The past few weeks have seen a number of momentous developments formalized by four highly publicized international events. If, at the moment, we can only guess what these developments will ultimately portend, their potentially far-reaching implications demand that all of us, at the very least, ?watch this space.?
First, there was the European Union (EU) summit that hammered out what passes for agreement to a new European Constitution by the various member countries? heads of government. The final document was achieved after years of wrangling thanks to prose that was, in key places, sufficiently impenetrable as to allow the British government (among others) to declare that national sovereignty had been preserved.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. The European Constitution is largely the product of a long-running Franco-German campaign to construct an economic, political and strategic rival to the United States. That can only be accomplished by garrotting the freedom Britain and the recently admitted states of Central and Eastern (a.k.a. ?New?) Europe have so recently displayed ? to the enormous displeasure and disdain of Paris and Berlin ? in forging their own relationships with this country and self-determined policies towards things like the liberation of Iraq.
To be sure, Prime Minister Tony Blair manfully asserts that he has retained the sovereign rights that have made possible a U.S.-U.K. ?special relationship? independent from Continental Europe. The EU Constitution?s creation of a European Foreign Minister and ?Common Foreign and Security Policy,? however, are intended to ? and will, inexorably, if not immediately ? preclude the sorts of military cooperation, intimate intelligence-sharing and strategic partnership that have made the Anglo-American relationship special. America?s best hope is that the sort of revulsion for Europe uber alles suggested by recent voting for the European Parliament will result in the Constitution?s rejection in upcoming national referenda by Brits and others who cherish truly representative and accountable government, and close ties to their exemplar, America.
The second meeting of note was President Bush?s summit with EU leaders in Ireland. While the participants engaged in much discussion there of Iraq, trade and other issues, the most significant result of the meeting may have been an agreement to ensure that Europe?s Galileo navigation system does not interfere with the frequencies used by America?s Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system.
It remains to be seen whether this understanding will, in fact, prevent France?s fairly transparent objective in promoting Galileo ? namely, to compete with and ultimate displace the U.S. GPS system. Even if that is not the case, Galileo may prove problematic for the United States if, for example, it affords extremely high accuracy information to enemy targeteers, be they terrorists or hostile militaries.
The third meeting was the NATO summit in Istanbul. There, President Bush secured a potentially momentous commitment from the organization?s members acting as an alliance ? including, for the first time, the French and Germans ? to help in the reconstruction of a liberated Iraq. For the moment, NATO forces will confine themselves to training Iraqi security personnel. Still, the Franco-German participation in a collective effort to build a free Iraq is not only a welcome change from their efforts heretofore to prevent and undermine such an outcome. It also should cut the legs out from under Mr. Bush?s critics who seem to believe that the only international initiatives that can have legitimacy are those endorsed by Paris and Berlin.
Finally, and most important in the near-term, were the meetings that occurred Monday in Baghdad in which the Coalition Provisional Authority formally handed over power to a sovereign Iraqi government and its new members were sworn into office. It is regrettable that such an option could not have been exercised long before now; Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and others now holding senior positions in the Bush Administration argued for creating a provisional Iraqi government as an alternative to Saddam?s regime back in 1998. Had that advice been taken, the liberation of Iraq could have been led by Free Iraqis and an interim administration put into place immediately thereafter, allowing multinational forces to help provide security rather than ?occupy? the country. A year later, things might have looked very different on the ground in Iraq than they do today.
As with the results of these other meetings, the prospects that this interim government in Iraq will translate into something desirable for the people most immediately affected ? the Iraqis, themselves ? for their neighbors or for us are uncertain, at best. Much will depend upon whether the popular perception takes hold that the future lies with freedom and a rejection of its enemies. If it does, the Iraqis certainly have the human and physical resources to transform their nation into a model of prosperity, civilization and opportunity in a region of the world that has known too little of these things of late.
The common denominator in each of these developments is that their ultimate outcome will have profound implications for U.S. interests and security. That means we actually must do far more than ?watch this space.? America must remain engaged directly and creatively in promoting endgames that will: preserve accountable, sovereign governments in Europe; assure vital U.S. interests in outer space; lead a reinvigorated, as well as expanded NATO; and conduce to a peaceable and free Iraq.