17 de dezembro de 2009

Intervenção sobre Relações Transatlânticas 

Washington, DC
SAIS - John Hopkins University

December 10, 2009

Recommendations for Action

How can the US and Europe address crises and conflicts more effectively?

• I start by thanking the Institute of Eastern Studies of Warsaw for inviting me for today's conference and, of course, its organizers, chiefly among them the Centre for Transatlantic Relations of Johns Hopkins University;

• On the subject proposed - how can the US and Europe address crises and conflicts more effectively - let me state my belief that we need much more than just a division of labor between the US and the EU on the tools to be used in crises management - as somehow suggested here earlier, Venus' EU specializing in the civilian capabilities and Mars' US taking the "hard power";

• I think that both EU and US need both capabilities and need to articulate them better in comprehensive strategies towards shared objectives;

• The title of our panel reminds us of two facts:

• First, that despite their differences, Europe and the US are condemned to work together in solving most of the crises and conflicts around the world: whether it is Somalia, Afghanistan, Iran, or the Arab-Israeli conflict, Europeans and Americans often share the same vision about the ultimate outcome - which doesn't mean that they agree on the means of how to get there;

• Second, that in all those crises, European and Americans have been far from particularly successful - hence the need to work more "effectively";

• I would argue that the single most decisive reason for the ineffectiveness of any transatlantic approach to any given crisis can be boiled down to this idea:

• As long as Europe fails to develop a coherent approach towards the US, there can be no such thing as a transatlantic partnership on crisis management;

• Or, in other words, why is it that now that we have the US President Europeans dreamed of, uttering all we wanted to hear - not much is happening in response?;

• The fact is that European countries, apparently oblivious to the gradual decline in their global power, continue to individually court the US for its attention and favor, especially in the fields of security and defense and foreign affairs;

• Whether it is Britain with its vision of a "special partnership", which has brought her little of real value, despite playing the faithful follower under George W Bush; or some of the Eastern European countries, which, for understandable historical reasons, continue to have the anachronistic perception of the US as the ultimate defender against Russian hordes; or even my own country, Portugal, where many in the foreign policy establishment continue to espouse an unrealistic view of the US as the ultimate master and protector, at whose service we cannot allow ourselves to be outdone by our Iberian neighbor;

• All of these national narratives have only one clear result - to present a divided Europe to decision-makers in Washington, who, understandably, only rarely resist the temptation to deal with the Old Continent through a myriad of bilateral relations;

• What this means is that, often, European countries compete with each other for attention in Washington, stuck in the submissive and inherently asymmetric role they have been performing for decades;

• The Cold War has been over for two decades and the US is looking for a reliable and effective partner on the other side of the Atlantic - unfortunately, all it seems to get is a collection of small to medium-sized powers trying to get their narrow national agendas heard in DC - if need be, at each other's expense;

• All of this would not be a problem if the US still considered Europe as one of its major foreign policy flashpoints, the way it did during the Cold War;

• But it doesn't - the US needs Europe pragmatically to deal with such challenges as the Middle East, Iran and Afghanistan or Africa; the US needs Europe as a security provider and not as a security consumer;

• Afghanistan is the best example for what has been wrong with the transatlantic security agenda: despite aiming to contribute €8 billion in aid to that country between 2002 and 2010, sending hundreds of thousands of men and women to one of the most dangerous places on the planet, and having sacrificed over 500 soldiers' lives by doing so, Europe - the EU and its Member States - have been unable to seriously contribute with strategic guidance to the international presence there;

• European countries have been treating Afghanistan as another way to demonstrate their loyalty to the US ally, instead of developing their own national, or European, narrative, on why they should be there;

• I believe that Afghanistan is an important challenge to Europe's security and that the current situation is the result of a long list of mistakes by the Bush Administration: invading with only a handful of troops in 2001; focusing for years on counter-terrorism alone and sidelining governance, economic reconstruction and the responsibility to protect; allowing President Karzai to surround himself with a who's-who of Afghanistan's most brutal and corrupt; diverting precious resources and political capital to a war of choice in Iraq; ignoring the Pakistani angle and so on, and so on;

• But the truth is that, for all that time, Europeans, while often sniping from the sidelines, were unable - or unwilling - to provide a united and coherent alternative view to Afghanistan, with which to confront the Bush Administration; or, lately, of offering substantial input to the search for a revised strategy by President Obama;

• The problem is that our national electorates in Europe have become very aware of the half-hearted nature of their government's contributions to the Afghan conflict; our political leaderships failed to dedicate enough political capital to explaining to their peoples why it is important for Europe to be in Afghanistan;

• On the opposite side of the spectrum of effectiveness, the Iranian nuclear file has shown that when Europe is united it can be a serious partner to the US;

• The lessons of how Europe has dealt with Iran are actually very useful in trying to find clues for how it can become an interlocutor to the US in the field of crisis management and conflict resolution;

• First of all, the diplomatic saga around Iran's nuclear ambitions and its place in the Middle East demonstrates that for all the importance of NATO as a military actor, it is the EU - and the variety of political and economic tools at its disposal - which must serve as the institutional core to a distinctively "European" way of approaching crises and conflicts;

• Also, in the case of Iran, European policy-makers are not shy about debating the nature of the threat, the many options on the table and the preferred choices;

• Finally, and due to the openness of the intra-European debate - and therefore the quality of the considerable trans-national consensus that has been reached - the EU can stand, as a relevant actor, side by side with the US when it comes to dealing with other partners, such as Russia and China;

• In other words, Europe has taken ownership of the Iranian nuclear file, it has been consistent in its advocacy of engagement with Tehran and robust, but peaceful, diplomacy; while it is true that it took a change in the White House to really put this approach to the test, it was the US that eventually, gradually, came around to a more "European" approach;

• Whatever the outcome of the current transatlantic strategy of stretching out a hand of peace to Iran, the EU and the US seem to be on the right path for continued unity in the future, no matter how hard the options may be;

• Much of this corresponds to the views outlined in the "Shoulder to shoulder" Report, which we welcome. It also is encapsulated in one of the main recommendations of a recent report on the state of transatlantic relations published by the European Council on Foreign Relations - excuse me for the following long quote:

"If they are to count for something in Washington's world view, the EU member states need above all to speak and act together, thus brining their collective weight to bear. This is as true in relation to the US as it is in relation to Russia or China - only even more difficult. The current practice of banking on some bilateral "special relationship" in a European competition for Washington's favor simply invites the US to continue to divide and rule. Worse, by hamstringing Europeans as effective partners for the US, it is also undermining the transatlantic relationship as a whole."

• The new Treaty of Lisbon has, indeed, important implications for the coherence and effectiveness of the EU's role in the world, namely by giving the new High Representative for Foreign Policy the right to propose policies and initiatives, a right that Mr. Solana didn't have; the creation of the European External Action Service and the merging of the portfolio and budget of the Commissioner for External Relations with those of the High Representative for CFSP are also important institutional advances on the way to a truly "European" foreign policy;

• However, ultimately, the EU's foreign policy - and its ability to effectively address conflicts and crises - is still dependent on the sovereign will of Member States, acting in consensus; as long as they don't understand that the EU is the answer to the decline in Europe's relative power in the world, and as long as they continue to shape their main foreign policy choices according to what they think Washington wants, no institutional improvement and no amount of new Treaties will save Europe from irrelevance on the world stage; there is only solution to this problem - more Europe;

• And not only more Europe in "soft power" or civilian crises management capabilities: more Europe means also investing seriously in "hard power";

• Actually this meets one criticism that we in Brussels often hear from across the Atlantic, especially when it comes to dealing together with crises and conflicts, namely that Europe is a military lightweight and that for all the smart power Europeans can muster, in the end, they lack the all-important muscle;

• In fact, European defense expenditure is around €200 billion a year and there are around 2 million Europeans in uniform;

• And if these resources were well applied at all! But actually we, Europeans, with a little help from the US, are now well prepared to deal with a non-existent threat, namely a Soviet invasion through Germany!...;

• What we do lack - and we learned this from our missions in Chad and in the DRC, for example - are interoperable, deployable and sustainable expeditionary forces, with the strategic lift, the helicopters and the communications equipment that are necessary in modern military crisis management;

• Despite the hard work of the European Commission and the European Defense Agency, it will be take time to put an end to the waste, duplication, and opacity of 27 defense equipment costumers procuring defense goods for as many armed forces for the foreseeable future, and protecting national industries, which are unable, most of the time, to reach the scale they need to modernize;

• At the same time, while US defense companies can present their bids for European defense procurement contracts, Europeans are almost shut out of the US market for defense goods due to a number of "Buy American" provisions; while everyone else in the world protects their defense industries, in Europe it is easier to discuss commercial protectionism when it comes to chicken and socks, than in the field of military equipment - another example of misplaced Atlanticism...;

• The answer to all these problems is simple and I've mentioned it before: more Europe;

• I conclude by reminding you that at the NATO Bucharest summit in 2008 - even before President Obama came into office - the US moved away from its often contradictory messages in this field, and started calling for more Europe in global security and defense;

• This is taking some time to sink in: some European capitals resist, for all sort of reasons - hopefully the new High Representive for European Foreign and Security and Defense Policy, Baroness Ashton, will be persistent and persuasive enough, namely in her home country.

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