Repairing Relations with Europe

By Labbe, J. R. | The Masthead, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Repairing Relations with Europe


Labbe, J. R., The Masthead


Dr. Catherine Kelleher, director of faculty programs in the strategic research department of the Naval War College, did a masterful job of shifting a talk about the future of NATO into a far-reaching presentation about U.S. foreign relations, old and new.

Kelleher posed three questions for her NCEW audience that she said the world has done a yeoman's job of avoiding since the end of the Cold War:

* Is the dispute over Iraq the "beginning of the end" of close U.S./European relations?

* What will be the future vision of transatlantic cooperation, and who will lead?

* How will we fit the reconstruction of Iraq into the context of what a post-Cold War world will look like?

From the clash of values between the United States and Europe to the institutional push-me, pull-you between the European Union and NATO, Kelleher sifted through the noise of political arguments to outline an agenda for repairing relations and moving the world toward cooperation and peace.

She also offered context: The current strained relations among the United States, "Old Europe," and "New Europe" are not the worst ever faced by the alliance since the start of the Cold War. From the Suez crisis of the '50s, to the Vietnam War in the '60s, to the proposal to situate missile defense sites on the continent in the '70s and '80s, the United States has often found itself on the outs with its European allies.

"We've been here before," said Kelleher, who was a representative for the secretary of defense in the Clinton administration and a staff member on the National Security Council during the Carter administration. "It takes a year to 18 months to get back to the point of cooperation."

Kelleher contends that the oft-cited American/ European clash of values--"The U.S. is from Mars, Europe is from Venus" scenario--doesn't take in much of history's reality. The United States, she said, is thought to value force as a means to an end, acting unilaterally if necessary with an appreciation for international law unless there is a compelling moral reason to act otherwise. …

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