Welcome, Mr. President

Posted in Europe | 20-Feb-05 | Author: Dieter Farwick

WSN Editor-in-Chief Dieter Farwick on the Red Square.

We take your early visit to Europe – including “old Europe” - after your re-election as a clear signal of your resolve to open a new chapter in transatlantic relations. We know that a superpower must screen all regions of the globe – such as the Pacific region - but we still believe that robust transatlantic links play a vital role in crisis management, security and stability.

We Germans remember what your country has done for us and we will not forget. Sometimes ordinary people have a better memory and show more loyalty to international partners than their governments and politicians do. We all face future challenges and risks that no single country can shoulder.

Based upon the thought-provoking analysis and recommendations presented in “A Compact Between the United States and Europe” (full text see www.brookings.edu), there is a need for common strategies and common goals and objectives.

NATO could and should play a vital role as the successful alliance of 26 democracies. As far as security policy issues are concerned, NATO should be the first address for discussion, consultations and decisions. There is no need for new bodies and studies. The instruments are there. Mutual trust and confidence should be regained by common success. The only circumstance where it might possibly arise that a "coalition of the willing" would be needed is if NATO as an alliance is not willing and/or able to act or react.

There are areas where common success is necessary and possible. Besides the permanent worldwide issue of the “war on terrorism” and “non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction”, there are four opportunities for common success within the volatile region of the “Broader Middle East”:

Afghanistan

After the election on October 9, there is now a fair chance to turn Afghanistan into a success story for NATO. NATO member states and supporting non-NATO member states must now deliver what they promised as far as finances, personnel and material are concerned. The parliamentarian elections in spring 2005 should become the next important step.

Iran

For sure, Iran is the most critical issue. There is a need for an orchestrated and well coordinated US/Europe approach – combining the elements of “soft” and “ hard” power. The common objective is to avoid that Iran develops nuclear weapons.

Israel/Palestine

The post-Arafat era obviously offers new, modest chances for improvement. “Friendly arm twisting” should bring both sides to make use of the new momentum.Palestinians should get a clear perspective for a sovereign state in the not-too-distant future. Both sides should resist against feelings of revenge if and when extremists from both sides try to stop progress.

Iraq

A "coalition for success" should make the year 2005 the turning point in Iraq. This will be possible if and when all countries involved do their very best to deliver.Parallel to this development, the living conditions of the Iraqi people must be enhanced – drinkable water, reliable energy supply and health care. Improved living conditions are the prerequisite for drying up the swamp of terrorism.

This agenda is not complete, but , the world will be a much better and safer place if there is recognizable progress in these four areas.Progress in one area will send positive signals to the other areas of concern.It will be very important to give the indigenous people a vital role to play, too. It would be counterproductive if they were to perceive that something is being imposed upon them from the outside world.

Mr.President, you should not leave Europe without the common resolve to start common actions - tomorrow.

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