Partnership and Dialogue
At first glance, there is something strange about putting the question of where and how the Western allies should hold a serious strategic dialogue. After all, they do meet regularly in a number of venues: in NATO's biannual ministerials, in weekly sessions among the permanent representatives, and within standing committees and ad hoc working groups. The series of meetings between the United States and the European Union at multiple levels, inaugurated in 1990 in the Transatlantic Declaration and given renewed impetus with the signing of the Transatlantic Agenda in 1995, constitute a loose Euro-American forum. In Brussels, on a routine basis, the U.S. ambassador to the EU is provided the opportunity, however circumscribed, to make known American views across a wide span of issues -- including security questions to the small extent that they arise in the Community's pursuit of a Common Foreign and Security Policy. On military matters, the planning and deliberative functions of NATO and WEU overlap, allowing for thoroughgoing collaboration. 1 Tête-à-têtes among heavily traveled foreign ministers and secretaries of state add to the multiple opportunities to discuss and to debate.
The sheer number of places where some manner of transatlantic dialogue can occur underscores the lapses in strategic coordination. Clearly, the main reason for those lapses is weak motivation rather than the absence of occasion.