European Affairs

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Reginald Dale

Now the West Must Really Pull Together

The September 11 terrorist attack on the United States has provided the United States and its European allies with the greatest challenge - and the biggest test of their solidarity - since World War II. In this issue we examine whether the allies will rise to the challenge and how far Europe and the United States will be able to stick together in the dangerous times ahead.

Many of our writers make the point that the initial supportive response from Europe - as exemplified by the first ever invocation of NATO's wartime solidarity provision, Article 5 of the Atlantic Treaty - was warmly welcomed in Washington.

But there will be plenty of pitfalls ahead, particularly if the war expands beyond Afghanistan. The allies are far from united on whether to attack other countries that harbor terrorists, particularly Iraq. Strains will also begin to show if the war drags on much longer than expected.

As this issue's Leader in Focus, George Robertson, Secretary General of NATO, argues the Alliance has been §exible in the past in responding to changing threats, but must now be ready to look farther ahead - to "think the unthinkable." The worldwide spread of advanced technology can be of great benefit to humanity, but can also do great harm, he says.

Lord Robertson offers a series of proposals that "stray beyond currently agreed NATO doctrine" to encourage democratic societies to work together and adopt the right strategies.

Antony Blinken points out that the September 11 attack was quite different from the kinds of terrorism that Europe has experienced, and poses an existential threat to the Western democracies. Despite the transatlantic tensions that lie ahead, the Europeans remain America's best allies.

Robert Hunter explains the implications of triggering Article 5, and says the United States will need political as much as military help from its allies. Stuart Eizenstat worries that disputes in many areas are endangering U.S.-EU relations, but is confident that they will emerge strengthened in the aftermath of the terrorist attack.

Other writers examine how the United States should improve its intelligence-gathering, how air transportation can be better protected and how airlines can survive a potentially disastrous period.

We publish our usual series of articles on aspects of European integration. But whether the topic is the Cyprus problem or Ireland's No to the Treaty of Nice, the inescapable backdrop is the question of whether the West will be able to organize itself to meet the terrorist threat.

In another somber look at today's world, Philippe Lemaître, the Brussels Correspondent of European Affairs, warns that the anti-globalization movement could threaten the future of European integration and the EU's eastward enlargement, while Trän Van Thinh predicts that "civil society," which includes much of that movement, will have a say in most international decisions in future.

A Sense of Immense Danger

Karen Johnson, from the US Federal Reserve, explains how globalization has been advancing via the increasingly rapid integration of world capital markets, which have rebounded successfully after the terrorist attack.

In a further example of the seismic shifts that are following September 11, Jury Sigov writes that Russia hopes to form part of a three-cornered campaign against terrorism, alongside Europe and the United States. But while President Vladimir Putin will now want to cooperate more closely with Washington, his long-term aim remains the progressive integration of Russia into Europe.

It is obviously in Western Europe's interest to respond positively to Moscow's overtures, not least because it is becoming increasingly dependent for its energy supplies on Russian gas - a dependency that Moscow is encouraging so as to increase its in§uence in Europe.

What emerges clearly from the views of almost all our experts is a sense of immense danger, mixed with guarded optimism that the West will somehow overcome it. Many stress that the challenge offers opportunities for closer cooperation, as well as the risk of rifts. The road ahead will be perilous in the extreme, making it vital that the democratic societies overcome their less important squabbles, whether within the EU, or across the Atlantic.


Reginald Dale


This article was published in European Affairs: Volume number II, Issue number IV in the Fall of 2001.

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