February 10, 2004

Euro-American Relations

If you're just going to read one opinion piece today, well, read this one by Dave Ignatius. He's got it just right.

Money grafs for those of you who won't click through the link:

"Despite all the happy talk of the past month about how U.S.-European relations are on the mend, the reality is that the Atlantic partnership today is more a matter of habit and history than of action. The leading member of the alliance, the United States, is in serious trouble in Iraq, yet key "allies" such as France and Germany are doing essentially nothing to help. That's unacceptable.

If this disarray continues, it could prove even more dangerous than it was a year ago. That's because aggressive European help is now essential in creating a stable, independent Iraqi nation. The American occupation is scheduled to end in July; unless it is bolstered by the United Nations politically and by NATO militarily, Iraq will descend into chaos and civil war."

And later:

"Fischer opened the conference with a call for a new transatlantic initiative to engage the Arab world in openness, economic interdependence and anti-terrorism. Simultaneously, the Bush administration is reportedly drawing up its own plan to promote democracy in the "greater Middle East," which President Bush will announce at the G-8 summit in June.

These initiatives are precisely what the Middle East needs. Yet Americans and Europeans were grumbling here privately that each side was trying to steal a march. Sadly, that's a true snapshot of the Atlantic alliance at the moment: allies who are playing for the audience rather than really talking to each other and solving problems.

Iraq is slipping toward violent fragmentation, and a decisive European-American commitment is essential to fill the post-July political vacuum. This isn't a task for the fainthearted; the situation in Iraq will probably get worse before it gets better, and the risks for Europeans will be as deadly as for the Americans there now.

Is the alliance up to the task? No more we-told-you-so speeches, please, or empty evocations of partnership. If the Europeans mean it when they say failure is not an option in Iraq, then they need to get to work now. And the Americans need to graciously accept their help." [links within quoted text added by B.D., emphasis added]

Indeed.

Posted by Gregory at February 10, 2004 09:35 AM
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