The world may have high hopes for the new administration, but the EU at least should look to its own house first


Artículo de Andrew Moravcsik  en “Newsweek” del 10/11/2004


Por su interés y relevancia, he seleccionado el artículo que sigue para incluirlo en este sitio web. (L. B.-B.)


Nov. 15 issue - Europeans were right. It was a world election. They favored Kerry, roughly 6-1. Now they must live with the result. Europeans opposed Bush largely because they believe his administration lives in a dream world of libertarian conservatism, religious revivalism and American patriotism. Ideologically driven officials, Europeans believe, manipulated the American public and made a false virtue out of "shoot first and ask questions later." Revelations of how Bush insiders exploited tight control over access to the president and invoked religious faith to quash debate only reinforced this impression. So did the administration's refusal (or inability) to acknowledge its failures in the deepening Iraqi quagmire.

Europeans like to think of themselves as free of such ideological baggage. Most believe their foreign policy is nonpartisan, culturally sensitive, properly skeptical of military intervention and grounded in a consensus on the centrality of human rights and international law. But does Europe offer a serious and sober alternative to American hegemony? Not really.

In the run-up to Iraq, European governments were pushed to ideological extremes of their own. Britain's Tony Blair borrowed Bush's absolutist moral rhetoric, only to sign on to the American program with little to show for it. France's Jacques Chirac and Germany's Gerhard Schroder voiced strident opposition—to the point of unilaterally ruling out participation in Iraq, even under a U.N. mandate. The result: Europeans were utterly discredited in American domestic politics. Today Europe's standing is so low that it scarcely figures in election rhetoric, let alone U.S. geopolitical calculations. Will this change? Not likely, because the problem isn't just America. It's also Europe and its lack of seriousness when it comes to foreign policy.

Consider Iraq. Gerhard Schroder didn't even wait for the U.S. election results before pulling the rhetorical rug out from under the Democrats, reiterating Germany's unwillingness under any circumstances to send troops to Iraq. The French followed suit. Compromise measures—debt relief, training, or financing—are nowhere to be seen. And what of Iran, perhaps the next big global crisis? Even if Europeans were correct to doubt the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the impracticality of a regime-changing occupation in Iraq, there is little disagreement among Western intelligence services that Tehran will be able to construct a workable nuclear device by 2007. The European policy of engagement, launched a year ago by Britain, France and Germany, runs up against calls in some quarters of America and Israel for military action. Yet European leaders have yet to develop a practical policy response.



European rhetoric evokes great forests, but their actions focus on small trees. For example, they advocate a stronger United Nations. One might think this was an opportunity for transatlantic agreement, since both Kerry and Bush (sincerely or otherwise) have called for U.N. reform to allow the Security Council to respond more decisively to global terrorism threats. Yet no major European proposals are forthcoming. The German government has instead chosen this moment to launch a quixotic crusade for a permanent Security Council seat, and thus a veto on U.N. resolutions. Right.

European governments are, moreover, choosing more and more to deal only with those who already agree with them. Witness French foreign policy. In the course of the Iraq crisis, Chirac managed to alienate America, Britain, Italy and most of Central and Eastern Europe. Now he seeks to build up Franco-German, Franco-Russian and even Franco-Chinese partnerships. Socialist politician Pierre Moscovici rightly characterizes this 19th-century-style diplomacy as a "quaint anachronism" that generates "all rhetoric and no results."

And what of the European Union? Two years ago national leaders promised a thorough reform. Instead, politics as usual. The new Constitution signed last Friday is a modest and sensible document: a bit of institutional reform, incremental movement on defense and social policy and slightly more democratic transparency. Yet European politicians have turned it into a domestic political football. Blair reversed his initial opposition to a referendum on the Constitution in order to split the Tory right. Chirac followed suit, in an effort to split the French Socialists. Even German politicians are flirting with a referendum. The result: political gridlock in which the Constitution is almost sure to be voted down somewhere.

Across the European political spectrum, populist rhetoric has replaced political leadership. Europe's only real policy success in recent years has been EU enlargement, which current governments inherited. Europe needs to shift from its culture of criticism to more positive, results-oriented policies. It's the only way Europeans will regain the respect of Americans and, more important, count for more in the world.

Moravcsik is director of the European Union Program at Princeton University.