The transatlantic relationship is important — but not that important

The Economist has a story on the state of transatlanric relations following Condi Rice’s speech on the topic yesterday at the Sciences Po. It’s worth reading, but contains this odd passage: America may also have come to realise that by disengaging from its European allies, it merely allows them to pursue diplomacy in ways that ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

The Economist has a story on the state of transatlanric relations following Condi Rice’s speech on the topic yesterday at the Sciences Po. It’s worth reading, but contains this odd passage:

America may also have come to realise that by disengaging from its European allies, it merely allows them to pursue diplomacy in ways that it does not like. An example is the Kyoto treaty on climate change: America refused to sign up, but the accord was still ratified. One sign that America is now more prepared to engage with issues that the Europeans consider crucial is this week’s declaration of an end to hostilities between the Israelis and Palestinians. During his first term, Mr Bush paid lip service to Middle East peace but did little to push the process forward, to the chagrin of Tony Blair and other European leaders. Now the American president is taking the issue more seriously, and recent comments by Ms Rice suggest America will no longer be so quick to take Israel’s side.

While improving the transatlantic relationship is no doubt a nice positive externality from a more fruitful Middle East peace process. I think it’s safe to say that the Bush administration’s timing on this issue has nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with Yassir Arafat’s passing. Look, I think the transatlantic relationship is important, particularly with regard to the global political economy — but it’s not the cause of every twitch in U.S. foreign policy. The Economist is trying to read intent where there was none. Another interesting question will be the extent to which the improving tranatlantic relationship reflects a greater recognition of shared interests — or a greater willingness to amicably agree on disagreeing. For an example of tensions between these two approaches, see this FT story by Daniel Dombey.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

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