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On the Sense of Meaning in Society

The author attempts to provide answers to the following questions: What are the consequences and ...

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Tilting at Straw Men

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Contents Issue 1 2003

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GUEST Interview with Janusz Bugajski THE TRANSITION PARADIGM Thomas Carothers The End of the Transition Paradigm Guillermo ...

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Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski

ONLY TOGETHER CAN AMERICA AND EUROPE DEFEAT TERRORISM

Washington, 4 June, 2003

Q: How did September 11th change the world and how does the war on terrorism continue to change the world today?

A: 9/11 in my view changed America much more basically that it changed the world. But since America is so important to the world, the fact that 9/11 did impact very heavily on America has had global consequences. It certainly had the effect of committing America to a worldwide struggle with an illusive enemy defined as terrorism and it has also produced in its wake a variety of very differentiated reactions from among its traditional allies, newly self-proclaimed friends, and some antagonists.

Q: Was America successful in building alliances in the war against terrorism and where were the strongest allies found?

A: The strongest support for America’s position came from first of all old established allies, who might be called traditional friends of America such as Great Britain or Australia, but it also came from new allies, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe such as Poland or Bulgaria. It also came from what I personally would consider to be essentially opportunistic partners, who found it convenient to declare themselves to be America’s allies such as, for example, on some issues, Russia or India, and some others. So, it is a very mixed bag in so far as the new pro-American coalition is concerned.

Q: How is America planning to maintain these alliances, which are so diverse?

That’s a very good question. In the long run in my view, it is important for America to have enduring, trusted, and tested allies. Coalitions, based on a temporary confluence of interest and on expediency, are not lasting and therefore they do not provide a solid base for united action. In the long run, the closest and most reliable friend of America is Europe.

Q: But Europe is now divided into “Old Europe” and “New Europe.” Do you have hope for restoring relations with the so-called “Old Europe,” and particularly with France?

A: The division of Europe into the so-called “Old Europe” and “New Europe” is really a slogan without much substance. Even in terms of the slogan, the “New Europe” apparently includes Poland, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Great Britain, and Spain, and Italy, so it is hardly a very precise description. The “Old Europe” includes allegedly France, and Germany, and Belgium, but what that designation overlooks is that most of European public opinion, including most of Central European public opinion in fact was closer to the views of the so-called “Old Europe,” than of the so-called “New Europe.” So, I would not base my analysis of the Atlantic relationship on the basis of a slogan.

The basic fact is that there were differences between America and notably France and Germany. The opposition of the French and the Germans had different causes. The Germans are pacifist currently and one should not bemoan that fact too much, because when they were militarist the situation was not distinctly better. The French are not really anti-American, but they are anti-Atlanticist. That is a fact of life and we have to be able to live with it. What America must not forget is that NATO is not the Warsaw Pact. NATO is a democratic and therefore pluralistic alliance, and pluralism means acceptance and tolerance of diversity of viewpoints.