Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Trans-Atlantic Links

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Trans-Atlantic Links

Article excerpt

AN American in Europe today recognizes that in several respects this post-cold-war period is a turning point in trans-Atlantic relations.

Signs of the past are still there. United States troops remain in Germany, although in reduced numbers. A US general is still the supreme commander of NATO. US flags fly outside some hotels, reminders of days when American tourists outnumbered those from other lands. And signs in shops along the Normandy coast display the Stars and Stripes, along with other flags, and say, "Thank You, Liberators."

Other more recent indications of influences from America also proliferate. McDonald's arches are everywhere. So are T-shirts and caps from the Chicago Bulls or the Washington Redskins. European friends comment - not always favorably - on the growing dominance on commercial TV of Oprah Winfrey and Larry King.

At the same time, the Atlantic, in some ways, is growing wider. Europeans are preoccupied with problems of union and internal politics. Discussions on the future of Europe often contain no reference to Washington. Some press speculation asks whether the next NATO commander should be European.

Individual issues ruffle the waters. A British friend with three sons who have served in Northern Ireland speaks quietly, but with feeling, about the US rush to embrace Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein before all the problems of troubled Ulster have been worked out.

US efforts to lift the arms embargo on the Bosnian government face strong opposition from Britain and France, with their troops on the ground at risk. Some degree of resentment at the advice from a great nation across the water without troops committed is understandable. Europeans can be found, however, who say that Bosnia is not and should not be America's problem; it is the Europeans who have failed to deal adequately with a disaster on their continent. …

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