If This Be Hope, Color Me Hopeless


Timothy Garton Ash, historian of Central Europe's liberation and (like me) an increasingly pessimistic Atlanticist, has written an interesting Washington Post op-ed arguing that a second Bush term will trigger a "Euro-Gaullist attempt to create a rival European superpower," which would play into the hands of … China.

Chirac has been pursuing a shameless policy of wooing China, for French economic advantage and to poke Washington in the eye. He has endorsed Beijing's position on Taiwan and said the E.U. embargo on arms exports to China should be lifted. This raises the grotesque prospect of European weapons being pointed at American warships in the Taiwan Strait. But of course it's not France that is calling the shots here. In the 1970s, Henry Kissinger played the China card against the Soviet Union. Today, China is playing the European card against the United States.

While Garton Ash doesn't think a Euro-Gaullist project would succeed, it is interesting, from a pure game theory point of view, that the Weekly Standard idea of overtly blunting the EU's ambitions may end up galvanizing them instead.

One other note: Garton Ash concludes that basically the only hope for "reconstructing the transatlantic West on a new basis" is if Americans elect John Kerry, in part because that "would encourage the silent majority of Euro-Atlanticists in Europe to speak up." This strikes me as not just wishful thinking (even if I share the wish), but also rather defeatist about the responsibility and independent thinking of European citizens and their governments. To put it plainly, if European public opinion about the U.S. depends primarily on us electing a president who doesn't offend their sensibilities, then the Transatlantic relationship may have already become too pathological to repair any time in the foreseeable future. (Link via Fistful of Euros)