US-European Relations in the Post-Cold War Era

Rajiv Nayan, Research Officer


The paper US-European Relations in the Post-Cold War era seeks to examine: Whether the end of the Cold War brings an end to the rationale of continuing the relationship or not? Will differences of interests lead to the termination of the relationship? The paper has adopted the narrative inductive method. Several developments in different spheres have been listed. Positive and negative aspects for the relationship are separately categorised. After meandering through both sides, a conclusion has been arrived at. It notes that the European countries and the US are both partners and competitors, and both sides have entered into an alliance as nation-states. The conflict and cooperation between the US and European countries have made it clear that there is a distinction between joint allied interest and national interest. A more united Europe will provide a better bargaining capability to the Europeans. Many feel that the European countries, basically, want to oppose American unilateralism and restore multipolarity, because it may help Europe in exerting influence on the US.

History, politics, culture and security ties have ensured that the United States of America and Europe would be close. America was born out of the unification and independence struggle of the colonies Britain had come to rule, and it was forged and largely peopled by European immigrants-many fleeing the poverty, oppression and conflicts that ravaged Europe till the middle of the 20th century. By the late 19th century, it had emerged as a major power and soon thereafter had begun to involve itself in international politics. Despite its initial hesitation, the US finally joined the two World Wars on the side of Britain, and by 1945, Western European security, politics, and economic revival had come to rely heavily on American support and aid. Through the Cold War years, the United States constructed a multi-dimensional alliance with the leading West European states within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Global multilateral organisations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, or the Group of Seven (G-7), or various technology control regimes were products of US-European alliance and cooperation. Washington also forged strong bilateral relations with individual European states-especially Britain, West Germany and the Netherlands. Differences within Europe on ties with the USA or America's role in and outside Europe existed, but were kept in check by the needs of security and the logic of alliance and extensive techno-economic interdependence.

The end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union has created an entirely new strategic environment for US-European relations. Through most of the 20th century, the US had been drawn to Europe to ensure the security of its friends and allies in the midst of great conflicts that would have ultimately seriously threatened America's own security. With no such threat facing Europe following the demise of the Soviet Union, would the Euro-American alliance be sustainable, would NATO still have relevance? Or would many of the past and new discords emerge to the fore to alter the relations that had been forged during the Cold War now that Russia was weak, Communism was no more a challenge, and Germany had been unified into the fabric of a united European Union (EU)?

Many feel there is a drift in the US-Europe relationship. Frequently, in the US, there has been talk of liberating American foreign policy from its European moorings on the ground that it has been "too Eurocentric for too long". In Europe, it is said, "America is less popular than its products."1 French Foreign Minister Hubert Vederine has coined a term "hyper power" to depict the US.2 In 1997, he emphasised the need for counterbalancing the only great power; otherwise, he felt, there would be a risk of "monopoly domination."3 In recent months, the US-Europe relationship witnessed some new developments. In November 2000, there was a rancorous dispute between the EU and the US over controlling greenhouse gas emissions. This resulted in the tragic end of the two week-old United Nations (UN) Conference on Climate. It is believed that the formula arrived at by the United Kingdom (UK) and the US was cast out by other EU members.4 To resolve the differences, both sides again met in December. Differences also persisted on the nature of the EU Rapid Reaction Force. The NATO Secretary General, George Robertson, asserted, "Setting up a completely independent planning capability for the European Union is neither desirable nor is it necessary, and given the limited defence budgets it would be a bit of waste of money to have it."5 Certainly, the secretary-general was articulating the feelings of the US and other non-EU member countries. Interestingly, the US tried to resolve the differences between EU and non-EU European countries such as Turkey over the use and control of NATO assets by the EU Rapid Reaction Force.6 Some of the advisors of the newly elected President of the US, George Bush, are also issuing a warning to the EU. The advisors rule out any possibility of the existence of a EU force outside NATO.7 The US Secretary of Defence in the Clinton Administration, William Cohen, feared NATO turning into a "relic of the past" because of the possibility of independence and autonomy of the proposed EU force.8 The US and Europe have also expressed their differences on ballistic missile defence, further integration of Europe, the enlargement of NATO, and so on, in the past months. At the same time, we have also witnessed some positive statements and developments for the US-Europe relationship from both sides. In December 2000, Bill Clinton told the President of France, Jacques Chirac, that the differences with Europe are natural, but he assured him that the next Administration would be very positive towards Europe.9 On his part Jacques Chirac promised, "Europe's rapid reaction force is intended for deployment, where NATO as a whole is not engaged. It will be a major contribution to the burden sharing long sought by the United States. These developments will further strengthen NATO, because a strong NATO needs a strong Europe."10 Again, in December 2000, a joint EU-US panel, known as the Biotechnology Consultative Forum, which was formed in May 2000 to sort out bio-technology related trade tensions between the two sides, gave its recommendations.11 The Clinton government agreed to the recommendations. In the light of these mixed developments, the present paper is an overview of the US-Europe relationship in the post-Cold War period. The paper will examine: whether the end of the Cold War brings an end to the rationale of continuing the relationship or not? Will differences of interests lead to the termination of the relationship?

A Post-Cold War Europe

There was celebration over the "return of Europe" for European countries. Europeanness promised to be the new guiding spirit. However, in the new phase, some old countries such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia underwent a process of break-up. Czechoslovakia got divided in a peaceful way, whereas the bloody division of Yugoslavia is being considered as a new phenomenon in the post-Cold War world. Notwithstanding these politico-geographic changes, the borders of Europe remain complicated. The external boundary of Europe, which was unclear in the Cold War, continues to be so even after its end. There was De Gaulle's description of a Europe "from the Atlantic to the Urals." But as Vladimir Baranovsky has nicely described it, "Half of Europe is Russia; half of Russia is in Europe."12 Apart from Russia, Turkey is another source of confusion in defining Europe.

Religionwise, Europe has never been a homogenous entity. In the continent, there is a predominant Christian population of both sects, Roman Catholic and Protestants. Also, there are countries such as Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina where Muslims are in a majority. In many Christian countries of Europe, Muslims also reside. The size of the Muslim population in these countries varies. During the Cold War, Europe did not witness any major religious conflict. With the end of the Cold War, there were many religious wars and ethnic conflicts in Europe, the most violent being in the former Yugoslavia. Some other countries also witnessed sporadic clashes on ethnic lines.

Several Cold War institutions are undergoing changes in Europe. Democracy is a pre-eminent ethos of Europe. Europeans are organised in the Council of Europe. There are 41 members of the Council. These members are supposed to follow basic norms concerning democracy, human rights, liberty, rule of law, and so on. At present, except for Russia and Turkey, none of its members has capital punishment in its domestic laws.13 Eastern European countries are being encouraged to build democratic institutions and values. It is believed that these countries are increasingly changing their legal codes and property rights besides settling border disputes and enacting safeguards for minorities.

Presently, European countries are facing a dilemma. They tend to favour the idea of economic progress through joint endeavours, cooperation and support, and, at the same time, they want to keep their national identities intact. Individually, West European countries have much better economic growth than the former Communist countries. European countries interact among themselves in many bodies. Fifteen of them have evolved the EU. It is the most important and effective body of the developed and influential European countries. The most significant development is the arrival of Euro currency for these countries. The countries among themselves have resolved this issue in the post-Cold War world. They are planning to undertake many such activities. They are also planning to expand the geographical base of the EU. Some West European countries which were left out in the previous incarnations of the Economic Union of European states are going to be inducted, as are some Eastern European countries. Still, there are countries like Switzerland, which have opted out. The UK, which earlier resisted many ideas of integration and kept itself aloof from the activities for the Union, is very active now. In fact, the UK is taking several initiatives for better integration.

Various instructions, agreements and policies are in operation for providing security to European nations. In addition, all countries have individual armed forces and military capabilities. Some of them have developed major weapons programmes. At the same time, some European countries have also undertaken joint weapons development programmes. Four European countries-the UK, France, Germany and Belgium-started the Trigat medium-range anti-tank missile programme, but later the UK pulled out of it.14 The UK differed with France over several schemes such as European intelligence, command and control, strategic lift, strategic planning capacity, but it also joined it in different programmes. European programmes like the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft and Meteor radar-guided air-to-air missile are well underway. The European Space Agency that coordinates the Space Technology Research and Development tasks of select European countries has come up.

The St. Malo agreement was signed by France and the UK for promoting the concept of Common European Defence from the "abstract into tangible". Europe plans to deploy 50,000 to 60,000 corps level strong rapid reaction intervention force by 2003.15 However, NATO continues to be the most important military institution providing security to European countries. Still, not all West European countries are members of NATO. Many countries stayed away from it even during the Cold War. Eleven of the 15 members of the EU are NATO members. After the end of the Cold War, many old foes came closer to NATO. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined it in March 1999. NATO has committed itself to enlargement in the post-Cold War era and, more or less, the focus of enlargement is Europe. A few more countries are waiting to acquire membership of NATO whereas the entire NATO is debating fiercely about Russia. The concept of the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI), a product of the post-Cold War era, signifies an assertion of the European defence identity. But ESDI is to function under the framework of NATO.16

In sum, it can be said that Europe during the Cold War period was politically divided into two parts-East and West. Europe is erasing the dividing line quite fast. In the post-Cold War era, most of the European countries are moving toward gradual but sure integration. A number of European countries are integrating themselves under the EU, though the foundation stone of the Union was laid during the Cold War itself. Amidst the stumbling blocs, the EU has achieved a common currency and is struggling to shape a common defence and foreign policy.

Continued Cooperation

Europe continues to maintain its relations with the US. There are many factors, which contribute to the perpetuation of the relationship. European countries are intricately networked to the US. Both sides know the advantages of joint gains and profit from cooperation and conflict management. In the US-Europe relationship, democracy is a binding force. Democracy for long has been a cherished dream and an important component of American foreign policy. Europe is a time-tested partner for this task. With Europe, the US is already undertaking the work of democracy such as building democratic institutions and promoting democratic values in Eastern European countries. By working together, they feel that they can meet several challenges.

Democracy has another advantage. It provides a framework to resolve differences. Various bodies such as NATO, P-5 and G-8 have been extending institutional frameworks for resolving disputes. They exchange views at regular intervals. The communication gap does not become a problem for the relationship of these two democratic entities. Democracy helps the relationship in one more way; people of both sides do not want the relationship to break. Opinion polls conducted by various American agencies have confirmed this. From a slightly different perspective, Joseph S. Nye Jr. explains, "In the area of decision-making elites and culture, American foreign policy has always been strongly affected by the origins of Americans. The United States is a nation of immigrants, and it shows in foreign policy. The fact that even with the growth of Hispanic and other minority populations, two-thirds of Americans still claim European ancestry, continues to have an important effect on US foreign policy."17

In the economic sphere, Europe and the US are regarded as the most closely integrated regions in the world.18 The US and the EU are two of the largest trading partners of the world. In fact, US exports and investment in Europe increased immediately after the danger of "fortress Europe" was perceived. In 1990, the US exported goods worth $76 billion to the EU, while by 1999, this figure increased to $400 billion. It is estimated that if investments of these countries are added, then the economic relationship between the US and Europe would stand at almost $2 trillion a year. The European countries and the US cooperate in banking, insurance, automobiles, oil corporations, telecommunications, and so forth.

The fear regarding the Euro is also considered misplaced. It is opined that the dollar will continue to occupy a pre-eminent position due to "the unique depth and breadth of the US capital market." Labour market rigidities and the absence of common fiscal policy prevalent in Europe are not expected to give the Euro-currency the position of the dollar. It is believed that in the near future, this is unlikely to change. There are many areas like information technology where the US still enjoys a dominant position. Some of the European countries may have technological advancements in different fields like cell phone system, software development, and so on, but the US has an edge because it combines various elements like technology, venture capital, marketing, out-sourcing, stock control, on-line purchasing and e-commerce effectively in a result-oriented manner. As one commentator puts it, "Rivalry between European and American industry is an old story. Until now, this has generally been a creative rivalry conforming to the Ricardian model of mutual progress achieved through free trade and the exploitation of national advantage. Most people on both sides of the Atlantic today seem to expect this to continue."19

For a variety of reasons, NATO is still considered relevant. It is felt that a more aggressive Russia may emerge to challenge European security. In the post-Cold War era, NATO with its redefined role, continued to have a centrality in European security. As discussed earlier, some East European countries have already joined NATO and others might join very soon. In 1991, a new strategic concept was evolved and developed by the NATO allies to provide a guide for future political and security challenges. In 1997, NATO leaders reexamined and improved NATO to apply to the new challenges. Eleven countries of the European Union are in NATO. Several European countries are linked to NATO through its Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme, established in January 1994.20 The primary goal of the programme was to increase stability and security throughout Europe. Through the PfP, NATO allies and partners are brought together in a number of joint defence and security related issues and activities. Crisis management, civil emergency planning, air traffic management and armaments cooperation are some notable activities of the PfP apart from normal defence work. The PfP is undertaking more than 2,000 activities and has thus become a main pillar of European security. Countries like Finland, Sweden and Switzerland which otherwise preferred neutrality have joined the PfP.

NATO has also engaged European countries through Civil Emergency Planning (CEP).21 CEP is basically designed for disaster management and response. In April 1999, NATO launched a Membership Action Plan (MAP).22 Nine countries that showed willingness in joining the NATO participated in it. These nine countries were Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. All of them were from Europe. Though not all might get the membership of NATO, the willingness to coordinate them with NATO can be easily witnessed. The US Permanent Representative on the North Atlantic Council, Ambassador Alexander Vershbow stated on May 11, 2000, "The United States wants to do for Southeast Europe in the new century what was done for Western Europe in the last one, drawing upon a number of complementary institutions to help the region's states build a future based on cooperative security."23 According to him, the US agenda for Southeast Europe would be staying the course in Bosnia and Kosovo and enhancing regional security through the PfP and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC).24 In the US agenda, encouragement will be given to the EU-driven Stability Pact for Southeast Europe and activities of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) to engage the countries of the region. The final task on the agenda will perhaps be to prepare these countries to take the NATO membership. US Secretary Albright on February 22, 1999, clarified that the credibility of NATO is at stake in this region and especially in a country like Bosnia. She also pronounced on that occasion that this region is crucial for the NATO and US agenda of security, stability and existence of a "united, free and whole of Europe". In fact, in 1993, a multi-national, multi-service deployable task force known as the Combined Joint Task Force Concept came into operation.25 The field of operation of this concept was also a European country like Yugoslavia. The importance of NATO, under the US leadership, becomes vital for the stability of the Balkan region, as it attracts Central and Eastern Europe toward the Western centre and provides a mediatory role in conflict within the European region.

NATO is active in Europe through Defence Capabilities Initiatives (DCI) programmes, too.26 The objective of DCI is to enhance capabilities of NATO allies to meet new challenges. The focus of the programme is on five overlapping areas. These are mobility and deployability, sustainability, survivability, effective management and interoperable communications. It also wants that NATO allies, in general, remain interoperable. With this background, the US officials do not see any contradiction between operation of the Euroforce and NATO. NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson remarked in December 2000 that "plans to strengthen NATO's capabilities go hand in hand with the European Union's desire to improve European capabilities and play a larger role in crisis management."27

Another US official, Marc Grossman, assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian Affairs also highlighted the integration and interoperation of Europe through NATO's DCI.28 Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wrote in Financial Times, "We want a Europe that's capable of acting, that's flexible, that's ready to act." She does not feel that the emergence of European Defence Identity will pose any danger to NATO. Strobe Talbott, deputy secretary of state, said on December 15, 1999, "In the past, American officials have discussed ESDI in terms of "the three Ds": no decoupling of Europe's security from that of its North American allies: no duplication of efforts or capabilities; and no discrimination against those allies who are not EU members. But Lord Robertson has come up with another formulation: "the three Is-indivisibility of the trans-Atlantic link, improvement of capabilities and inclusiveness of all allies."29

Since July 2000, the EU and NATO through different working groups are trying to give shape to institutional interaction so that the EU gets access to NATO collective assets. The US Ambassador to NATO Alexander Vershbow endorsed the EU plan of "Headline Goal".30 The Headline Goal has been defined by the EU as the ability of the EU to deploy 50,000-60,000 troops, together with supporting air and naval elements, for up to a year, up to 6,000 km away. This is planned to be accomplished by 2003. The Euroforce is expected to be involved where NATO as a whole is not engaged. Ambassador Vershbow said, "...NATO is a necessary but not sufficient means for building long-term security in Europe. NATO cannot do the full job alone."31 He further remarked, "Innovations like PfP, and complementary interaction with the OSCE, the EU, the Southeast European Stability Pact, and others, will ensure that the past will not confine them."32

There are people like Richard Haas who feels that there is no antagonistic relationship between the growing military capability of European countries and the US.33 He said, in fact, the US would welcome a strong Europe because it would lead to a strong American partner. Both sides supply weapons and weapon components to each other. Also, there are many joint projects; some of them, of course, are facing problems, but some of them are doing well. The US has been helping Britain under the Defence Evaluation Research Agency (DERA). It is believed that activities under DERA concerning nuclear weapons, missile defence and so forth are being undertaken.34

Now, the US is aiding in restructuring of DERA and its defence laboratories. Through the US-French rocket engine joint venture, a high-powered cryogenic engine is being developed. It is supposed to power the European Ariane 5, the Boeing Delta 4 and the Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rockets. The objective of such a venture is to share development cost and cut down production cost.

A list of 15 proposed reforms in the arms export licensing process was agreed to by the Department of Defence and the Department of State of the US.35 Later President Clinton approved 17 arms export reforms to grant arms export licensing exemptions to the companies of certain specified countries.36 The global cooperative programme and major programme licences are being designed for allies. The UK and some other countries of Europe are getting special exemptions in export controls. The rules for the third party sale are also being amended to please Europeans.

President Bill Clinton once remarked, "Europe's security, when it is threatened, as it was in Bosnia and Kosovo, we too, will respond. When it is being built, we, too, will always take part".37 Two-third of aircraft support in Kosovo was from the US. Even in the operation conducted by European countries, there was a great deal of American support like the US satellites, communications and anti-aircraft suppression systems. The draft report of the British National Audit office revealed that if the 78-day air strike against Kosovo had continued for some more time, the country would have been left without a few varieties of munitions. Already, due to heat and vibration, missiles mounted on British Royal Navy Harrier aircraft were rendered ineffective. Definitely, European countries cannot afford isolationism. The US is also a member of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Together they address many global challenges, including peacekeeping operations, effectively.

Areas of Contest

The European countries and the US differ over many issues. The most prominent and frequent differences surface in the field of the economy. The conflict in trade has been existing for a long period, but, since the 1980s, it has become more acute. With the end of the Cold War, it has become sharper and at times, it appears that the relationship will take a completely new shift and direction. The US and its European allies, who adopted capitalism as a mode of their economy, from time to time, reiterate the need of strengthening the spirit of capitalism, in which competition is regarded as the principal ethic. But both sides often complain about each other. Each side maintains that the other side violates the norms of competition. Subsidies are pointed out as the major and in some way the real irritant in the way of competition. The US denounces the European old system of providing subsidies to production and export. The US maintains that this adversely affects certain economic sectors like agriculture, steel and civil aircraft. For instance, Americans claim that Europeans dub genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as Frankenstein foods and do not store them. This, Americans say, is a clever protectionism ploy of Europeans to promote their agricultural products.38 The US wants that its industries and other economic sectors should be compensated for it. The US has been campaigning against this practice in various multilateral forums. Occasionally, it takes up the issue bilaterally with some European countries. European countries, on the other hand, accuse the US of subsidising its industries. European countries demand abolition of foreign sales corporations. According to them, the US government provides subsidies to American companies, which in turn hampers competition.

The norm of competition, according to a section of the US, is also affected by the vivacity of Europeanness. It claims that this has led to the development of Fortress Europe. EU is held primarily responsible for the "Fortress Europe" problem. Once the US accused Germany of being guided by Europeanness while buying NH-90 helicopter engines. On the contrary, Europeans blamed the US for legalising the notion "Buy American". The idea is to be operative in specific circumstances. Europeans also blame American companies for their tendency towards monopoly. The statement given by Boeing's president just after the merger of Boeing and McDonnell Douglas is frequently quoted. In the statement, he promised to finish the Air Bus very soon. European countries charged that the US government supports moves to end competition. Europeans were also provoked by the concentration of US military producers. They believed that such a move had the backing of the Pentagon, and said that in this situation, there would be a move for an equivalent concentration of European military aerospace producers. They said that it would bring about a change in their military procurement priorities. Interestingly, the UK was in the forefront of the criticism of the American policy. France charged America for indulging in industrial espionage using the Echelon electronic eavesdropping system. The European Parliament took serious note of it and set up a committee to look into the matter. A former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director also confirmed that the US had passed on the intercepted information to a US aircraft company to win a Saudi order against a European consortium.39

In the context of free trade, export control laws and policies are also considered a barrier. Europeans have been demanding restructuring of export control laws. They feel that the US licensing process is too long and completely unpredictable and US licensing authorities have been found uncoordinated, bureaucratic and unfocussed in their approach to control. Europeans and the US also perceive globalisation differently. They feel globalisation is being interfered and manipulated by Americans to promote their interests. Europeans strongly protested the American role in the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Recently, the US created problems over the selection of the German nominee.40 Europeans also saw the merger move of Boeing as a case of misuse of the rules of globalisation. The European countries the and US frequently clashed in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiation process on various issues. Recently, in Seattle and after that, some prominent countries and the US strongly expressed their views against each other. Europeans believe that the type of capitalism pursued by the US has no place for the human element in it. They hold that capitalism without social values is always under constant danger of collapse. However, in February 2000, in the G-7 meeting in Tokyo the European countries rejected the US proposal for correcting international economic imbalance.41 Europe and the US also disagree on the issue of raising interest rates and countering the inflation rate. In 1991, the German Central Bank raised the interest rates, which angered the US. The European currency was expected to diminish the dollar's position. Some corrective measures were taken to settle the agriculture subsidies, the issue of aircraft and the like. Subsidies in some cases were either completely prohibited or substantially reduced; and in the case of aircraft, the US and EU agreed that no government would support development of a new aircraft, as also that there would be complete transparency in the government's activities. However, problems are continuing. Europeans resent the unilateral American moves to redress its grievances. The most prominent is the imposition of sanctions. The US imposed sanctions on imports from European countries worth $400 million for not complying with WTO rules for the banana import and hormone treated beef controversies. When the WTO gave its rulings against foreign sales corporations, the European countries were up in arms. Americans state that the US had to retaliate because the EU put trade barriers before American beef made with growth hormone and to bananas grown on American plantations in the Caribbean and South America. The recent report of the Biotechnology Consultative Forum failed to assuage the bitter feelings of both sides. Americans want to take some more time to implement the report, whereas Europeans feel that the language of the report is still nebulous to give advantage to the American position.42

One of the commentators has tried to comprehend the relationship. He wrote, "One source of conflict arises from the globalised and deregulated international economy."

Here the two sides are moving towards conflict over irreconcilable economic and industrial interests. "One set of problems involves the Euro, the single European currency. A second involves transatlantic competition in certain strategic high technology industries that both sides consider essential to economic sovereignty and national security."43

Some countries like France and the UK are very active for autonomous European defence. France wants to see a European defence identity emerge as a long-term alternative to NATO, though the UK favours only a supplementary role for European defence. The UK, under DERA, which had access to the American highly classified satellite imagery from the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), was later denied data.44 So, it wants that such incidents do not affect defence preparedness of any European country. All the US governments have been critical of ESDI provided in the Maastricht Treaty. They contend that the European defence or ESDI should not undermine or duplicate NATO efforts. The US wants a special area of action for European defence.

The US also wants to be assured or reassured, at least in principle, that any European defence initiative should direct its energy to contributing to international security instead of wasting resources. There is a growing demand in the US to persuade or force European partners to increase their share in defence spending for activities related to NATO.45 NATO's DCI has got 58 goals and the basic aim of the goals is to bridge the gap in military technology and logistics between the US and its European allies. Here, too, the US grudges that European countries are not raising their defence budgets to support DCI and its aims. Both sides also confronted each other when the US tried to influence the European decision to include non-EU members into the European security framework.

In the very beginning of the post-Cold War era, the US and its European partners differed on how to handle and manage the Balkan Wars. Yugoslavia proved a real test case for the US-Europe relationship. Initially, under the influence of resurgent, pan-European solidarity, European countries opined that a solution to the problem could be found within Europe. They did not see many roles for the US. Later, they realised their limitations and looked towards the US. However, even during the Kosovo operations, the US and European countries continued to clash over various matters.

In recent years, Europe and the US also disagreed on Ballistic Missile Defence, the US National Missile Defence (NMD) and handling of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. The opposition to the US stance came from European governments, academia and some other sections of the policy-making community. Europeans feel that NMD would lead to different levels of security with NATO in addition to increasing isolationism for the US. The US partners in Europe apprehend that the notion of deterrence based on nuclear weapons will be in jeopardy. In Europe, there is a thinking that through NMD, the US might protect itself, but leaves its allies more vulnerable. There is a question mark on the credibility of the extended deterrence. The European allies fear that the US might be reluctant to utilise its nuclear weapons in the NMD environment. Europeans also feel that NMD might lead to an arms race. On November 3, 1999, the French president maintained that the ABM Treaty was still relevant for international strategic stability. Other European countries also feel that violation and amendment of the ABM Treaty will be a setback to the non-proliferation efforts of Western countries. Russia sounds more convincing to Europeans on the NMD issue. Besides, most of the European countries have grown sceptical about the notion of "rogue nations." The US, of late, has rephrased the term "rogue nations" as "countries of concern".

The UK government was extremely unwilling to allow the US to use the NMD network. The US had desired to use British Fylingdales phased array early warning radar site.46 Germany objected to the US demand to accept black boxes on Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptor missiles. Black boxes are mechanisms to hinder copying or reverse engineering of sensitive technology. The PAC-3 is to be fitted in the Medium Extended Air Defence System (MEADS) as interceptors. MEADS is a mobile land-based Theatre Missile Defence system for Europe, jointly developed by the US, Germany and Italy. There are differences between the US and its European partners over the cost of MEADS. This has forced the European partners to review their participation in any such programme.

The US and the UK have disagreements over the conventional air launched cruise missile (ALCM); the new generation armoured vehicle Scout cavalry system, and so on. Germany is opposing US-European engine development, whereas Germany is seen as irresponsible by the US because of the sale of sensitive goods, equipment and technology by German companies to countries like Iraq and Russia.47 In the US, there is opposition on the merger of US companies with European ones. A section in the US feels that Europeans take advantage of mergers,48 while Europeans think otherwise.

On the issues related to world politics, while there is no fundamental clash between the US and European countries, differences have recurred. France struggles to liberate both itself and Europe from American domination. Some see Franco-US rivalry as an example of a struggle between unipolarism and multipolarism49 as well as dominance over European affairs. Europeans have a self-image; they think they are more liberal in their political outlook than Americans. They maintain that their systems can absorb wide-ranging ideologies and bring them into the political mainstream. Europeans are also puzzled by the American obsession with hand-guns, rules against smoking, and so on. The US is not able to become a member of the Council of Europe because some states of the US practice capital punishment. The new US president is seen as a "World Champion Executioner",50 since Texas had the largest number of executions among US states. The US sees numerous problems with European liberal and democratic ideology.

On several occasions, on various issues, the US and European countries have had disagreements. On sanctions, generally, the US and Europe speak differently. Most of the European countries differed with the US on imposing sanctions on Iran and Iraq. In the World Bank, European allies of the US did not agree with the US and allocated loans to Iran in May 2000.51 Many of them, at times, resisted the US move to attack Iraq. Differences of perception are witnessed on other issues. Both sides disagreed on how to deal with Asian countries in view of the rise of China. Europeans do not want to involve themselves with East Asia beyond trade. The US wants multi-dimensional involvement of the democratic bloc to offset Chinese power.

The US threatened to withdraw from Europe if Germany voted for the proposal for the setting up of a permanent international War Crimes Court. The German recognition of Croatia and Slovenia also met with US opposition. The US and the UK had heated exchanges over Sinn Fein leader Garry Adams getting a visa for travel in the US. European countries keep blaming the US for spying on its European allies. "Intellectual and political discourse" about each other has also generated animosities between the two sides.


The European countries and the US are both partners and competitors, and both sides have entered into an alliance as nation-states. The conflict and cooperation between the US and European countries have made it clear that there is a distinction between joint allied interest and national interest. A more united Europe will provide a better bargaining capability to the Europeans. Many feel that the European countries, basically, want to oppose American unilateralism and restore multipolarity, because it may help Europe in exerting influence on the US. In the Cold War period, too, European allies operated through transnational and transgovernmental coalitions to influence American decisions. In a multipolar world, there is a better chance of allied demands getting accommodated by the US. The Realist bargaining theory underlines that the threat to defect even by a smaller ally can compel a great power to concede. Europe is already a great power and its insistence on pursuing an independent autonomous line, definitely gives it a great bargaining leverage. Certainly, Europe wants a dignified position in the alliance system. Relations between the US and EU are more equal in the economic sphere, while the relationship is more asymmetrical in other spheres, as Europe per se does not have a homogenous monolitic decision-making unit. Frequently, Europe has looked towards the US to resolve differences between European states. The US has to struggle to maintain a harmonious relationship between European autonomy and the American commitment. In Europe, the US has replaced the doctrine of containment with that of enlargement. During the Cold War, the US was active in Europe to confront Europe through different means. In the post-Cold War, integration is being promoted in a deep and broad way. Towards this end, the US is favouring consolidation, expansion and enlargement of international institutions. Here, the US practices some ambiguity. On the one hand, it champions European integration and, on the other, it devises strategies to deal with a formidable Europe in the future. It knows for certain that Russia united to Europe will be a strategic challenge to the US. However, in the near future, there is only a remote possibility of the emergence of Europe as a serious strategic global challenger.

In the post-Cold War period, the US and Europe are arriving at a new set of guidelines to steer their relationship. There are some differences in the objective and subjective realities of both entities. Even the maverick French Foreign Minister Vedrine has said, "Relations with the US always seem to reflect a mixture of fascination, sympathy, admiration and exasperation."52


1. Martin Walker, "What Europeans Think of America", World Policy Journal, vol. XVII, no. 2, Summer 2000, p. 27.

2. Ibid., p. 29.

3. Ibid., p. 30.

4. The Indian Express, November 25, 2000.

5. William Drozdiak, "NATO Allies Grow Edgy as Security Choices Loom," The International Herald Tribune, December 15, 2000.

6. The Hindu, December 17, 2000.

7. The Hindu, December 18, 2000.

8. Steven Erlanger, "Nominee's Initial Talk Relies on Broad Strokes", The International Herald Tribune, December 18, 2000.

9. The International Herald Tribune, December 19, 2000.

10. The Washington Post, December 19, 2000, <>

11. The International Herald Tribune, December 19, 2000.

12. Vladimir Barnovsky, "Russia: A Part of Europe or Apart from Europe?" International Affairs, vol. 76, no. 3, July 2000, pp. 443-458.

13. Martin Walker, "Variable Geography: America's Mental Maps of A Greater Europe" International Affairs, vol. 76, no. 3, July 2000, p. 467.

14. Douglas Barrie "UK Pullout Leave Trigat Missile Programme in Lurch", Defense News, August 7, 2000, p. 1.

15. The Hindu, September 24, 2000.

16. For a detailed discussion, see Stuart Croft et. al., "NATO's Triple Challenge", International Affairs, vol. 76, no. 3, July 2000, pp. 495-518.

17. Joseph S. Nye Jr, "The US and Europe: Continental Drift?", International Affairs, vol. 76, no. 1, January 2000, p. 55.

18. Werner Weidenfield, "A Demanding Agenda for the New Europe", World Policy Journal, vol. XV, no. 4, Winter 1998/99, p. 56.

19. Walker, n. 13, pp. 1-2.

20. NATO, "Partnership for Peace: An Enhanced and More Operational Partnership," NATO Fact Sheets, September 6, 2000.

21. NATO, Civil Emergency Planning in the Framework of the EAPC, NATO Fact Sheets, August 9, 2000.

22. NATO, Membership Action Plan, April 2000.

23. US Mission to NATO, Ambassador Vershow's speech on NATO in Southeast Europe, Slovenia, May 11, 2000.

24. Ibid.

25. NATO, "The Combined Joint Task Forces Concept", NATO Fact Sheets, August 9, 2000.

26. NATO, "NATO's Defence Capabilities Initiative", NATO Fact Sheets, August 9, 2000.

27. NATO, Defence Ministers Focus on Strengthening Capabilities, November 29-December 5, 2000, <>

28. US Mission to NATO, "Grossman Outlines Goals for US-Europe Cooperation", Security Issues Digest, no. 240, December 1998.

29. US Mission to NATO, Strobe Talbott, "The State of the Alliance: An American Perspective," Brussels, December 15, 1999.

30. US Mission to NATO, Remarks by Ambassador Alexander Vershow, US permanent representative, "Next Steps on European Security and Defence: A US View," delivered at the conference on "The Development of the Common European Security and Defence Policy: The Integration Project of the Next Decade," organised by the Institute for European Policy (Bonn and Berlin) and the Representation of the European Commission in the Federal Republic of Germany, Berlin, December 17, 1999.

31. US Mission to NATO, Ambassador Vershow on European Security, Security Issues Digest, no. 57, March 23, 2000.

32. Ibid.

33. The Economist, June 3, 2000, p. 53.

34. Douglas Barrie and Theresa Hitchens, "US Structural Models Eyed for Britain's DERA", Defense News, December 13, 1999.

35. Colin Clark, "US Agencies Reach Consensus on Exports," Defense News, May 15, 2000, p. 1.

36. Colin Clark and Luke Hill, "US Plans Stringent Rules for Arms Export Exemptions", Defense News, June 5, 2000, p. 3.

37. Vital Speeches of the Day, vol. LXVI, no. 17, June 15, 2000, p. 515.

38. Ibid., p. 32.

39. China Daily, July 7, 2000.

40. China Daily, March 1, 2000.

41. The Hindu, February 25, 2000.

42. The International Herald Tribune, December 19, 2000.

43. William Pfaff, "The Coming Clash of Europe with America," World Policy Journal, vol. XV, no. 3, winter 1998/99, p. 1.

44. Barrie and Hitchens, n. 34.

45. For a detailed discussion, see Francois Heisbourg, "Europe's Strategic Ambitions: The Limits of Ambiguity", Survival, vol. 42, no. 2, Summer 2000, pp. 5-15; Charles A. Kupchan, "In Defence of European Defence: An American Perspective," Survival, vol. 42, no. 2, Summer 2000, pp. 16-32; Guillaume Parmentier, "Redressing NATO's Imbalances", Survival, vol. 42, no. 2, Summer 2000, pp. 96-112.

46. Douglas Barrie, "British Mull US Request for Missile Defence Site," Defense News, January 13, 2000, p. 1.

47. Colin Clark and Jack Hoschomer, "German Spy Case Illustrates US Export Concerns", Defense News, June 19, 2000, p. 4.

48. Colin Clark, "Study: US-Foreign Mergers Lack Oversight", Defense News, May 15, 2000, p. 18.

49. Zhang Xichang, "French-US Relations in Transition", Foreign Affairs Journal, no. 26, December 1992, p.44.

50. T.R. Reid, "Some Europeans Deride Bush as a 'World Champion Executioner'", The International Herald Tribune, December 20, 2000.

51. China Daily, May 22, 2000.

52. Walker, n. 1, p. 34.