Bush To Hail Europe Ties

Bush To Hail Europe Ties
June 13th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Bush To Hail Europe Ties

Bush To Hail Europe Ties
Wall Street Journal
June 13, 2008
Pg. 7
Speech Will Note Vibrant Relations; Public Still Wary
By John D. McKinnon and David Gauthier-Villars
ROME -- President Bush plans a speech in Paris on Friday that celebrates America's improved relations with Europe and nods to his newest friend in the region, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
As a farewell address on his final scheduled trip to Europe, Mr. Bush's remarks are unlikely to go over well with many Europeans, who still view him with hostility over the Iraq invasion and remain skeptical about expanding Europe's security role in places such as Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Mr. Bush plans to stick to his rhetorical guns in the speech, reasserting his argument that spreading freedom and democracy is essential to defeating Islamist extremism, according to excerpts released by the White House.
"The rise of free and prosperous societies in the broader Middle East is essential to peace in the 21st century, just as the rise of a free and prosperous Europe was essential to peace in the 20th century," he plans to say.
In his speech, according to excerpts, he will compare the war against terrorism to the American-sponsored Marshall Plan, which helped pay for reconstruction of Europe after World War II, at a time when the U.S. and its allies worried about the possible spread of communism. He will say that as the former Soviet bloc countries finally emerged from the Cold War into freedom and prosperity, Europe can -- and should -- focus more on spreading those benefits elsewhere.
In new leaders such as Mr. Sarkozy -- who is pushing France and the European Union into more expansive roles that could aid the U.S. -- and his counterparts in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy, "I see a commitment to a powerful and purposeful Europe that advances the values of liberty within its borders, and beyond," Mr. Bush plans to say.
That new attitude is helping to make the trans-Atlantic relationship stronger than ever, Mr. Bush will say. "When the time comes to welcome a new American president next January," he will say, "I will be pleased to report to him that the relationship between the United States and Europe is the broadest and most vibrant it has ever been."
That is an optimistic spin on a relationship that has been beset by disputes over the war on terrorism, climate change, Russia and the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, among other issues.
One of the thorniest issues concerns Iran's suspected nuclear ambitions. There is widespread concern that international economic sanctions aren't being enforced in some countries, including in Europe, where Iran does a lot of business. And the effort to tighten the sanctions has faced numerous obstacles.
Thursday, during Mr. Bush's visit to Italy -- now widely believed to be Iran's largest trading partner -- Italian officials were expected to bring up their interest in joining in the negotiations with Iran over its uranium-enrichment program.
The negotiations already include six other countries. White House national-security adviser Stephen Hadley questioned how many other countries might want to join if Italy is included.
Despite the problem areas, many experts say U.S.-European relations have improved dramatically since Mr. Bush's first term, thanks to his renewed attention to Europe, as well as the ascendance of Mr. Sarkozy and fellow center-right leaders Angela Merkel of Germany and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy.
Simon Serfaty, an expert on Europe at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, terms the relationship between Washington and Paris "the best it has ever been, period."
What is more doubtful is whether the Western European public will reverse their widespread opposition to expanded military involvement in trouble spots outside Europe.
Moving to mend fences with the U.S., Mr. Sarkozy recently decided -- against French public opinion -- to dispatch an additional 700 troops to Afghanistan, where American and other NATO forces are dogged by Taliban resistance. He also has signaled that he will bring France back into full participation in NATO's military planning.
In return for the French gesture, Mr. Bush has agreed to publicly endorse Mr. Sarkozy's view that reinforcing EU defense capabilities would be in the U.S.'s best interest. In the past, Washington had been suspicious that French plans to build up a more autonomous European defense would harm the trans-Atlantic partnership, not strengthen it.
For Mr. Bush, a top priority of the Europe visit is seeking more troops and money for Afghanistan. First lady Laura Bush, attending an international donor conference in Paris, announced that the U.S. pledged $10.2 billion for reconstruction; overall, the conference pledges exceeded $21 billion.

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