Atelier No.15, article 18

Morton Halperin :
©International Herald Tribune, August 15, 2001

                              Trouble Lies Ahead if Bush Fails to Heed European Concerns

                                   NEW YORK The poll released today by the Pew Research
                                   Center, the International Herald Tribune and the Council on
                                   Foreign Relations removes any doubt that large majorities in the
                                   major nations of Western Europe have concerns about President
                                   George W. Bush's policies.

                                   Respondents in Britain, France, Italy and Germany do not express
                                   knee-jerk opposition to all the policies of the Bush administration.
                                   They applaud Mr. Bush's support for free trade and his willingness
                                   to keep American troops in Bosnia and Kosovo, which reverses a
                                   campaign promise to begin taking those troops out.

                                   However, echoing the views of their governments, they express
                                   concern about his overall approach as well as his positions on
                                   national missile defense, the Kyoto Protocol and the death penalty.
                                   The poll results on missile defense may pose the greatest challenge
                                   for the Bush administration. European publics may or may not
                                   favor the principle, but overwhelming majorities disapprove of a
                                   deployment that requires withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile

                                   More than seven in 10 German and French respondents and about
                                   two-thirds of the Italian and British respondents share this view.

                                   This means that European governments are unlikely to yield to
                                   administration pressure to go ahead with a missile defense system
                                   if it leads to terminating the ABM Treaty. And it suggests that if
                                   any of these governments do go along, the long dormant European
                                   anti-nuclear movement might come to life with a vengeance.

                                   Missile defense deployment is the quintessential post-Cold War
                                   issue because, as powerful and as rich as the United States is, it
                                   simply cannot proceed on its own. An effective layered national
                                   missile defense, the kind favored by the administration, will require
                                   the cooperation of many other countries in providing bases for
                                   radar and intelligence-gathering systems, as well as for the
                                   deployment of anti-missile launchers or the support for ship-based
                                   systems. And the cooperation of other countries, including Russia
                                   and China, is necessary if states such as North Korea, Iraq and
                                   Iran are to be prevented from developing relatively simple decoys
                                   that would neutralize any small missile defense system.

                                   This may help explain why Bush administration officials who favor
                                   giving early notice to Russia that the United States is withdrawing
                                   from the ABM Treaty have not yet prevailed.

                                   Those who give priority to negotiating an agreement with the
                                   Russian president, Vladimir Putin, should have their hands
                                   strengthened by these poll results, which suggest serious difficulties
                                   for U.S.-European relations, and for an effective anti-missile
                                   deployment, if the administration is seen as cavalierly rejecting the

                                   These problems can be overcome only by reaching agreement
                                   with Russia both on substantially lower levels of nuclear warheads
                                   and on amendments to the ABM Treaty which permit the
                                   deployment of a modest missile defense against potential small
                                   missile threats.

                                   Global warming also poses a serious challenge for the Bush
                                   administration. The majorities concerned about U.S. policy in this
                                   area are even larger than on missile defense, and nothing can be
                                   accomplished without the cooperation of other states. To reduce
                                   tensions over the Kyoto Protocol, the Bush administration will
                                   have to fulfill its commitment to present a proposal on global
                                   warming at the next international meeting. Proponents of this
                                   position within the administration should also be strengthened by
                                   this poll, which leaves no doubt that a continuing rift over this issue
                                   would have a profound impact on the overall relationship between
                                   the United States and Europe.

                                   If one steps back from the most dramatic results of this poll, there
                                   are numbers which point the way to effective cooperation in
                                   solving major global problems. The European publics polled are
                                   unhappy with Mr. Bush because they believe, in overwhelming
                                   numbers, that he makes decisions based only on U.S. interests and
                                   does not understand Europe or take its views into account.
                                   Europeans do not believe that their interests and those of America
                                   are drifting apart.

                                   American and European publics agree in their support of some
                                   Bush administration positions (free trade and Balkan policy), and a
                                   plurality of U.S. respondents also rejects Mr. Bush's policy on the
                                   Kyoto pact. Anyone who believes in the importance of
                                   U.S.-European relations can only hope that the Bush
                                   administration will take these poll results to heart and return to the
                                   principle, articulated by the president in last fall's campaign, that
                                   the United States can accomplish its goals in the world only if it
                                   takes account of the interests of others.

                                   If it does, the administration could attract broad public support for
                                   policies on global warming, missile defense and other issues which
                                   advance the interests of people living on both sides of the Atlantic.
                                   If it does not, the poll results being released today suggest that we
                                   might well be facing a serious deterioration in trans-Atlantic
                                   relations which cannot be ameliorated by traditional diplomacy.

                                   The writer is a senior fellow of the Council on Foreign
                                   Relations. He served in the Johnson, Nixon and Clinton
                                   administrations, most recently as director of the policy
                                   planning staff in the State Department. He contributed this
                                   comment to the International Herald Tribune.