TO: José Manuel Barroso,
European Commission President Javier Solana, EU Foreign Policy Chief
FROM: Andrew Moravcsik and Kalypso Nicolaidis
RE: Bridging the Atlantic
The recent American charm offensive in Europe -- capped by President George W. Bush's visit in February and the subsequent agreement on a joint strategy for Iran -- shows that there is some hope for warmer trans-Atlantic ties. Perhaps most important, the president conceded that the European Union (EU) is a major global partner by treating it as equal to NATO. Europeans still believe, however, that the United States could be more respectful and sophisticated in its relations with the EU. Certainly, the Bush administration must learn to listen as well as lead. But can you entirely fault the Americans? Constant electioneering by 25 national leaders speaking 20 languages, splits between "old" and "new" Europeans, and a constitution in limbo often make it hard for Americans to discern a clear European message. You have correctly proclaimed your commitment to raising Europe's foreign-policy profile during the next five-year term of the European Commission. Changing attitudes in Washington will be an essential part of that task.
Europe is widely viewed in the United States as impotent, obstructionist, and -- simultaneously -- utopian and cynical. Americans instinctively understand military alliances and simple free trade agreements, such as NATO and NAFTA. They have no experience with Europe's complex governance system. Americans pressure the EU to let Turkey into the club, but they would be astonished if Mexican President Vicente Fox asked the United States to "share" Supreme Court justices, trade negotiators, and agricultural subsidies the way Europeans do.
The coherence of EU foreign policy is likely to improve as the new constitution is implemented, in late 2006 with a bit of luck. But in the meantime, what does Europe stand for? You must correct the distorted image of Europe by keeping your foreign policy pragmatic, broadening your strategic agenda, and connecting Europe's experience to the larger push for democratic change.
Showcase Europe's "Civilian" Power
In Washington, Europeans are often portrayed as free riders on U.S. geopolitical might, unwilling to spend on credible defense capabilities. Without a common EU defense policy, the metaphor goes, the United States will do the cooking and Europe must clean the dishes.
It is past time for Brussels to retire the rhetoric of powerlessness. The first step in a more robust European strategy is to highlight Europe's financial and political commitment to deploying "civilian power." Europeans will not soon match the military capabilities the United States displayed in Kosovo and Iraq -- and it is unclear what difference it would make if they could. A far more effective approach would be to stress what Europe is already doing. The real lesson of the past four years is that most Western progress in promoting security can be traced to less flashy strategies that are natural tasks for the EU, with its collective, incremental style of governance. European power is equal to or stronger than that of the United States in almost all forms, save for the deployment of military might. And this power is almost always exercised to pursue goals shared by the United States.
Enlargement. In a decade or two, the EU will likely encompass 600 million people from the Arctic Circle to Turkey's border with Iraq. Since the end of the Cold War, authoritarian, intolerant, and corrupt governments have lost elections to democratic, market-oriented coalitions held together by the promise of EU membership. In the face of public skepticism, EU leaders courageously decided to negotiate accession with Turkey. At least in its own neighborhood, Europe is the leading promoter of democracy.
Trade. For those who cannot join the EU, close trade relations often help spread prosperity, democracy, and reform. Association agreements have been made with Russia, much of the former Soviet Union, Israel, and many Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa -- all of which trade more with Europe than with the United States. European trade with China recently surpassed that of the United States.
Aid. Whether in the form of humanitarian assistance, technical expertise, or support for nation building, foreign aid reduces human suffering and bolsters peaceful development. Here, too, Europe is the civilian superpower, dispensing 70 percent of all civilian foreign aid and dispersing it more widely than the United States. In assisting democracy building in the Middle East, excepting Iraq, the EU dispenses 15 times more annual aid than the United States.
Peacekeeping. European nations now deploy more than 100,000 troops abroad, many of them in defense of U.S. commitments, in places such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone. Current and prospective EU members contribute 10 times as many soldiers to U.N. peacekeeping and policing operations as does the United States. European defense cooperation is not aimed at countering U.S. hegemony but at mustering more troops for these humanitarian and peacekeeping operations.
You will find a receptive audience in the United States if you emphasize the effectiveness of these contributions to Western security. Americans on the right and the left have learned from Iraq that winning the peace is harder than winning the war. The United States sometimes has difficulty addressing the root causes of terror. Show Americans that bolstering Western "civilian power" through the EU is very much in their self-interest. Trumpet these European strengths.