Monday, February 21, 2005

Bush in Brussels 2

Bush knows that the stronger and more federal the EU becomes, the stronger and more obstinate its resistance to US policies.

And the EU is recasting its place in the world. The EU is now more focussed on sharpening its own profile (see Outer Space). Fortuitously, Bush´s showing in current Euro-opinion polls is abysmal. The EU can thus conveniently sharpen its profile on the whetstone of US/Bush policies - vis à vis Iraq, Iran, and Chinese arms, to name but three. Schroeder's remarks about NATO (see Germany's Interesting Plans for NATO) should be seen in this context.

EU oppositionism to the US, therefore, is driven partly by this desire to fashion a separate identity.

Some folks reckon Bush doesn't and shouldn't worry about that. Maybe - there's certainly no votes in it for him - but then why bother with the whole fence-mending European trip in the first place?

The truth is that new blocs or alliances (outside Europe) are emerging to threaten US interests, and the US needs the EU onside to offset the threat. These blocs include Russia-Iran-Syria and China-North Korea. In Iran the "EU 3" (Germany, France and the UK) are trying to stop Iran through diplomacy, backed by the US military. In China, the EU is actively working against Washington to have the arms embargo lifted.

So there's plenty of conflict areas, beyond Iraq, where active EU support could help Bush, and continued oppostionism would damage him. Not directly in terms of votes, but in helping to turn some of his visionary goals into reality.

In this light, there´s a fair amount for Bush to gain. There may be more to this European jaunt than the usual diplomatic soundbites and pictures. The question is whether breaking the diplomatic deadlock will actually lead to tangible results, or whether it's just a preliminary manoeuvre.

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