January 01, 2005

IS EUROPE COMING AROUND? John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge (Economist writers and authors of The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America) think it may be:

Paradoxically, the very thing that neoconservatives detest most about European diplomacy that Machiavellian willingness to cut deals with anyone is now working in Bush's favor. But there is arguably more to this sea change than just a grumpy acceptance of the status quo. From a European perspective, three things are making it easier to warm to the Bush White House.

One is the death of Yasser Arafat. No issue divides Europe and the United States more keenly than the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. For the last few years, Europeans have criticized Bush for failing to put enough pressure on Israel to get out of the occupied territories and for refusing to deal with Arafat. But since Arafat's death, Europeans and Americans have been able to find common ground: supporting Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza, putting pressure on Israel to let the Palestinians hold elections and, covertly, backing Mahmoud Abbas to become the next Palestinian leader.

A second reason is Europe's growing worries about Islamic terrorism. The murder in November of Theo van Gogh, a provocative Dutch filmmaker, at the hands of an Islamic militant has been called Europe's 9/11. Though the two events are obviously not fully comparable, it is certainly true that American conservatives, such as Francis Fukuyama and Bernard Lewis, have found a wider audience recently for the idea that radical Islam is inimical to European traditions of tolerance.

The third force is the reappearance, albeit in a milder form, of the threat that kept the trans-Atlantic alliance together for half a century. The Russian bear is growling again. The Ukrainian election complete with its KGB-style poisoning of the opposition leader and heavy-handed electoral fraud has reminded European diplomats of Vladimir V. Putin's determination to control his "near abroad."

Very interesting. Read the whole thing. (Via Roger Simon).