News

United States and European Union, Separate Ways Or Together?

Multimedia

Audio

Many Europeans see President Bush’s re-election not only as validation of a unilateralist national security strategy by fellow Americans, but also as repudiation of certain ideals that Europeans believed both sides held in common.

In London’s "Guardian" columnist Jonathan Steel writes, "What Americans share with Europeans are not values, but institutions. The distinction is crucial. Like us, they have a separation of powers between executive and legislature, an independent judiciary, and the rule of law. But the American majority's social and moral values differ enormously from those which guide most Europeans."

Europeans take a dim view of gun ownership and capital punishment, and are far less religious than Americans. Some Europeans would even abandon NATO on the grounds that it keeps Europe from building its own security institutions. Officially embedded as US allies in NATO, Europeans, say critics, must go along with American policies they sometime object to. Otherwise, they can be charged with disrupting the alliance.

Charles Kupchan, Director of the Europe Program at the Council on Foreign Relations and Professor of International Law at Georgetown University, recently visited several European capitals. He says the political mood in Europe has decidedly shifted against its sole security reliance on NATO.

"On this side of the Atlantic the forces of what one could call assertive nationalism have won out over the traditional liberal internationalism," says Professor Kupchan.  "It has to some extent strengthened what one might call Euro-Gaullism at the expense of Euro-Atlanticism. That means it will be harder for Britain, Italy and Poland to side strongly with the United States. And I think what one is hearing in disparaging comments about NATO is the strengthening of the voices calling for a stronger and more independent European Union," he says.

The main unifying power in Europe in the last half-century, America has now become the main dividing issue among the 25 members of the European Union. Some believe NATO now serves almost entirely as a device for giving the United States an unfair influence over European foreign policy. But Helle Dale of the Heritage Foundation points out that Europe is a continent of disparate countries with long and diverse histories, including contradictory relations with the United States.

"Many of them are pro-Atlanticist: Britain, the Scandinavian countries, Holland, Italy, Poland a number of the former East Block countries. There are a lot of countries that continue to consider their relations with the United States some of the most important in their foreign policy agenda. And there are others, represented primarily by France, Germany and Belgium and now Spain. I think they are split among themselves. I don’t think the United States necessarily needs to do anything to split them," says Ms Dale.

The United States is dedicated to continuing the NATO alliance, says analyst Dale. "NATO is extremely important for extending and preserving freedom on the European continent and for uniting East and Western Europe where NATO provides the security guarantee in the way the European Union never could. It is also a way to look for allies as the United States undertakes missions around the world. Europe remains the best ally of the United States, the best source of allies and has been for a very long time, and I think there is a definite perception in the administration that will continue," she says.

Still, Ms. Dale acknowledges the transatlantic partnership could be heading toward a new critical dispute, this time over Iran. Although Washington and Brussels coordinated diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to step back from its nuclear program, the United States reserves the option of a military action should Teheran not heed the warnings. Europe is likely to resist such a use of force.

Professor Kupchan says a new dispute might threaten the very foundations of the Atlantic community.  "I think that will strengthen political forces in Europe that call for greater independence. If that occurs, if the European Union comes to define itself in opposition to the United States, then we could see the compromise of perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the 20th century – and that is the Atlantic zone of peace in which the balance of power does not operate. I fear that we are reaching a point in which that possibility, the return of the balance of power logic, is now before us," he says.

So analysts say it is in the interest of both Europe and the United States to reach some sort of an agreement, within NATO or without, on the various critical issues that arise.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs