America, EU Hold NATO Hostage

Relations between the USA and its European allies are cooling. Certainly, they could hardly be ever called ideal, but discrepancies between the two bodies have only been increasing lately.

Iraq is still a key problem in the EU-US relations. Washington failed to persuade European politicians of the necessity to start an offensive against Hussein’s government. While the White House is blaming Baghdad of all sins in the world, European governments do not share this opinion.

With a view to influence the attitude of Europe, Washington took a knight’s move. The Pentagon compiled a list of programs for the creation of weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological and nuclear, that are being carried out in Iraq. Moreover, information about a connection between the Iraqi leadership and al-Qaeda published last week resembles the preparation of public opinion for war.

Dissent concerning the International Criminal Code is another problem in EU-US relations. Washington won't recognize jurisdiction of the court with respect to American citizens, which entailed harsh criticism of US policy European countries were among those who criticized the most loudly.

The New York Times reports that response of the Bush administration is as follows: the role of the USA in NATO will change if the EU rejects American immunity from the International Criminal Court decisions. This is a quite obvious blackmailing,and reaction of the European Union to it can hardly be predicted. No doubt that this threat from Washington may be rather effective. Indeed, the EU never succeeded with creation of military structures of its own without America’s assistance. And Brussels is hardly ever ready to give up NATO to further stand up for its principles.

And these are not all the problems that exist between the EU and the USA. The Earth Summit currently being held by the UN in Johannesburg revealed more discrepancies between America and the EU; for example, they disagreed on amount of assistance rendered to developing countries. EU Secretary for the Environment Margaret Beckett said at the summit that special attention should be focused on the improvement of living conditions for more people: the number of people who have no water supply and sewerage systems installed in their houses should be reduced by twice before 2015. The secretary said the following: “We still hope that Americans who don’t support delegations from Australia, Canada, and Japan will consider our opinion.” Member of the US delegation John Thurner, in his turn, called the suggestions of the EU arrogant and unrealistic. He said that the USA is ready to undertake some obligations concerning developing countries; however, no explanation followed what these obligations would be. Thurner was accused of hampering the process of smoothing the gap between the rich and the poor.

However, it isn’t right to say that these contradictions jeopardize relations between America and the EU. Brussels just wants to be a more active participant in international affairs without any authorization from Washington. To tell the truth, the EU's political potential allows it to this already now. However, Washington still remembers the times of the cold war, when the USA was the basic support for European countries. Very likely, the White House will have to review its outdated foreign policy concepts. This process is sure to take a long period. Moreover, it may start only if Washington fails to win EU support for its war against Iraq. Otherwise, the situation will not change at all, and the EU will have to reconcile its subordinate position.

Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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