The American Interest

Transatlantic Rifts

In the immediate aftermath of September 11, Europe was closer to America, politically and emotionally, than at any time since World War II.  For a moment, the threat of Islamic terrorism had rekindled a dormant awareness on both sides of the Atlantic of just how much the Old Continent and the New World have in common.  Only seven months later, however, as President Bush completed his four-nation European tour, transatlantic relations were more strained than at any time since the Cold War.  The editorialist for the conservative German daily Saarbruecker Zeitung summed it up on May 23 by noting that, since the fall of the Wall, “the United States became more American, and Europe more European: differences of opinion came into the foreground that had always existed but have never played a prominent role.”

While a few thousand leftist demonstrators chanting abuse from the curbs of Berlin and Paris could be dismissed as irrelevant and unrepresentative, the sense of disenchantment with Washington felt by the members of Europe’s political and economic mainstream—including America’s friends and reliable fellow Cold Warriors of yore—cannot be disregarded.

U.S. Middle East policy, because of its pro-Israeli bias, is perceived throughout Europe as a hindrance to the quest for peace.  President Bush’s unwillingness or, worse still, inability to put any real pressure...

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