England's Sword 2.0

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Walker's Crisp Analysis

Martin Walker's National Review Online article today points out something that needs to be looked at closely:

... the striking characteristic of the Bush administration on Europe, as France and Germany explore an openly anti-American policy, is that outside the Pentagon there is no policy. Congress holds no hearings. Other than finally threatening legal action against the EU's scientifically unjustified barriers against genetically modified U.S. food exports, the U.S. Trade Representative explores no other options. When the Estonians are ordered by Brussels to start raising their tariffs on American goods as a condition of joining the EU, Washington is silent.

Maybe they are simply discouraged. Twice in the 1990s then-U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor and his EU counterpart, Leon Brittain, negotiated a Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement. Each time, the French vetoed it. Today, the Doha Round of world-trade liberalization is endangered by the EU's difficulty in scrapping its protectionist farm policies in the teeth of French vetoes. ...

Neither Congress and the administration has yet paid much attention to the EU convention, chaired by former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, that is drafting a new European constitution. And yet in Giscard's proposals for a strong EU presidency, a common foreign and defense policy and an increasingly uniform judicial system, the implications for U.S. interests are serious.

This is true. The Pentagon knows who its friends and enemies are. No-one else is willing to face the unpleasant truth. Yet Walker's suggested solutions strike me as quite reasonable:

The Bush administration would have allies all across Europe and the rest of the world if they openly singled out France for confrontation. The U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve would also have support is they pressed the question why the European Central Bank and the eurozone economy are stagnating and helping bring down the wider global economy. And it's odd that so few people in the U.S. media or politics wonder why not.

The U.S. Congress might find it useful to explore Kissinger's idea of joint hearings with the European Parliament into issues like farm-trade obstructionism. The price they might have to pay could be other contentious hearings on the Kyoto Protocol and global warming, or on U.S. policies in the Middle East. Fine. Bring it on. Americans have arguments here that too few Europeans have heard.

Those last points are important. My recent work on global warming tells me quite how far the science has moved on since Kyoto, and it ain't in the direction the Europeans think it has. And we all know how little Europe hears of the moderate and/or Israeli views on the Middle East. As Martin says, bring it on.