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3rd Dec 2022

Bush told to treat Europeans 'like adults'

The former American secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, has attacked the Bush administration for alienating the Arab world and Europe, warning a long-term rift will occur if fences are not mended.

"European unease with American pretensions, coupled with American doubts about European resolve, has created the potential for a long-term and dangerous rift", Ms Albright writes in the September/October edition of Foreign Affairs.

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Deeply critical of the Bush administration's handling of the "war" against terrorism, Ms Albright - who was Bill Clinton's secretary of state - is also critical of the way some European countries handled themselves.

"The problem is that President Bush has reframed his initial question [posed of other countries]. Instead of simply asking others to oppose al Qaeda, he now asks them to oppose al Qaeda, support the invasion of an Arab country, and endorse the doctrine of preemption -- all as part of a single package. Faced with this choice, many who staunchly oppose al Qaeda have nevertheless decided that they do not want to be "with" the United States".

"The French certainly have not helped matters, by arguing, for example, that the very purpose of European integration should be to create a counterweight to American power".

Challenge for Europe

Much like the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, Ms Albright cautions against a United Europe becoming, as one commentator put it, "a strategic enemy" of the United States.

"The challenge for Europe is to reject French hyperventilating about American hyper[-]power and keep its perspective… [t]he challenge for the United States, however, is to frame a choice for Europe that most of Europe can embrace with dignity (if not always with France)".

"The idea that the power of the United States endangers the interests of European democracies, rather than strengthens and helps shield them, is utter nonsense. American power may harm French pride, but it also helped roll back Hitler, save a blockaded Berlin, defeat communism, and rid the Balkans of a rampaging Slobodan Milosevic".

The way forward

"The Bush administration should enthusiastically welcome European efforts to develop an independent rapid reaction capability, especially to conduct peacekeeping operations and respond to humanitarian emergencies", counsels Ms Albright.

She concludes that: "Perhaps above all, the Europeans should be treated as adults. If they have differences with U.S. policy, those differences should be considered seriously, not dismissed as signs of weakness (or age) or tantamount to treason. Washington needs to recall that "allies" and "satellites" are distinctly different things".

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