The transatlantic partnership is under serious
strain with the United States and our European friends having more
and more disagreements.
Our differences run the gamut from economic disputes on steel
and farm subsidies to limits on legal cooperation because of the
death penalty here in the U.S. There are charges of U.S.
"unilateralism" over our actions in Afghanistan and our decisions
on the ABM Treaty, Kyoto, the International Criminal Court, the
Biological Weapons Protocol, and so on. There is no agreement over
what to do about Iraq or other state sponsors of terror or the
crisis in the Middle East. After September 11, European critics
have switched from complaining of U.S. "isolationism," to worries
about "preemption." Add to this the decade-old doubts about the
utility of NATO in the post-Cold War world, and one could conclude
that there is today a real question as to whether Europe and the
United States are parting ways.
Indeed, there are some serious people making serious charges
about this state of affairs. Charles Krauthammer says NATO is dead
as a military alliance due to the huge disparity in power between
the U.S. and Europe. Jeffrey Gedmin, known as a committed
Atlanticist, recently penned an op-ed entitled, "The Alliance is
Doomed"--doomed mainly because of what he calls the European
"obsession" with chaining down the Americans.
Former Secretary of Defense and long-time NATO stalwart James
Schlesinger complained vociferously about European attitudes in a
recent Financial Times piece, questioning whether we have a common
agenda anymore. And, in a very thought-provoking article called
"Power and Weakness" in the journal Policy Review, Robert Kagan
concluded that, because of our different military capabilities and
philosophies toward power, the United States and Europe no longer
share a common view of the world; and that this is not a temporary
These are serious people making serious charges. They reflect
some deep divisions in European and American
perspectives--divisions that I believe must be addressed in a
SEPTEMBER 11 CHANGED EVERYTHING
On a recent trip to Germany, it was clear that Europeans have
noticed that some things about U.S. foreign policy have changed. I
told them that this was primarily due to the election of George W.
Bush and the seminal events of September 11. But I still do not
think our European friends fully appreciate the extent to which
September 11 changed everything for Americans.
September 11 awakened us to a threat we had not taken very
seriously. But we now understand the threat and we are totally
committed to confronting it. We believe it is very, very serious
and it is not transitory. Nor is the threat only against Americans.
As Prime Minister Tony Blair has said, this is now a "war for
civilization against the forces of violence, barbarism and chaos."
And the transatlantic alliance is, if nothing else, a group of
nations with a shared understanding of civilization.
Yet many in Europe seem to believe that perhaps America is
making too much of this threat, or at least that it is not much of
a threat to Europeans, or, that even if it is, we have to be very
careful about terrorists or their state sponsors who either have
significant military capabilities or who represent economic
opportunities. Obviously, no national leader could possibly ignore
the seriousness of this threat.
Even now there is a comprehensive effort in the Congress to try
to determine whether we could have prevented 3,000 deaths last
September. A preventable future catastrophe will not be tolerated
by the American people, and, I submit, would not be tolerated by
Europeans now that we all have been warned.
To put it another way, we Americans do not want to spend the
rest of our history like Israelis in Jerusalem, wondering when and
where the next attack will occur. I don't think the people of
Europe do, either.
The al-Qaeda terrorists who attacked America were part of a very
large cell operating in Hamburg. In fact, because of the relative
ease of travel, lack of surveillance, and ability to live easily in
Europe, there are large numbers of terrorists in Europe, as in the
U.S. We must continue to work with European law enforcement to find
them and bring them to justice. Among other things, that means
finding ways of resolving our differences on the death penalty. But
I say to Europeans, that as strongly as they may feel about capital
punishment, it would be unforgivable if our disagreement on that
issue prevented us from properly dealing with international
terrorists. It simply can't be that it's safer to be a terrorist in
Europe than in Afghanistan.
With regard to Afghanistan, at least 13 NATO countries have
contributed forces to the campaign. That the U.S. had to move
quickly in the initial military campaign--without full NATO
participation--is not, therefore, an example of unilateralism. And
NATO allies are all acutely aware of the growing capabilities gap
within the alliance, so no one can be surprised that U.S. actions
will, of necessity, reflect that unfortunate reality. The United
States would welcome a change in those circumstances, and the
remedy is obvious.
THE NEED FOR PREEMPTION
President Bush recently made a commonsense observation which,
nevertheless, has stirred another controversy. Terrorism against
open societies like those we have in the U.S. and Europe is almost
impossible to prevent all of the time, so offensive action against
the terrorists is critical to stopping them. Therefore, the
President announced that, when possible, it would be our policy to
hit them before they can hit us. Preemption.
Indeed, we have been taking the war to the enemy, disrupting
their cells and plans quite successfully since September 11; no one
seems much bothered by the notion that we shouldn't wait to be hit
by another terrorist attack before going after the terrorists.
Applied to a tyrant like Saddam Hussein, however, preemption is
seen by many in Europe as dangerous and contrary to accepted
principles of behavior among civilized states.
Yet, it is clear at this point that the multilateral,
U.N.-mandated approach to dealing with Saddam has failed. The U.N.
cease-fire agreement at the end of the Gulf War required him to get
rid of his weapons of mass destruction. But, of course, after
stringing out the inspection process for seven years--thwarting and
evading disarmament at every step along the way--Saddam Hussein
finally kicked out the inspectors altogether. For the past four
years, he has been free to pursue his development of chemical,
biological, and nuclear weapons without fear of interference from
the U.N. Security Council, which has continued to rely on a failed
sanctions regime to change his behavior.
And this, as an insightful piece in the June 29 issue of the
Economist concluded, illustrates clearly the limits of a purely
multilateral approach. The article states, and I agree: "Beyond
economic sanctions, which have already failed or been scuppered by
U.N. members, there is no enforcement mechanism except for American
Saddam Hussein's failure to abide by the U.N. cease-fire
resolution, as well as the U.N. resolution requiring him to end the
repression of his people, is not surprising coming from a man who
once said, "Don't tell me about the law. The law is anything I
write on a scrap of paper." It is an utter waste of time, and
dangerous at that, for us to negotiate with Saddam Hussein over
renewed inspections for weapons of mass destruction. I am not
surprised in the least at the recent headlines that the U.N. has
been unable to reach any sort of deal on the return of the
inspectors. And, even if the U.N. were to acquiesce to Saddam's
demands that the sanctions be lifted before their return (which it
will not), it is naive in the extreme to think he would ever
Saddam is in a race to acquire a nuclear weapon--not to mention
to build up chemical and biological weapons--and that is why it
will likely be necessary to enforce the U.N. resolution that Saddam
once agreed to--before he limits our options by completing his work
on a nuclear weapon. Again, to quote the Economist, "Without an
enforcement mechanism as a last resort, treaties and conventions
designed to control the spread of the ghastliest weapons will
ultimately collapse. There has to be a military sanction . . . that
sanction cannot wait until a nuclear or biological attack has taken
place. It has to be applied preemptively."
Moreover, an argument can be made that acting forcefully against
Saddam will have a salutary effect on the other Arab states that
have not yet totally committed to be with the United States in the
war on terrorism. Success begets success in this conflict and in
the Arab world, where respect is more important than love.
Nor should we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by the argument
that preemptive moves by democracies will encourage similar moves
by the likes of China against, say, Taiwan. In addition to the fact
that Taiwan poses no threat to anyone, we know that tyrants in the
world are not guided by the examples that democracies set; rather,
they calculate whether the democracies will let them get away with
aggression. Strong Western action influences these
In fact, it turns out that circumstances, not some grand
principle, have influenced preventive use of power. Didn't Europe,
with American support, act preemptively to prevent further genocide
in Bosnia and Kosovo? In fact, weren't there complaints that our
action should have been taken sooner?
At the end of the day, the sheer scale of the threat that Saddam
Hussein will acquire a nuclear weapon should move us to action--the
Europeans need to understand this.
OTHER AREAS OF DISAGREEMENT
But if there are still reasons for doubts about how to handle
Saddam, there can be none about another issue: termination of the
ABM treaty. Here we need not speculate--the verdict is in. Critics
of President Bush's announced intent to withdraw from the treaty
last December were full of dire predictions of a rift with Russia
and a new arms race. It didn't happen. Eleven months of careful
consultations with the Russians and our transatlantic partners
resulted in a new approach to strategic security. This cooperation
produced not a new arms race, but a new nuclear reduction treaty,
as well as the creation of the NATO-Russia Council. So, on this
matter it is possible to judge who was correct in the debate--and
it was not the naysayers.
This is important to keep in mind when U.S. missile defense
plans are criticized. Since the only effect of U.S. missile defense
on Europeans is additional security for those states who choose to
join, Americans have a right to be bewildered by European
opposition to missile defense. This is especially so since some of
the criticism assumes that such a defense is "isolationist" when,
in point of fact, the ability to defend America enhances our
ability to act on the world stage.
The International Criminal Court is another bone of contention.
On this issue, as others, the Bush Administration does not desire
to be different--it merely desires to be right about what's best
for the security of Americans, even if it means suffering the
opprobrium of those who disagree. President Bush subscribes to the
straightforward view that American security is for Americans to
decide. That is not unilateralism--it is a legitimate exercise of
our sovereignty, harmful to no one but potential aggressors.
To explain the American view with regard to the International
Criminal Court, one need look no further than the recent trumped-up
hysteria over prisoners at Guantanamo Bay or the charges by Amnesty
International of U.S. "human rights abuses" in Afghanistan. This
mentality is what makes us wary of the ICC and is why our
representatives to the U.N. are searching for ways to ensure
adequate protection for U.S. peacekeepers. Europe must not
misunderstand our position. The United States has always supported
the rule of law, and, of course, wants to see the worst human
rights abusers brought to justice; but the thought of a court in
Europe seeking to nab Henry Kissinger for policies he crafted
toward Chile thirty years ago ought to at least raise a doubt in
reasonable minds about the specific operations of constructs like
As to Kyoto, we are far more skeptical than the Europeans that
the science behind global warming justifies precipitous action.
Moreover, there is near consensus in the Congress and the
Administration that, in any event, the problem does not justify the
enormous economic costs for developed countries of mandated
controls on emissions called for by the treaty. As the Economist
described on June 29, the inadequacy of the Protocol is
illustrated, in large part, by its failure to include developing
countries--which are likely to contribute significantly to future
emissions--even as part of a future program of emissions reduction.
Many, including myself, believe that wealth creation will, in the
end, provide a much more cost-effective solution to pollution
problems, and that a dollar spent on emissions reduction in places
like India and China will produce much more environmental benefit
than another dollar spent in the U.S. and Europe.
At this point, allow me to step back from specific areas of
disagreement with the Europeans to a more general one--the utility
of power vs. diplomacy. We all agree that both have their place;
but it is probably true that the U.S. will resort to power more
often than continental Europeans are disposed to do. A corollary is
that Americans probably have less confidence in treaties than do
On the specific matter of arms control, I agree with Margaret
Thatcher, who in 1982 declared before the United Nations that,
"Wars are caused not by armaments but by the ambitions of
aggressors." Contrary to conventional wisdom, treaties to limit
arms don't have a very good track record at preserving peace or,
for that matter, even controlling arms. From the Catholic Church's
attempt to ban the crossbow in the 12th century to the SALT
treaties in the 1970s, the traditional concept of arms control has,
with few exceptions, consistently failed to produce meaningful
Likewise, "peace processes" with untrustworthy partners have
similarly failed, often in spectacular fashion. The Oslo Accord
between Israel and the PLO is the best, if unfortunate, recent
example. In addition, consider recent events in Colombia, where the
Marxist FARC guerrillas repaid President Pastrana's generous grant
of a Switzerland-sized safe haven by importing weapons, hosting
European terrorists, and staging increasingly violent attacks
against Colombian society.
President Bush's strategy for dealing with security issues is
based on his firm conviction that today's security environment is
drastically different from that which existed during the Cold War.
Today, our enemies are terrorists and rogue regimes--often working
together. Dealing with them requires democracies to employ
strategies entirely different from nuclear deterrence and
arms-control diplomacy. To depend solely on nuclear deterrence
against, for example, a dictator like Saddam Hussein--a man who has
used chemical weapons against his own people--would be to place our
lives in the hands of a madman. And, as to terrorists, I agree with
President Bush that, "Deterrence...means nothing against shadowy
terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend."
Moreover, arms-control diplomacy presupposes that the same
objectives govern all sides of a negotiation. To borrow a phrase
from my good friend, Richard Perle, traditional arms control often
equates guns in the hands of cops with guns in the hands of
robbers. As history has proven time and time again, arms control
works best when it's needed least. The converse is also true, and
is applicable today: Arms control works worst where it is needed
most--against rogue regimes.
In order to deal with today's threats, the Bush strategy
emphasizes three things: moral clarity, strategic clarity, and
Moral Clarity means basing our actions on the fundamental
understanding that terrorism is never justified, and that nations
cannot be neutral in this fight.
Strategic Clarity means making an unambiguous commitment
to destroy terrorism by attacking it at its core. As former Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, "You have to go to the
regime, the state, that supports terrorism and makes terrorism
possible. You don't go out looking for the needle, you go and
remove the haystack."
Capability means transforming our military from one
designed to fight tank battles on the plains of Europe to one that
is smaller, lighter, more agile and on the cutting edge of
technology, so as to be able to take the fight to the
enemy--relentlessly, forcefully, successfully.
I have not forgotten the recent cross-Atlantic sparring over
economic matters. Let me say I find Europe's history of steel and
farm subsidies appalling--almost as bad as our own! Easy for me to
say since I voted against both. But, we should be able to agree
with the Europeans that it's getting out of hand on both sides and
has to stop. This means political leadership willing to take
I have chosen to emphasize our disagreements with Europe today
because there are not enough opportunities to discuss these matters
candidly, and because Americans do have to do a better job of
consulting and explaining our positions.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
But I hesitate to conclude without mentioning some of the many
matters upon which we are in agreement with our European partners.
We can be optimistic about the future of the transatlantic
alliance, noting many successes, commonalities, and mutual
contributions. I've already mentioned the great degree of
cooperation on Operation Enduring Freedom, which, by any measure,
must rate as a huge success.
We've worked together in the Balkans to save innocent people
American and German law enforcement, especially the authorities
in Hamburg, have done exemplary work together trying to crack the
terrorist cells in Europe.
And this November, we will significantly expand the Alliance in
Prague. This is something on which, I believe, there is an emerging
consensus. So, despite some differences, there is much agreement
and plenty of cooperation which we should acknowledge and
Regarding NATO's future, I believe the Alliance should develop
new approaches. One of these, I believe, should be cooperation on
missile defense. I am glad that, last July, NATO funded two
feasibility studies for this vital need. But those studies need to
be followed up with concrete actions by Europe if it wishes to
benefit from U.S. technology.
Proliferation is another area on which NATO should work harder.
With Iran developing the Shahab-4, which will be able to reach the
heart of Europe, NATO clearly has a vested interest in stopping
proliferation to that country. I'd like to see the NATO-Russia
Council develop a common export-control regime--one with teeth,
like the former COCOM. Under no circumstances should we gloss over
Russian support for Iran's missile and nuclear program.
I also favor the proposal put forth by the U.S., Britain, and
Spain for NATO rapid reaction units geared for what used to be
called out-of-area operations. Of course, with global terrorism the
main threat today, there is no such thing as "out of area," so
rapid reaction units will have to be prepared to go anywhere. This
is clearly an endeavor that will require European nations to
address the capabilities gap in some way. It probably does us no
good to lecture Europeans about their defense spending levels
anymore. It would be most welcome if everyone in the alliance went
up to 3 percent of GNP, but perhaps it's more useful if we
encourage European nations to take a hard look at filling gaps in
the current alliance posture through specialization.
As to reaching consensus on terrorism and especially the issue
of preemption, President Bush should, and I believe will, consult
with countries in Europe and elsewhere before acting. It is clear,
however, that combating terrorism will remain at the center of U.S.
foreign policy for the foreseeable future and that preemptive
action will have to be one aspect of that struggle. Obviously, the
U.S. would always prefer to be part of a consensus; but we must not
allow the survival of Americans to be determined by a show of hands
by other countries.
Whether or not we reach consensus with Europe on these matters,
and regardless of its current deficiencies, NATO still must retain
its core mission of collective defense. NATO's infrastructure
cannot be duplicated or resurrected overnight. We must keep it
intact should a new threat develop that requires a ramp up in our
force posture. History shows that unexpected threats can develop
rapidly--we dare not be caught unprepared.
Lastly, NATO plays a growing and indispensable political role.
The transatlantic link is the primary repository of Western
civilization--a civilization based upon decent and profound ideals.
As Czech President Vaclav Havel remarked last year: " . . . the
Alliance is becoming not only an important pillar of international
security, but also a solid, understandable and trustworthy
component of the architecture of a future world order; and, a model
of solidarity in the defense of human liberties."
The democratic purpose is more compelling, not less, after a
century in which the countries of Europe survived the onslaught of
fascism and communism. NATO embodies this purpose, and that is why
10 nations are lined up at the door to get in. The Slovak
Republic's ambassador to the U.S., Martin Butora, recently
commented on his country's desire to join the Alliance, stating:
"Slovakia wants to join NATO because of her past, and perhaps even
more, because of her future."
We can take great pride in that expression of confidence in our
alliance, even as it challenges us to continue to improve.
-- The Honorable Jon Kyl, a Republican, represents Arizona in
the U.S. Senate.