Debating the Fate of U.S.-Europe Relations

Article excerpt

Byline: Brendan Conway, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The last few months of relatively civil and calm relations between the United States and Europe looks like a rapprochement. First, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice kicked off her tenure in February with a fence-mending trip to Europe. Then last month the EU apparently decided not to lift its arms embargo on China. Before that, to the pleasure of Brussels, Paris and Berlin, Washington let the International Criminal Court handle Darfur and agreed to continue multilateral talks with Iran. But it's anyone's guess as to whether the good feeling will continue.

Tod Lindberg, editor of Policy Review and a columnist for these pages, asked the authors of "Beyond Paradise and Power: Europe, America and the Future of a Troubled Partnership" to take a stab at this question, among others, in response to Robert Kagan's much-discussed book "Of Paradise and Power." The results are all over the map. Some of the noted scholars, think-tankers and journalists whose essays Mr. Lindberg collects here agree with Mr. Kagan that a stark new rift between Europe and America is emerging. But several do not.

The 12 voices Mr. Lindberg presents give 12 different answers pointing in even more directions. Mr. Lindberg's aim was to provoke, not to draw fast conclusions, and so "Beyond Paradise and Power" serves as a sampler of a range of opinion, all of it pro-Atlanticist and pro-cooperation but none of it bland or unimaginative. There are European voices: the French Foreign Ministry's Gilles Andreani and German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, who represent their governments but avoid platitudes and diplo-speak; there are policy wonks like the Brookings Institution's Ivo Daalder, Simon Serfaty of CSIS and Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations; there are academic heavyweights like Oxford's Timothy Garton Ash, the Hoover Institution's Peter Berkowitz and Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins and Oxford's Kalypso Nicolaidis; and then there are the scribes, the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum, Stephen Erlanger of the New York Times and Mr. Lindberg himself. The first thing to be said about this group: When it comes to the future of U.S.-European cooperation, there are about as many bulls as bears, so to speak, and a few fence-straddlers.

Mr. Mead is probably the most bullish. He writes that "unless one or both sides lose sight of their true interests, the partnership should endure into the future." Mr. Ischinger is not far behind, declaring that the differences "are not as great, or structural, or as lasting as Robert Kagan would have us believe" (although as an Old European in good standing, he suggests too much American unilateralism could change this). Mr. Lindberg is also cheery, concluding that bitter words over Iraq were "not a sign of fundamental division. …