Two years after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld described Germany and France as “problems” and part of “Old Europe,” President Bush travels to Europe to try to mend ties and increase cooperation. [includes rush transcript]
President Bush is at a NATO summit in Belgium today where he is expected to call for greater cooperation between the United States and Europe.
The trip is Bush’s first to Europe since his reelection and was billed by White House officials as part of an effort to rebuild ties between Washington and Europe after the rift over the war in Iraq.
In the keynote address of his five-day trip in Brussels Monday, Bush declared a “new era of trans-Atlantic unity” between the US and Europe.
- President Bush speaking in Brussels
The president went on to say the US and Europe must work together in Iraq, called on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and demanded that Iran stop its suspected nuclear weapons program. Bush did not rule out using military force in Iran, saying all options remain on the table. He reserved some of his harshest words for Russia, warning that it “must renew a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.”
About 4,000 people protested outside the US embassy as Bush met with French president Jacques Chirac. The demonstrators were part of a coalition of 88 environmental, human rights, peace and other groups.
Bush will leaves Brussels for Germany tomorrow where he is scheduled to hold a news conference with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder before meeting with US troops.
We go now to Germany to speak with Jochen Hippler, a Professor of Political Science and International Relations at University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. He is the author of a number of books including “Pax Americana?”
- Jochen Hippler, professor of Political Science and International Relations at University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, Hippler is author of a number of books including “Pax Americana?”
AMY GOODMAN: In the keynote address of his five day trip in Brussels Monday, Bush declared a, quote, “new era of trans-Atlantic unity between the U.S. and Europe. ”
PREISDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Our strong friendship is essential to peace and prosperity across the globe, and no temporary debate, no passing disagreements of governments, no power on Earth will ever divide us.
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush speaking in Brussels. He went on to say the U.S. And Europe must together in Iraq call on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and demand that Iran stop its suspected nuclear weapons program. Bush didn’t rule out using force in Iraq, saying, “All options remain on the table.” He reserved some of his harshest words for Russia, warning it, quote, “must renew a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.”
AMY GOODMAN: About four thousand people protested outside the U.S. Embassy as Bush met with President Jacques Chirac of France. The demonstrators were part of a coalition of eighty-eight environmental, human rights, peace, and other groups. Bush leaves Brussels for Germany tomorrow where he’s scheduled to hold a news conference with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, before meeting with U.S. troops. We go now to Germany with speak with Johann Hippler, a professor of Political Science, and International Relations at Universität Duisburg-Essen, in Germany, author of a number of books, including, Pax Americana? — that’s with a question mark. We welcome you to Democracy Now!, Jochen Hippler.
JOCHEN HIPPLER: Good morning.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Can you talk about Bush’s trip to Europe, its significance in Brussels and Germany?
JOCHEN HIPPLER: It is significant because the situation is that many people in Europe — in Western Europe, especially — are distrustful of the United States government, especially, Bush, Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld, and the experience has been that before the Iraq war, the U.S. government had lied to the world and had lied to the Security Council of the United Nations, had broken international law, and this has been a kind of traumatic affair. We have had good relations with the United States of America for decades and our people are really quite, you know, shocked about having this kind of behavior and this shock goes deep into, you know, governing elites, including governments, even if they’re more polite than the protesters in the streets. So people are quite curious whether the U.S. government is going back to support international law and support the roots of the United Nations — so everybody is quite, you know, listening very carefully what the U.S. president has to say there.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Germany now, the reaction of the population?
JOCHEN HIPPLER: Right, you know, public opinion polls indicate that about seventy percent, seven zero percent, of the population and some public opinion polls are even stronger than that, seventy percent of the population are critical or hostile to the United States government after the experience with the Iraq war. So, what we really have is a public sentiment where, you know the old ally in Washington is now being perceived with distrust, with skepticism and sometimes with, you know, disgust, actually… and that is something which even it filters into the conservative parties.
Even if you talk to people here from the Conservative or Christian Democratic party, who historically have been very, very strong allies to anything that has been done in the United States in foreign policy terms, even people in the conservative parties now are really getting fed up and are very skeptical, and you know, so everybody would like to have, uh, getting closer together again with Washington, but at the same time, the huge majority of the population is really thinking about how we can deal with the United States, not as a solution to many problems, but also as a problem in international affairs itself.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Jochen Hippler, professor of Political Science/International Relations, in Germany, his book is called, Pax Americana? there are many people who have been protesting in Belgium. Last night President Bush had a very kind of jovial meeting with Jacques Chirac of France, leading many people to, you know comment on how friendly they were being, and is he going to be invited to Texas, and Bush said something like, “Well, we can always use another cowboy.” What about what’s happening with France right now?
JOCHEN HIPPLER: Yeah. The question really is whether George Bush is looking for another cowboy, you know? Saying that Europe and the United States shouldn’t be United is a very nice thing to say, but you know, the question really is “on what terms?”, whether it’s possible to have a common policy with the United States where, you know, European governments like France and Germany and Britain, whether they can jointly discuss policies, and then, you know, decide on one and commonly pursue them, or, whether the U.S. government is basically trying to recruit followers in Europe to behave like cowboys in other areas.
That’s the thing where the French government and the German government both are quite concerned, and where — you know, when we look at the first trip the U.S. had had to Canada a short while ago, again, giving some symbol, some nice words about, you know, overcoming their old problems and then behaving in a way where it was, you know, for many Canadians being perceived as something rude, that’s the question the French government is asking, and the German government is asking. Unity between North America and Western Europe is wonderful, but it has to be a unity of partnership and not a unity of 'one side has to follow the other'.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, the issue of the Middle East which predominates all of these discussions, particularly the issue of Israel and Palestine.
JOCHEN HIPPLER: Oh, that’s right, the question of the Middle East in the sense of having a Palestinian state as the way to solve the conflicts over there, plus the problems we have now in Lebanon and we have in Iraq. That is one thing where the disagreements are obviously, you know, very strongly developed between those sides. There are a few positive indications that for the first time, the U.S. government in regard to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict seems to move in a direction which is more positive, or to put it mildly, maybe less destructive.
There seems to be some pressure supporting the State-building process in Palestine, which is being received with lots of hope and enthusiasm here in Europe. In regard to Iraq it, is still a bit of a problem, because the general sentiment here is that many people in the United States government want the Europeans and the United Nations and the European Union basically to get out of the mess that the U.S. has created in Iraq, and this is not exactly leading to enthusiasm here — not having a voice in policy, but having to pay the bill for clearing up the mess afterwards — that’s something people here don’t like at all. But in regard to Palestine, for the first time for quite a long time, people think there might be a positive trend in the U.S. policy towards the region.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you for being with us, Jochen Hippler, professor of Political Science and International Relations at Universität Duisburg-Essen, in Germany, author of Pax Americana?