HomeDOCUMENTSSpecial Publications200330 July 2003 - Editorial by Rep. Doug Bereuter in The Hill
30 July 2003 - Editorial by Rep. Doug Bereuter in The Hill
The transatlantic relationship must be preserved and strengthened
The relationship between the United States and the nations of Europe is perhaps the most important foreign relationship we have. No two regions in the world share a history, a common set of values and a global vision as much as do the United States and Europe. Our economy, our system of trade and our security are integrally linked with the European continent. With our European partners we share a wider range of interests and a higher level of cooperation on issues than with any other region in the world.
As it has evolved, the European Union has become both a strong partner and a strong competitor for the United States. Most Americans will accept fierce competition in trade as long is it is fair, for competition can be beneficial. But it must be recognized that Americans are increasingly disturbed by EU trade-distorting policies and the Union’s restriction of imports on the basis of emotion instead of sound science.
With regard to foreign and security policy, Europe must be a counterpart of the United States, not a counterweight. Given the challenges that we face, efforts by some European politicians to turn the EU into a counterweight to America are in the interest of neither Europe nor the United States. We cannot waste energy and effort on diplomatic struggles over power and influence in light of the need to reach and act upon a common understanding of what constitutes the greatest threat to our security today.
Soviet communism has collapsed, but security threats have not disappeared. Forging a common response requires first that our European allies recognize the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, terrorist states, and the nexus of these three. In this regard, the recently prepared draft security strategy for the European Union is a positive step forward in bringing American and European threat perceptions closer together.
To confront these threats, we need to create new capabilities in NATO, the transatlantic Alliance through which the democracies of Europe and North America provide for their common defense. First, our allies must fulfill the promise they made at the November 2002 Prague Summit to create the NATO Response Force, which will give the Alliance a high-end expeditionary capability. Second, they must energetically join us in implementing the Prague Capabilities Commitment, through which the allies have pledged to develop the key military assets needed to perform NATO missions.
We cannot minimize the fact that the harsh rhetoric we heard on both sides of the Atlantic during the Iraq debate did damage the transatlantic relationship and has raised concerns regarding an increase in long-term anti-American attitudes, especially in those nations which opposed U.S. policy in Iraq. The American public felt deep disappointment, frustration and anger with several European nations, particularly France and Germany. But it is time to move beyond the differences of last winter and to now discuss how best to use an alliance that has served us well in the past to address the security challenges of the future.
In Iraq, the decision by NATO to provide planning, force generation, logistics and communications support to the Polish-led division in Iraq is an excellent first step for the Alliance. This month, I introduced an amendment in the House calling on President Bush to consider making a formal request for NATO to assume a greater role in Iraq. The House approved this amendment without opposition, just as the Senate earlier had acted by unanimous vote. Over time, NATO should assume command of the force in the Polish sector of Iraq, and perhaps even in the sector currently under British command. Ultimately, NATO might assume command of the entire operation.
For more than 50 years the transatlantic alliance has been successful in meeting many challenges. This ability to find consensus and adapt to new conditions undoubtedly results from shared values, the enduring importance of the partnership, and the commitment of those who have managed this crucial relationship. The partnership between the U.S. and Europe is more necessary than ever in a world as uncertain as ours is today; the transatlantic relationship must be preserved and strengthened.
Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-Neb.) is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe of the House International Relations Committee and President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.