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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora