Following its underground test on 9 October, carried out in defiance of international warnings, it is probable that North Korea has become the world’s ninth nuclear power. Whilst there were initially some doubts as to the strength or the exact nature of the detonation the presence of radioactive particles in North Korea has been now confirmed by US spy planes as well as by neighbouring Russia and Japan.
The approaching mid-term elections (due to take place on 7 November) to both Houses of the Congress and a number of state governorships may deliver a considerable change in the US and have an impact on its foreign policy.
It is the general perception in Washington that EU-US relations are on the road to recovery after Iraq, though overall interest in the EU remains moderate in the United States. The EU needs to capitalise more systematically on the fact that its opinions on Iran are listened to in Washington. In this way, the EU can contribute to and influence the American debate.
(a modified version of this analysis was published by European Voice, 23-29 March 2006)
In his now famous essay 'Power and Paradise' Robert Kagan forcefully argued that 'America was from Mars and Europe from Venus' and as a consequence of this America and Europe were diverging and going down different paths.
The State of the Union Address is considered to be the most important annual speech in the US and the major occasion for the President to outline his priorities and influence the agenda of the Congress. In the past, George W. Bush used this occasion to announce radical policy changes such as his 2002 speech when the President used the famous reference to the 'axis of evil'.
Three years after the crisis ignited by America’s decision to go to war in Iraq, can the United States and the European Union be said to be ‘friends again’? After a rocky and on occasion openly acrimonious period in EU-US relations during George W. Bush’s first presidency,it seems that transatlantic relations have returned to a more harmonious state.
The rapid modernisation of the People's Liberation Army, Beijing's increasingly threatening stance vis-à-vis Taiwan and its demand for energy are the main factors driving America's preoccupation with China. All sectors of opinion in the US criticised the EU's declared intention to lift its embargo on arms exports to China. This policy was misunderstood and its implications exaggerated.
Since the re-election of President Bush, American foreign policy has undergone a subtle but noticeable and significant transformation. The hawkish attitude demonstrated by Bush during his first term and his cavalier approach towards alliance-building have been replaced by a toning down of the previously aggressive rhetoric and an attempt to reach out to allies and, in particular, to the EU.
The failure of the EU constitution in the referendums in France and the Netherlands has met with three types of responses in America: disappointment, satisfaction and ignorance. Most of the Americans who care about European affairs have not welcomed the failure.
On avait accusé les électeurs du « non » d’obscurantisme. Les dirigeants font pire, aggravant par le haut la crise que les électeurs d’en bas ont ouverte au sein de l’Union. Du côté des opinions, le message dominant est que rien ne va plus.