United States - Does it Need Europe as a Global Player?

Posted in United States | 24-Sep-05 | Author: Dieter Farwick

The Atlantic: Link or division between the U.S.A. and Europe?

There are at least two different schools of thought in the United States when it comes to Europe’s future role in world politics. Whenever Europe seems to get stronger and more independent of the US, voices prevail that say a strong Europe might become a more dangerous competitor than a supporting partner. For us at WSN, better transatlantic links of partners based upon the same set of values, overlapping interests and common goals are priority No 1.

Since the rejection of the European constitution in France and the Netherlands and after the result of the federal elections in Germany, Europe has fallen into a deep crisis. Many observers believe that the formation and building of a strong and politically united Europe has been postponed for many years to come. The split attitude in Europe prior to the war in Iraq and in its aftermath between “old” and “new” Europe, the disputes and animosities caused by Germany's resolve to get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council as well as severe economic and financial national problems have revealed some dangerous fault lines. Some Europeans also see it as unhelpful that precisely Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government hold the European presidency for the next six months.

In a crisis, there are always two ways out: Down or up. Therefore, it is interesting that the American author of our newsletter, Ronald D. Asmus (Executive Director of the Transatlantic Center of the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Brussels, Belgium) launches the strong plea that the United States should make prudent use of the present European crisis. In his view, there is a chance for the United States to influence the European debate and to help Europe get out of the crisis in order to become a global player as partner of the United States. A strong Europe could shoulder some burden to overcome common future challenges.

NATO and the EU are considered to be two of the best addresses to work with. It is needless to say that in an emerging multipolar world, a strong Europe could and should play a vital role side by side with the United States. However, the present situation makes this idea seem like a dream that might not come true.

Do the major European countries still have the political resolve to build a “25 plus-members-entity” speaking with one voice? What is the desired end state? Will some European members try to find a flexible geometry to move forward – leaving the others behind?

In any case, Europe needs a vision – a new hope. It is interesting that an American expert advocates that an enlightened American policy might help Europe find a better and promising way ahead.