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NATO the main casualty of the transatlantic tiff

Bridging the transatlantic gap in foreign policy, deepened by the US’s go-it-alone campaign against Iraq, will largely depend on EU willingness to define itself as an «effective operator» in the world rather than in opposition to Washington, Emmott said during his speech. However, he sought to downplay the significance of the cracks in the transatlantic alliance. «The divide has been deep but not very important because basic interests and values are still strongly shared,» he said. Emmott also felt the potential impact of a Democratic victory in the recent US presidential vote would have been minimal, saying that practical realities would have forced the rival candidate, Senator John Kerry, to pursue a similar policy in foreign affairs. Emmott debunked the popular myth of the supposed paradigm shift in US foreign policy conducted by the Bush administration, arguing that Bush’s selective unilateralism has, in fact, followed the long tradition of American foreign policy, dating from the policy of containment toward the Soviet Union and the Vietnam war, to the Kosovo air strikes and Operation Desert Fox in Iraq. The one fundamental change in American foreign policy brought about under the Bush administration, Emmott noted, is its growing «impatience in world affairs.» Bush’s National Security Strategy released in September 2002, a year after the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York, introduced a policy of «pre-emption,» effectively justifying military action against a potential aggressor before it poses an imminent threat. The US attack on Iraq and its subsequent failure to discover any weapons of mass destruction that were used as an excuse to go to war exposed the limitations of the doctrine. Emmott said that American «shoot-first-and-justify-later» approach and lack of success in Iraq have both taken their toll on NATO, which he described as «the main casualty» of the rift between the two sides. He said that part of the problem also lies in European attempts to portray their fledgling union as «a counterweight to the US.» «Defining Europe as something that it is not is a rather negative approach,» Emmott said, adding that the EU must become an «effective operator in addition to the US, often sharing objectives.» But he questioned whether the continent can achieve the necessary political integration to undertake such a role in military and foreign policy matters. The ongoing process of enlargement, he said, will bring even greater diversity to the bloc, but at the same time it will put brakes on the EU’s political ambitions. This, however, is not something to worry about, Emmott said. «Political unity will be harder to achieve [because of the expansion] but, in the short term (10-15 years), it will also be less important to achieve than the enlargement process itself.»