Remains In The Family?"
Liberal columnist Laszlo Seres pointed out in center-left Nepszabadsag (11/5): “A recurring theme, either explicit or implied, of [European] congratulations [to President Bush on his re-election] has been the hope that American foreign and security policy will change, so that closer cooperation between Europe and America becomes possible.... However, as soon as it comes to voicing the common interests that come from the much talked-about common values, the transatlantic family model fails right away. In spite of how divided Europe was on the Iraq issue; to the extent the Union was unable to come up with some sort of a sound and coordinated foreign policy strategy; and finally in spite of the fact that the EU constitution envisions a shared foreign policy and a shared foreign minister for the 25 [members], we have not really heard that, perhaps the European approach also might have something to self-correct.... Through its actions and gestures, Washington could express that it does consider Europe a partner; and the Union could make it clear that it is not constructing Europe’s identity in confrontation with America. Multilateralism is a very useful and rational principle--if proponents of freedom, human rights and democracy keep coordinating, based on the shared system of values, on what there is to do. If the dispute does remain in the family.”
"Old President, New Chapter"
Foreign affairs writer Eva Elekes concluded in left-of-center Nepszava (11/5): “It is highly unlikely that President Bush wants to go down in history as the president of multilateral dialogue and reasonable compromises. The 'wise old men'...are also recommending a change in direction. European leaders, who are congratulating Bush while gritting their teeth, are also encouraging him to do that. One after the other, they express their hope that, in the future, the U.S. president will seek ways of transatlantic cooperation and return to international institutions.... Judging from his stance during his first four years, the president does not intend to win a popularity contest in the international community, but rather to proceed on his own path.”
IRELAND: "U.S. Foreign Policy After The Election"
The center-left Irish Times editorialized (11/8): “There was continuing concern about the consequences of his re-election for U.S.-European relations. This mirrors similar concerns elsewhere in the world. Mr. Bush must decide now how he will respond to them in terms of policy, style and the appointment of his new administration. A great deal will depend on his decisions for the international power, influence and standing of the United States.... There is not much here to reassure European and other leaders concerned that if there is more continuity than change in U.S. foreign policy the world is in for a turbulent and contentious four years. In Brussels the debate on how to respond to a second Bush term arose across a span of issues, from the weakening dollar to the imminent assault on Fallujah and aid to Iraq, and the central question of a new peace initiative in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The political dynamics of second-term presidencies are different to first term ones. Mr. Bush no longer has to cultivate his Republican base aggressively, as he did so successfully in the presidential campaign, but can afford to seek a more lasting historical reputation at home and abroad. He may have more leeway internationally than on domestic policy. He will also be more constrained in his foreign policy by stiffening opposition in Europe and Asia to the unilateral exercise of U.S. military power without political support. Despite his electoral triumph, the U.S. has lost much influence, respect--and therefore power--over the last four years, which it needs to regain between now and 2008.”
NORWAY: "EU In The Shadow Of Iraq And Iran"
The newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (11/6): “The hope of a new beginning for a better cooperation across the Atlantic colored the European leaders’ congratulations and comments to President Bush’s reelection in the United States.... In Brussels it became clear that both the United States and the EU are facing difficult problems in the Middle East. The Americans are not progressing in their work to create stable conditions in Iraq and are now preparing new military actions. It is not known to what degree they feel that the United States needs support from the entire EU, and not just from single countries, to achieve the best possible conditions for the January elections and for a new economic upswing in Iraq. It is only when the Unites States goes for a better dialogue with the Europeans on the means and methods in Iraq and the Middle East in general--the way Tony Blair has demanded--that we can start talking of an actual approach.... In Iraq and Iran we get a glimpse of the contours of a mutual American-European need for support when the problems of reality come closer. But, what’s still lacking is mutual sensitivity across the Atlantic. This is something we have seen far too little of over the past few years.”
"Four New Years With Bush"
The newspaper of record Aftenposten held (11/4): “We agree with the America-experts who claim it is wishful thinking when certain Norwegian politicians believe that we will see in the coming four years a president who is more cooperative in foreign policy. The situation in the U.S. can lead to us here in Norway seeing a stronger need to cooperate and coordinate our foreign--and security policy with the EU.... The U.S. is very important for Norway.... It is just as important that we stand fast over our convictions about the significance of international cooperation, the inviolability of international law and human rights, and the dangers of acting unilaterally.”
POLAND: "Lonely France"
Jedrzej Bielecki wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (11/6): “‘The European Union warmly congratulates President George Bush on his election victory.’... At first glance, the Friday statement adopted by the leaders of the 25 states looks like another set of diplomatic clichés. But it’s not. The cordial tone of the letter reflects the change in EU-U.S. relations. The outcome of the elections has convinced the EU states that the Bush presidency is not a four-year episode caused by a wrong recount in Florida, but instead marks America’s evident shift to the right. With this in mind, Europe cannot afford to maintain cold relations with the White House. Everyone but France’s President Jacques Chirac seems to be convinced of that.”
SLOVAKIA: "Will Bush Step Out Of His Own Shadow?"
Adrian Peter Pressburg wrote in centrist Narodna Obroda (11/8): "Reelected U.S. President George W. Bush wishes to end the dispute with the Democrats and his foreign allies and to proceed jointly in the most important areas of interest.... The European partners in NATO would also like to move away from aggravated confrontation toward more conciliatory measures.... Bush did not indicate in which areas he would be willing to take into consideration the objections of the European allies toward the war in Iraq. He did not even invite them to a dialogue on amalgamating U.S. and European views on dealing with the terrorist threat.... Bush should not start to exert pressure on the European allies so that they attach themselves to him more unequivocally and militarily. His doctrine for the democratization of Afghanistan and the countries of the Middle East will not be acceptable in the Arab world unless he rids it of the label Made in USA. The moderate majority of the Muslim world's population would welcome reforms if they were to incorporate not only Bush-U.S. ideas, but also European, Arab, and Islamic ideas."
"Europe Humiliated Itself"
Editor Peter Javurek contended in the influential center-right daily SME (11/5): “If Europe wants to be a partner of the U.S., it has to recall that its ideals are identical to American ones, and if they differ, they differ in the way they are realized. These ideals were demonstrated when the Americans were fighting for their independence together with non-feudal Europe. We can speak of common transatlantic ideals even if it looks like a fight between the U.S. and Europe.... Europe should not be satisfied with just avoiding bloodshed on its own soil.... We should stop speaking about helping Americans in Iraq and start thinking about helping Iraq itself--in the name of the same ideals. Of course, all this is possible only if we speak about Europe in the singular, and only when we stop this primitive competition over who loves or hates America more (speaking of the present U.S. president), and if we realize that the common market is not enough to defend our ideals. The lesson from this election is clear: Europe cannot forget how humiliating it was waiting for a new inhabitant of the White House.”
SPAIN: "Foreseeable Encounter"
Conservative ABC editorialized (11/10): "Naturally, the interview [between U.S. President Bush and former Prime Minister Aznar] was a political gesture, with repercussions in a complex situation: the bilateral relations between the governments in Washington and Madrid are not going through their best moment, in a good part due to the errors, in form and substance, of the socialist Executive.... Bush, who still has not talked personally with Zapatero after November 2, prefers to talk first, face to face, with Aznar. It is an eloquent gesture of the harmful distance that separates Madrid from Washington, and that would be the same whether or not Aznar visited the Oval Office."
Left-of-center El País opined (11/7): "Maybe the relationship with Europe will define the second Bush administration. Washington is going to need its historical allies to tackle some of its key challenges. Overall the war in Iraq. It's unthinkable that the stabilization of the Arab world can happen without a huge international alliance that grants to the future regime the legitimacy that the U.S. attacks can't give. But the EU is also essential in Iran, and in the consolidation of Afghanistan. It's unthinkable, for example, that difficult processes, such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, can be managed without a transatlantic understanding in the critical moments that are approaching. A good amount of humility on both sides is necessary, because the world of the 21st century is not necessarily going to be built on exclusively European or American molds. European leaders should resist the temptation of creating from anti-Americanism an ideology.... It should be clear as daylight for Europe that in recent years, and in spite of its rhetoric, it has needed American military intervention to resolve bloody matters such as that in the Balkans. Everybody must realize that the EU and the U.S. need each other."
"Four More Years"
Centrist La Vanguardia concluded (11/5): "The Iraqi conflict must not impede the improvement of relations between the U.S. and the European Union, and, of course, between the U.S. and Spain. In the last months, Washington minded its words, avoiding the repetition of Rumsfeld's clumsy choice between the 'Old' and 'New' Europe. Obviously, however, the effort must be mutual."
SWEDEN: "Bush Victory Put A Damper On EU Top Meeting"
Ingrid Hedstrom observed in independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter (Internet version, 11/7): "There was an invisible guest that spoiled the mood at the EU top meeting in Brussels: George Walker Bush. While EU leaders await information on which policies Bush will pursue during his second mandate period, a large, dark question mark is hanging over EU's future as a world player and over the union's ability to stick together on foreign policy. Everything would have felt easier if John Kerry had won the election. It is the only reasonable explanation why the top meeting in Brussels felt so gloomy. The mood was as sullen as a bus stuck at a red light on Monday morning. None of the 25 EU leaders took any initiative, no one took the lead, no one had anything interesting to say.... The EU leaders sent 'warm congratulations' to George W. Bush and declared that they look forward to working with him, 'including in multilateral institutions,' at the same time as they emphasized that transatlantic collaboration 'is based on common values.' But if the past few weeks have shown anything, it is actually that there is a values gap between the EU and the United States and that it is growing rather than shrinking.... While the newly expanded EU's 25 members carefully move closer together in their daily work, mutual foreign policy and their relationship with the United States are still areas filled with landmines that can crack European unity. Now Bush has been re-elected with a mandate that more than ever comes from voters who think it is good to have a president who feels that he has received his mission from God. Until more information comes, one can only speculate as to what that will entail in the future for the United State's actions in multilateral institutions and in relation to the EU."
SYRIA: "Iraq And Transatlantic Relations"
Adham al-Tawil commented in government-owned Tishreen (11/7): "Observers are skeptical of the possibility that the American-European relations will really improve during President Bush's second term despite statements from the European summit in Brussels about the importance of transatlantic relations. A careful reading of the positions of the big European leaders shows that political differences across the Atlantic are likely to deepen, not the other way round.... Both sides on the banks of the Atlantic should realize that Bush's return, with whatever ideology, will not change the facts of the American predicament in Iraq and the tragedy that the Iraqi people are experiencing unless this return offers a clear and explicit vision on how to address this predicament, a vision that convinces the Americans, the Iraqis, and the Europeans. Otherwise, the world will not tolerate another four lean years of Bush's rule."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Europe Must Face Reality"
The business-oriented Australian Financial Review concluded (11/10): “The hollow symbolism surrounding the recent signing in Rome by European leaders of the draft EU constitution...poses the question of whether Europe’s political leaders have lost touch with reality. So does the peevish reaction of some of these leaders to the re-election of President Bush and talk of the need for Europe to 'balance' American global power. If their goal is to become a strategic counterforce to the U.S. in world affairs, they should not have put their names to the draft constitution. If it survives...to be ratified by all 25 EU member states, Europe will be formally bound to its alliance with the U.S. At British insistence, the constitution gives primacy in defense and strategic affairs to the NATO alliance.... It would be better for everyone if European leaders focused less on U.S. policy shortcomings and more on correcting their own errors in economic policy. While Europe lags so far behind the U.S. and rapidly gets over taken by China and India, the idea that it could become a counterweight to U.S. strategic power is derisory.”
CHINA: "Europe Fixes The Split With The U.S."
Yao Li commented in the official Communist Party international news publication Global Times
(Huanqiu Shibao) (11/8): “Though U.S.-Europe relations are frustrated, as traditional allies, they still have many common political and economic interests.... The split mainly manifests on the future world’s development strategy and social modes. The U.S. pursues a unilateral world with the U.S. as sole hegemon, and the EU advocates a multilateral world and more equality and democracy in international relations.... EU countries are more doubtful about the U.S.’ social mode, a society with the law of the jungle.... However the divergences do not influence the general situation of U.S.-EU relations.... They still are highly dependent on each other economically.... Thus for over a year the two have drained their efforts to fix the split caused by the Iraq war.... But whether relations can return to the state before the Iraq war depends on what kind of foreign policy Bush conducts in the future. What’s more, whether or not the EU can endeavor to increase dialogue with the U.S. and set up a more balanced relation with the U.S. will also have an influence on relations. On this point, Bush’ s reelection may possibly promote the EU integration process to a certain extent. Balanced transatlantic relations are a good thing for the world.”
CANADA: "Living With Bush"
The conservative National Post opined (11/9): "The pragmatic approach that Mr. Bush appears to be adopting is a sensible one. During his first term, he was correct to reject the moralizing of the United Nations and the European Union. But the age of unbridled unilateralism is over: if the president wants to neutralize the next big terror-threat nations, and if the international community wants him to do it cooperatively, both must learn to work together. The easy military targets are gone, and the next challenges in the war on terror--stripping Iran and North Korea of their nuclear weapons programs and stopping Saudi funding of the jihadis--cannot be met through invasions. To reach these goals, Mr. Bush will need foreign support in a way he did not against Afghanistan and Iraq. Such cooperation, though, must be a two-way street--and not every foreign leader seems eager to go down it. French President Jacques Chirac, for one, has already chosen to rebuff Mr. Bush's overtures of reconciliation, visiting dying Palestinian dictator Yasser Arafat...instead of greeting Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, an ally of the U.S. president. Thankfully, other European heads of government have not been so short-sighted. The leaders of Spain, Germany and Russia--all of whom have been cool at times to the U.S. president--have pledged to forget old fights and move forward. This is the world's best hope of bringing Mr. Bush around to multilateralism."
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