Friday, October 29, 2004
On this day:

NYTimes: Many in Europe See U.S. Vote as Lose-Lose

According to this in today's New York Times,
No matter who wins the presidential election next week, the consequences for American-European relations will be bad, according to a deeply pessimistic view taking hold here.

If President Bush wins, the reasoning goes, pro-Kerry Europe will be astonished at what it will see as the bad judgment of the American electorate. Europeans will be confirmed in their sense that they are from Earth and Americans from some other planet.

But if Senator John Kerry wins, the result may well be an almost immediate trans-Atlantic crisis. Mr. Kerry, having presented himself in the campaign as the man who can restore a functioning alliance, will ask Germany and France to come to the aid of the United States in Iraq. Germany and France will refuse, and Americans will feel angry and betrayed.

Even though it begins with pessimism, the article goes on to say that there are signs, at least, that a more realistic attitude is taking shape in Europe about the transatlantic relationship. There is talk of reconciliation and a greater focus "on the big picture".
In a formula devised by Michael Naumann, the former German culture minister who is now the editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Europe will come to the aid of the United States in Iraq if the United States can fulfill four conditions:

1. That in the aftermath of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, it reaffirms its commitment to the Geneva Convention's rules on the treatment of prisoners.

2. That it recommits itself to nuclear nonproliferation at home, reducing its own weapons stockpiles and not just preventing countries like North Korea and Iran from obtaining them.

3. That it enters into serious ecological discussions, including the Kyoto treaty on global warming, which was rejected by the Bush administration.

4. That there be what Mr. Naumann calls "a return to a less arrogant tone of conversation," meaning that leaders on both sides of the Atlantic need to desist from the demagogic posturing of past months.

Unfortunately, all of these are conditions on the U.S. They don't require anything from Europe. And, they indicate a persistent disregard for America's interests among the European elite. Point by point:

1. The present administration has already stated its commitment to upholding the Geneva Conventions. However, "unlawful combatants" are not entitled to the same treatment under the Geneva Conventions as "prisoners of war." There are complexities in the definitions of these two terms, but Europeans must acknowledge the differences between them. The fact is that many of the prisoners held at the two facilities mentioned are "unlawful combatants" by anyone's definition, and the U.S. cannot be expected to abide by rules of war that are not observed by its enemies.

2. The U.S. is continuing to reduce its stockpiles of nuclear weapons. In an effort bring U.S. nuclear posture up to date with present realities, the Bush administration committed early on to unilaterally reducing the number of nuclear weapons deployed operationally. President Bush and Russian President Putin agreed in 2001 to cut nuclear warheads on each side from roughly 7000 to between 1700 to 2200 over 10 years. The Moscow Treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate in March, 2003. The administration has also taken a large number of weapons off alert status, and has "detargeted" them from targets in Russia. However, the administration has been firm in asserting that modernization of the nuclear arsenal is vital to maintaining deterrent capacity and providing flexibility in dealing with future threats. U.S. nuclear capabilities are essential not just for protecting U.S. interests, but also in living up to our commitments to NATO. Placing conditions on U.S. nuclear capacity would undermine the collective interests of NATO and could make it impossible for the U.S. to maintain its commitment to the alliance.

3. The Kyoto treaty would impose unacceptable restraints on the U.S. economy. Since the U.S. economy is key to worldwide economic growth and prosperity, it would also impose unacceptable restraints on worldwide economic growth and prosperity. It is unrealistic to expect the U.S. to approve of a treaty that is based on questionable assumptions about the sources and nature of global warming. Sustained economic growth is the key to solving many of the problems that face the world today, especially in the Third World. Shackling the world's largest economy is not the answer, and should not be a condition for maintaining cooperation on security issues.

4. A "less arrogant tone of conversation" is one thing we could agree on. Notice that I have not once referred to the European elites as "Euroweenies" in this post. That's a start. Now, you guys go talk to President Chirac, and I'll ring up Mr. Bush.