JOANNE MYERS: Good morning. I'm Joanne Myers, Director of Merrill House Programs, and on behalf of the Carnegie Council I'd like to thank you for joining us this morning as we welcome Timothy Garton Ash to our breakfast program. The title of his presentation is "A New Beginning?" and it is based on his most-recent book, Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West.
It is difficult to think about a foreign policy debate today that does not include a discussion about the state of the transatlantic alliance. But even before the current standoff over Iraq, U.S.-European relations were tense; divergence on matters of policy and global strategy had been frequent and divisive. The differences between the two continents did not begin on January 21, 2001, when George W. Bush took office, or in the aftermath of the terrorist bombings on September 11th of that year. The roots of the schism were clearly visible in the early 1990s. The end of the Cold War simply exacerbated the disagreements that had been incubating for decades.
Yet, it was only with the convergence of the war in Iraq and the attempts by an enlarged European Union to more clearly define who and what it wants to be that these attitudinal changes illuminated the profound implications that this rupture could have for transatlantic relations. And now that last week's election has confirmed that President Bush will have four more years in the Oval Office, one wonders if the distances between Europeans and Americans will grow deeper or will our shared global interests and values inaugurate a new beginning.
Those of us who are concerned about the widening divide between Europe and the United States and who yearn for a respected advocate to articulately make the case for cementing the transatlantic alliance are instinctively drawn to the writings of Timothy Garton Ash. As one of Britain's most influential and leading thinkers on contemporary affairs, as well as an award-winning author, Oxford historian, and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, our guest brings a unique perspective to bear on the debate about the future of the transatlantic relationship. Although Professor Ash is best-known for his brilliant essays on Communism, this time around he changes his focus in order to explain why Washington can never rule alone in today's interconnected world and why a new and enlarged Europe can only realize its political and economic aspirations within the framework of the transatlantic community.
Proficient as he is between continental Europe and America, he is able to view this controversy through a wide-angle lens and still be optimistic. He believes that there is probably more to unite us than to keep us apart and argues that it is in everyone's best interest to keep the two sides of the Atlantic together so that we can turn our shared goals into a common policy. He urges us to seize that opportunity.
In his last visit to the Carnegie Council a few years ago, Professor Ash discussed the history of the present. Today he will be sharing his thoughts about the direction of our future. At this time I ask that you join me in welcoming our guest, the very distinguished and widely acclaimed Timothy Garton Ash.
TIMOTHY GARTON ASH: Thank you very much for that very kind introduction. It is a great pleasure to be back here at Carnegie and to see so many old friends.
As you mentioned, I want to talk about the argument of my book, Free World; but the title I gave for this talk was "A New Beginning?" I think it is probably fair to say that the question mark in my title has grown a little bit larger since November the 2nd. Quite frankly, I might have made a slightly more upbeat presentation if we were facing a Kerry administration.
But I do want to start by saying that when posing the question "a new beginning?" I was thinking not just about the American election results but really about the whole position of America and Europe: how are they redefining their relationship at the beginning of the 21st century?
We always say we live in a post-9/11 world; but one of my arguments is that the world in which America and Europe have to operate is defined by not one but two 9/11s. We all know the American 9/11: the fall of the Twin Towers in New York. But before that was the European 9/11. If you write the day before the month, you also have 9/11/89, the 9th of November 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell--a 9/11 not of fear but of hope. Let me remind you that the fifteenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is tomorrow.
It seems to me that in many respects that first 9/11 defines the problems in the transatlantic relationship even more than the second. As a result of the end of the Cold War, there are a couple of structural changes of a deep kind. One is very obviously that America and Europe are not held together in the same unambiguous way, by a single common enemy in the heart of Europe. A former British Foreign Secretary said to me the other day, rather wistfully, "You know, if only we had Brezhnev back, everything would be so simple." The Red Army in Berlin, in East Germany, was the cement that, in spite of all our differences, always brought America and Europe back together again. It is no more.
Another structural change as a result of the Cold War ending is that Europe is no longer the central theater of world politics in a way in which, arguably—and this is a bold claim—it had been for at least 400 years, since the sixteenth century. The centrality of Europe in world politics was in a sense artificially preserved by the fact that the conflict between the two superpowers was focused in the heart of Europe: in Germany, in Berlin. That is no longer the case.
What is more, anyone who is here will know that Europe is much less central—even at times peripheral—to the world as far as Washington is concerned; and I think that lost centrality is a profound change.
Now my subtitle today is "What can the United States do with Europe now?" I did wonder a bit about the preposition: "What can the United States do for Europe now?" "What can the United States do to Europe now?"
"What can the United States do with Europe now?" could be understood in two ways. One is: You know what you can do with Europe. And it has to be said that this is a view one hears not a little in Washington these days: a sense that Europe can comfortably be ignored by the sole hyper-power, particularly militarily but not only. I think that is a great mistake, but it is still a view.
More positively, one could ask: what can the United States do with Europe in the sense of taking positive action? Now if we are thinking about what the United States can do with Europe in either of these senses, we have to do a "Mr. X" as it were—the kind of analysis that George Kennan made in the 1940s of the world we are in, of the fundamental challenges we face.
One problem of the transatlantic discussion is we talk endlessly about each other. To be more precise, Americans talk endlessly about America and Europeans talk endlessly about America. We talk much too little—and I would say self-critically, particularly we in Europe—about the world we are both in and the challenges it faces.
Let me say a word about that. It seems fundamentally inadequate to define the agenda of world politics for the next twenty years as the "war on terror." I have no doubt that international terrorism, particularly exploiting rogue or failed states, and equipped with the new technologies of mass destruction, is one of the major threats of our time. It would be absurd to pretend that it is not, and quite a few Europeans have been quite absurd in that respect. It is one of those shifts in history. Developments in military technology and the ease with which weapons of mass destruction can be made and transported—thereby raising the possibility of so-called asymmetric warfare—has produced a shift in politics. That is undoubtedly the case.
But it seems to me that if you are looking at the true challenges of the early twenty-first century, there are at least four other areas you have to look at. In my book, I call them "the new Red Armies." I will simply list them because I think it will be fairly common ground for this audience.
First of all, the huge challenge of supporting the gradual modernization, liberalization, and democratization of the wider Middle East and in particular the Arab world. We talk a lot about the Muslim world, but I mean the Arab world in particular. At the moment, of the twenty-two members of the Arab League, there is no single democracy. This poses a huge challenge to both Europeans and Americans; but I would argue particularly to Europe, because for you in the United States it is the Middle East, whereas for us it is the Near East—very near. At Gibralter's closest point to the continent of Europe, Morocco is just nine miles away. You can easily come across in a small boat, and thousands of Moroccans have done so. The projected population of the twenty-two countries of the Arab League in 2020 is between 420 and 460 million—that is to say, equivalent to the current population of the European Union, made up of twenty-five member states. If we do not bring a measure of prosperity, freedom, and hope to these overwhelmingly young people, they may resort to terrorist methods. And it is Europe, not the United States, that will face—and I fear cope very inadequately with—the challenge of mass immigration.
The second huge challenge, of a slightly different kind, is the rise of the Far East, or I would say the renaissance of the Far East. We are living in an extraordinary historical moment where in particular China, but also India, is experiencing a historical renaissance. As you will know, even into the eighteenth century, China took care of a larger part of the industrial production of the world than Europe did. Since that time, of course, China went into a precipitous decline and Europe reigned supreme. Now we are again experiencing the extraordinary rise of the Far East, of Asia. Clearly, that will in large measure determine the politics of the next twenty years and, incidentally, play fundamentally into the relationship between Europe and the United States.
The third major challenge is, of course, the fact that nearly some 3 billion people in the world today live on less than $2.00 a day—opening up a huge gulf between North and South and raising the prospect that with further population growth, most of the new people born into the world will be born into that kind of poverty.
Finally, I would mention as the fourth of these huge global challenges the undoubted reality of climate change of a dramatic kind, particularly global warming. There is clear scientific evidence that human agency, particularly emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, contribute significantly to climate change. That seems to me as close as we get to a fact.
Given these five challenges—terrorism with weapons of mass destruction, rogue and failed states, the Near and Far East, the North-South divide, and climate change—I will advance two propositions:
- I will challenge anyone to show me how in any of these fields which will determine our future the vital long-term interests of Europe and the United States differ in any fundamental sense. Our interests in these five fields, it seems to me, are common, convergent, or at the very least compatible. This is not an expression of wishful thinking, but simply an analytical statement.
- The possibility of effectively addressing any of these five great challenges without strategic cooperation between Europe and the United States is close to nil. Perhaps in the discussion we could come back to it, and someone might wish to argue the opposite case, but I would argue that case in detail for each of these challenges.
Let me mention just one, the emission of greenhouse gases. Now, as we all know, the real problem here is the projected huge growth in the emission of greenhouse gases by the emerging economies, particularly China and India. That is where we are going to overheat. But then the question is: What do we do about it? I will put it to you that, whatever Europe does to control its own emissions of greenhouses gases—and actually we have done quite a bit; it is one of the very few areas where Europe is unambiguously better than the United States—will be completely futile unless the United States comes to and does something very significant about it soon. If not, how on earth could you possibly hope to persuade the Chinese that they should exercise restraint as they industrialize? It is simply unthinkable.
So that is one small example, and I think in every field I could demonstrate the same. However, this compatibility or convergence of interests is clearly not seen very clearly on both sides of the Atlantic. Attitudes and approaches to foreign policy are increasingly divergent. People on both sides of the Atlantic believe in growing numbers that we have differing and divergent values. Witness the huge success of Robert Kagan's now-notorious one-liner: "Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus." What was interesting here was that a statement made by an American neo-conservative was welcomed and embraced with such enthusiasm, particularly by the European left, because that's exactly what many of the European left wanted to believe, because that enabled them to define Europe as being against the United States.
Now a good part of my book is actually dedicated to demonstrating conclusively that this is a load of bologna, that Americans are not from Mars and Europeans from Venus. I say "conclusively" in jest, but I think one can demonstrate empirically that our societies are actually much more similar than both sides think.
People say, Europe has welfare states and America has a free-market economy. But look at the social spending of the United States, look at the projections of how that social spending is going to grow, look at the proportion of social spending against military spending, look at the prospects for Medicare and Medicaid.
On values, there is no clear values divide between Europe and the United States. There is something called the World Values Survey, which has spent thirty years surveying values. I have at the end of the book a fascinating map charting values of the countries surveyed. What you get is a huge scatter sheet of countries with a number of clusters: Protestant Europe, Catholic Europe, ex-Communist Europe, and English-speaking countries. And Britain is of course closer to the United States than it is to Sweden, but actually France is closer to the United States than it is to Sweden. The divergence between European countries is actually greater than that between a number of European countries and the United States. This is demonstrable.
The truth is that what we face is not a great divide going down the middle of the Atlantic, but two divided continents. America is divided and Europe is divided. The divisions in the United States have just been rather visibly demonstrated in the last election, in which the gulf between the red and blue states correlates to a significant degree with much deeper divides, particularly on so-called cultural issues or values issues, which pollsters like Pew have found for many years.
If you disaggregate the American component between blue and red, between Democrat and Republican, you end up thinking that it is not Americans who are from Mars and Europeans who are from Venus, but it is Republicans who are from Mars and Democrats who are from Venus. That is to say that on many of the issues that Europeans regard as defining Europe, Democrats, or Blue America, are much closer to European attitudes than to those of Red America. This extends also to foreign policy. If you look at the latest German Marshall Fund Poll of Transatlantic Trends, there are a couple of fascinating findings:
- Question: Is war ever justified to achieve justice? More Europeans say "yes" than Democrats.
- Question: Is military force the best way to win the war on terrorism? Less Democrats agree than the French.
So the Democrats are more Venutian than the French. You should reflect on that for a moment. America is divided. But Europe, too, is divided. It is divided not only in the great divergences between countries on many of the issues I have mentioned, but also—and this is one of my fundamental points—in a great argument not about Europe, not about values, but about the United States. It is divided between what I call "Euro-Atlanticists" and "Euro-Gaullists." Euro-Atlanticists wish to see a strong united Europe but as a strong partner for the United States, while Euro-Gaullists wish to see a strong united Europe but as a rival superpower, an alternative pole to the United States.
Indeed, the argument of the decade in Europe is between Euro-Atlanticists and Euro-Gaulists. This is, of course, a considerable simplification, but to analyze is to simplify. This argument is not between so-called new Europe and old Europe. There is something ludicrous and rather demeaning about the way in which Europeans took Donald Rumsfeld's really off-the-cuff remark about old Europe and new Europe and debated it endlessly and with reverence, as if Donald Rumsfeld were some sort of Edward Gibbon, pronouncing with profound authority on European history and politics. It is not a divide geographically between this country and that country, as we saw Spain overnight move from being new Europe to being old Europe because of an election result. It is an argument that goes through every European country, dividing generations and classes. There are quite a few Euro-Gaullists in Britain—you'd be surprised—and there are quite a few Euro-Atlanticists in France.
Having analyzed where we are in the present, I'd like to turn to the possibility of a new beginning in the transatlantic relationship with a new administration—or a second term of the Bush administration—in Washington and incidentally, with a new administration in Brussels, a new European Commission with President Barroso, with a constitution in the process perhaps of being ratified. (This should, at least in theory, enable Europe to be a more coherent actor in foreign policy.)
What is the effect of the Bush reelection? I have to say—and I argued this before the election, but I'm afraid it remains valid even now—that the effect is likely to be a considerable strengthening of Euro-Gaullism in Europe: a considerable strengthening of the view that what remains for Europe now is to build up its own strength as a counterweight, as an alternative pole, and even as a rival superpower, to the United States. (It is not, of course, explicitly stated in those terms; it's more delicately expressed.)
And you saw this, by the way, immediately in Jacques Chirac's reaction to Bush's reelection, which was to say exactly that: in an increasingly multipolar world, Europe has to build up its own strength. Contrast this with Tony Blair's reaction—because the leader of the Euro-Atlanticists is of course Blair and of the Euro-Gaullists, Chirac. Certainly if you look at European public opinion and at the extraordinary collective groan that one has to say went up from all across Europe at the news of Bush's reelection, then this seems plausible to suggest.
There are some very worrying aspects to the prospect of rising Euro-Gallism. Quite apart from potential disagreements about Iraq, the United States and Europe might clash, even more explosively, about Iran--which in my view bids fair to be the next crisis of the West after Iraq. And in the longer term, the relationship with China may also become a source of disagreement.
As you know, Jacques Chirac has devoted enormous efforts to cultivating—as to some extent has Chancellor Schröder—good relations with China, partly for obviously sound commercial interests. But in soft-pedaling the critique of China's record on human rights and endorsing the Chinese position on Taiwan, and in indicating that we should lift the EU arms embargo without clear conditionality, without clear linkage, Europe is raising the likelihood of the prospect that in three, four, or five years' time, American battleships in the Taiwan Straits may find European missiles or European weapons pointed at them.
In the 1970s Henry Kissinger played the China card against the Soviet Union. Today China is playing the European card against the United States. And we see the prospect of a truly worrying, sort of value-free geopolitics, in which three blocs—Europe, China, and the United States—align and realign and compete like the great powers of Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Now the likely reaction of the second Bush administration to a Europe that starts making more noises in this direction, which is a bit more Euro-Gaullist and non-cooperative, will be to do what it has done to a significant degree over the last four years: that is to say, cherry-pick their partners among the powers of Europe. Richard Haass calls it "disaggregation"—that is to say, not working any more with Europe as such, with the European Union, but picking and choosing the European partners you believe to be friendly. The Romans called it divida et impera , divide and rule. This will of course infuriate many Europeans, strengthen the Euro-Gaullist impulse, and I could well imagine—and I say this with pain—create a further downward spiral in transatlantic relations.
What is to be done to avoid that? This is my last set of comments. Given that we have a second Bush administration—and of course we don't know who the key personnel will be; we can discuss that—but given that we have a second Bush administration, which, at least in private, is saying that it does wish to try and make a new beginning, to mend some fences, for the second term, what can be done?
I would like to see the second Bush administration take at least two vital steps:
- Don't feel that you have to go and kiss and make up with France or Germany or any individual European power; rather, you should make the positive and emphatic statement that, "We the United States wish to work with the European Union as our major partner."You should make it clear that in every case your preferred option, your default position, is to work with a united Europe and that, as your country has done ever since 1945, you support European integration and believe European integration to be in the American national interest.
Now I would submit that this is the first American administration since 1945 of which at the very least that has not been unambiguously true, and I am putting that mildly. Indeed, Lionel Barber of The Financial Times, who is here with us here today, and I had the interesting experience in May 2001 of being invited to come and tell President Bush about Europe before his first visit to Europe. He and I and a few American specialists had two-and-a-half hours with the President, and a very interesting conversation it was, too.
One thing Bush said I will never forget, and I'm sure Lionel will never forget it either. Early in the conversation, he said, quite emphatically, "So do we want the European Union to succeed?" When Lionel and I had said that we certainly wanted the European Union to succeed and we felt as British Europeans that the United States should want it to succeed, too, the President said, smiling, "Oh, that was a provocation."
But, provocation or not, the truth is that hearing that question from the very top, from as we say the horse's mouth, really did reflect a question that has remained in the mind of the first Bush administration. I would argue that this is the first administration that not only has not unambiguously supported European unification but in significant parts of the administration has actively pursued a policy of disaggregation, of divida et impera.
I believe if you really want to work with Europe, then the first thing you have to do is to say, "We want to work with Europe as the European Union." So the symbolic meeting is not with Chirac or Schröder or Blair or Berlusconi; it is with President Barroso of the European Union and the assembled leaders of the European Union in Brussels. That's the message you have to send.
- The second thing I would suggest that the United States could do is to adopt an even broader agenda for the war on terrorism and the enlargement of freedom in Iraq. I would say that if you, the United States, want Europeans to help you in Iraq and to get tougher on Iran, then don't just ask us to help you in Iraq and get tougher on Iran. Let us lay out an agenda which includes Iraq, Iran, Darfur, Afghanistan, the whole project of modernizing the wider Near East; our relationship with China, which as I said is very important; the Doha Round, trade and aid; and the matter of climate change. I say this for two reasons.
Firstly, for a tactical one. Robert Cooper, the British diplomat now working in Brussels, quotes Jean Monet as saying, "If you have an insoluble problem, enlarge the context." I thought this was such a wonderful comment that I e-mailed Robert and I said, "Robert, could you tell me where Monet said that?" He wrote back a wonderful e-mail: "Well, I'm terribly sorry, Tim, but I remember hearing someone telling me that someone had told him that Jean Monet had said this." Then he added: "But I'm morally certain that he said it." A wonderful phrase. But whether it was Monet or Cooper— or someone just told me that it was Madison in The Federalist Papers—it's a very wise comment.
But the second reason is substantive. If you go back to the analysis of the global challenges of the 21st century that I made at the beginning, then this is indeed the real agenda that we should be addressing and not the much-too-narrow agenda which only goes from, as it were, war on terror to Iraq and Iran.
My very final point is that in spite of all these dangers and difficulties and challenges, the fact remains that on the fifteenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a moment of extraordinary hope, we live in a world of great opportunity. More people in the world are more free than ever before. In 1974 there were thirty-nine democracies in the world. Now there are 117, if you still count Russia. According to Freedom House, there are eighty-eight free countries in the world—that is to say, 2.8 billion, nearly half the world's population, are living in countries that are free—even if when you are a beggar in Calcutta, you may not yourself be said to be free in any meaningful sense. This extraordinary story of the enlargement of freedom is the larger story of the last thirty years.
One reason I have written this book is that we have forgotten the optimism and hope of the first 9/11, of the fall of the Berlin Wall, of the velvet revolutions of 1989; forgotten it almost utterly; forgotten it not just in our generation but in the younger generation—or maybe never known it in the younger generation. I believe passionately that if Europe and America do work together to pursue our common interests, then we can actually move forward from the old Cold War West, which will never walk again, to a new post-West, which is a wider community of democracies that already includes many countries that have not belonged culturally and historically to what we have called the West. This is the essential point of my book and the point of the title of my book: "Free World," without the article. What we used to call "the free world" (i.e., the West during the Cold War) is gone and will not come again. We can now work towards "a free world." Never in the history of grammar has a shift from the definite to the indefinite article been more important. Thank you.
JOANNE MYERS: Thank you very much. The subtitle is America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West, but there was nothing surprising about that excellent presentation. I'd like to open the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
QUESTION: I would like to address your notion of enlarging the context and say that in actual politics it is very difficult to design a grand strategy, as you suggested, and very often big things happen as the result of many small steps. But of course one has to have a broader perspective in mind, and in that connection I wonder what you think about the Middle East aspect of your analysis in light of the fact that there there is already a diplomatic mechanism in place which brings together the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia. I refer to the so-called quartet mechanism, which of course has lost some credibility over the last year or so but which still presents an element of hope.
It provides a specific framework for devising a policy to address the Palestinian issue quickly, and if that succeeds, a platform for addressing the broader issues of the Arab world. I wonder whether you have any thoughts about this—not only as a specific case but also as a paradigmatic case, because I don't think that grand strategy on the scale that you outlined is actually possible in practical politics today.
TIMOTHY GARTON ASH: Well, first of all, it is great fun being an armchair strategist, and I agree with you, that it is more difficult when you have to do politics. But it is surely plausible to say that at the beginning of a new administration in Washington and in Brussels, if you have a conversation between the United States and the European Union, you can have a palette, an agenda of issues, which I sketched out, and explore the connections between the two sides. I think it has been very unhealthy over the past few years that one has had a transatlantic conversation which goes: Washington says, "Iraq, Iraq, Iraq"; Europe says, "Israel, Palestine, Israel, Palestine, Israel, Palestine." In my view, Europeans should talk more about Iraq, and the United States should talk more about Israel and Palestine. There is clearly a moment of opportunity to do exactly that, with the departure from the scene of Yasser Arafat. I think Blair was right to stress the salience of the issue.
And you are right also to mention the mechanism of the quartet as a very promising one. I think we also need quintets and trios and octets—and maybe even little string orchestras. It seems to me that if this relationship is going to work, then we have to be rather flexible about the particular instrumentality from case to case. I myself think that as we look at the different issues, the European Union should be prepared to contemplate—and I know this is regarded as heresy in some quarters in Brussels—contact groups with the United States with different compositions. That is to say, if the issue is the Ukraine, you have to have Poland; if the issue is the Maghreb, you have to have Spain. That is a way to move these issues forward--through a combination, or joint authority, of the European Union, the United States, and of course wherever possible the United Nations. And then, in practice, when you are doing the business, you'd form a smaller group of relevant powers. So yes, I do think that is a promising model.
QUESTION: I'd like to thank you for your analysis and express the hope that it will be heard and understood on both sides of the Atlantic. I'd also like to accept as a working hypothesis your idea that Europeans and Americans might still have common values. So I want to suggest that more stress should be placed on the instruments we use to attain our common objectives. And I'd like to suggest that one of the more serious actions of the United States over the last three years has been what I would call a hegemonic declaration: "Not only are we number one, but we intend to prevent anyone else from being preeminent."
But I would also like to suggest that in Europe, similarly, I don't believe from your own analysis that there is any hope of getting Europe to coalesce around the idea of American preeminence. It seems to me that we come much closer together when we don't ask questions about the relationship but rather, define a common policy on the basis of common goals. So I would like you to comment on that, please.
My second question is a much simpler. You didn't have among your challenges the huge demographic challenge Europe is facing.
TIMOTHY GARTON ASH: Just on the second, briefly, I didn't want to talk for two hours. That topic is definitely in the book. That is to say, if I say that the population of the Arab world is going to be 460 million and the population of the existing European Union is still going to be 460 million, the point is made. Look, just another footnote. My claim is not the sort of conventional and pious wisdom that we all share the same values. My claim is that you cannot empirically define or identify a distinct, coherent set of European values against a distinct and single coherent set of American values. It just doesn't work. America is divided on values; Europe is divided on values. So to some extent we have similar values, and to some extent we have different values; but the differences are all over the map. Now I completely agree—and this is, indeed, the essence of my argument—that the place to start is not, "Oh, we must save NATO and the transatlantic relationship." It is: "What do we need to do in the world in the next twenty years?" That's where I do start, okay, and the argument goes from there.
I agree with you that how you do things is as important as what you do. I think that was in a way a lesson of the 1989 revolutions. How you do things—the means—will also determine the end. And so when people said the difference between Kerry and Bush is style but not substance, that was to trivialize the difference, because style is substance. Half the objections the Europeans have had to what the Bush administration has done has been about how it has done it, not what it has done. Multilateralism is a statement about style, if you will, about procedure. So I completely agree with that. And it will be very difficult to work with this administration if it continues to be unilateralist; you're absolutely right.
On the European side, I would say two things. First—and I fear some people in this room may be horrified by what I am about to say, but nonetheless I will say it—I think we have a tendency to fetishize too much UN authority and the letter of international law. Our intervention in Kosovo was illegal but legitimate. I think we Europeans, given the United Nations as it is—and we would all love it to be reformed—but taking it as it is, with China and Russia in the Security Council, I think we Europeans should be focusing on questions of legitimacy that derive from the consent of a clear majority of what is by now a large community of democracies rather than focusing solely on, as it were, the letter of explicit UN Security Council authority, important though that is and first preference though that is. So that is one way in which I think we Europeans can move.
Secondly, I don't like the way in which the argument goes, "America does the cooking, Europe does the washing up," "America does all the hard power, we do all the soft power." Some Europeans like this rhetoric, but I think the way to move forward—if you look at, for example, the issue of terrorism, when the Europeans are always saying, "You have to look at the causes of terrorism; we have to drain the swamp," while the Americans are saying, "But you've got to shoot the crocodiles," right?—is for the Europeans to be a bit more prepared to acknowledge that sometimes you have to go out and shoot the crocodiles. And I hope that in response, our American friends would recognize that you also have to set about the longer-term project of draining the swamp.
QUESTION: To reformulate Kagan, perhaps America is Mars and Europe is Uranus. The real question for me is: Why is Europe relevant? Where can Europe be a help? If I go through your four articles, the last, your point about climate change, is still very much in question scientifically; but it's typical of the kind of thing that the European countries get themselves fascinated with. I've lived through the Club of Rome, when we had the "population bomb." Nowadays Europe is suffering a population bomb of depopulation; it is facing economic collapse over that depopulation; and yet it wants to tell America to get involved with the Kyoto Treaty and things like the International Criminal Court. Where can the Europeans do the heavy lifting on these four issues? America has assumed the lion's share of the burden. I'm not sure it's because we want it. I wonder if it's because Europe can't really do much about any of it. You know, the Far East became our largest trading partner back in 1978. It has only been accelerating since.
TIMOTHY GARTON ASH: I think, if I may say so, you have just perfectly captured a dangerous American illusion. It is true that the United States, with its overwhelming military superiority, can win most wars on its own. That is true. But as we are seeing in Iraq, it cannot win the peace on its own. That's my first point.
Second point: if you were to address the causes of terrorism, why people become terrorists, then you have to address the conditions of the wider Middle East, of the Arab countries. Who is right next door? Where do they export to? Where do their people go to be educated? Where do their people emigrate to? Who can offer the prospect of economic improvement through making a trans-Mediterranean Free Trade Area? Europe, Europe, Europe. These are things you can only do with Europe.
You mentioned China and the shift of U.S. trade to the Far East. China is now Europe's largest trading partner. European trade with China grew 44 percent last year. Do not believe that you can simply structure an economic relationship with China, treating Europe as a marginal irrelevance. I mean I don't want to use the remaining time by going through the whole list of issues and demonstrating to you how vital Europe is for America to realize its own vital interests; but I do believe that what you have just said is a very, very dangerous illusion. And you know, it is our children who will be paying the price for that illusion.
QUESTION: Back in the first 9/11, members of the first Bush administration talked about playing a portfolio. They looked at NATO, the European Union, and the OSCE as interlocutors, partners for policymaking, and then left their options open. But they certainly paid a great deal more attention to the European Union than the second Bush administration. My question, though, is you hardly mentioned at all the role of NATO in this new post-West. Is there a role? And how do you deal with the fact that of course with NATO, America does have a seat at the table? It does not have a seat at a table of twenty-five nation-states plus the President of the European Commission, and eighty-two translators.
TIMOTHY GARTON ASH: Only eighty-two?!
You know the old British saying, "Keep hold of nurse for fear of meeting something worse." It worries me that there is a slight tendency to regard NATO as a nurse. My view is that the long-term future of the partnership between America and Europe will be determined mainly by the relationship between the European Union and the European Project, and the United States and the American Project. That said, NATO continues to perform some useful functions.You know, back in 1989-1990, just after the velvet revolutions, there was a debate in Central Europe: "For European security do we Poles, we Czechs, we Hungarians want NATO, or do we want the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe?" Today NATO is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; that is what NATO has primarily become. It is an organization for keeping the peace and security within Europe, within a wider Europe broadly defined, and as such it performs a very useful function. Its enlargement will continue, pari passu, with the enlargement of the European Union, to secure this extraordinary achievement of the whole of Europe living at peace, in relative security, with a continent of more or less liberal democracies. There is only one dictatorship left in Europe, and that's Belarus.
In addition, I think the United States would be well advised to take seriously and encourage the European Union's own rapid reaction force. If we think of somewhere like Darfur, for example, or other examples of potential humanitarian intervention, I don't think you need necessarily to look first to NATO just to show that NATO has a role. NATO has a role. Why not say to the European Union, "You have this rapid reaction force which claims to be made for exactly this purpose. Now do it."
QUESTION: I'll stay on our astronomical charts for a bit. If we are to believe that Europeans inhabit Venus and Americans Mars, then Latin America is certainly living in a completely different solar system. I am as realist as the next man, and I can certainly understand that today Latin America is not positioned on the central geostrategic axis in the world. But, barring an economic or political crisis—and what has happened in Venezuela, Colombia, and Argentina in recent years suggests that even that may not be enough—how do you re-engage Europe and America with Latin America, especially given that two of the core issues that you mentioned in your book, environmental degradation and the North-South divide, are of vital importance to Latin America?
TIMOTHY GARTON ASH: Yes. I have at the back of the book several very interesting maps and charts, including the one of values that I mentioned and bloc maps of power, and the Press Freedom Map of the World, which will be familiar to many of you. It's very, very striking that what you've got there is you've Europe, practically all of Europe; you've got the Anglo sphere: the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and India; and then you have one whole continent, Latin America—all of which stand out as the universe of free countries today. So that is a very not negligible fact. My own view is that in thinking about a sort of rebirth of Euro-Atlanticism, Latin America and Spanish-speaking America, including Spanish-speaking America inside the United States—which as someone who spends part of each year in California at Stanford I know is a very significant part of American society—should be part of that rebirth of the broader Euro-Atlantic relationship. Why is it that the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the Foreign Minister of the European Commission, Javier Solana, are classic Euro-Atlanticists? Well, it's not wholly accidental that they come from Spain and Portugal, from countries that border on the Atlantic and have a certain experience with the transatlantic world. So I think that is a resource that we should draw on, a significant resource, in trying to rebuild this relationship—and I stand corrected by you in a sense—between the Americas and the larger Europe.
JOANNE MYERS: Thank you once again for an excellent presentation.