Europe’s view of Middle East: fearful, clinging to stability, in love with the status quo, “any change can only be worse.”
Bush team (now that Powell seems to be on board): bold, looking to a better future, the status quo is corrupt, calcified, infected, inherently doomed to failure, supportive of the terror structure, “almost any change can only be better.”
Hoagland on the disconnect:
- The Bush administration can best pursue its goals at this week’s NATO summit in Prague by treating Europe as malleable and a still-significant security partner for the future.
The Europeans need to come to Prague recognizing that their plea to the Bush White House to deal with the world “as it is” ignores how rapidly and dramatically the world is changing around them. Equivocation and tinkering — the heart and soul of Europe’s current global diplomacy — is rapidly falling behind history’s ever-accelerating curve.
Today’s true foreign policy realists try to identify, cope with and influence the currents of radical change that fuel Islamic extremism, renewed political upheaval in the Middle East and the global wars on and by terrorism. Investing effort and treasure to shore up a disappearing world is a self-defeating endeavor.
Diverging attitudes over what is sustainable and what is doomed are rapidly becoming divisive factors in transatlantic relations. An intellectual investment in the status quo ties France, Germany and others to the Arab governments of the Middle East at least as much as commerce and oil do. Cataclysmic change in the Middle East is a notion that falls somewhere between inevitable and desirable for the Bush White House. It is anathema to Europe’s leaders and intellectuals.
One small but telling example of how nations are arranging themselves along history’s moving line came at the end of the tragic hostage siege by Chechen guerrillas in a Moscow theater last month. A Russian deputy foreign minister called in the capital’s Arab ambassadors and pointedly noted that none of them had offered to help during the siege. Up to that point, the official added, Arab countries had not even expressed sympathy to the Kremlin, which in Soviet days provided many of them with economic aid and weapons.
Silence and inaction in such circumstances are acquiescence to terror, the Russians were saying.
….Giant tasks — such as anchoring Turkey’s increasingly democratic society more firmly in the West — will be resolved only if present American-European differences are overcome and submerged into a bold new transatlantic program for global security.
Americans can learn from and let their readiness for action be tempered by Europe’s deep sense of history. But the Europeans cannot go on shunning the reality that we all stand on the cusp of cataclysmic change around the world. That change must be anticipated and channeled, not ignored.
Yank your heads out of the sand, Euroweenies, tomorrow is here.