February 24, 2003

Cherry-Picking on the Continent John

Cherry-Picking on the Continent

John Hulsman of the Heritage Foundation on a new U.S. strategy towards Europe (Old and New).

Key language: "Europe thus combines grandiose ambition with an utter failure to create the circumstances where it can be realised. The task for the US thus becomes ever clearer. American policy-makers need to separate rhetoric from reality in Europe, and understand that the very lack of European unity that hamstrings European Gaullist efforts to challenge the United States presents America with a unique opportunity.

If Europe is more about diversity than uniformity, if the concept of a unified ‘Europe’ does not really exist, then a general American transatlantic foreign policy based on ‘cherry-picking’ – engaging coalitions of willing European allies on a case-by-case basis – becomes entirely possible.

Such a stance is palpably in America’s interests, as it provides a method of managing transatlantic drift while remaining engaged with a continent that will rarely be wholly for, or wholly against, specific American foreign policy initiatives."

Comment: U.S. policy has strived for decades to help foster greater European unity. Rumsfeld's locutions (and increasingly boorish German-French avoidance of pursuing a judicious analysis of Saddam's non-compliance with Resolution 1441) have dealt significant blows to our oft-declared strategic ambition of furthering Euro-cohesion. But are we really ready to throw this strategy out because of the current crisis? Better to let tempers cool and revisit the possibility of more traditional dealings with pan-European institutions, no?

That said, on Iraq, a French veto would force intensified Hulsman-style cherry-picking in a very big way. Transatlantic relations therefore increasingly appear to be approaching a critical juncture. Would Chirac really precipitate such a crisis? Or is he busy ferreting out an 11th hour flip-flop rationale that puts him back in the U.S. camp? I'd still like to hope he will switch over to the U.S. position but his public remarks are increasingly limiting his wriggle room and constraining him in the manner of Gerard Schroder imbecilic campaign proclamations.

Posted by Gregory at February 24, 2003 02:47 PM
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