Germany in Europe's Crisis Europe Still Needs US Leadership, but German Role Is Also Crucial

By Richard C. Hottelet. Richard C. Hottelet is moderator of `America and the World' on National Public Radio. | The Christian Science Monitor, September 1, 1993 | Go to article overview

Germany in Europe's Crisis Europe Still Needs US Leadership, but German Role Is Also Crucial


Richard C. Hottelet. Richard C. Hottelet is moderator of `America and the World' on National Public Radio., The Christian Science Monitor


A POSTER in Bonn's central market square put it bluntly: "Europa stirbt in Sarajewo" (Europe is dying in Sarajevo). It referred to the ideal that has guided Western Europe since World War II: unity for the common good. Spurred by the menace from the East, the Europeans joined in building a stable, democratic community. The active leadership and immense power of the United States made it possible.

But when, at a moment of conspicuous danger, France excluded Germany from the common defense, US Secretary of State Dean Acheson filled the gap. NATO gave Germany the status and security that it needed.

Today, Sarajevo and all the horror and hypocrisy that go with it are poisoning both Europe and its relationship with America. Candidate Bill Clinton was right last year in urging that the Bosnian Muslims be allowed to have weapons to defend themselves. The Europeans, especially Britain and France, later demurred. They said it would only increase the killings ("create a level killing field") and block "negotiations." They knew Serbs had the upper hand.

The "negotiations" and the killing continued. Anglo-French opposition to President Clinton's suggested air strikes against Serbian targets meant further that Serbia would need to pay no price for genocide.

Had the new Clinton administration pressed the point, as it did later with humanitarian air drops, lives would have been spared and the Serbs brought to real negotiation.

Time and again, when Washington proposed that pressure be put on Serbia, the British and French found reason to object. Open insult was not too strong, as in accusing the US of endangering their troops on the ground while not risking any of its own; nor was nonsense, in protesting that the shell-torn carcass of Sarajevo and its wretched survivors were not really under Serbian siege. London dismissed air strikes as not solving anything.

US Ambassador Madeleine Albright, then president of the United Nations Security Council, summoned it to a private meeting and read the riot act. It was unacceptable, "unconscionable," for UN commanders openly to criticize the president of the US, she said. It was, in its way, the worst moment in the transatlantic association since President Eisenhower in 1956 blew the whistle on the Anglo-French invasion of Suez.

Europe has come a long way. The single market of the European Community is in place. …

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