American actions in the extended wake of 11 September are increasingly perplexing Europeans, the Administration’s spurning of the International Criminal Court (ICC) being only the latest in a string of disagreements that have beset transatlantic relations over recent months. Indeed, the sight of an American administration threatening not just to withdraw from UN peacekeeping missions but to veto them unless its forces are exempted from the court’s jurisdiction has perplexed even the closest of America’s allies, not least because the US had defined the mission and method of the court. Clearly, the ICC was not the actual cause of Washington’s irritation. Rather, it was the nature of what constitutes legitimate constraint upon a superpower with global responsibilities
One year on, the only thing that is systematic about the international system is its disorder. The United States, shaken to the core by the terrorist attacks and the fraud perpetrated by leaders of globalised companies, is relentlessly pursuing its course down the path of unilateralism.
The world has never known a power such as the United States. Consequently, Europe cannot expect the United States to be anything other than unilateralist. America is simply too powerful. What matters, therefore, is the nature of American unilateralism.
Europe needs to get its security and defense act together. What would have happened if the Sept. 11 attacks had targeted La Défense in Paris or London's Canary Wharf? Would the United States have waged war on their behalf in Afghanistan? Could the Europeans have done it themselves? Neither is probable. So what could the Europeans have done and what in the future should they aim to be able to do?
The impact on US Foreign Policy What are the implications for the direction of US foreign and security policy in the wake of the attacks on 11 September? Will it become more multilateralist or unilateralist? How will it affect transatlantic relations?
This contribution to the Occasional Papers series of the WEU Institute for Security studies emerged from a report undertaken into the state of the transatlantic security relationship and the respective positions of the two candidates on key US-European issues in the run-up to the general election in November.
The first session focused on threat perceptions and threat assessments. The key question was whether a threat exists that justifies NMD deployment. Do the so-called ‘countries of concern’ really intent to threaten the US homeland and, even more importantly, do they have the financial and the technological means to scale up their existing arsenal to true intercontinental range?
What was of particular interest in this seminar was that it combined both a discussion of the technical, immediate aspects of European defence and a more general reflection on developments in American policy and the direction being taken by European construction.