There Is No Strategic Split With Europe
Condoleeza Rice is the national security advisor to US
President George W. Bush. Bush will arrive in Europe Monday, June 11,
to meet European leaders.
Washington-President George W. Bush's European trip in June took
place against a backdrop of conversation-in the media, in academia and
in diplomatic circles-that speaks of a "values gap" between
America and Europe. The alleged gap is said to be differences between
the United States and Europe over issues such as the death penalty, gun
control and genetically modified foods. Some even say there's a "strategic
split"-over such issues as land mines, global warming and missile
defenses. The premise of the argument is that, no longer bound together
by the threat of Soviet communism, America and Europe are growing apart.
Some go a step farther and posit that we are destined to become adversaries
instead of allies.
The president and his administration fundamentally reject this premise.
Europe and the US are partners today. We will continue to be partners
tomorrow and the day after-strong partners. Not because of destiny, but
by choice. Not because of the inertia of our common history, but because
of our common interests and, indeed, our common values.
For starters, the US and Europe have a strong common interest in maintaining
healthy economic and trade relationships. The total stock of our investment
and annual trade comes to approximately $1.5 trillion. US exports to the
European Union support some 1.3 million American jobs. Trade in goods
and services between the US and EU nearly doubled during the 1990s. In
short, our economic ties alone justify a very close relationship with
The same holds for our security relationship. Our interest in European
security did not end with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Today, we are working
closely through NATO to forge the Europe that our grandfathers and fathers
fought for in two world wars-a Europe whole, free and at peace. We are
working to consolidate our gains in bringing peace to the Balkans. We
are working and consulting closely to develop a new strategic framework
to deal with common threats such as terrorism, information warfare, weapons
of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. The president is looking
forward to addressing all of these topics on his trip.
The debate over a "values gap" or a "strategic split"
ignores the fact that at a very fundamental level our economic interests
and our security interests-far from driving us apart-are major factors
in keeping the US and Europe working together.
But the more fundamental irony is that the values debate is taking place
at a moment when our core values-the common values of the transatlantic
Citizens on both sides of the Atlantic believe that all humans have the
right to fundamental freedoms: the freedom to say what we think, worship
as we wish and choose who shall govern us. We believe that open economies
and trading systems are the essential starting points for building prosperity
and meeting human needs. These beliefs-in freedom for people within borders
and freedom for commerce across borders-have long characterized our partnership
with Europe. What is different today is that so much of the rest of the
world agrees with us.
Indeed, these principles are the hallmarks of the global age. From Latin
America to Russia, from Asia to Africa, there is increasing recognition
that the only way to improve lives is to open up the economy, root out
corruption, eliminate statist subsidies and control and demolish protectionist
barriers. There is increasing recognition that economic and political
liberty creates the space necessary so that the talents of individuals
can produce not just personal happiness but societal benefit.
More and more nations understand that this is the basic dynamic of globalization.
And that is why they are choosing freedom and openness-for their economies,
their trade relations and their political systems. That is why today a
higher percentage of people live in democracies than ever before.
Freedom and respect for basic human liberties are not values that are
"Made in America." They are not "American" values
any more than they are "European." They are both, and they are
neither. Today, increasingly, they are universal.
I do not mean to downplay the issues driving the debate over a values
gap. Our transatlantic partnership must and will have open, healthy debate
on issues where we differ. Reasonable people can disagree on the best
approach to policy issues such as global climate change and genetically
modified foods. We should present our differences honestly, look at facts
objectively and pursue solutions pragmatically and creatively.
On something as fundamental as the death penalty, both sides must respect
the fact that our positions are the result of free and open democratic
discourse within our civic and political institutions. And we should appreciate
the fact that there is evidence to suggest that the views of our citizens
are more ambiguous, and probably a lot closer to each other, than the
positions of our governments.
But in many ways, the debate over a "values gap" between the
US and Europe is the kind of self-indulgent discussion that only the very
successful and well off can afford. The debate appears to take place in
a vacuum, ignoring the important work still to be done to build the kind
of Europe we know we want, the kind of Europe we know we can achieve.
The debate also looks past the important work that together the US and
Europe can achieve beyond our borders: to help foster open societies with
open economies around the world; to help bring peace and health to Africa;
to help set an example of multi-ethnic democracy for those lands where
difference is still seen as a license to kill.
This is an important agenda and these are great goals. And one of the
defining characteristics of the global age is that no nation-not even
a "hyper-power," if one existed-can reach these goals alone.
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