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Toni Schönfelder
A lifetime of innovation

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Toni Schönfelder
A lifetime of innovation


President Bushs visit to Europe in May 2002 highlighted several important trends in American policy and focused on two related issues: the war on terrorism and bringing Russia
into a closer relationship with the West. Although some publicized aspects of the trip like the arms control agreement with Russia involved more show than substance,
negotiations behind the scenes at each stop on the schedule addressed contentious matters involving Iraq and other problems. Not surprisingly, however, media coverage on both
sides of the Atlantic stuck with an older and more dramatic script that emphasizes public differences in a way that obscures the issues at stake.

The hectic schedule for President Bushs trip began on Thursday, May 23 with a visit to Berlin, where he addressed the Bundestag, before proceeding to meetings in Russia and
France and concluding with an event in Rome that marked the creation of the NATO-Russia council. After a rocky start in early 2001, the Bush administration began to develop better
relations with both Americas European allies and Russia by the late summer. September 11 accentuated what the West had in common and what Russia could do to meet a common threat
from Al Qaeda and similar groups. Thus, Russian cooperation in the war on terrorism, the problem of Islamic radicalism, fears about Muslim immigrants, and the political shift to
the right in Continental Europe together provide a very different context from only a year ago.

Under Gerhard Schroeder, a continental advocate of the third way politics introduced by Bill Clinton and seemingly perfected by Tony Blair, the "Berlin Republic" has become
far more assertive than its predecessors, leading to serious doubts about the France-German partnership at the heart of
the European Union. Bush had not stopped in Germany during the first European trip of his administration in June 2001 and German commentators had been leading critics of the
United States. After September 11, however, Schroeder pledged full support for American military action in Afghanistan and ordered the deployment of German troops
overseas that remains controversial. Germany has forces in Kuwait as well as Afghanistan, and there has been no categorical refusal to join in action against Iraq. But domestic strains are evident. The Bundestag narrowly voted to confirm Schroeders policy on November 16, 2001 when it became clear that defeating the measure would split the
governing coalition led by Social Democrats and Greens.
Rank and file members of both parties resented the vote bitterly, and a resurgence of pacificism and anti- Americanism has marked the German center-left since the end of 2001.

Tensions within German domestic politics thus set the backdrop to Bushs visit. Polls show the opposition alliance of Christian Democrats and Bavarias Christian
Social Union leading Schroeders Social Democrats, though Schroeder himself outpolls his opponent Edmund Stoiber,
currently Bavarias minister-president. September 11 opened a fault line on crime and immigration that has hurt the
left, and Schroeders efforts to hold his own base may alienate the wider German electorate. Stoiber pointedly criticized anti-American protesters and praised Bushs May 23 speech in Berlin for concentrating on what united Europe and the United States rather than their differences.

Bushs address dealt with both the war on terrorism and democracy in Europe.He invoked earlier threats to remind Europeans that they too would be open to terrorist attack,
added a discussion of the need for targeted development aid to prevent the emergence of failed states, and invoked joint action as the best way forward. The president omitted any
public discussion of Iraq, having earlier told journalists that there were no war plans on his desk.

Much of Bushs speech, however, looked beyond the campaign against terrorism to the broader agenda of consolidating democratic stability in Europe, including a new relationship
with Russia. He emphasized the EU and NATO as the definition of institutional Europe, invoked a cultural heritage, and in general echoed his overlooked Warsaw speech on June 15, 2001. The Berlin speech,like that earlier one, offered themes that most Germans could support,and, following September 11, were more likely to support as politics shifted to the right.

Buoyed by his German success, Bush then launched the more dramatic initiative of his trip,the new engagement with Russia bilaterally and through NATO. The excellent
chemistry between the affable Bush and reticent Putin, surprising in itself, was again on display along with a few novel transactions. Disappointing those legions of lawyers
interested in arms control, they signed a treaty only three pages long and free of the usual lengthy (and disputable)verification procedures.Thus both countries confirmed
their intentions to reduce missile inventories over the next twelve years. Coming as it did not long after Russia
accepted the United States withdrawal from the 1972 Anti- Ballistic Missile treaty, this modest exercise offered the maximum deflation for the excessive expectations that have
accompanied past arms control regimes.

Beneath the treaty and displays of public diplomacy in Moscow and St. Petersburg lay the uneven terrain of actual relations between Putins Russia and Bushs America. Russia
has played a key part in the war against terrorism, particularly during efforts to topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and counterterrorism remains high on the agenda
for Putin and Bush. Still, Russias commitment to the Bush administrations policy remains ambiguous.Bush openly questioned Russian assistance to Irans nuclear program while anonymous briefers raised questions about Russias technical contribution to Irans deployment of medium range Shahab 3 missiles. In the style of his Soviet predecessors, Putin denied all,and noted that other European countries have also aided Tehran.

Russia also has its complaints. Steel tariffs that sparked outrage from Japan and the European Union also hurt sectors of Russian manufacturing that have been increasingly
competitive in global markets since the late 1990s.
Barriers to Russian steel exports led to retaliation against American chicken producers, which in turn brought a
Congressional vote in favor of Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe broadcasts to Chechnya that again raised hackles in
Moscow. Another American law--The Jackson Vanik Amendment to the 1974 Trade Act that linked most favored nation status with free emigration from communist states--remains a
symbolic irritant for Russia. The Soviet Union received a waiver during the Gorbachev era and the legislation remains in force despite the Soviet collapse and other changes. Repeal would have been a welcome public gesture for Bushs visit, especially given Russias desire to improve trade with the West, but it fell prey to the dispute over poultry exports to Russia.

In short, the current good relationship between the United States and Russia remains very much the artifact of presidential enthusiasms. As such,it faces many tests,especially in the war on terrorism, before it can be described as either a partnership or an alliance.

Bush arrived in Paris on Sunday, May 26. As in Germany, domestic politics set the context for discussing security policy. The surprising defeat of former Socialist Premier Lionel Jospin and the rise of Jean Marie Le Pen as Chiracs final opponent in recent presidential elections marginalized the French left. While the lefts failure to support a single candidate helped Le Pen edge past the decidedly
uncharismatic Jospin in the first round of voting,the overall vote indicated a decisive shift to the right that subsequently brought Chirac a majority in the June legislative elections that followed Bushs visit. Suddenly
the French political agenda had changed dramatically and with it the French propensity to deride American policy.
Crime and outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence linked with Muslim immigrants from North Africa fueled popular backlash that has implications for French cooperation with Washington. The May 8,2002 attack on a French technical group in Pakistan reinforced the trend to work with the United States.It is noteworthy that Chirac reached out to
Washington in 1995 as part of a stalled effort to reorient French foreign policy during the early part of his administration. The impact of September 11 and domestic
political change within France may promote new overtures,particularly if Chiracs allies win a majority in forthcoming legislative elections. Such a step by Chirac would be made with much less publicity than efforts by
Russia or center-right governments elsewhere in Western Europe to cultivate relations with the Bush administration.
Bushs visit ended on an elegaic note at a Memorial Day commemoration at Normandy where he summoned memories past heroism to sustain the current generations war against terrorism.

The last day of Bushs schedule returned the focus to Russia and its relationship with America and the West. NATO leaders met outside Rome to welcome Russia into a new
relationship that, in the fervent words of Lord Robertson, "buried" the Cold War; a ceremony performed many times since
the late 1980s. Heralded as "NATO at 20," the new structure provided for Russia to be represented in a council with the 19 other NATO members.This arrangement differs sharply from the old system in which Russia met with a representative of NATO as a whole. Unanimity would be required for action by the new group. Would this structure allow Russia to lobby national capitals before a NATO
decision, making Russia a de facto member of the alliance? Or would it prove no different in practice to the joint partnership council that preceded it?

The Russians hope that this initiative really is "new." Russias foreign policy establishment lays great stress on
their countrys having a role within NATOs decisionmaking process. Sergei Rogov, Director of the Institute for United States and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of
Sciences, recently argued that NATO is where coordination among core states takes place. The practical issue from his perspective is whether Russia will be able to participate
fully in the development of common policies. However, that raises other concerns about how closely Russias interests match those of the United States and its European allies.
Is Russias new role in NATO a permanent (and ultimately problematic) solution to the temporary problem of global terrorism?

NATOs current members place less emphasis on the alliance than Russia, with Washington in particular seeing it
primarily as a starting point for ad hoc coalitions of the willing. Member states capable of acting in a given
situation and faced with a reason to intervene will do so.
Others will remain on the sidelines. Stalled efforts to build an EU reaction force independent of NATO reflect
dissatisfaction among some segments of the European political class, but the renationalization of security policy in Europe after September 11 halted this trend. The
unwillingness of governments to raise military spending to a level that would provide independent capabilities made an effective European force unlikely in any event. Instead, NATO again has devised plans to close the gaps between American and other allied forces through a program of
increases in military spending as a proportion of GDP. This 2 percent solution, like the earlier 3 percent solution during the late 1970s, could amount to real money if NATO
members implement the program.

If domestic politics in Europe set the context for Bushs visit, promoting the next step in the war on terrorism and
consolidating democratic stability in Europe served as its underlying theme. The connection between them lies in the fact that the September 11 attacks exposed a fissure between
the Western exponents of globalization and those elsewhere who see that process as yet another foreign assault on their interests. An effective response to this challenge requires
cooperation on many levels among core Western states. Bush used the trip to build support quietly among allies skeptical of American policy in the Middle East and particularly a confrontation with Iraq.

Some observers overstate the motives behind the Bush administrations policy.
Josef Joffe of Die Zeit recently
likened Bush to Otto von Bismarck for replicating Bismarcks late nineteenth century policy of drawing European states
into a network of alliances that prevented conflicts and the formation of any coalition against the hegemonic power in Europe. Nobody in Washington, however, lives in fear of a
threatening coalition of the kind Bismarck sought to block.
The reality of American policy is far more prosaic.The Bush administration wants to find common ground with its European allies and Russia in the ongoing war against
terrorism without compromising its effectiveness. The test of this search is pragmatic not philosophical, and American
policy at this point is less a system than an unanticipated experiment in reworking an old alliance -- NATO-- and
constructing another new one with Russia.

Foreign Policy Research Institute

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