Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice deserves credit for laying down
the gauntlet to European critics of U.S. foreign policy. Her gutsy
trip to several EU capitals, including London, Paris, Brussels, and
Berlin, rightfully won her plaudits across a Europe deeply divided
over the war in Iraq and a host of major foreign policy issues,
including the Iranian nuclear question and the China arms embargo.
The second Bush Administration has sensibly made the strengthening
of the transatlantic alliance a key foreign policy priority,
recognizing that coalition-building in Europe is critical to
advancing long-term American interests on the world stage. The
United States must continue to actively engage all major players in
Europe, including those with whom it disagrees.
On the question of
European aspirations for a common foreign policy, however, the
position stated by Rice is problematic. In an interview with the
Financial Times and a small group of European newspapers,
the Secretary of State backed the drive led by France and Germany
to forge a common European foreign policy, reportedly stating that
a "unified" Europe was a "positive force":
unifies further and has a common foreign policy - I understand what
is going to happen with the constitution and that there will be
unification, in effect, under a foreign minister - I think that
also will be a very good development. We have to keep reminding
everybody that there is not any conflict between a European
identity and a transatlantic identity…
may be seized upon by supporters of a federal Europe, whose goal is
the creation of a European super-state, as a counterweight to
American global power. They could present her remarks as official
confirmation of American support for the EU Constitution and may
use them to try to isolate those who are campaigning across Europe
for defeat of the Constitution in referenda.
also send a confusing message to Europe regarding the United
States' position on further political integration. Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for example, has pointedly refused to back
the idea of a united Europe. There is no evidence to suggest that
the White House endorses the EU Constitution, and the Bush
Administration's position has until now been largely neutral, with
a healthy dose of skepticism.
Several important points need to be
made regarding the European Constitution:
1. The EU Constitution is not a done deal. Implementation of
the Constitution requires the ratification of all EU member states.
Several countries will hold referenda on the Constitution, leaving
open the very strong possibility that it will not be ratified.
Opinion polls in Britain, for example, show that an overwhelming
majority of the British public is opposed to the Constitution and
likely to reject it at the polls in 2006. In addition, Poland, the
Netherlands, Denmark, and Ireland may all vote no, as well.
If a major
European country rejects the Constitution, a multi-speed Europe
will result, in which some countries opt for closer political
union, while traditional U.S. allies such as Britain form an outer
core of EU members, with looser political ties to Brussels.
2. Europe is
divided, not united. Europe is a union of nation-states, which
are deeply divided by history, language, and culture and which
maintain a striking division of outlook regarding major foreign
policy issues. Iraq is a perfect example. There are currently 12 EU
member states with troops in Iraq and 13 EU members who have
refused to support the U.S.-led coalition. In addition, there are
serious disagreements over attitudes towards American global power,
the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Kyoto protocol, how to successfully
wage the war on terror, and the role NATO should play in the new
era. Any attempt to force consensus in Europe, which the
Constitution would undoubtedly do, would be inherently
undemocratic, counter-productive, and artificial.
3. The Common
European Foreign and Security Policy is not in the U.S.
interest. It is frightening to
imagine what would happen to American interests if the
supranational imperative in Europe extended further into the
foreign and security policy realm. For example, if the Common
European Foreign and Security Policy had functioned in 2003,
Belgium, France, or Greece (all states with strongly anti-American
publics) could have kept the U.K., Poland, and Italy from aiding
America in Iraq.
Those who wish to preserve America's ability
to pursue coalition-building must therefore strenuously oppose
efforts to strengthen EU foreign policy integration. Such a
process would prevent many European states in a divided EU from
realizing their national interests and from working closely with
the U.S. to address global problems.
The most prominent casualty of a united European foreign
policy would be the Anglo-U.S. special relationship. A neutralized
Britain would be forced to remain on the sidelines while America
confronted rogue states such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria. It is
highly conceivable that, in such circumstances, the United States
would have to wage its next major war on its own, with no
significant military ally present.
As President Bush
travels to Europe next week for meetings with European Union and
NATO leaders, he should avoid making statements that will be
perceived as a U.S. endorsement of the EU Constitution and
Franco-German plans for a unified foreign policy. This would only
strengthen the hand of America's opponents in Europe and weaken the
position of those who are fighting to maintain the sanctity of the
Administration should adopt an interest-based position regarding
the future direction of Europe, emphasizing that U.S. goals in
Europe include the preservation of the NATO alliance, the
maintenance of the Anglo-U.S. special relationship, and support for
a multi-speed Europe, based on the principle of each individual
state having greater choice about its level of integration with
Simply put, a
Europe where national sovereignty remains paramount regarding
foreign and security policy and where states act flexibly rather
than collectively whenever possible will enable America to engage
the continent most successfully. This flexibility, whether in
international institutions or in ad hoc coalitions of the willing,
is the future of the transatlantic relationship, for it fits the
objective realities of the continent.
message that the President should take to Europe is the same one
that he delivered in his powerful State of the Union address:
aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent
nations, with governments that answer to their citizens, and
reflect their own cultures.
Ph.D, is Fellow in Anglo-American Security Policy, and John C.
Hulsman, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow in European Affairs in
the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy of the
Shelby and Kathryn Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies
at The Heritage Foundation.