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1 8 Historically Speaking ยท June 2002 John L. Harper America and Europe: Before and after September 1 1 , 200 1 Stripped to its bare essentials, the postWorld War? transadantic relationship amounts to an American protectorate over Europe, invited and to a degree shaped by the Europeans themselves. The protectorate has served a double purpose: promoting peace and harmony among the European states as well as counterbalancing Russian power. Commentators and policymakers have "cried wolf" manytimes about these arrangements , especially since the fall of the Berlin Wall. According to Professor Stephen Walt, writing in 1999: deep structural forces . . . are already beginning to pull Europe and America apart. Instead of becoming the core of an expanding security community, united by liberal values, free markets, and strong international institutions, the transadantic partnership diat fought and won the Cold War is already showing unmistakable signs of strain. No matter how many new states join NATO, and no matter how many solemn reaffirmations emerge from the endless parade ofNATO summits, the high-water mark of transadantic security cooperation is past. Unfortunately for Walt's analysis, several months after its appearance the U.S. led NATO to victory in Kosovo. The Australian analyst Coral Bell compared the war to a "bolt oflightening" revealingEurope's basicweaknesses and America's likely predominance for the next forty years. Whether or not one agrees with Bell on Kosovo, itis striking that the U.S. protectorate has not been called into serious question since 1989. This has to dowith several assumptions, widely (though not universally) held in Washington and European capitals. First, the U.S. acting through NATO continues to be Europe's indispensable organizer and "pacifier ." Left to their own devices (as initially in the Balkans), the European Union (EU) states are unlikely to form an effective coalition, and national rivalries could reemerge. Despite lip service to the notion ofthe "democraticpeace" (Uberai democracies don't fight each other), Washington believes that, in the final analysis , peace rests not on democracy but on hierarchy . Second, a largely unspoken assumption, though it is clearly evident in repeated U.S. warnings against an EU "caucus" or bloc within NATO, is that the EU might actually coalesce to the point that it could seriously challenge the U.S., for example, on policy toward the Middle East and Russia. Gone are the days when a U.S. presidentcould wish (as Eisenhower did) that Europe would become "a third greatpowerbloc." Forthe U.S. today, NATO constitutes a ceiling beyond which purelyEuropean integration cannotgo. Third, most European states prefer that the U.S. remain the leading power on the continent as an insurance policy against Russia, and trust the U.S. as pacifier-protector more than the Bush'sJanuary 2002 'axis ofevil9 speech was a rude awakeningfor those who believed that September 11 had brought the two sides of the Atlantic . . . closer together. putative alternatives, Germany or the EU. Equally striking is the convergence in the past several years ofa set ofcontroversies with the potential to provoke serious transadantic disagreement. The Bush administration's refusal to support the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (all American initiatives ) has provoked European charges of unilateralism and hypocrisy. Such questions will not bring a breakdown in relations, but fuel a crisis oflegitimacyofU.S. leadership in Europe and the development of a collective political will on the part ofthe EU. Trade disputes , meanwhile, will persist (even ifhistory suggests they are manageable), and the common currencywill have strategic implications, tending to promote European cohesion and competition with the U.S. Both sides have assumed that the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), withits aim to create a 60,000 man rapid reaction force, will proceed. The Europeans have avoided provoking the U.S. by insisting on a formal caucus inNATO, andWashington has not been so foolish as to try to cripple ESDP. But the Americans are clearly irritated by European pretensions and fearaweakeningof NATO. Whether it works or doesn't work, ESDP could spell trouble down the line. Washington has opposed "ProjectGalileo," a plan to free Europe from dependency on the Pentagon's Global Positioning System (GPS) bybuildingits own satellite-based GPS. Europeans are reminded ofde...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6438
Print ISSN
1941-4188
Pages
pp. 18-19
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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