Europe’s Liberty of Position

Nikolas Gvosdev’s right. Europe’s return to the center-right does not equal an automatic alignment with American positions. In fact, I’d argue that on the points of disagreement (which Gvosdev identifies as Russia, the EU’s limits, and Iran), we’d be better off realigning our positions to theirs than vice versa. (I’d add differences in counterterrorism and stability operations docrine, and the emphasis given to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as a driver of Middle East conflict, to the list.)

The consequences of policy differences have been significantly dedramatized on both sides of the lake to the point where no one here in Europe is the least bit shy about staking out their liberty of position, especially where cover is provided by other EU states. The recent NATO summit is a case in point. What’s also interesting is that the phenomenon is not limited to “Old Europe.” Eastern European countries are lessreflexively willing to function as America’s Trojan Horse within the EUthan in the past. The name of the game in trans-Atlantic relations is very clearly “expectations management.”

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