A U.S.-European Détente?

The news coverage of Monday’s U.S.-EU Summit at the White House — where Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso met — was all over the map. Depending on the source, it either failed to achieve breakthroughs on substantive policy issues; was a success merely because the leaders managed to avoid confrontation, or achieved progress on climate change, the Doha round, Middle East peace, Iran, and even transatlantic air traffic.

The State Department has a list of agreements that came out of the meeting. And the official EU postmortem similarly emphasizes the positive. Certainly most of the “deliverables” appear to be vague statements of common interest rather than substantive policy agreements. But it’s easy to underestimate the importance of rhetoric and tone when it comes to diplomacy. And we’d say the news coming out of the summit is quite an improvement given the depths to which the U.S.-European relations have sunk in the last four years.

Karen Donfried, of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, espoused an interesting view of the meeting on Charlie Rose, saying that Angela Merkel is “one of the best things that has happened to George Bush” in his presidency, and that Bush “gave a very nice bouquet to Angela Merkel” when talking about her influence on U.S. policy toward Russia at Monday’s press conference.

See her full comments, along with an analysis of Merckel’s significance within Germany by film director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, below: