topsy-turvy world: 2006

11 March 2006, Wolfgang Ischinger
former German ambassador to the United States
Washington Post


How, then, should we move forward? Here are three simple thoughts:

· First, no serious effort has been undertaken to create a security structure for the Middle East-- the most volatile and, because of its oil resources, most important of all regions. Incorporating Israel into NATO, as has recently been proposed, would satisfy neither Israel's security needs nor those of the West. It would only exacerbate tension between NATO and the Arab world. Instead, an effective regional security arrangement would need to take into account the interests of Israel as well as those of Iran and the Arab countries, and it would need to be led and supported by the United States, Europe and Russia. As has recently been suggested, the U.N. Security Council might provide a framework for the elaboration of such an arrangement.

· Second, as repeatedly suggested by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, NATO's role as the central forum for discussing and deciding transatlantic security issues should be strengthened. Europeans should make clear their desire for America to remain a European power. Those in Europe who believe that the European Union would be in a better position to develop its own defense policy if it were weaned from American military support are unwittingly playing into the hands of American isolationists -- to the detriment of European security. And those in Europe who continue to believe Europe should define its security policy independently from the United States have failed to understand that such an approach would inevitably divide the European Union.

· Third, the West -- as a political and moral concept -- must remain united. This is about more than just NATO, the European Union and free trade -- it is about the legacy of the European Enlightenment. Opposing absolutism, and believing in people's ability to create self-balancing and self-regulating, just, relativist and secular political systems: That is the Enlightenment's gift to the world, and it continues to be the West's promise.

But the West can lead only if it in turn is led responsibly by the United States as the only superpower, and if it can reoccupy the moral high ground, which has, in the eyes of many, largely been lost in the course of post-Sept. 11 events. One reason for this may be that we are not united on the issue of war and peace. Are we at war, as the United States claims, or are we just fighting terrorism, as Europeans believe? This is a fundamental political issue with the potential to either unite or split the West.

Many people in other parts of the world doubt whether our struggle against terrorism and for freedom, democracy and human rights is a struggle worth joining, a struggle with which they can or should identify. If we, the Western countries, are being measured by a higher standard than others, we should accept that and lead by example.

This is therefore the central challenge for the West in 2006: how to regain the moral high ground. The pursuit of post-Enlightenment ideals requires us to demonstrate that even as we fight terrorism we are prepared to take into account the interests of the global community, of all those whose cooperation we seek, whose values and culture we respect, and whose development and prosperity we support.

We must refuse to see that as a false choice; we must refuse to pit one religion against another. The choice is between absolutism and relativism, between totalitarianism and the dignity of the individual. That is the post-Enlightenment lesson the West can offer, and it is a legacy worth defending.

thanks to DanielGree @ TPMCafe
via Josh & DK @ TalkingPointsMemo
as linked by Laura of War and Piece

No comments:

Post a Comment