Monday, July 30, 2007

# Posted 6:22 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CAN SHARED VALUES UNITE BUSH, BROWN AND SARKOZY? Trans-Atlantic relations are better than they were in 2003-2004, yet still at one of their lowest points since the Berlin Wall came down. Yet even when trans-Atlantic relations were at their absolute lowest, and critics were talking about the disintegration of the entire "postwar international order", OxBlog remained fairly confident that things would get better.

Why? Because shared democratic values -- and a history of fighting side-by-side on behalf of those values -- bind together the United States and Europe. National values are not the opposite of national interests. Rather, they are what enable us to identify national interests with far greater confidence. American, French and British statesmen know that it is always in our collective interest to rebuild our alliance when it falters, because our shared values ensure that our interests converge over the long-run. The war in Iraq divides us bitterly, yet we know that democratic nations must stand together in the enduring struggle against terrorism.

In today's Washington Post, Gordon Brown writes that:
Outside observers may think of even great alliances only in narrow, 19th-century terms: treaties of convenience driven forward by nothing more than mutual needs and current interests.

Yet I believe our Atlantic partnership is rooted in something far more fundamental and lasting than common interests or even common history: It is anchored in shared ideals that have for two centuries linked the destinies of our two countries.
Presumably, one could dismiss such statements as diplomatic niceties. Yet Brown has every incentive to play to his audience at home by distancing himself from Bush and Blair. As Dan Froomkin observes at WaPo.com,
Anyone who expected the new British prime minister to distance himself from President Bush today -- at least in public -- would have been sorely disappointed.
Yet perhaps it is only natural for the US and UK to remain close friends. In terms of language and culture, Britain is in many ways our mother country, unlike the rest of Europe. Yet in a recent interview with The National Interest and Politique Internationale, President Sarkozy observed that:
My problem with realpolitik is that it limits diplomatic action in an effort to leave unchanged the reality of the world. "Stability" and status quo are their obsessions. But the pursuit of status quo is not a policy; it is akin to giving up. Stability for stability’s sake is not how I conceive the world. The steadfast adherence to stability leads to turning a blind eye to cruelty and injustice...

Because our interests are global, so must be our responsibilities. Our security interests are inseparable to those of Europe and our other partners, those who share our goals and values. Faced with a new threat environment—terrorism, proliferation, etc.—cooperation will be the key to success. Our second objective must be to promote the universal values of liberty and the respect for human rights and dignity. I believe that France is only truly itself when it embodies liberty against oppression and reason against chaos.
Much like the United States and Britain, France has taken many actions over the years that did not serve the interests of human rights and human dignity. Yet it would be a mistake to interpret such hypocrisies as an indication that our values do not exert a powerful influence over our interests.

You won't hear Brown or Sarkozy refer to our struggle against terror as a war, but there's no question that we are on the same side. Plenty of rebuilding may still be necessary, but the foundation of the Trans-Atlantic alliance remains intact.


(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

It is reasurring to hear that the alliance is still intact. However, I still think that the US needs to begin repairing its reputation in the world. I think the first step in doing this is for the US to join other nations and to lend its considerable economic and political might to addressing the most important global problems, like improving health, nutrition and education in the poorest countries. The fight against global poverty is a worthy one in and of itself. But it could also be the means by which the US redefines itself as a conscious political leader as opposed to a stubborn neo-imperialist threat.
Somehow you conflate Bush with America.

If Bush is a lame duck nationally, he is a dead duck internationally. Putin came and was friendly enough in person, and Brown and Sarkozy will be as well. Russia will go its own wa¥, Britain will continue to pull out of Iraq, and the French will ignore the US. Bush is gone in a year and a half. He's been a failure.
Mr. Adesnik,

The alliances were thoroughly dead when the Soviets went away. It was only designed to protect Western Europe. When the Europeans no longer had to worry about a direct threat to themselves, they were happy to forget their broader responsibilities.

It took over a decade to clarify the situation - that Europe is not only unwilling to be an ally, but is of no value as an ally. To call it a paper tiger would be to insult paper tigers. Europe no longer even pretends to be significant - it deploys, at best, token forces with the full understanding by everyone that these are just tokens, that there is nothing else behind them.

Only the US is willing to volunteer the substantial material and moral resources needed to keep global peace.

Ms. Maggie,

The US has, with little assistance from anyone else (and that mostly the UK), been directly responsible for every single national success story since 1945. It is US policy, historic and on-going, to create conditions of general security, free trade, economic stability, free navigation and liberal access to its vast internal market that has created the current conditions of global prosperity to the degree that this exists.

The very idea that the US bears some onus here is, frankly, a hideous calumny. The fact that the US does not receive the daily prostrations of grateful billions is a testament to the defects of human nature.
I'm reading Sarkozy's book "Testimony" now, and I'm impressed overall. In trying to get rid of the moniker "Sarko the American," he does tend to damn the US through faint praise from time to time ("I am not overly fascinated by the American model. But if I had to choose, I feel closer to American society than a lot of others in the world"), but when he does this its more funny than offensive. It's definitely an improvement. He recognizes France's shortcomings - particularly social and economic - and he concedes that French people can come of as arrogant when they pretend they're the best country there ever was when they have just as many domestic problems as everyone else.

He has a section on realism in the book as well. But one thing I noticed is this: "My problem with realpolitik is that it limits diplomatic action in an effort to leave unchanged the reality of the world."

I would also add that realpolitik limits military action in an effort to leave unchanged the reality of the world as well. I hope our allies come to realize that war does still exist, and is sometimes necessary - but I think things have been trending in a pretty positive direction in Europe with Merkel and Sarkozy.
"The US has, with little assistance from anyone else (and that mostly the UK), been directly responsible for every single national success story since 1945."

The U.S. is directly responsible for Chinese and Indian economic reforms? For the European common market? For Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. etc. etc.

It's this sort of breathtaking historical and economic illiteracy that makes America so admired the world over. Truly, the triumph of arrogance over fact. I'll bet you think the US won WWII all by herself as well.
Mr. Anonymous,

The problem here is, as in the old saying, its not what you don't know but what you know that isn't so.

What has happened in the last several decades is that generations of communist propaganda (the influence of which lived on after the death of the originators) have been internalized by mis-educated elites so they are able to miss what is plainly before them.

The US was responsible, post 1945, for keeping Western Europe sufficiently liberal and capitalist to make things like the EC possible - and its military-economic hegemony was very helpful in pre-empting the national rivalries that would have prevented the realization of the EC. The post-war recovery and the European economic booms of the 1950's and 60's owed little to the EC anyway.

Chinese and Indian economic reforms were the direct result of the presence of superior economic models that had been preserved (by the US) from the era of socialist expansion, such as Hong Kong and Singapore. Deng Xiaoping took Singapore as China's model explicitly. Both also embarked upon these with the assurance that they had a ready low-tariff market in the US - and to the extent that they had one in the rest of the world, it was the US that had minimized the beggar-thy-neighbor tariff barriers through its consistent pushing of free trade since Bretton Woods. No US, no free trade. No US, no export-led growth models.

On another front - no US Seventh Fleet, no Korea, no CIA = no Asian Tigers, and that includes Hong Kong and Singapore.

Which brings us to today. The US is still the most open export market around. It is still the US that keeps global tariffs low and preserves a global market. It is still the US that keeps a lid on great power rivalries and pre-empts destabilizing national ambitions. Without the US, chaos.

And I am not an American.
Odd that they call it Globalization and not Americanization.

The US has, with little assistance from anyone else (and that mostly the UK), been directly responsible for every single national success story since 1945.

I think LA is confusing cause and effect. The effect has certainly been manufacture at all costs tigers, but whether they have been modeling themselves after us or selling to us is debatable.

no CIA = no Asian Tigers

Doubtlessly we have been responsible for the economic miracle of Vietnam, the country who made the tennis shoes I'm wearing. Evidently even an invisible hand needs a covert operations force, not that we do that sort of thing.
Mr. Anonymous,

Globalization is a euphemism to a degree, as a lot of it (not all of course) is indeed Americanization.

The Tigers became Tigers because they had US protection and US markets to start.

Vietnam would still be going nowhere if the US hadn't won the Cold War. The Vietnamese government essentially gave up on its ideology and got on the same path (enabled by the US) as all the rest of the region.
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