Fall 2002

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Letter from the Editor

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 Europe's Strategic Dilemmas

 As the European Union prepares to extend its borders deep into Central Europe, and establish itself as a continental-scale economic and political power, it faces difficult geopolitical challenges. One of the most daunting has been presented by the publication of President George Bush's New Security Strategy in September. Another unwelcome test, hardly less fateful for Europe's future, has been set by Turkey, where a party with Islamic origins, the AKP, emerged victorious from national elections in early November.

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U.S. and Europe Must Change Security Policies

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President George Bush's new National Security Strategy is intended to develop a cohesive policy for advancing America's security based on the primary threats to its national interest. The strategy addresses many issues, including trade, aid and the role of multilateral institutions. But the aspect that has attracted the most criticism, especially in Europe, is its espousal of the preemptive use of U.S. military force, unilaterally if necessary.

This criticism is unwarranted, for two main reasons. Firstly, the strategy's central tenet - that U.S. interests are best served by promoting freedom around the world and defeating tyranny - holds as true for European security as it does for American.

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The Conflicting Goals of America's New Security Strategy

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The Bush administration's National Security Strategy sets forth ambitious, and laudable, objectives for the United States: America should promote freedom and liberty; the threat of terrorism and rogue states must be eliminated; America should work with other great powers to pursue common interests; poverty does present a moral and strategic challenge.

What the Strategy fails to deliver, however, is a coherent and concrete guide on how to achieve these objectives. The Strategy forthrightly commits to "fighting terrorists and tyrants" and "encouraging free and open societies on every continent." What it ignores is that these two goals often conflict.

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A Breathtaking Assertion of Pax Americana

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The new U.S. doctrine of preemption is simply stated in the National Security Strategy for the United States published on September 20: in the war against terrorism since 9/11 and in a world in which "our enemies have openly declared that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction," the United States has the right, indeed the duty, to identify and destroy the threat before it reaches U.S. shores, preferably with the support of the international community.

But, the strategy document continues, "we will not hesitate to act alone if necessary to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terroristsƒwe make no distinction between terrorists and those who knowingly harbor or provide aid to them."

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New NATO Force Could Help, Not Hinder Europe

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In calling for a NATO "response force," a new tactical unit equipped with the latest American-style high-tech weaponry, the Bush administration has raised suspicions in some quarters that it is seeking to undermine the rapid reaction force that is planned as the military arm of the European Union.

That is not really the case, according to officials and military officers across the board in Brussels. On the contrary, the new NATO force could dovetail neatly with the proposed EU force and bring other advantages to the Europeans. Those expressing this positive view include both American and European officials, NATO aides and EU representatives, as well as aides to Javier Solana, who heads the European Union's diplomatic and security wing.

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