Monday, November 22, 2004
The Tools of Realism, The Goals of 2008

By the next European championship or Beckham's last hurrah, the Bush administration hopes to have established democracies in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq. Perhaps some will even be campaigning for their second elections. Whatever the future holds, the objectives are clear and the replacement of Colin Powell by Condoleezza Rice heralds a cautious and steely realism.

The Spectator article by Bruce Anderson, linked to above, speculates that Washington, preoccupied by its economic ties with China, will gradually marginalise the European Union. Germany, France and Spain are viewed as an 'axis of evil', although declining powers are still mischief-makers as Chirac has proved. Through geopolitical concerns and personal antipathy, the Bush administration strikes a stance critical of European integration, a chord in tune with the concerns of Eurosceptics.

There has also been a profound change. For years, British Europhiles were able to insist to the Eurosceps, with some justice, that whatever the state of the special relationship, our influence in Washington depended on our influence on the Continent. If we were marginalised in Europe, no one in Washington would take us seriously. That is no longer the case. If he were a Brit, President Bush would be a Eurosceptic. Though some State Department officials still dream about European unity, they can expect no support from their political masters.

If this aversion to European integration develops in Washington, it undermines a central premise of Blair's foreign policy, a stalking horse without a challenge. However, there is dissent and division in the sceptic camp on the home front. Some Eurosceptics are Atlanticists, opposing Europe because of their preference for an alliance with the United States. Others have adopted opposition to the war and may find, like the Daily Mail, that a vociferous campaign runs the danger of promoting Europe as a viable alternative (or underweight, as Chirac proposes).

Whilst the war has proved disastrous for Blair's reputation, it has also succeeded in demonstrating the divisions that now extend fissures from the libertarians and conservatives into the Eurosceptic camp.

(23.25, 22nd November 2004)


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