France presses for independence from US

Seth Ackerman SAckerman at
Mon Nov 8 11:57:43 PST 1999

Doug wrote:

> [Is there anything to this, or is it just posturing?]
> New York Times - November 7, 1999
> By Craig R. Whitney

I think there's something to it, but the Europeans often suffer from failures of nerve. In Kosovo, they genuinely wanted to keep the US from taking over the show, but they were hampered by their lack of military muscle. The Americans gave them a choice: either do it our way or you don't get to use our satellites and aircraft in the event things get messy in Kosovo.

Kosovo marked a turning point. Thus, if anything the Euros are much more serious this time. They were appalled at how the US handled the war -- the brazen use of force as first resort, the Chinese embassy bombing, etc. They were mortified that they could do nothing to resist US pressure. The war has helped formulate a remarkable left-right European consensus that the Continent needs its own credible military force. Everyone recognizes that if they'd had that last year, they wouldn't have had to hand Kosovo over to the U.S.

Major recent events in this story include the French-German defense merger, Chirac's call for an EU Security Council, and the Senate's rejection of the Test-Ban Treaty. The British have taken the eyebrow-raising step of distancing themselves from the US-UK policy on Iraq. The French have stepped up their criticism of US behavior. Another major front is the fight over policy towards Yugoslavia: US wants to keep Serbia isolated and impoverished while Europe wants to lift the sanctions.

But it's hard to see how Europe will be able to throw its weight around without more guns and tanks.


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