January 23, 2005


Can Europe deliver following Bush's olive branch? (Roger Cohen, January 22, 2005, The New York Times)

The start of President George W. Bush's second term has been marked by a series of conciliatory gestures toward Europe: a promised visit to the headquarters of the European Union, the selection of a top State Department team deeply versed in European affairs, restraint on trade, cooperation on the Ukrainian crisis, and bold commitments to the active Middle Eastern diplomacy Europeans want.

All of this amounts to a bold presidential gamble that the Atlantic community is alive and well, despite the divisive trauma of Iraq. But Bush will want results. As his secretary of state-designate, Condoleezza Rice, said this past week: "When judging a course of action, I will never forget that the true measure of its worth is whether it is effective."

By this yardstick, can European-American cooperation still deliver? Can it usher in the freer world to which the president is committed? Reassuring allies that "we rely on your counsel," Bush declared Thursday that "the concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is the prelude to our enemies' defeat."

Pressing tests of such concerted action abound: the Iraq war, a Middle East changed by Yasser Arafat's death, the slow-building potential missile crisis in Iran and Ukraine's democratic transition.

"The president has demonstrated his willingness to re-engage with the Europeans - all of them, not one at a time, and that includes the French," said Simon Serfaty of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "This is critical. But achieving tangible results will not be easy because basic positions have not changed."

Translation: the Europeans still don't care about liberalizing the Middle East if it's at all inconvenient.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 23, 2005 9:05 AM

Can't say I blame them. They refuse to help themselves. Cowardice is one thing, it can be fixed. But having taken the razor to the wrist and drawn the warm bath, isn't it unrealistic to expect them to help get the neighbor's cat off the roof?

Posted by: LUCIFEROUS at January 24, 2005 6:48 PM
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