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The Atlantic Partnership.

Introduction to American Academy Special Supplement Commemorating the Presidential Visit. By Ambassador Daniel R. Coats
Süddeutsche Zeitung (to be published on February 22, 2005)



The President’s visit to Europe highlights the importance of the transatlantic partnership. A very broad, deep, common base of values is reflected in the goals of governments on both sides of the Atlantic.

President Bush reiterated those goals – to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law – at his re-inauguration last month. The President reminded Americans, “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.” He echoed the words of American thinkers and presidents through the centuries who viewed democracy as an example to other peoples, and who have supported those who suffer oppression and seek to free themselves. The over-riding message of the President’s inaugural address was that ideals remain closely linked with vital interests and security.

Those ideals translate into a long list of examples of transatlantic cooperation. The global challenges of the 21st Century – terrorism, nuclear proliferation, failing states, hunger, poverty, international crime, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, and natural disasters like the recent tsunami tragedy in Asia – now define the transatlantic agenda. Our countries are among the few that have a global reach. The world looks to America and to Europe for leadership. It is also true, however, that national, multilateral and global agendas are not based purely on ideals. Commitment based on sober calculations about realities is also required if solutions are to be found. Speaking in Halifax, Canada, last December, President Bush captured both the promise and the pitfalls of purely ideological approaches to international concerns. “The success of multilateralism is measured not merely by following a process, but by achieving results,” he said. The President emphasized the determination of the United States to work within the framework of international organizations but also to make those institutions more relevant and more effective in meeting the threats of our time.

As Secretary Rice has pointed out, “like the end of the Cold War, and the end of World War II, September 11 was one of the relatively rare earthquakes that cause lasting tectonic shifts in international politics.” Looking back at the three years that have passed since 9/11 – years that mark my time in Germany – we can point to significant strides in the scope of transatlantic cooperation.

There is unprecedented collaboration in the sharing of intelligence, in law enforcement, and in improving the security of our transportation, information and financial systems.

For the first time in history, NATO invoked Article 5. Our allies united in pledging support for America’s actions to secure itself against the terrorists in Afghanistan. As a result, we have seen men and women wait in line for hours to vote in Afghanistan’s first ever free and fair presidential election.

We have, however, also experienced grave differences over policy. Beyond the impact of 9/11, structural changes in the international system, increasing globalization, generational and demographic change have accentuated this shifting of the tectonic plates in the transatlantic relationship. Long established alliances and venerable institutions have been put to the test.

The war in Iraq cast a long shadow over the transatlantic relationship. On the 30th of January, however, the Iraqi people, under great risk, voted in the first democratic elections in the history of Iraq. We dare not lose sight of this important context. We all have a stake in getting Iraq right and making sure that the Iraqi people have a chance to live in dignity, peace and freedom. “Now is the time,” as the Secretary said in her Senate testimony, “to build on these achievements … to make the world safer, and to make the world more free.” We appreciate the cooperation of the European Union in efforts to build on this momentum of freedom. One of the clearest lessons of the 20th century was that the world is safer and more secure, whenever and wherever freedom prevails.

That lesson of history played out to a large extent here in Germany. Secretary Rice herself worked at the National Security Council at the White House at the end of the Cold War and was closely involved in negotiations over the reunification of Germany.

Tomorrow, the President will visit Mainz. His father, President George Herbert Walker Bush, visited Mainz in 1989 and spoke to the people of Germany – at a time when the “frontier of barbed wire and minefields between Hungary and Austria was being removed, foot by foot, mile by mile” and he set forth his proposals to heal Europe’s tragic division, to help Europe become whole and free.

As my time as Ambassador to Germany comes to an end, my greatest hope is that the generations now coming to the fore not forget the vision, courage and boldness of thought that was demonstrated by both our post-World War II leaders and the people who lived through those Cold War years. It is important that we add more chapters to one of the greatest success stories of the last century.

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Updated: April 2005