navigation barU.S. Diplomatic Mission to GermanyAbout the USASitemapSearch

U.S. Seal on Flag

Facing Shared Responsibilities: A Renewed Transatlantic Relationship

Alan P. Larson, Under Secretary for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs,
at the European Policy Center, Brussels, Belgium, March 27, 2003


Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to present an American perspective on Europe, the trans-Atlantic partnership and our shared responsibility for building a safer and freer world. These are difficult subjects, so I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

We meet at a sober moment. Recrimination is in the air. It would be a mistake to sugar coat either the differences that have emerged or the challenges we face.

It is time to focus not only on feelings, but also on responsibilities. As we survey the global scene, we see new threats and troubling fissures in European unity, trans-Atlantic cooperation and major international institutions.

The zone of peace and security that previously surrounded Europe and North America is now more fragile than many would like to believe. If we allow Europe and the United States to be turned against each other, it would only open the door to the forces of disorder, darkness and danger.

The Changing Partnership

The world has changed. The Cold War is over, and with it the visible external threat that drew Europe and America together, and that provided the original mission of NATO. We now face new, less visible threats from global terrorist organizations and the proliferation of weapons of mass murder in the hands of despots.

Europe has changed in many wonderful ways. The European Community, now Union, contributed to nearly fifty years of peace for countries whose past conflicts provoked two world wars. The European Union has grown deeper through the Single Market, the adoption of a single currency throughout much of the EU and the opening of internal borders to the free movement of people.

Europeans are more prosperous than ever before. We welcome this prosperity, and have shared in it. And we recognize that it can be frustrating in Brussels to see how few Americans notice how much Europe has accomplished.

The European Union is also growing wider. Ten new members are expected to join the EU soon. The expansion of the EU is doing much to bolster democracy and the market economy. For prospective new members of the Union, EU accession brings institutions that will anchor their newly restored democratic and free market practices. To the existing members of the Union, these newly acceding states are bringing the fresh passion for democracy and free markets that comes from having recently experienced tyranny firsthand.

We welcome the progress in building Europe. That is not to say, of course, that Europe’s evolution is always easy for us, especially in the area of foreign policy. Let’s be honest; for the United States, the EU is a “high maintenance” relationship. And we recognize, at least in our candid moments, that the United States is not always the easiest of partners for the EU.

On many issues we have worked together effectively. For the last eighteen months, the EU and the United States have been driving forces behind the global coalition supporting national reconstruction in Afghanistan. Similar cooperation has been crucial to bringing peace and stability to the Balkans. Despite differences in institutions, we have forged a strong counter-terrorism partnership, especially on measures to protect our transportation systems from terrorism and to starve terrorists of the financing they need to mount new attacks. The President’s March 14 reaffirmation of U.S. commitment to the Middle East “Roadmap” is another example of our close cooperation, one on which we aim to build in the months ahead.

At other times, it has seemed that some European foreign policy initiatives have had as their primary aim differentiating Europe from the United States. We understand Iraq has been a hard case for the EU in light of strongly held views both in support of, and opposed to, military action against Saddam. But in some ways, most troubling was to see some member state leaders and Commission officials dressing-down other EU countries and accession candidates simply for agreeing with the United States on Iraq, as if that was somehow “un-European.”

Many Europeans are not aware that since 9/11, Americans have become more committed to international cooperation to address global problems. Polling data confirms this. The Administration has worked through international organizations to strengthen transportation security and to combat the financing of terrorism. President Bush has dramatically increased development assistance, launching a $15 billion, five-year campaign to fight international HIV/AIDS and a $5 billion per year Millennium Challenge Account. And over the last six months, we made extraordinarily intensive diplomatic efforts in the United Nations to secure the compliance of Iraq with its obligations to the United Nations Security Council and the international community.

In the end, we have gone to war, reluctantly and humbly. We are proud of the brave American and British servicemen and women in action now. We pray for their safety, and for the moms and dads, husbands and wives and sons and daughters who await their safe return. We will persevere until the mission is accomplished. But we do not put our faith in military might alone.

We believe in the power of democratic values, economic opportunity and international cooperation. Whenever possible, we use these means to accomplish our objectives. American compassion, already evident in the extraordinary care we are showing to avoid Iraqi civilian casualties, will be even more evident when the fighting is over and we turn to the task of helping Iraqis reclaim their country.

Since 9/11, Americans have understood in a new way the threat of global terrorism. We lost more American lives on 9/11 than we did at Pearl Harbor. My government is acutely aware that terrorists are seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And we all must recognize, sadly but honestly, that international efforts to keep such weapons out of the hands of reckless leaders have been far too ineffectual.

At the end of the day, none of us should support approaches designed to paper over or endlessly discuss threats rather than to face up to them. In Europe in the last decade, force was necessary to protect Kosovars from Milosevic. And notwithstanding the strong support for the UN Security Council, in both America and Europe, our joint action on Kosovo took place without a specific authorizing UN Security Council Resolution.

In facing threats and dealing with tyrants, credibility is essential. Conrad Adenauer understood this. In 1962, when my government consulted him on the Cuban missile crisis, Adenauer’s advice was succinct and to the point: “Above all, you must not be a paper tiger.” This bit of European advice remains deeply relevant today.

When it comes to Iraq, ruling out military force would have emboldened Saddam Hussein, and others like him. It would have made the world more dangerous, not safer. The challenge was and is to disarm Saddam Hussein of his weapons of mass murder, not to contain the United States.

We recognize and respect the fact that many thoughtful people in Europe see this issue differently. But we cannot afford to let any such differences distract or slow us from tackling together the immense responsibilities we are called to shoulder.

The New Partnership Agenda

My friends, there is work to do. Today’s trans-Atlantic partnership was an enlightened response to the dark landscape that followed World War II. Similarly, the post-9/11 world presents us with a new set of dangers and difficulties. Rather than curse the darkness, the U.S. and EU should strive through our cooperation to light lamps of hope. Let me suggest eight areas for such cooperation.

First, the U.S. and EU have cooperated successfully in the Balkans, and we must continue to do so in order to ensure that our message is one and the same and our actions are complementary. The U.S. and the EU share the same goals for the Balkans, including eventual EU membership for many of its nations. We welcome the decision of Greece and Italy to develop a joint priority for the Balkans during their successive Presidencies. It is particularly important that the international community helps this troubled region to deal with transnational rule of law issues -- the effects of neglecting this problem were demonstrated tragically in the assassination of Serbian PM [Prime Minister] Djindjic this month. While providing assistance to Serbia in its current emergency, we must continue to insist on the need for cooperation with the Hague Tribunal. We support the EU’s historic assumption of the peacekeeping mission in Macedonia, the first outing for ESDP [European Security and Defense Policy], and the EU’s assumption of the police assistance function in Bosnia.

Second, we have unfinished business in Afghanistan. On this issue, the teamwork among the U.S., EU and UN has been exemplary. The Bonn Agreements provided a political framework for moving forward. The fundraising and donor coordination process begun in Washington, Brussels and Tokyo mobilized the international community in support of the Karzai government. Last week in Brussels we met again to assess progress and renew our financial and political commitments for the coming year.

Thanks to our joint efforts, terrorists have been flushed out of Afghanistan. Millions of children, boys and girls alike, are back in school. Refugees are flooding home. Land mines are being cleared, crops are growing and roads are being built. Dutch and German forces are providing security for the people through the International Security Assistance Force. European governments and the United States are working together to train a national army and national police force. For the first time in decades, the people of Afghanistan have hope. Now we must ensure that the government’s recurrent budget needs are met during the crucial upcoming year of political and economic reform.

Third, we need to work together to promote relief and recovery in Iraq. The United States wants to work with the EU and others as partners. The United Nations has an important role. For example, we are responding to the UN humanitarian appeal and are working in New York on a resolution to authorize the Secretary General to take steps to use funds available in the oil-for-food program to provide humanitarian support for the Iraqi people. We earnestly hope that Europeans will come together in working with the U.S. in the development of a stable and peaceful post-Saddam Iraq.

We must remember that the purpose of relief and recovery efforts will be to help the long-suffering people of Iraq reclaim their country. This is not mainly about repairing the damage from the present military campaign, one that is being conducted with great restraint. The destruction we will be trying to repair is the result of 20 years of oppressive rule. Iraq once was a country whose income levels rivaled those of Portugal. The present misery and destitution of its people results from Saddam Hussein’s misuse of Iraq’s oil wealth, his terrorism against his own people, his relentless pursuit of weapons of mass murder and his wars with Iraq’s neighbors.

Fourth, we need to accelerate the search for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. The U.S. and the EU, working together in the Quartet with [UN] Secretary General Annan and the Russians, have made important strides in getting the peace process back on track. Together we have made progress in improving the flow of revenues to responsible Palestinian officials, so that social and economic distress can be relieved. The Palestinians are in the process of filling their new office of Prime Minister. We have set out the goal of a new Palestinian state, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. The path to that goal will be an extraordinarily difficult one, but it is a path to which President Bush is personally committed.

Fifth, we must redouble our efforts to fight terrorism. The international community has made real headway in constricting the flow of funds to terrorists. The United States and Japan are developing in the G-8 a proposal to strengthen efforts through the UN to help developing countries who need assistance in their counter-terrorism efforts.

We know, however, that the threat remains real, especially for international transportation. We must therefore implement with vigor the cooperation that will prevent terrorists from arriving at our ports of entry or risky cargoes from arriving at our seaports. We are addressing this issue in a variety of UN organizations and as a priority in our U.S.-EU process. We can and will do this in a way that is sensitive to privacy issues and expedites rather than retards the flow of legitimate commerce.

Sixth, we must take stronger action to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The problem of proliferation is getting worse, not better. Not only are states seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities, but there is now a real threat that terrorists will get their hands on weapons of mass destruction. Globalization has brought ever greater cross-border exchanges with goods and information. As a result, it is harder to track WMD and the materials, equipment and technology needed to make them. The U.S. and EU need to develop practical, effective ways to act together to halt proliferation, and prevent terrorist acquisition of WMD.

Seventh, we must energize global trade negotiations. As we approach the mid-point of the Doha Development round, developing countries are beginning to doubt whether there will be real developmental benefits for them. Since the majority of the poor people of the world live in rural areas, the developing countries are especially concerned about the lack of progress in eliminating trade-distorting agricultural subsidies and market access barriers. Cooperation between Europe and the United States was instrumental in launching the WTO [World Trade Organization] talks. We now have an obligation to strengthen the WTO by leading the negotiations to a successful conclusion, starting with the Cancun negotiations in September.

Eighth, we must improve our cooperation in supporting progress in the developing countries. The United States is stepping forward. President Bush has asked Congress to create a new Millennium Challenge Account that will increase U.S. development assistance by fifty percent. He has also launched a $15 billion campaign, of which $10 billion is new money for fighting HIV/AIDS over the next five years.

In addition, President Bush has instituted new programs with additional funding to support America’s traditional leadership in the fight against global hunger. Working with the French Presidency of the G-8, the United States initiated a meeting at UN Headquarters to build support for efforts of the UN, and especially the World Food Program, to prevent famine in Africa. We want to help create what Secretary General Annan has called a second Green Revolution, one that benefits African farmers and families. We urge the EU to be a full partner in this endeavor.


Europe and America share much. We lay claim to a common history. We share a commitment to human rights, democratic institutions, social justice and economic opportunity.

We both enjoy great wealth, and that wealth has been made possible by the unmatched trade and investment relationships between us. We both have the power to shape events, and our power is multiplied when we work together.

Wealth and power bring with them great responsibilities. We cannot let divisions deepen or distract us from those responsibilities. Rather, we must use our resources to bring light and hope to people around the world who have suffered from conflict and oppression. We must protect our own people from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. And we should work together, through the Doha Development trade agenda and initiatives to fight HIV/AIDS and famine, to bring hope and opportunity to the people of developing countries. This is a path that is in keeping with both our interests and values, and one that will let us build an even stronger Atlantic partnership.

Any reference obtained from this server to a specific commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the United States Government of the product, process, or service, or its producer or provider. The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government.
U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany/Public Affairs/Information Resource Centers 
Updated: June 2003