Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Deadlock in Brussels

Despite the conciliatory noises emanating from Brussels in the wake of President Bush´s forthright speech, there isn´t a whole lot to show for it yet.

- On NATO, everyone, including NATO itself, agrees that it should reform to become politically relevant again. The only difference is that Schroeder proposed that this change should be foisted upon NATO from the outside (see Interesting Plans) whilst Bush and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO´s Secretary General, think it should reform itself.

- On Iran, the USA will bless the EU 3´s diplomatic efforts whilst reserving the threat of force as an encouragement to the mullahs to deal. Continuing Germans arms sales to Iran have not blown up as a huge impediment in this area yet but they underline the difference in approach.

- On China, the EU wants to lift the arms embargo and Bush does not. Again, the contrast is stark and straightforward: the EU wants to sell weapons to countries the US wants to use them on.

No change there yet, then.

Some folks in Europe reckon the most significant aspect of the visit so far is that, for the first time, a US President has met with all the EU chiefs as a body. There´s something to that. If there´s no specific policies and agreements coming out of this trip, it has underscored the EU´s desire to be high on the US President´s list of "ports of call" in Europe. How high on the list? Well, second. The President´s first port of call was in fact NATO.

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