Danielle Pletka, the well-paid "vice-president, foreign and defence policy studies" (impressive!) at the right-wing-funded American Enterprise Institute believes in the Bush doctrine of affirming what one would like to be the case, rather than what actually is the case.  --  So in Thursday's Financial Times (UK) she published a piece arguing that "Today, more than ever, Europe is singing Mr. Bush's tune."  --  And not just from acquiescence to the prospect of four more years of George W. Bush in power in Washington, D.C., either.  --  No, it's supposely because "in the wake of September 11 2001, the Bush administration was quicker to latch on to the realities of the post-cold war world and the long-term threats that face all liberal democracies. Europe's leaders have also begun come to terms with those realities."  --  Such is the social lie that civic-minded Western Everymen (and Everywomen) are being asked to embrace in the post-Nov. 2, post-Jan. 30, post-modern world where what the mainstream media says defines reality and where, as Daniel Boorstin (1914-2004) said way back in 1961, "The American citizen . . . lives in a world where fantasy is more real than reality, where the image has more dignity than its original."  --  The text by the former Librarian of Congress (from 1975 to 1987) sounds like a prophecy in 2005: "We hardly dare face our bewilderment, because our ambiguous experience is so pleasantly iridescent, and the solace of belief in contrived reality is so thoroughly real.  We have become eager accessories to the great hoaxes of the age.  These are the hoaxes we play on ourselves" (Daniel Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America). ...

Comment & Analysis


By Danielle Pletka

Financial Times
February 4, 2005

http://news.ft.com/cms/s/ab6e4864-7624-11d9-8833-00000e2511c8.html (subscriber only)

Over the past four years, an inordinate amount of ink has been spilt over the chasm between America and Europe. Before George W. Bush's trip to Europe later this month, a reappraisal of the conventional wisdom is in order. Rhetoric and metaphorical excesses aside, there has been an extraordinary convergence of policies across the Atlantic. More surprising still, that convergence has been achieved by a shift in Europe to Washington's point of view.

Increasingly, Washington is setting not only the agenda but also the terms of debate. From Israel-Palestine to Iran, Lebanon, Turkey or Ukraine, American and European officials have been hitting the same notes. Washington has been concerned about the Iranian nuclear program for years, while Europe appeared uninterested. Now Europe is taking the lead in trying to prevent that program from moving forward. Similarly, Mr. Bush made it clear that Yassir Arafat and his culture of terror and corruption were the chief obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, while Europe was unwilling to toss Arafat aside. Now European leaders agree that democracy, security and accountability are prerequisites for peace. And the convergence does not stop there.

The logic of Turkish accession to the European Union, and the firm belief that, unless enmeshed in the European web, Turkey will retreat to the Middle East morass, is more received wisdom in Brussels than not. Similarly, few dissent from the view that Islamist extremism is among the gravest of threats. But maybe the oddest of team efforts is the French-American campaign to get Syria out of Lebanon, both physically and politically. The U.S. has been largely alone in its efforts to isolate Damascus and dislodge Syrian troops from Lebanon. Suddenly, partnership with Paris has produced a forceful United Nations resolution and Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has sat up and taken notice.

What does this new Atlantic concert mean? It seems implausible that Washington's lousy manners and gruff idealism have finally found a following abroad. Rather, in the wake of September 11 2001, the Bush administration was quicker to latch on to the realities of the post-cold war world and the long-term threats that face all liberal democracies. Europe's leaders have also begun come to terms with those realities. The European security strategy issued by the EU in late 2003 echoes in many respects the White House's national security strategy of 2002.

Much of the hand-wringing over the Atlantic rift of recent years stems from the notion that things were peachy throughout the cold war. In fact, we agreed on little other than the Soviet threat to Europe. Without the unifying power of the evil empire, the breadth of agreement is quite surprising.

Not all is harmonious and beautiful. Washington remains protective of its sovereignty, Europe loves the global government models of the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto protocol. There is considerable disagreement over arms sales to Cuba and China. While Europe and the U.S. often agree about shared threats, there are occasionally profound differences on the best policies to address them.

For the moment, at least, the U.S. and Europe can settle into an international good cop/bad cop approach. The problem will arise when the time comes for the bad cop to act. After all, a good cop still must be a cop.

Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, and his partners have told us that negotiating with Iran is the only option. But talks may not stop an Iranian nuclear weapon. Leaning on the Palestinians to fight terror may well achieve results; but if they do not, will Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, walk away? Mr. Bush will.

But, even where there is serious backstage bickering, there are also serious efforts to limit damage. Washington's table manners appear to have improved. Gratuitous jibes have been replaced by diplomatic niceties. For the second Bush term, some of the personnel will change, and it is clear most of the new team will be less ready to fight. In return, European officials will grit their teeth and continue to hold off on the cowboy quips and Hitler similes.

This bodes well for the U.S. president's visit. Just as his first extremely uncomfortable trip to Europe in 2001 set the stage for four turbulent years, so this visit could set the stage for four years of closer co-operation. Deepening that co-operation will not be easy. Yet those who think the transatlantic relationship is at an end are writing it off prematurely. Today, more than ever, Europe is singing Mr. Bush's tune.

--The writer is vice-president, foreign and defense policy studies, at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC.