Memo on President Bush’s Trip to Europe




During his trip to Europe, President Bush should seek to:

  • Rebuild American credibility among European leaders and publics by demonstrating that the United States will forge a new, cooperative relationship with Europe; and
  • Define and advance a common policy agenda to better protect our country.

Among his priorities, the president must secure new commitments for the training of Iraqi security forces; agree to forge a common strategy on Iran; and, while expressing grave concern over lifting the embargo of arms sales to China, ensure at a minimum the implementation of a Code of Conduct to restrict such sales.

If the president fails to turn the transatlantic tide strong transatlantic partnerships will remain elusive: the pursuit of ad hoc coalitions at the expense of time-tested alliances; a preference for a weak, divided Europe to a strong, united one; the belief that America sits above the law; and the sense that Europe needs America more than America needs Europe.

In Davos last month, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, "…if America wants the rest of the world to be part of the agenda it has set, it must be part of their agenda too." At the same time, cooperation is a two-way street, and although the United States must offer tangible evidence of a commitment to building a stronger transatlantic alliance, the president must insist that the Europeans also deliver.

Iraq. In recent meetings with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) pledged to expand its training of Iraqi security forces. However, its goal of training 1,000 Iraqis per year will do little to help the United States meet its objective of 200,000 trained Iraqis by December 2005. In the meantime, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder surprised the allies by announcing that NATO was "no longer the primary venue where transatlantic partners discuss and coordinate strategies."

  • In the NATO summit talks, President Bush should reiterate the U.S. commitment to NATO, and work with NATO members to develop an accelerated timetable for the training of Iraqi security forces.

Iran. While in Europe, Rice criticized the British, German and French negotiators for their unwillingness to refer Iran at this time to the United Nations Security Council (U.N.S.c=) over suspected nuclear weapons activity. The Europeans argue that states comprising the U.N.S.C. – notably China and Russia – are unlikely to support tough measures against Iran. In the meantime, the Bush administration has apparently sought to undermine the negotiations so that the United States – which has chosen the less effective approach of isolation over engagement – can economically or militarily coerce Iran to abandon its nuclear program. Furthermore, the administration’s strident rhetoric is galvanizing Iranian nationalism behind the country’s nuclear ambitions and enabling the mullahs to further consolidate their power.

  • In meetings with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and French President Jacques Chirac, the president should express a willingness to engage the United States more directly in negotiations with Iran, bringing the stick of force and carrot of aid to the table.

Russia. Freedom House recently downgraded Russia to "Not Free" status due to flawed elections, media intimidation, curbs on opposition parties, and interference in the Ukrainian elections. Although Rice said that Moscow’s crackdown on dissent was making Russian-American relations "more difficult," she stopped short of delineating any particular demands. This approach detracts from the credibility of the president’s inaugural address, when he vowed to spread freedom throughout the world, particularly because his administration has turned a blind eye to the undemocratic behavior of countries such as Russia that are "partners" in the war on terrorism.

  • President Bush should challenge Putin – both publicly and privately – to improve his democratic record, beginning with halting the harassment of civil society organizations, including those receiving support from the U.S.-government funded National Endowment for Democracy.

Sudan/ICC. The report of the United Nations (U.N.)-appointed Commission of Inquiry determined that the killing of African farmers by Arab militias in Sudan’s western region of Darfur constitutes "crimes against humanity." The report recommended that the Security Council refer the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. The Bush administration has reaffirmed its position that genocide is in fact taking place, but is pushing for an ad hoc tribunal – which will be less effective and more costly – to try the case. Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) continues to struggle to send enough peacekeepers to Darfur, and U.N. peacekeepers may be limited to enforcing the recently negotiated peace agreement between the government and forces in the South.

  • When meeting with European Union (EU) leaders, President Bush should indicate that the United States will not veto a U.N.S.C. referral of the Sudan case to the ICC. He should ask the Europeans to join the United States in insisting that U.N. peacekeepers monitor the situation in Darfur in addition to enforcing the North-South agreement.

Climate change. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has catapulted climate change to the top of the G-8 industrialized nations’ and EU’s agendas, as he assumes leadership of both organizations this year. With Russian ratification, the Kyoto Protocol – which mandates reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in 35 industrialized countries starting in 2008 – came into effect this week. The EU has established an Emissions Trading Scheme that began operating a carbon market earlier this month. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) have introduced a bill that would create a national cap-and-trade system in the United States.

  • Given the president’s demonstrated intransigence on signing the Kyoto Protocol, in meeting with Blair, President Bush should at a minimum announce that he will support the bipartisan McCain-Lieberman bill, and explore potential linkages between U.S. and EU emissions trading markets.

Arms trade/China. The Europeans intend to lift the arms embargo imposed against China after the events at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Some countries support the move as a symbol of a deepening EU-China relationship; others, such as France, are seeking to increase their global arms sales. The Nordic countries are among those opposed, arguing that the human rights situation in China has not improved enough to warrant lifting the embargo. Europe may implement a legally-binding Code of Conduct to restrict arms sales, which it claims will be more stringent and transparent than the current embargo.

  • When meeting with EU leaders, the president should express his continuing opposition to lifting the embargo, and urge Europe to refrain from doing so at least until China ratifies the U.N. Covenant on Political and Civil Rights. If lifted, the president should press the Europeans to implement a stringent, legally-binding Code of Conduct to replace the embargo.




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