The Brussels Forum

Europeans Woo U.S., Promising Relevance - NYTimes.com: "American officials and European experts largely see European national leaders as focused on their own debates about Greece and the debt crisis afflicting the group of countries that use the euro, divided over China and Russia and tired of Afghanistan. Europe is seen just now as not a problem for the United States, but not much help, either."

R. Nicholas Burns, a former senior American official and Ambassador to NATO, now Professor at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, says "Europeans should be our natural ally, if we can get together on the Middle East, Russia and China. But we can't seem to find that strategic consensus. NATO itself is faltering".

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish PM and now Secretary General of NATO, insists that "the burden of fighting in Afghanistan was shared by Europe. Non-American forces represented 40% of troops there and took 40% of the causalities." Burns said the Europeans did not seem to invest so much in defence, the "capability gap", and that they mostly stayed out from the serious fighting in Afghanistan.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, director of policy at the US State Department, said "is how much we measure the relationship in terms of what we do together in the world in stead of how much we focus on Europe."

I guess this is the question: is Europe ready to take on the world or is it navel gazing. Rasmussen says that NATO is at a low in the US today and that the low defence spending in Europe is risking the concept. If we want to be a global player we would have to invest more. Europe in the mean time is the largest contributor of aid.

I have discussed this earlier in the blog whether or not it is possible to do different things of the total for the US and the EU. It gets complicated if there is asymmetry in terms of risking lives. Right now there seems to be a problem. However, if national leaders promise relevance as the title of the New York Times article is suggesting, the question is if they have their populations behind them? Europeans seems to think they will be left alone in peace. We can always hope.

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