Monday, July 21, 2003
Too wide for handshakes... - 21st July 2003, 23.05

Andrew Pfaff, of the International Herald Tribune, notes that NATO has decided not to send troops to take up peacekeeping duties in Iraq and argues that this is a signal for a breakdown of the Atlanticist alliance. Pfaff moves from this decision to blame all of the consequences of this division on the foreign policy of the Bush administration. The one-sided article views the European actions as a reaction to American unilateralism and ignores the pertinent facts that indicate many European states started pursuing a common obscurity policy in the late 90s as a counterweight to US hegemony.

The Europeans simply no longer agree with the United States. They don't agree about the terrorist threat. They don't think Osama bin Laden is a global menace. They don't take Washington's view of rogue states. They don't agree about pre-emptive war, clash of civilizations, the demonization of Islam, or Pentagon domination of U.S. foreign policy.

The important point within the article lay in the quotation from a former supporter of the United States who had, through the actions of the Bush admnistration, turned towards support of the ESDP and an 'independent' Europe, whilst criticising the actions of the US as 'unilateralist', an old and rather tiresome canard.

Such views are interpreted in the United States as "anti-Americanism." The truth, as a leading (conservative) figure from ex-Communist "New Europe" said at one of these meetings, is that the Bush administration has turned America's friends into anti-Americans.

He said that throughout his political life he had been an admirer and defender of the United States against left-wing European critics, but now he has become what he calls a "new anti-American."

He defined new anti-Americans as "former anti-anti-Americans, now forced to become anti-American themselves." He said that in his own country, the U.S. ambassador behaves in the way the Soviet Union's ambassador did before 1989. This simply is unacceptable.

For whatever reasons, and this character appears to have taken an American injunction quite personally, Pfaff's article illustrates a trend across both 'Old' and 'New' Europe. The conservatives, who originally supported both an Atlanticist foreign policy and European integration, have now jumped an ideological gap and allied themselves with the French Gaullists. The members of the EU have gradually migrated over the last decade, but are part of the conservative element in Central Europe now lining up behind the Germans? If so, the plan to base US troops in depend upon a gradually diminishing foundation of public support.


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