Of Paradise and Power: America vs. Europe in the New World Order (With a New Afterword)
February 4, 2004
JOANNE MYERS: On behalf of the Carnegie Council I would like to thank you for joining us as we welcome Robert Kagan to our Books for Breakfast program this morning. The size of this audience should be an indication of the interest we have in listening to you as you revisit Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order.
Make no mistake. Even though some of the rhetoric has toned down, little has changed to alter the trans-Atlantic rift since Mr. Kagan’s visit to the Carnegie Council exactly one year ago today. When he last spoke, he brilliantly articulated the often confusing and disparate phenomena involved in the changing world of the trans-Atlantic alliance, and it was his insightful framing of this impact which forced both sides to see themselves through the eyes of the other. Today, in an atmosphere of continuing diplomatic strife, with questions about Iraq still looming large and terrorist strikes still a global threat, Robert Kagan’s Of Paradise and Power remains essential reading.
In many ways, Kagan’s thesis appeared at just the right moment, as both Americans and Europeans were grappling with a brewing crisis between them, and his essay clarified the issues in a way no one had done before. After years of mutual resentment and escalating tension, there was a sudden recognition that the interests of America and its allies were diverging sharply and that the trans-Atlantic relationship itself had changed, possibly forever.
It is hard to think of a foreign policy debate that has arisen in the past year that has not made mention of his book. Tracing the widely differing histories of Europe and America since the end of World War II, our guest makes clear how for one (Europe) the need to escape a bloody past has led to a new set of transnational beliefs about power and threat, while the other (America) has, by necessity, evolved into the guarantor of that post-modern paradise by the force of its might and global reach.
What is at stake now, according to Mr. Kagan, is the future of American legitimacy. He asks: how do we translate this power into international cooperation? How do we promote the principles of liberal democracy not only as a means to greater security but as an end in itself?
With the writing of this treatise and the inclusion of a new Afterword, Mr. Kagan demonstrates once again that he is one of America’s foremost foreign policy analysts, an analyst of remarkable insight and ingenuity. Even if you take issue with his thesis, in the end you would have to agree that Of Paradise and Power provides an excellent analysis of Cold War policy and its aftermath.
Mr. Kagan is no stranger to Washington and to the nuances of policymaking. Currently our guest is a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he specializes in issues of U.S. leadership and foreign policy. He is co-founder with William Kristol of the Project for a New American Century. Before joining the Carnegie Endowment, he worked in the State Department as a member of the Policy Planning Staff and as principal speech writer for Secretary of State George P. Shultz during the Reagan Administration. He also served as Deputy for Policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
His writings on foreign policy can be found in The Washington Post, where he writes a monthly column on foreign affairs. He is also a contributing editor to both the Weekly Standard and the New Republic. In addition to his best-selling Of Paradise and Power, he is also the author of A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua 1977-1999, and is co-editor with William Kristol of Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy.
ROBERT KAGAN: Thanks very much for that kind introduction.
It is interesting to return exactly a year later. Then, we were heading toward a war, we were in the middle of the breakdown of diplomacy at the UN. I was looking ahead to a coming war and imagining what reaction we would have on both sides of the Atlantic.
At the time and throughout the year leading up to the war my assumption was that yes, we had profound disagreements. Nothing that happened at the UN Security Council came as a surprise. But I believed that many things hold the United States and Europe together and that on these issues it might be possible for us to go our separate ways, perhaps not exactly amicably but nevertheless not antagonistically either.
My perception then and now is that, whatever else is going on, Europe is still intensely focused on the subject that is of greatest importance to Europe, and that is Europe. The enormous desire is to be left alone to deal with the very complicated issues that Europe has to deal with—from deepening integration, to enlargement, to the constitution.
At Davos recently, many Europeans expressed the strong desire not to revisit this debate with the United States. This is partly because the debate over Iraq was so painful within Europe. Setting aside how painful it was in a trans-Atlantic sense, it was divisive within Europe and unpleasant for everyone concerned. But, by and large, it was an unpleasant experience that Europeans do not want to repeat.
However, that does not mean we are in for placid times. We are still dealing with the aftermath of the Iraq war, but we are also still dealing with the far more fundamental problem that the new international circumstances have presented to us. For America the issue that is now looming is the question of legitimacy, and particularly legitimacy that America enjoys in the world at large, but specifically among its closest liberal democratic allies in Europe.
We are in a situation where Europeans do not consider American behavior legitimate. Now, it is tempting, and even partly true, to say that this is tied to the circumstance of Iraq, to our having a certain president sitting in the White House. On the American side you might say that it is very much tied to having a certain president sitting in the Elysée Palace and a certain chancellor of Germany.
In any great historical moment there is a confluence of larger structural forces that are at work with personalities, and the interaction of those larger forces and personalities is what makes history. I would not want to minimize the role that the Bush Administration has played in exacerbating the crisis of legitimacy that we are facing and the rift in the trans-Atlantic relationship.
There are problems of this larger structural nature, that transcend any given figure in the White House or in any European capital.
In a poll taken last summer, called Trans-Atlantic Trends, sponsored by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a couple of other organizations, one of the questions that was asked of people in eight countries, seven Europeans and one American, was: “Can war ever be just?” Over 80 percent of Americans said yes, that war can be just. The answer in Europe was under 50 percent.
In other elements of the poll, questions like “How much of a threat does North Korea pose and would you use military force against North Korea?” or “How much of a threat does Iran pose and would you use military force against Iran?,” the gaps between the European American answers were as much as thirty or forty points.
Bush represents the majority view in the UnitedStates, and Chirac certainly stood for the great majority of all the leaders and governments of Europe, and a vast majority of Europeans when he took the stand that he did. It is not the accident of one or two men.
And the crisis of legitimacy, therefore, is not the function of one or two men or any number of people. Americans have not had to think about it for quite some time because they enjoyed substantial legitimacy during the Cold War when it came to their Western European and Asian allies.
The degree of legitimacy America enjoyed in the rest of the world was not always so great—in Latin America, in parts of Asia, in China, in Africa—so the notion that much of the world has not considered American power legitimate, is actually old news. And we are having a crisis of legitimacy now, unfortunately, not because we have opposition in Latin America and Asia and elsewhere, but because the opposition is right in the heart of the Western alliance.
I would like to focus on three fundamental pillars on which American legitimacy rested during the Cold War.
Its legitimacy was not because the U.S. founded the United Nations and was a faithful servant and a faithful observer of the UN Charter. The United States did not seek approval more than once during the Cold War, and only when the Soviets were not around to veto. Nor did Europeans demand that the United States seek UN Security Council approval, nor did the European themselves seek UN Security Council approval. The structural elements of the situation conferred broad legitimacy on the United States.
1) The first pillar was the commonly felt and seen strategic threat that we all agreed that we faced. Hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops were parked in the center of Europe. There were disagreements about how to handle the threat, and constant policy disagreements, but there was fundamental agreement about the threat.
There was also fundamental agreement that the United States was the only power capable of deterring the Soviet Union, and the whole trans-Atlantic relationship was based on the premise that the United States was an essential element of the defense of Western Europe, and of many others around the world as well.
2) The second pillar was ideological, in the sense that the Cold War was a Manichean struggle between democratic capitalism on one side and a totalitarian communism on the other. The United States, as the strongest democracy in the world, enjoyed a substantial amount of legitimacy in the company of its fellow democracies. Being the strongest democracy in the world meant more when democracy was threatened than when democracy seemed much safer.
3) The third pillar was the structural legitimacy of the Cold War system, that is, the bipolar structure. This meant that, for all of America’s vast power and its hegemonic dominance of the Western world, Western Europe and East Asia, the Soviet Union nevertheless checked American power.
Europeans did not welcome the existence of Soviet power, but they did realize, both implicitly and sometimes explicitly, that the existence of the Soviet Union meant that the United States was checked. This gave Europe freedom to maneuver within the superpower competition. Willy Brandt’s Germany or DeGaulle’s France clearly took advantage of the existing balance of power for their own interests.
In political science and international relations theory, the most just order is a multipolar world. The second-most-just order presumably would be a bipolar world. The least-just world order is a unipolar world.
So America had structural legitimacy, ideological legitimacy, and threat-based legitimacy.
It was not that Europeans thought that everything the United States did was fine. Many times during the Cold War, Europeans considered American behavior appalling, immoral, wrong, stupid. In Vietnam, in Latin America, in the Middle East, we had major differences.
But despite all these differences, America nevertheless had a blanket of legitimacy, that it was in a leadership role and that others depended on it. Therefore, the United States enjoyed a blank check of legitimacy, at least from its Western European allies.
So what happened at the end of the Cold War? Before anyone was elected—before Bill Clinton, before George Bush the first, before George Bush the second—the simple fact is that when the Berlin Wall fell, when the Soviet empire disappeared, all three of the pillars of legitimacy on which American acceptance in Europe had rested crumbled.
There certainly was not and has not been a strategic threat to replace the Soviet Union as the common threat against which the United States is considered by all to be the most important deterrent. The diffuse and opaque threats of the post-Cold War world have not had the same unifying effect on the trans-Atlantic community.
And, while many Americans think that weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism should be the new threat that we can all rally around, and trans-Atlantic statements and European Union statements have rhetoric to that effect, the average European does not feel these threats to the degree that Americans do.
Nor is there the ideological challenge to replace Soviet communism. The key element of that seemingly existential challenge to democracy itself. It was, after all, a challenge from within the liberal system, another variant of the Enlightenment. We worried whether European countries would “go communist.”
Whatever the risks that may arise from radical fundamentalist Islam, it is not the same kind of threat. No one believes, no one worries, except the French at times, that Islam will take over Europe and that some countries will just “go Islamic.”
And finally, and again most importantly perhaps, the structural legitimacy is gone and we have a unipolar world. We moved into this unipolar world as if it is no big deal and we are just adjusting to it, after having somewhat avoided the issue in the 1990s.
This is a significant change in the international system, because we are dealing with a situation in which – from any political science point of view, from certain moral points of view, from the point of view of the liberal democratic mind – the control of so much power by one nation is offensive. You may even like this nation. Maybe the nation is basically a good nation. Maybe it is better that it should have the power than that others should have the power.
But when even our closest friends express anxiety that the U.S. is not unstoppable, that it can do what it wants when it wants, I find myself very sympathetic to that concern. Who would be happy under those circumstances? The European have realized that they have lost control of this power.
Part of the legitimacy crisis we are facing is the sense, particularly keenly felt in Europe, that the United States is not unbound, irresponsible perhaps, but in any case out of control, literally out of the control of Europe.
Legitimacy is not acquired through legal means; it is not a matter of checking all the right international legal boxes or going to the UN Security Council. Legitimacy is a bargain. During the Cold War, the United States provided protection, overall leadership, ideological strength, and it also cooperated and cared, and was deeply involved in the security of Europe. In return, Europeans accorded it legitimacy.
In the post-Cold War world, instead of looking at the U.S. as guardian, the Europeans are now asking “Who guards the guards?”
This is the unipolar predicament. And it would exist regardless of who the president is. How to address it now is a new problem that we all must face.
Many people would ask, “What difference does it make? Why are you talking about legitimacy?” I would argue that it does matter to Americans. Americans can now and then take actions which much of the rest of the world declares illegitimate, illegal, immoral, unacceptable, and they can get by. But how long can American go on in that way? We are in a very dangerous period in history. The United States will have to take actions. The way the Europeans have configured their own military capabilities, the United States remains, whether it likes it or not, the only power capable in some cases of taking military actions.
What happens if every time the United States does take action, the Europeans, our closest liberal democratic allies, get up and say, “You are illegitimate, that is unacceptable, you are wrong and you are immoral?” In time this will have a corrosive effect on the American body politic and its ability to conduct a sound foreign policy. Our favorite myth is that America is simply an isolationist country, extremely parochial, does not pay any attention, does not care what the rest of the world thinks. But it is in the very essence of our nationhood to care about what the rest of the democratic world thinks about us. The Declaration of Independence includes a reference to having “a decent respect for the opinion of mankind.” Americans sometimes pay attention to this, sometimes not.
Therefore, Europe does have the ability to weaken America’s actions, to slow America down, to corrode America’s foreign policy, by the consistent denial of legitimacy.
Our Administration must care about the issue of legitimacy to be able to move forward on any course chosen. Where will we find this legitimacy?
The European answer at this moment is the UN Security Council. “You want to take military action, get approval at the UN Security Council.” If that were actually the case, the world would be a simpler place.
But we know that we cannot always go to the UN Security Council, and we know that because the Europeans themselves, four years ago, decided to go to war—correctly, for moral, security and humanitarian reasons—in Kosovo without a UN Security Council authorization. And so when Colin Powell said in October 2002, “We have as much right to go into Iraq as we did to go into Kosovo,” he had a point.
But is if you look at the broad history of the UN Security Council, for more than forty years of its existence, it was paralyzed by the double veto that was wielded. No one thought about it. The only time you could possibly imagine the UN Security Council starting to play the role that its original founders had in mind for it was after the end of the Cold War. No one could argue that we have moved forward toward adopting the UN Security Council as the place where legitimacy for action is to be found.
So where then? I believe that NATO can be the place where European states and America negotiate over how American power will be used. We need a trans-Atlantic bargain where the U.S. is prepared to cede genuine influence over its actions whenever possible, and almost entirely, if the Europeans will use that influence responsibly.
The United States could cede some influence within the structure of NATO. But the reason that we are having this dispute is precisely because we do not share a common view of the international situation or the threats and what to do about them. So how under those circumstances can Europe be expected to accord legitimacy to the U.S.?
I would not suggest that in the interest of greater trans-Atlantic harmony the U.S. should begin to adopt the European world view of the international system. That would be irresponsible and would serve neither American interests nor ultimately European interests. The European world view is a result of the European experience, it works within Europe, but cannot be applied in dealing with peoples and regimes outside of Europe.
It would be a tragic error for the United States to say, “We’ll look at the world through European eyes now.” So I am fundamentally asking Europeans to look at the world now through American eyes in exchange for the ceding of influence that Americans would be prepared to make. Make your guess as to how possible this bargain might be.
That is the only hope. It will be hard, if not impossible, on both sides. Much of the security of the world does ultimately depend on the United States, which has an overwhelming capacity to deal with some of these threats when other states do not. The United States does need the legitimacy that particularly Europeans can provide. The Europeans, for reasons which make prefect sense to Europeans, may deny the United States that legitimacy, which will corrode America’s ability to conduct actions that it believes are necessary for international security.
And so, given that the Europeans will not build up their own capabilities to transplant the United States or make up for this reduction in American power, as a result, the overall power that the liberal democratic world has to bring to bear on threats arrayed against it will be diminished.
I make two hopeful, but probably hopeless, pleas to both sides in this trans-Atlantic relationship. Americans must understand that they cannot continue, as the Bush Administration did before September 11th and afterwards, to talk about “America’s national interest” as if that alone can be the guiding principle of a foreign policy of the world’s sole superpower. The United States cannot tell the rest of the world that it will have enormous power and wield it as it sees fit according to its own national interest. How anyone would expect the rest of the world to look upon this happily is a mystery to me.
September 11th, understandably, created an intense focus in the United States on looking after our own interests. But it is essential that the United States make clear that it is not only its own national interest that it serves but that it hopes to serve the interests of close allies, and particularly those who share our liberal democratic values.
To Europeans, I would say I know that right now many Europeans, including many European leaders, believe that the threat of an axis of evil, the threat posed by this or that regime, is not as great as the threat posed by an American leviathan unbound. I ask them to consider what happens if that wager proves wrong and whether Europeans should get over the irrational, though understandable, obsession with American power which may make them lose sight of what the real dangers are in the world that will ultimately affect them as well as the United States. Thank you.
JOANNE MYERS: I would like to thank you very much. I was thinking during the presentation that if what you have said so many times in so many different ways is true, that Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus, that you must be from Saturn because you certainly draw rings around every other discussion I have heard on this issue.
ROBERT KAGAN: This is good. Thank you.
Questions and Answers
QUESTION: When you talk about legitimacy, don’t you need to consider soft power as well as hard? If you hope to win the heart of the people you have to accept that it is not only military power which is important ,but this soft power.
ROBERT KAGAN: I agree. But it’s complicated when you get beyond saying shouldn’t we try to make friends and influence people, to how do you do that and are they all influence-able. What concerns me is that if the threats are what we think they are, and if the European response to those threats is that they are not serious, what is the soft power bargain that brings them along? If the United States is more cooperative and brings them into the discussion, are they willing to engage in wars that they think are a mistake because the threat does not warrant the war? Even the most persuasive exercise of soft power has limits.
QUESTION: I have some difficulty with your definition of legitimacy as a bargain, although I agree that international law itself is the result of a bargain.
The perspective that I would like to propose is more typically American. Many Americans understand that, while being the sole superpower, America is not omnipotent and cannot do whatever it likes. Your analysis also suggests that national interest does not suffice as a premise for foreign policy. But then the next step would be to recognize that there is a case for what in American legal tradition is called normative restraint.
Do you see the case for normative restraint in American foreign policy as a part of that equation? It is not only to reach an agreement between countries which you consider worthy of being partners in creation of legitimacy, but also satisfying your own constitutional and other legal precepts which define the restraint necessary when thinking about foreign policy actions, especially decisions of war and peace.
ROBERT KAGAN: I do not have much faith that international law can answer many of these questions. I see international law at times as an obstacle to doing the right thing. Clearly, in Kosovo international law would have been an obstacle if anybody had abided by it. That was an illegal war from any perspective.
A whole school of people are busily reworking the UN Charter and international law to permit under certain circumstances, yet to be defined, humanitarian interventions. But that proves the point that you cannot abide by international law more than you can find a way to word things in such a way that you can do what you want to do that day. So normative restraint is not operational in most circumstances, and probably has not been operational throughout history.
QUESTION: There are three components to legitimacy that you overlooked.
One is credibility. If the United States is to be accorded legitimacy, we have to be credible, and it is obvious that the present Administration is suffering a crisis of credibility on WMD (weapons of mass destruction). If our allies think that the President of the United States is not telling the truth, that will not help bolster the case for legitimacy.
A second component is competence. The neo-realists in this Administration were monumentally incompetent in failing to plan for the aftermath of the war in Iraq. Anybody knows that the United States, the most powerful military entity in history, could conquer Iraq militarily, but apparently nobody thought about what happens after that. So a component of legitimacy is competence, and the incredible naïveté of the crew who pride themselves on being realists makes my point.
The third component is consistency. We have the argument for preemptive war in Iraq. I like to tease some of my friends in the Administration, “Why are you so soft and so appeasing of a Stalinist, brutal, communist dictator who abuses his people and who is nuclear armed in North Korea? Why aren’t you going after him? You are not consistent with your policy.”
These are three components that weaken the American pretension to legitimacy.
ROBERT KAGAN: I agree that the WMD issue has helped in eroding American credibility.
We should go back to the Cold War and ask whether the United States consistently satisfied those three criteria. It is safe to say that they did not. In fact, they consistently did not act with consistency, or competence in many cases, and certainly there were credibility gaps frequently throughout the Cold War.
So while all those things are true, they are probably more in the nature of second-order issues. When we are dealing with the international system as a whole, you can overcome a lot of incompetence and inconsistency and dishonesty with a structure that provides overall legitimacy. We currently lack that structure.
Aside from the politically-oriented way that you put it, I would agree that the way we deal with Iraq will have a direct effect on our legitimacy. If the United States is going in with the Rumsfeld approach—go in, get rid of the bad guys, and then leave and find somebody else to take care of it—that will not enhance our legitimacy. If the U.S. does put in the time and resources and takes the care to establish as liberal and as democratic a state as possible in Iraq, that will enhance American legitimacy, even among those who did not favor the war in the first place.
QUESTION: I have a comment on the corrosive power of other elements to the unilateral system that you very nicely described. I appreciate the value you give to the criticism of the Europeans to this particular system, but let me introduce two new elements and ask you to comment.
One of the things which has disappeared since 2001 is another kind of competition between Europe and the United States, and that is the competition of two different kinds of capitalism, shareholder capitalism and stakeholder capitalism. By 2000, the majority would have come to the conclusion that shareholder capitalism had won. Now, in 2004, the question has not been resolved, because Europe has decided to go ahead with stakeholder capitalism and they have reasons to be happy with it, and vice-versa here.
I introduce this concept, first of all, because it has a dimension in the Europe-U.S. relationship, but second because it opens the door to a question: to what extent do you consider that American power, which was built on the basis of its strong economic power, can be undermined if the American economy continues to produce the current deficit, continues to produce a number of other collateral effects in the employment in this country? You may disagree on the statistics, but there is the fundamental question of whether the economy can undermine the system that you describe.
And second, with a repetition of another September 11th, the psychological effect on the economic wealth of this country will be rather difficult to predict. So there you have the terrorist side and the economy. Can they be more corrosive to the system that you describe than anybody else around the world—Europe, China, anybody else?
ROBERT KAGAN: Fortunately, since I know so little about economics, you have asked a question that I can answer, which is yes, it is certainly the case that U.S. power cannot continue if the U.S. economy is undermined.
Emanuel Todd is making a fortune in Europe predicting the imminent demise of the United States for economic reasons, but I am not capable of judging whether that is what is in the offing. I would guess that it will be something less dramatic than a total collapse of the American economy.
My sense is that Europe is not exactly comfortable with the direction that its economy is going in either, and the United States is not alone in these problems.
QUESTION: I like your solution of engaging in diplomacy with Europeans and bargaining with them, but if you are going to deal with liberal democracies, it needs to be broader than Europe. I realize that you are a specialist in American-European relations, but Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, just to name a few, are other countries that perhaps we should engage. To gain legitimacy and to bargain should involve at least listening to what other people have to say. Would you favor this larger consultation in order to gain support for U.S. policy?
ROBERT KAGAN: No one has ever really cared what Russia and China think except from a pure power point of view. Their votes have never conferred legitimacy on any action. Europeans were perfectly willing to go to war without either Russia or China.
Japan, which is still in the same relationship with the United States that Europe was in during the Cold War, is conferring blanket legitimacy on the United States.
India is a much more interesting question. I would like the world to evolve and American understanding to evolve to the point where it matters to us as much what is being thought in Delhi as in Paris or Berlin or Madrid. For historical reasons, probably for reasons of racial prejudice, partly having to do with India having yet to emerge as a real player on the world stage, we are not at the point where Americans want to know “how does Delhi feel about this?”
QUESTION: You mentioned that the Kosovo war was an illegal one that was waged during a Democratic Administration. The foreign policy establishment would love nothing less than the removal of George W. Bush from power to bring on the Kerry Administration, possibly with Richard Holbrooke as Secretary of State. Given Holbrooke’s activities under Clinton, what would you see as a change in the American approach to international crises were John Kerry to be President?
ROBERT KAGAN: American foreign policy has much more continuity than discontinuity. After 1992, when Clinton got bogged down in Somalia and then went into Haiti and ultimately into Bosnia, there was a big hue and cry among Republicans about how he was doing humanitarian social work and “how did we get into all this stuff?” I was amazed, since, after all, Bush had gone into Somalia; Bush had set up the confrontation with Haiti that would inevitably lead to a confrontation; Bush had punted on the Balkans, but if he had been reelected he would have been in, just like Clinton. There is a tremendous effort to create inexistent differences.
That is also true when you think about the trends this year. What if Al Gore had won the election that he rightfully should have won if it hadn’t been stolen by the Supreme Court? How different would American policy have been?
The notion that there would have been a confrontation, and even a military confrontation, with Iraq under a Gore Administration is entirely possible. After all, Joe Lieberman is the leading Iraq hawk in the country, and Al Gore was an Iraq hawk, and they all passed resolutions in Congress calling for the overthrow, and the Clinton Administration’s trajectory was toward greater and greater confrontation with Saddam Hussein.
In Europe, multilateralism means you go to the UN Security Council, get authorization, have legal authorization or you do not go—except in Kosovo—but, by and large, it is a more rigid understanding.
In America, you give it a real college try. You go to the UN Security Council, you try to get it; and if you cannot get it, then you can go alone anyway. It is multilateralism if you can, unilateralism if you must.
There would be a distinction in the way a Democratic Administration deals with the allies. Getting screwed will be a more pleasant experience than when it is Don Rumsfeld and George W. Bush at the helm. But I am not sure that American foreign policy be would be fundamentally different.
How we deal with allies does matter. Appearing to be calling them names, trying to divide them, and being antagonistic and contemptuous of them has a more negative impact than being more solicitous.
QUESTION: You are right in saying that U.S. policy during the Cold War was seen as legitimate in Europe. I agree with the common analysis of the threat, and one of the most important things we have to work on now is to recreate a common analysis of threats. I agree also on the same ideology. I worry about whether we share the same principle of sustainability of global economic development.
It is on the third element where I differ. France always had the idea of being a counterweight to the United States. I do not recognize that as having played a major role at all in most European countries during the Cold War.
The third pillar I would add is one that you have mentioned since in the questions and answers, which is an alliance which gave at least the illusion, and sometimes the reality, of consultation before action. You have said that you would like to recreate that and you see NATO as such a forum.
How can it possibly be NATO, because you have said that the change in threat is from a local geographic threat from the Soviet Union, which was the reason for NATO, to diffuse worldwide threats? Don’t you have to consult within a diffuse worldwide community to deal with a diffuse threat? How can you do that except through the UN? Is it not possible to see the Security Council as a forum within which you can establish degrees of legitimacy? If you get a fifteen-to-zero vote in the Security Council, fully legitimate. If you go to war against the views of the great majority of the Security Council, that might perhaps be a different question.
ROBERT KAGAN: NATO is not the strategic arm of the West that will be acting in a global fashion. The European military capabilities will be such as to be able to play that role.
NATO is a political organization where we do discuss, deal, negotiate and bargain over how America will wield its power. NATO no longer has a limited geographical purview. Given that NATO is operating in Afghanistan, I do not see any particular reason why, in theory, it cannot be anywhere.
On the question of consultation with others who are clearly affected, when the United States is acting in East Asia, it consults with its allies in the region as well.
I am suspicious that we will have success in the Security Council. And again, it is not just because the United States cannot necessarily win a vote there, because we cannot necessarily win a vote in NATO either.
Something in the way the UN system is set up is somewhat antithetical to one of the major aspects of the liberal world view. And even the European Union is not premised on the principles of the UN Charter, with inviolable state sovereignty. Perhaps the UN is itself a relic of a previous era that will not be of great service to us in our current situation.
JOANNE MYERS: I thank you very much.