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March 9, 2005
(Continued from: The Necessary Alliance: Atlantic Relations, part 1)
I want to link the discussion of technical responses to terrorism with [...] cooperation and the more general question of strategic responses to terrorism, which I [...] the disagreement between Europe and America. And this persists and it's even got worse. Nobody today has talked about the fundamental policy of the United States after 9/11 [...] by President Bush and by Condoleezza Rice, which said that terrorism has changed the foreign policy equation of the United States. It will now engage in defensive war, it will now ignore Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, it will do what is necessary to protect itself, when it wants, where it wants, against whatever enemy it identifies as such, it has not renounced those policies, the a la carte cooperation that it refers to here is an a la carte cooperation with the United States as the chef. It decides where there will be cooperation, it reaches out to certain areas, but reserves the right to proceed in this new post-9/11 fashion, unilaterally, without regard to international law, without regard to its allies. That has not changed. The appointments made by this administration make it very clear that has not changed and suggest to me that the very area of terrorism, where there is a great deal of technical cooperation, as Mr de Vries says, remains the area which clearly divides Europe and the United States and makes the United States a danger.
Let me just say one last thing and that is that there is a great deal of public opinion in the United States—roughly half—which does not approve of those policies by Bush in this issue; it's not just public opinion in Europe.
Can I just check [...]please? Is there a voice anywhere including on the panel who said, 'Actually, America has changed on this issue, particularly after what we heard from Condoleezza Rice here a month ago and also then President Bush himself. In other words, going against what we've just heard. Madeleine Albright.
Rand and I worked very hard to overthrow the government, so we are the wrong ones on this panel. I would like to say only this, which may be just hope rather than reality, but I do think that there has a small learning curve in this administration, realising that certain issues can not be dealt with unilaterally, and the question is whether by enough support from the outside and the inside that learning curve can be encouraged, because if there's no support for some of the issues that the administration is —quote— trying to do together, then I think they'll go back to the previous bad habits. But I think we don't know enough about what their real intentions are. I do think we have to give them credit for a relatively... kinder, gentler threat.
Can I just have a quick spin round the panel first? Timothy. Are the [...] rules changing a little?
Timothy Garton Ash
I absolutely agree with Madeleine. I think there has been a learning process and I think that the default position in the first term was coalition of the willing. [...] I think that the starting point of the second term is to try and work with Europe as a whole, but I also think that, come the first crisis, the Bush administration might very quickly revert to the old politics of [...]
Does anyone violently disagree with that particular position?
John? Rand? Tim?
Timothy Garton Ash
Mr Barber made a very well formulated point, but I think we have to, again, talk specifics here. We have a situation in Iraq at the moment. If Europeans want closer cooperation with the United States and the United States [...], then we have to deliver with respect to helping Iraq develop as a democratic nation at peace with itself and with its neighbours.
That is why United States and the European Union, together, are coughing up a considerable amount of money to help train police forces and the judiciary to help prepare the new constitution. We have to continue investing there if we want to practice [...] Afghanistan is another example. Afghanistan is not yet out of the woods. There is serious trend in that country towards democracy. We must continue our joint purpose there. These are practical issues, where Europe can't act without the United States, where the United States needs European cooperation. If we work things down to practical cooperation, again, I think we'll find that there's more common ground than we would tend to believe if we just look at the policy statements that have been made.
Can I just pick up on one point, one challenge from John, and that is, Albright, you on 14th January chaired an amazing exercise in Washington […] outbreak, which started very — acting president of the US and twelve other nations represented by former ministers and diplomats, as well as the World Health Organisation. Would you agree with what John said, that, really, the joint-threat assessment is—quote—'hopeless'?
I think that actually it's not hopeless. I think that what we found during that particular scenario is that while it took us a while to make the assessment we did realise that there was a joint threat. Our problem then was that we didn't have the mechanisms to deal with it quickly enough and so obviously it's important to get the joint threat right, but I clearly do think that we are not institutionally set up in order to be able to deal with it properly.
A propos de la politique étrangère Américaine actuelle, je pense en effet qu'il y a eu un learning process depuis le début, mais ce learning process n'a pas changé la politique, il l'a rendue intelligente: elle était au début brutale, contre productive.
Du point de vue des Etats-Unis c'est beaucoup plus intelligent d'être aimable et poli avec les alliés et d'utiliser les institutions multilatérales plutôt que de les insulter tous les matins, le résultat est bien meilleur. Je pense que c'est fondamentalement la même politique qui est devenue intelligente.
There begins to be also a learning process for the Europeans, that not everything is such a disaster. I do hope that what is happening in the Middle East will also tell us to move a little bit from sharing only stability and faith to cherish also freedom and democracy. Frankly speaking, democracy is not only for us, it's also for them, and while they are really trying for the last thirty years. So why don't they move a little bit from just caring about stability, and try to move a little bit, recognising that freedom is not some exotic thing; it's a valuable thing that can also promote development, human and economic also. There must be also a learning process for the Europeans, frankly speaking.
We've got about twenty minutes left and I've been trying to drive this discussion so far for the past hour and ten minutes. Can I have an idea of how many people would like to deal with this question? About a dozen, I think. I'm going to press for a wider change so that that is not forgotten, but let me try and capture some of the thoughts that you have out there. Can you be brief with your remarks? Keep your hands relatively up and I'll get a microphone to you [...]
In dealing with terrorism, obviously it's very necessary and essential for governments to cooperate militarily and in every other way, but I think also that one of the ways of dealing with terrorists is to examine the reasons that they give for what they're doing, because, quite often, as I know from my own experience, when you look at the reasons and demonstrate that the reasons don't exist, then that can be a very strong way of stopping them completely. For example, one reason [...]
Would anyone like to [...]
Delegate on the floor
My name is Carlos de Borbón. My impression is that there's a lot that can be done to help mutually Europe and the United States not to fall apart. I think we should assist to a reconciliation. But there's very little hope that we can do a reconciliation if we do not go through a whole process of mutual exercise of very concrete points, even though we do not have full confidence that the United States will not, at a specific moment, and that is our fear, change the direction of her policy and forget about all that has been done and that fear is extremely negative and therefore I just want to insist on the need for concrete specific continuous work on this specific problem.
Delegate on the floor
Buenas tardes, [...] Fernández del Observatorio Europeo de Seguridad y Defensa. Últimamente, estoy leyendo un libro de diplomacia, de Kissinger, donde se habla de interés nacional, se habla de seguridad colectiva, se habla de equilibrio de poder, se habla de una serie de términos que hoy en día tienen que ser compatibles con la participación de un mundo que es mucho más complejo, mundos modernos, mundos premodernos, Hobbes, Kant, etcétera, etcétera. Quiero llegar al siguiente punto.
Primero: desde las amenazas que tenemos inminentes, como el terrorismo con la combinación de armas de destrucción masiva. La inteligencia se tiene que comportar con una coordinación directa con la sociedad, una diplomacia pública que constituya un movimiento hacia adelante.
Si hablamos del gran Oriente Medio, estamos, yo creo, todos los que estamos aquí, no solamente son del ámbito gubernamental sino que también somos analistas. Deseamos respuestas activas –es decir, la participación de la sociedad civil con el G-8, con la cumbre Euromediterránea, con la cumbre que se está celebrando en Rabat. En América se habla mucho del management; las empresas operan mucho con el gobierno, como en las — Esto se tiene que realizar y es el desafío que tenemos, la participación de la sociedad civil con los poderes gubernamentales para que evitemos que pierdan legitimación ante una amenaza que puede ser muy posible en el futuro. Muchas gracias.
Delegate on the floor
I’m Daniel [...] from the [...] Foundation. [...]
Hearing some of the panelists makes me very concerned about some quite patronising, caricaturist statement that tried to portray the American administration as absolute evil, barbarous, and frankly they're not stupid people. You will talk to them and none of them think that they can destroy the world or try to conquer the world and partly some of the actions, by some European nations, sometimes end up becoming unwitting allies in war destruction. For example, when [...] Iraqi war, when the French had an opportunity to cooperate with the United States, they were so obstructionistic at every step towards supporting the United Nations inspections that they were allies in helping the Americans pass through more forceful actions initially. What we need to do is to bypass these efforts to try to just focus on party [...] perspective, or trying to show power, and to try to [...] and instead trying to focus on concrete, pragmatic steps, to try to work together, rather than positioning.
All right. Try and be brief, please. I would ask you to capture any new issues you'd like to pick up on, please. Can we keep talking about strengthening transatlantic relations in the twenty-first century please?
My name is John [...]. I'm a former Democratic majority whip in the House of Representatives. I served with six Presidents of the United States and the former chairman [...].
My suggestion in respect of transatlantic relationships is to look not solely to the words —though the words of an American president are very important— but look to deeds. Mention has been made that the President has jammed the same set of right-wing judicial nominees before the United States Senate; he's run up these gigantic deficits; he says —this is the man who brought us weapons of mass destruction— that there's a crisis of the social security system. So you have a problem, and my judgement as an American politician, is credibility. Listen not only to what he says, but what he does. Mr Speaker, I [...]
Europe should be more assertive on freedom, for instance in Tunisia, and we are not, and there is no agreement, internationally speaking, on the level of role that human rights and freedom have to play, so let’s face it. And again it goes almost in case by case, which is not only a double standard from our American friends, most of the time it is also our double standard. So I don’t think that we have still a clear conscience that human rights are a pillar on international relations and foreign policy. It remains basically dual-strategic, economic with some up-graded freedom and human rights but it is still not a basic component in the field of international relations. Be it in the US be it in Europe.
Let me pick up on those points immediately, do you see it as an obstacle, particularly issues like the international criminal court, other areas where there are basic differences still which are critical to understanding the issue of human rights?
I do think that we obviously have different approach towards certain legal issues, the death penalty, and the issue of human rights generally in the international criminal court. We have been at this a long time, and he has nicknamed us the hyper power and I’m hyper-Madeleine, but the bottom line is that I have always believed that the United States is an exceptional nation and I have believed it because we have so many resources and so much power but I have said that we are indispensable so much basically because I felt a sense of obligation coming out of it not that because I think we are exceptional that exceptions should be made for us. So I think that the United States needs to be a part of an international system and I understand the difficulties of the ICC but Emma raised this at the beginning; we are watching genocide and dark work because we can’t make up our minds about a procedural issue which is truly an outrageous part of what is happening in the international system so rather that working on these dual standards, we sweep them under the rug and decide something else.
Gijs de Vries
The question of human rights I think is fundamental in two respects in our own societies but also in relation to other countries. In our own societies our citizens expect us to respect the balance between protecting security and protecting things like individual [….] we in Europe must improve the protection of data at a European level. As we increase the exchange of information between law enforcement agencies across borders, that’s a fundamental factor. Internationally, clearly the absence of a fundamental protection of human rights, not only the political and civil ones but also the economic and social ones can be a contributing factor to the kind of resentment that terrorists and recruiters can tap into. So that human rights is fundamental but I do believe the point about the ICC is an important one. If we are serious about accountability and accountability is an essence of democracy, then we must be serious also about accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Rand or John, do you see a possibility of change at some point in the foreseeable future?
On the issue of the ICC I think that we have a fundamental disagreement. The former administration wrestled with it before and the Bush administration has carried it to another level. I don’t think we’ll go back.
John Edwin Mroz
I’d like to go back to the American public, you were speaking about the European public but the American public, most Americans, as is reflected in the elections, are fearful, and I’m not sure that here in Europe people have the same fear. And I think this is an important dimension as we are look at issues even such as civil liberties. There are a lot of Americans, who thank Europeans, for screaming about the airlines privacy, for example, because it was not screamed at in our own country.
Timothy wanted to have an additional comment.
Timothy Garton Ash
Can I just say this argument about the ICC reflects a profound difference in the attitudes to sovereignty. The United States is the last classic European nation state. It believes in its undiminished sovereignty, the Europeans believe in sharing sovereignty and limiting sovereignty.
Right, the issue of climate change when it comes to strengthening transatlantic relations, the lady first:
Member of the Audience
Thank you, chair. My name is […] and I come from Nigeria, and I’ve come to eavesdrop a little bit and found what the Europeans and the Americans have got planned for us.
Do you have a clear impression?
Member of the Audience
Well, I’m taking my stance from President Bush’s statement which he’s made on quite a number of occasions which is that we are going to fight the terrorists in Iraq so that we don’t have to fight them here in the United States. And when the attack in Madrid took place one might believe that the homeland area has been extended to include Europe.
But the question is what do the rest of us have to feel from this, because this conference, at least in the session I’ve attended, has managed to not make much reference to the fact that most Al Qaeda victims, from what I’ve heard, were in Tanzania and Kenya and it’s been all about what’s started here and what’s started in the United States of America. So the question is when the European and American homelands are secure, those other terrorist attacks except if they affect tourists and embassies that the rest of it can […]
The next person please.
Member of the audience
Quick question, given that there are disagreements how do you explain the emotional nature in which transatlantic discussion is often conducted? What can be done both on a diplomatic level and public democracy to maybe discuss our differences in a more rational, more down-to-earth nature?
Did you say soft power?
Delegate from the floor
Whatever you want….
Delegate from the floor
Je m’appelle Fernández, je suis conseiller parlementaire aux Cortes espagnoles. Je voudrais d’abord m’excuser auprès du peuple américain parce que l’attaque terroriste du 11 septembre s’est organisée en grande partie en Allemagne et en Espagne, à Hambourg et à Tarragone.
Je voudrais dire que le président Bush lors de sa dernière visite en Europe a commis une grave faute. Il est allé en Allemagne, il est allé à Bruxelles, il est allé à Paris mais il n’a pas visité le grand Duché du Luxembourg. Sans doute c’est un faute parce que c’est peut-être le dernier pays du monde où il n’a pas cherché d’armes de destruction massive et d’autres parts le paysage bucolique du Luxembourg aurait tranquillisé l’Italie de ses projets [...].
La question est la suivante : nous n’avons jamais été trop loin des Etats-Unis, nous n’avons pas à être loin des Etats-Unis mais il faut se rapprocher et se réconcilier. Pour cela, est-ce que les Etats-Unis sont disposés à réviser l’homme politique, à appuyer le tribunal pénal international, à signer le protocole de Kyoto, à dénoncer au réseau d’espionnage satellitaire Echelon, à faire une coopération avec le sud du monde ensemble. Est-ce qu’ils sont prêts à résister
President Bush did stand on the same platform with the prime minister of Luxemburg as his equal representing the European Union.
Member of the audience
I thought there was one broader issue that failure of diplomacy maybe even the death of diplomacy, a sense that the United States government has failed miserably at getting its message out, and I’ve also heard from many different people in the State department that both in Europe and the Middle East, failed in hearing the messages coming from the countries in which they are based and communicating it to Washington, there seems to be a breakdown in the diplomatic connections between the world and Washington. I wanted to direct that question mainly at Hubert Védrine and Madeleine Albright.
Can you answer that please, an issue from yesterday, soft power, public diplomacy?
Let me say that I do think that has been a bit of the dialogue of the death here in terms of an ability of Europe and the United States to communicate and to listen to each other and I was surprised when Secretary Rice said that they were now ready to do diplomacy. The truth is diplomacy is the bread and butter of state to state relations and maybe while we were in office diplomacy wasn’t always successful we certainly tried and I think that there has been a great deal of discussion about public diplomacy which is not just one way of spouting your country’s message it’s also listening to what the other countries have to say and I think that part has not been very well exercised. I do think and I have the tendency to believe that what I’m doing at the current moment is more interesting than what I have just finished doing, a little hard when you’ve been Secretary of State but, I do think that this goes to the Aspen Institute question because I’m on the board of Aspen and that is that people to people relationships make a great difference, track 2 diplomacy, business to business relations and a whole host of new exchanges, etc. that I think are much better in many ways than trying to create a dialogue among different kinds of people.
I have listened with great care and I also listened to the woman from Nigeria and I think that for us to have these kinds of disagreements is a luxury. We have more in common with each other than we do with anyone else in the world there are much worse problems in other parts of the world and that what we ought to be trying is to work as rapidly as possible through whatever means we have to try to find not just a common threat assessment but common opportunities assessments because there are much more serious things going on than arguments among family.
And could you include the issue of climate change?
Well, If Rand and I were in charge yes. But I do think that the United States are not going to for Kyoto but I think that President Bush is offering some kind of an idea and it needs to be developed. I happen to disagree with a lot of the things he is proposing but he is beginning to get the picture that climate change is important and what you have are two senators from Alaska, who are beginning to understand that their state is melting. And so I think that there is in fact something happening.
C’est une très bonne réponse. Moi je voudrais revenir sur le sujet de la table ronde. Alors je n’ajoute rien à ce qu’à dit Madeleine, je suis presque toujours d’accord avec elle.
Ce que je voudrais dire sur le fond des relations c’est que l’alliance Europe Etats-Unis était une alliance défensive. C’est plus simple à définir et c’était plus simple à faire fonctionner en dépit des disputes continuelles pendant cinquante ans. Aujourd’hui il est question d’autre chose. Tout le monde est pour la démocratie, tout le monde est pour les droits de l’homme, personne est contre. Mais s’il s’agit de transformer l’ancienne alliance préventive en une alliance révolutionnaire qui veut changer le monde, qui veut bouleverser le monde, attention il faut réfléchir un peu plus qu’à travers des slogans, c’est extraordinairement difficile.
Dans cette réunion très remarquable ici, il y a 98% d’occidentaux, or les occidentaux sont au nombre d’un milliard sur six sur la planète. Donc je pense que pour poursuivre cette réflexion sur ce que peut être le partenariat de demain pour changer le monde dans le sens de la démocratie, nous devons écouter ce que nous disent les Russes, les Chinois, les autres Asiatiques, les Africains, les Arabes. Nous devons écouter ce qu’il se dit sur les erreurs à ne pas commettre, sur l’aide que l’on peut apporter parce que tous les processus de démocratisation ont d’abord été porté par la demande de démocratisation du peuple lui-même et si nous devons intervenir de l’extérieur c’est en répondant intelligemment à cette demande. C’est un point très important parce qu’on voit bien dans la discussion que c’est là dessus que le nouveau partenariat Europe Etats-Unis se construira et sur les questions globales comme le climat etcetera ou alors c’est là dessus qu’il y aura une nouvelle fracture. Je souhaite que l’on réfléchisse plus sur ce point.
Thank you very much. Rand, and John I’ll come to you right at the end to tell us what we’ve failed to do, Rand,
Some important points have been made by the audience in terms of the transatlantic agenda in relation to countering terrorism. There are two questions that we can expand in terms of the global agenda; one is supporting peace in the Middle East which is clearly critical in the recruitment strategy of radical propogandacism. We should not be under any illusions even with peace in the Middle East there will still be terrorism. The progress of the peace process will help address some of the causes of recruitment and radicalisation. The second point is about the global millennium agenda. Addressing the causes of misery and hopelessness, the causes that bring people to despair. They are not directly linked to terrorism. They can play a role in recruitment on these questions too I hope that we can work together transatlanticaly.
And that is important for strengthening public perception, strengthening those relations. Emma Bonino?
Somebody in the corridor told me that this conference is called “Democracy for a Safe World.” Isn’t that the Bush agenda? It’s something we have to ask ourselves. Are we joining the club? Because I totally agree. I think it’s not the perfect solution but it does help and it can help a lot. So, “Democracy for a Safe World” is maybe a good starting point. To go further in the transatlantic agenda and in this field I think that human rights have a major role to play and also I think that we Europeans should stop over-estimating our merits and try to make it very clear what are our limits and how much we want to pay and if we really want to support human rights and democracy. We normally don’t want to run any risk at all, this is our problem.
Timothy Garten Ash…
Timothy Garten Ash
I very much agree with Emma Bonino, and I think that the Madrid agenda, Democracy for a Safer World, which is not something that Europeans have been very sensitive about is a very good place to start. I wanted just to say one other thing to the lady from Nigeria to whom I’m very grateful, who said, “it is interesting to hear what the Europeans and Americans have planned for us”.
Transatlantic cooperation is not an end in itself. It’s a means to an end. This is not about reviving the old cold war west. If you make the analysis of the challenges that Europeans and Americans face whether in the wider Middle East or the rise of China we’re trying to change the North-South divide. You will see, firstly that our interests, European and American, largely coincide or at least are complimentary. And secondly we can achieve none of our objectives on our own. The old West itself is not enough, the key to achieving any of these objectives, and this is for the lady from Nigeria, is participation of African, Latin American, Indian (the largest in the world) democracies, Chinese democracy (and there is a Chinese democracy – Taiwan) and we hope one day Arab democracy. Iraq was not a good place to start, especially in terms of democracy and we certainly hope for an Arab democracy.
So I think the operational question that comes out of this whole summit is how do we make the world-wide communities of democracies a real actor in international affairs and not just a celebrity?
So we need to broaden the title of this session assuming it is held again next year. John, a final thought, where have we failed? What should we have addressed?
John Edwin Mroz
Well, I think you’re right. I think we’re ending on the right tone, because I think looking beyond ourselves is really important. In a recent high level conference in Brussels on world-wide security we had a major role for the Shanghai corporation council and people said “what do they possibly have to add to this debate?”, and this is precisely the point that we are now confronting ourselves with why was this […] world customs organisations those people really have anything to say? Why is half of the audience from the private sector? I think all of us need to challenge ourselves as we look at these things as we called this session The Necessary Alliance. How do we make sure that we don’t push others to create an alliance that will someday be a horrible fall for us? There are people who worry about what happens if China, Iran, Russia and others decide that their only hope is to come together in something that is an antithesis to what our democratic society believes in. How can we prevent that from happening? I think it ends on the right tone.
Thank you, John, and thank you to you all, and thank you to the panel.