What the American candidates say about Europe

John Edwards, candidate (picture Mike Murphy)

It was an interesting exercise, looking at the statements on foreign policy by the candidates for president of the United States. (Read the analysis here.) One thing that struck me was how little the European Union featured. There were quite a lot of references to the different European countries in the various speeches and articles that I read, but the idea that those European countries have deep and powerful connections among themselves was largely absent. Largely but not completely.

Step forward Senator John McCain, who seems to be the only one to recognise that the development of a European foreign policy is a good thing to be welcomed. He dares to say that “Americans should welcome the rise of a strong, confident European Union”. Read the full remarks here: http://www.federalunion.org.uk/john-mccain-americans-should-welcome-the-rise-of-a-strong-confident-european-union/

There is also John Edwards, who writes this:

“In 1945, it would have been easy enough for us to glance at the devastation in Europe and look the other way. But leaders such as President Truman and General Marshall understood that it would require more than the United States’ military might to rebuild Europe. Keeping post–World War II Europe safe from tyrants who would prey on poverty and resentment called for our ingenuity, our allies, and our generosity. General Marshall made a momentous decision to engage with the world in order to build a brighter, more hopeful future. In his 1953 speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for rebuilding Europe, General Marshall explained that military power was “too narrow a basis on which to build a dependable, longenduring peace.” He was right. Today’s peaceful and prosperous Europe is a testament to his wisdom and foresight.”

From “Reengaging With the World – A Return to Moral Leadership”, published in “Foreign Affairs”, September/October 2007

I think we federalists would say that there was a bit more too it than that, but nevertheless the notion that there is something other than military power needed in the world is a good one.

Mitt Romney also has something interesting to say. In talking about the Middle East, he identifies the need for regional institutions, but settles on the OSCE as being the foundation of peace and cooperation in Europe. I don’t know if he chooses the OSCE rather than the Council of Europe or the European Union simply because he has heard of it, or whether he is judging that the standards of liberal democracy practised in the latter two organisations are beyond the capability of most Middle Eastern countries at present. Even if his reason is the second one, he should still be aiming a bit higher. Economically, the OSCE is irrelevant: a single market is the key to economic progress.

“A critical part of the economic resurgence and peace of postwar Europe was the United States’ support for a unified market and U.S. engagement in cross-country ties. Today, we must push for more integration and cross-border cooperation in the Middle East. As a group of experts working on the Princeton Project on National Security noted recently, “The history of Europe since 1945 tells us that institutions can play a constructive role in building a framework for cooperation, channeling nationalist sentiments in a positive direction, and fostering economic development and liberalization. Yet the Middle East is one of the least institutionalized regions in the world.”

Few would have thought before 1945 that the war-torn and divided nations of Europe could achieve the stability and economic growth that these states know today. Some have called for developing in the Middle East a regional organization based on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which would build cooperation and encourage political, economic, and security reforms and integration. How these efforts would be institutionalized is a question that we must address in partnership with our friends in the region and key allies. Yet we cannot wait to address this problem.”

From “Rising to a New Generation of Global Challenges”, published in “Foreign Affairs”, July/August 2007

Rudolph Giuliani recognises that, in Europe, things are afoot but gives the impression that he wishes that they were not. His approach to foreign policy is founded on traditional notions of diplomacy: he must find it rather disconcerting when so many countries in such an important part of the world try to leave those notions behind. He writes:

“We should therefore work to strengthen the international system through America’s relations with other great powers, both long established and rising. We should regard no great power as our inherent adversary. We should continue to fully engage with Europe, both in its collective capacity as the European Union and through our special relationship with the United Kingdom and our traditional diplomatic relations with France, Germany, Italy, and other western European nations. We highly value our ties with the states of central and eastern Europe and the Baltic and Balkan nations. Their experience of oppression under communism has made them steadfast allies and strong advocates of economic freedom.”

From “Toward a Realistic Peace – Defending Civilization and Defeating Terrorists by Making the International System Work”, published in “Foreign Affairs”, September/October 2007.

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