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.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs