Magazine article Newsweek International

An Echo of an Alliance

Magazine article Newsweek International

An Echo of an Alliance

Article excerpt

Two surprises have emerged from George W. Bush's first hundred days in the White House. The biggest came when the world realized the new American president was following through on his campaign promises. That stunned Europeans and led to the second biggest surprise: a nearly unanimous defensive stance by Europe vis-a-vis the United States. On this side of the Atlantic we didn't even have time to ponder how long the honeymoon would last. There simply never was one.

Bush's agenda isn't isolationist. What Europeans do fear is that American unilateralism will take the place of collective decision making and, to use a favorite word of past American administrations, "degrade" the international climate. And not just in a figurative sense. Bush's rejection of the Kyoto accords, meant to reduce carbon dioxide emissions around the world, shocked Europeans. Jettisoning any notion of the global good, he cast the question as primarily an American economic problem. It didn't help that he did so before the American Congress instead of in an international forum.

This casts other transatlantic questions in a harsher light. Europeans are still unconvinced of the merits of a national missile defense system. But they've no doubt understood that nothing, save possible financial or technological constraints, will stop the Americans. And so, against their own best instincts, EU governments have decided it's wiser to hold their tongues.

Their chagrin is partially compensated by Bush's willingness to cooperate in the Balkans--a welcome surprise. …

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