Vital Signs

A Maturing Europe?

While many Asians have welcomed the election of George W. Bush, leading Europeans are nervous. In particular, they fear that President Bush will reduce their continent's free defense ride, especially as the Balkans begins to explode vet again. But it is time to expect Europeans to behave like adults in securing their own interests.

The Clinton administration was good to Europe. It expanded NATO, brokered the deal preserving an artificial Bosnia, managed the war in Kosovo, and deployed a significant garrison throughout the Balkans. At the same time, it continued to guarantee the security of populous, prosperous states that face no obvious military threats.

But that wasn't enough for the Europeans. The pre-election suggestion by Condoleezza Rice that the United States should pull its troops from Kosovo set off ill-concealed panic across the continent. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld subsequently sparked another round of hand-wringing by talking about bringing America's forces home from Bosnia.

Lt. Gen. Carlo Cabigiosu of Italy, commander of KFOR (the Kosovo garrison) argued, "politically, no doubt, for the project of restabilizing the Balkans, the U.S. is very important." A host of unnamed European officials whirred to American newspapers that Washington's presence was "vital."

Clinton administration officials naturally agreed. Outgoing Secretary of State Madeleine...

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