Rezzo Schlauch: Rede/Essay zum Transatlantischen Verhältnis - April 2003 - Teil 2 The Drive Towards a Stronger Europe
In the post war period there was a dualism in West-German foreign policy
between the French and the Anglo-American orientation, between so called
Gaullists and the Transatlanticists. While Franco-German reconciliation
and European integration was of paramount importance for the rebuilding
of a friendly, integrated, post-nationalist Germany, security concerns,
cultural ties, admiration and gratitude made the US the most important ally
for West-Germany. With a common opponent in the East and a relatively modest
role for the West-German military, these two poles of Western integration
were relatively easy to balance. Despite occasional French-American tensions,
it was always feasible for Germany to steer the middle ground. European
integration and Transatlantic Partnership never appeared as alternatives
but as complements, two sides of Western integration.
Many foreign policy thinkers in Germany would like things to stay that way. In the present context, they look increasingly nostalgic. As the senior partner in the old transatlantic relationship decides to go it alone, the geopolitical trend leaves us with Europe. But can or should an integrated Europe be more of a counterpoise to American hegemony?
In a sense, the progressive building of an integrated Europe will necessarily result in certain split loyalties. The identity of citizens will be distributed between loyalty to the region, to the nation, to Europe, to the West as a wider cultural identity and to global citizenship in a cosmopolitan sense. The more important the European element of this layered identity becomes and the more cosmopolitan values in an age of globalization come to the fore, the more the identification with the "West" and therefore with "America" may loose in importance. The current American foreign policy stance may accelerate such a development.
There is of course the question of an independent European military force. Attempts to constitute an independent European defense and security force will gain momentum. A few weeks ago the EU has taken over the Macedonia mission from NATO. A small start, to be sure, but a potential beginning for more independence. And one outcome of the current disagreement has been the announcement of a new defense initiative by 4 of the core European states with an invitation to all others. Such independence is especially desirable in cases of conflict and peace-keeping missions in Europe's neighborhood. But since security concerns are global these days, it should extend to world wide abilities on a moderate scale. Such limited independence can make European dissent in geopolitical matters more credible.
Nevertheless, this can and will only go so far. Ultimately, Mr. Kagan and
others are right, when they say that America has preserved and upheld a
catalogue of martial and patriotic values that Europe has abandoned after
centuries of devastating historical experiences. Europeans do not really
want to fall back into a logic of strategic rivalry, military arms races
and balances of power. European societies would never be willing to spend
the enormous amounts of money for defense that would be necessary to balance
the American arsenal. Europe needs to gain independence from America in
its own defense affairs, but it will never be a strategic rival to the US
in terms of global military world ordering ambitions.
Joseph Nye has introduced the notion of "soft power" for the capability to convince through the attractiveness of culture and political ideas, to persuade and rule in cooperative structures. Europe´s strength is and will be as a civil power, an economic and cultural player with strong political influcence. Conflict prevention, economic strength, development aid, intercultural dialogue, negotiated globalization; theses are Europe´s virtues and contributions. With its soft power it may be able to exert influence in the world and be an ally for a world public opinion. This alliance with an emerging global civil society may sometimes work with the Americans, as it has in the case of Afghanistan, but it may sometimes work against America, as it has in the case of Iraq. Europe and the US then become rivals in the battle for the hearts and minds. And the USA, until recently the world champion of soft power knows how difficult it is to fight against the hearts and minds, even with the most superior military force. Without legitimacy, America cannot stabilize its lead status and Europe may be needed to gain this legitimacy.
Such soft power could be exercised even if European integration takes more
time than some would wish. It may be waged in changing coalitions for a
while, coalitions of the unwilling. And Pentagon strategists now gleeful
about the European split in the Iraqi question should remember that soft
power is carried through popular opinion. On the level of popular opinion
on Iraq, Europe is already integrated. American prestige in polls throughout
Europe has dropped significantly. On the level of governments, as we all
know, a unified European defense and foreign policy does not exist. But
most governments that have steered a more Pro-American course have done
so against public opinion in their countries and they have been very moderate
in their support since the war began.
But despite all this talk of counterparts, military independence and soft power alliances against America, the fact of the matter is: Ultimately, the German people have no true desire to act as global power balancers. The current sentiments throughout Europe are simply a reaction to the new American strategy and action. The German American Marriage maybe in a rocky period but Germany ultimately would prefer to remain in a transatlantic security partnership. And I think and sincerely hope, so does America! So let me ignore my partisan role here and as act as the marriage counselor!
Mutual Corrections - Towards a Transatlantic Reconciliation
Obviously, the many levels of cooperation and friendship between our countries have not ceased to exist. They exist on an economic, cultural, political, military and international police level. The transatlantic partnership is far too stable for a vocabulary of rivalry to be appropriate. Germany remains deeply Americanized and ultimately pro-American. The open dissent on Iraq is an expression of confidence, based on the grounds of common cultural and political values. This is a confidence among partners, which will remain the model for the future. We will continue to cooperate on many levels but we will also continue to assess US actions on a case by case basis. And then sometimes, we will "beg to differ."
But we do not wish to differ for the sake of difference. I consider the current rift as troubling in many respects. While America seems to loose a sense for the value of European allies, Germans tend to forget what American international involvment contributes to peace, stability, freedom and prosperity in the world. So in order to stop the undeniable trend towards transatlantic difference, both sides may have to rethink some of their positions. I would like to point to a few topics for the future transatlantic debate.
1 - Mutual Dependence
Europeans know that the hard power of military force is sometimes necessary and that there is only one global hegemon that can truly exercise military power on a global scale in this age. And Europe also knows that in terms of her value system there has rarely been a great power that has exercised its dominance in more benign ways than the USA. The thought of any other state of this world commanding such power at this moment sends shivers down the veins of a new transatlantic German. The multilateral world order of international law, humanitarian progress and globalized prosperity needs a strong hegemon. The United Nations without America are weak and irrelevant. And the security concerns of a hegemon that is objectively threatened from many sides cannot be taken lightly.
But on the other hand, a world of constantly changing coalitons and diplomatic alliances is not an option. Americans need to rediscover their sense of diplomacy and their skills in exercising their power with convinced allies. They need to realize, that in these globalized days it will not be possible to arbitrarily exercise military predominance against a global economic and cultural player with the weight of Europe. America needs European help in many respects. Some are even from the realm of hard power like the international campaign against terrorism.
2 - Security Concerns and Risk Assessment
The German sociologist Ulrich Beck has described the transatlantic discussion in terms of a "radical contradiction in the perception of risk." While America is on constant terror alert, sees imminent threats from rogue states and fears the mass destruction of global terrorism, Europe sees American hysteria and fears the mass destruction of war. Europeans cannot continue to play down American concerns. If they criticize the solution of disarmament war, they have to come up with a real alternative. The privatization of terror and the continued presence of weapons of mass destruction in this world need a new global security system. That may in some cases limit the sovereignty of states that have proven to be security risks.
But on this issue Americans need to realize that a one-sided emphasis on national military confrontation and a series of disarmament wars is a highly questionable response to this kind of threat. Limiting the sovereignty of states that pose a risk for the privatized proliferation of weapons of mass destruction must not mean invasion. Such an approach will not stop proliferation, it may even provoke more. And, ultimately, risk annihilation is impossible! The costs of a campaign to eradicate evil would be unimaginable evil itself and it would be doomed to failure. Besides, such a campaign would be open to abuse and instrumentalization. The USA cannot afford to set the agenda in an unconvincing way.
3 - Global Democracy vs Democratic Imperialism
Can democracy be brought with bombs? No German should find this question easy to answer. Germans and Americans certainly share the desire for a world as democratic as possible. The disagreement here concerns the means to get there and the price to pay. Should it be long-term economic, cultural and political engagment ending with a non-violent revolution from within or should it be short-term military confrontation followed by occupation and externally imposed reeducation? And is an effort to introduce democracy always and everywhere preferable to peace and stability? In military confrontation the cost in human lives is high. In some totalitarian regimes, the cost of inaction is high. The pacifist and the human rights streams in the German and especially in the Green soul are not always reconcilable in these matters. The answer to these questions cannot be a general one, it has to be a case by case assessment of the specific situation. Maybe Germans and Europeans should not take the calls for the removal of tyranny too lightly.
Yet Americans certainly need to consider the limits and the paradox of a strictly military democratic interventionism. While the UN is not an institution of global democracy yet, waging a war in the name of democracy against the majority of member states and against the majority of global public opinion is a questionable move towards a more democratic world.
4 - The Status of International Law and the UN
I already mentioned that in the long run, the lead nation will not be able to exercise its power by ignoring or possibly instrumentalizing the United Nations. Americans will have to come back to the UN because they need its legitimacy. They need to convince the world that American power is still good for the world. That also means that the US may sometimes simply have to accept the decisions of this body, even if they are not welcome. Otherwise, the UN will be perceived as a mere instrument of American power and loose all credibility.
On the other hand, Germans and Europeans may have to further acknowledge the fact that there are problems with international law. If international law gives the cover of state sovereignty for humanitarian abuses and for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to privatized terror networks, then it needs reform. Germany has reacted to these imperfections in the cases of Kosovo and Afghanistan. Maybe the "emerging doctrine of the limits of sovereignty" is something worth thinking about more. And ultimately there will be discussions about the architecture of the security council, constructed in 1945, possibly imperfect for the 21st century?
These are just some of the questions we have to answer to redefine the transatlantic relations and certainly both sides need to move. The transatlantic dialogue is most definitely not at its conclusion. What is immensely crucial for the entire debate is obviously the outcome of the war and the subsequent peace in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We disagreed with American plans and actions in the case of Iraq, based on our assessments of the threats and the risks and the effects for people in the region. We sincerely hope, that America was right! If the outcome of the Anglo-American war and post war peace in Iraq is successful, ending with democracy in Iraq, a new stability in the region, a limited number of casualties and with people in the Arab world broadly benefiting from this, then we will speak differently in the future. But if the tragic story of this area of the world is unfolding in further and more dreadful ways as a result of the war, then we expect America to exercise its great virtue of self-criticism and to act differently in the future. The USA may become even more powerful then.