Powell Targets Europe Vision; Discusses 'Shifts in Focus' during Germany Trip

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Powell Targets Europe Vision; Discusses 'Shifts in Focus' during Germany Trip


Byline: Nicholas Kralev, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

BERLIN - Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday became the first senior U.S. official to concede publicly that the United States and Europe have been pursuing different world visions for more than two years and said it was time those paths converged.

Mr. Powell used a visit to Germany to put on the record what both U.S. and European diplomats have acknowledged repeatedly in private: that since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks they have been talking "past each other" on many more issues than just the war in Iraq.

Although the secretary used more diplomatic language such as "shifts in focus" in an article in the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he was nevertheless unusually blunt and direct.

"As time has passed, our concerns have been redirected and our sense of mutual dependency has been relaxed," he said in reference to the period since the end of the Cold War in U.S.-German relations.

He then broadened the geographical scope of the trend he was describing to include Germany's neighborhood.

"For Americans, more recent events, particularly the tragedy of September 11, 2001, have reshaped our view of the world. For Germany and its neighbors, the project of building the new Europe now molds attitudes and expectations," Mr. Powell said.

"These shifts in focus diminished our Cold War-era camaraderie," he wrote in the English original of the article, which his aides provided to reporters traveling on his plane.

Mr. Powell's view was shared by dozens of American diplomats in Europe and elsewhere in interviews over the past six months.

"Europeans, with the exception of some in Britain, have been slow to recognize the effect September 11 had on the American psyche," one senior diplomat said. "That has made it difficult for them to understand why the United States is doing some of the things it's doing."

At the same time, another diplomat said, "European officials will probably say that Americans don't fully understand how European institutions work."

He noted that, before the Iraq war last year, the consensus in Europe "was that there were no circumstances that justify the use of force" in today's world. …

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