THERE IS NO STRATEGIC SPLIT
Even U.S. Hyper-Power Needs Partners
By Condoleeza Rice
Condoleeza Rice is the national security advisor to U.S. President
George W. Bush. Bush will arrive in Europe Monday, June 11, to meet European
WASHINGTON -- In his first
extended foreign trip since taking office,
President George W. Bush sees an important opportunity to advance our
common goals with Europe and to discuss our common challenges.
This trip takes place against a backdrop of conversation -- in the media,
in academia and in diplomatic circles -- that speaks of a values
gap between America and Europe. The alleged gap is said to
be differences between the United States and Europe over issues such as
the death penalty, gun control and genetically modified foods. Some even
say theres a strategic split -- over such
issues as land mines, global warming and missile defenses.
The premise of the argument is that, no longer bound together by
the threat of Soviet communism, America and Europe are growing apart.
Some go a step farther and posit that we are destined to become adversaries
instead of allies.
The president and his administration fundamentally reject this premise.
Europe and the United States are partners today. We will continue to be
partners tomorrow and the day after -- strong partners. Not because of
destiny, but by choice. Not because of the inertia of our common history,
but because of our common interests and, indeed, our common values.
For starters, the United States and Europe have a strong common interest
in maintaining healthy economic and trade relationships. The total stock
of our investment and annual trade comes to approximately $1.5 trillion.
U.S. exports to the European Union support some 1.3 million American jobs.
Trade in goods and services between the United States and EU nearly doubled
during the 1990s. In short, our economic ties alone justify a very close
relationship with Europe.
The same holds for our security
relationship. Our interest in European security did not end with the fall
of the Berlin Wall. Today, we are working closely through NATO to forge
the Europe that our grandfathers and fathers fought for in two world wars
-- a Europe whole, free and at peace. We are working to consolidate our
gains in bringing peace to the Balkans. We are working and consulting
closely to develop a new strategic framework to deal
with common threats such as terrorism, information warfare, weapons of
mass destruction and the means to deliver them. The president is looking
forward to addressing all of these topics on his trip.
The debate over a values gap or a strategic
split ignores the
fact that at a very fundamental level our economic interests and our security
interests -- far from driving us apart -- are major factors in keeping
the United States and Europe working together.
But the more fundamental irony is that the values debate is taking place
at a moment when our core values -- the common values of the transatlantic
community -- are ascendant.
Citizens on both sides of the Atlantic believe that all humans have the
right to fundamental freedoms: the freedom to say what we think, worship
as we wish and choose who shall govern us. We believe that open economies
and trading systems are the essential starting points for building prosperity
and meeting human needs. These beliefs -- in freedom for people within
borders and freedom for commerce across borders -- have long characterized
our partnership with Europe. What is different today is that so much of
the rest of the world agrees with us.
Indeed, these principles are the hallmarks of the global age. From Latin
America to Russia, from Asia to Africa, there is increasing recognition
that the only way to improve lives is to open up the economy, root out
corruption, eliminate statist subsidies and control and demolish protectionist
There is increasing recognition that economic and political liberty creates
the space necessary so that the talents of individuals can produce not
just personal happiness but societal benefit. More and more nations understand
that this is the basic dynamic of globalization. And that is why they
are choosing freedom and openness -- for their economies, their trade
relations and their political systems. That is why today a higher percentage
of people live in democracies than ever before.
Freedom and respect for basic human liberties are not values that are
Made in America. They are not American
values any more than they are European. They are
both, and they are neither. Today, increasingly, they are universal.
I do not mean to downplay the issues driving the debate over a values
gap. Our transatlantic partnership must and will have open, healthy debate
on issues where we differ. Reasonable people can disagree on the best
approach to policy issues such as global climate change and genetically
modified foods. We should present our differences honestly, look at facts
objectively and pursue solutions pragmatically and creatively.
On something as fundamental as the death penalty, both sides must respect
the fact that our positions are the result of free and open democratic
discourse within our civic and political institutions. And we should appreciate
the fact that there is evidence to suggest that the views of our citizens
are more ambiguous, and probably a lot closer to each other, than the
positions of our governments.
But in many ways, the debate over a values gap
between the United States and Europe is the kind of self-indulgent discussion
that only the very successful and well off can afford. The debate appears
to take place in a vacuum, ignoring the important work still to be done
to build the kind of Europe we know we want, the kind of Europe we know
we can achieve. The debate also looks past the important work that together
the United States and Europe can achieve beyond our borders: to help foster
open societies with open economies around the world; to help bring peace
and health to Africa; to help set an example of multi-ethnic democracy
for those lands where difference is still seen as a license to kill.
This is an important agenda and these are great goals. And one of the
defining characteristics of the global age is that no nation -- not even
a hyper-power, if one existed -- can reach these
(c) 2001, Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate
International, a division of Tribune Media Services.
For immediate release (Distributed 6/7/01)