Being British, Feeling Muslim

On April 5, 2005, in cooperation with the European Studies program at Boston University, and the Departments of Anthropology and International Relations, the Institute organized a conference on the role of Muslims and Islam in the European public sphere. Today’s podcast is an edited recording of the keynote address by Farhan Nizami, Director of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and Prince of Wales Fellow in the Study of the Islamic World, Magdalen College, Oxford.

In his lecture, entitled “Being British, Feeling Muslim,” Nizami asked whether a religious commitment to Islam is compatible with being a citizen in a modern European state. According to Nizami, living in accordance with faith inevitably puts the believer in a position at odds with the values and assumptions of a materialistic culture, but the resultant threat is perceived differently when the challenge comes from Islam versus the established religion. The stereotypes of Muslims create a climate of fear and distrust. He stressed the need for a new definition of European identity in which all citizens have an experience of tolerance and belonging. Muslims for their part do not possess the confidence to respond to this challenge, giving rise to helplessness, anger, and extremism. The world is changing, Nizami concluded, and our categories of self-image have to grow with these changes.

You will hear introductions by  Irena Grudzinksa Gross, former director of the Institute for Human Sciences, and Professor Augustus Richard Norton, Professor of Anthropology and International Relations at Boston University. Nizami’s keynote address aired on WBUR’s “World of Ideas” program on April 24, 2005. We are grateful to WBUR for making the recording available to EU for You.

Nizami’s speech was followed by a panel discussion featuring Jocelyne Césari, Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard and the Harvard Divinity School; Jytte Klausen, Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at Brandeis University, and Ahmet Yukleyan, PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Boston University and IWM Junior Visiting Fellow (July – December 2005). Speakers discussed the diverse ethnic, religious, and generational identities among Muslims, exploring the different ways in which Muslims are adapting and integrating as well as resisting their European setting. Jenny White, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Boston University, served as moderator.

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Where Is Britain? The UK, the EU, and the United States?

This week’s podcast is an edited recording of an April 7, 2005 lecture by Sir Stephen Wall, former advisor to Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, and to Tony Blair, on Britain’s changing relationships with the EU and the United States. The discussion aired on WBUR’s World of Ideas program on May 29, 2005. We are grateful to WBUR for making the recording available to EU for You.

According to Wall, “Britain finds itself torn more than in the past between the United States whose closest friend it wants to be and its European partners with whom its interests most closely align.” A strong supporter of the EU, which he called the most important political development” of his lifetime, he argued that Britain’s future lies with Europe. Over British and French fears of loss of national sovereignty, he stressed the importance of supranational institutions able to manage “the querulous relationship between countries that remain fiercely nationalistic” and at the same time “capable of harnessing the shared value systems and economic interests of the member states and creating value added for the membership of the Union as a whole.” Referring to the pending referenda on the EU constitutional treaty, he concluded, “Unless Blair, Chirac and Schroeder, and the other governments of Europe, can rediscover and champion the supranational vision of Europe we will not carry conviction with our publics or maintain our coherence and momentum. And we will be a querulous partner of the United States, not an effective one.” Responding to Sir Stephen was Stanley Hoffmann, Paul and Catherine Buttenwieser University Professor at Harvard University. Professor Hoffmann shared Sir Stephen’s hopes that the constitutional treaty would be ratified in both France and Britain, noting that both countries had taken an unnecessary risk in putting the treaty to a vote.

Sir Stephen Wall’s book, A Stranger in Europe, was published in 2008.

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The US and Europe: Still Sharing the Same Values?

We’re still digging through our archive for great podcasts – you can find links to recordings of ongoing events on the website – go to our home page (www.euforyou.org), click on IHS, and then on “archived events.” For example, on our 2009 page, you’ll find recordings of events with German author Bernhard Schlink, Romanian poet Liliana Ursu, Basque writer Bernardo Atxaga, and more.  Alternatively, click on “people” for an alphabetical menu of past speakers. We’re in the process of adding audio or video icons to speaker bios if there’s a recording of the event available.

Today’s podcast is an edited recording of a January, 27, 2005 panel discussion, featuring Berlin-based author Peter Schneider and International Affairs editor of the Financial Times, Quentin Peel, organized in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Boston. Introducing the speakers is Irena Grudzinska Gross, former director of the Institute for Human Sciences. The discussion centers on the breakdown in the relationship between the US and Europe following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the famous Le Monde headline “Nous sommes tous Américains.”

According to Peter Schneider, the Iraq war was merely a magnifying glass, revealing deeper tensions. He did not dismiss the threat posed by international terrorism, which he believes is real. But, he argued, the US administration abused the legitimate fears of Americans after 9/11 to create a “culture of fear.” This is the only way to explain the re-election of George Bush following the well-publicized deceptions leading up to the war in Iraq. Distinguishing between “real” and “perceived” fear, he noted that the cities that had experienced the actual terror voted overwhelmingly against politicians engaged in the culture of fear. He went on to say that some “ism” is growing up in America, and while he cannot identify it yet, he believes the US is in danger. Making Simon Schama’s distinction between “worldly” and “godly” America, he said Europe and “worldly” America must come together to defend our enlightenment inheritance of secular humanism.

Quentin Peel, citing the results of the German Marshall Fund poll, argued that the differences between the US and Europe run deeper than the partisan divide in the US. He said he believes that the US and Europe do share essential enlightenment values, but differ over the “absoluteness” with which they are prepared to pursue them. Europeans do not like absolutes, hence their aversion to Bush’s attempt to divide the world into good and evil. The real problem, Peel concluded, between the US and Europe is that we think we know each other, but we do not.

The discussion aired on WBUR radio’s “World of Ideas” program on February 6, 2005. We are grateful to WBUR for making the recording available to EU for You.

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The Changing Shape of Today’s Media – Part 2

Today’s episode of the EU for You podcast is the last of a series of six podcasts, featuring unedited recordings from our November 2005 conference on Media and Politics. The conference took place in three sessions, each consisting of a keynote address, followed by a panel discussion. The recording you are about to hear wraps up the third session, The Changing Shape of Today’s Media. To hear recordings from the first session, Freedom Movements and the Press, and the second session, Transatlantic Media Wars, be sure to check out previous blog posts.

In the previous episode, you heard a keynote speech by Orville Schell, Dean, Berkeley School of Journalism; today we bring you a recording of the panel discussion that followed Schell’s remarks. Speakers included Fred Barnes from The Weekly Standard, Martin Simecka, then Editor-in-Chief of Sme, and Eugeniusz Smolar, Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Relations, Warsaw. The discussion was moderated by James Hoge, Editor-in-Chief of Foreign Affairs.

The third session of our confernece addressed the question of journalism’s future in light of media concentration, the growth of the Internet, and declining circulations of regular newspapers. In his keynote speech, Orville Schell admitted that he does not have an answer to the question how to react to these changes. He cited a conversation he had had with Peter Jennings during a dinner just before the war in Iraq, in which he inquired when the issue of whether America should go to war would be debated. Jennings looked at him, rather stunned, and said, adamantly, “It is not going to happen.“ Schell commented: “So there was the contradiction, right there, staring us in the face: of all the thousands of hours that the networks broadcast in a given week or a month, there wasn’t an hour and a half to put a debate on the air about going to war.” Later, he said, the BBC did the debate, “but it was our decision, our war, our policy issue, and nobody got to see it.”

James Hoge agreed that the concentration of power in media is a threat to democracy.  He said that the pressure to make money is more intense and coverage is “timid.” Eugeniusz Smolar said that fragmentation in today’s media market and the individualistic nature of media consumption will lead to the creation of two different markets: a truly mass media, entertainment-oriented market, and another, more “elitist” yet serving the public interest.  Good governments, he said, “require openness, transparency and public control.“  Unfortunately, he added, “the only thing we see in the serious media at the moment are financial cuts.“

Fred Barnes was less pessimistic, arguing that despite media concentration, there was still plenty of competition.  He noted that the major newspapers are giving their content away for free on the Internet.  It is a consumer driven market, and ultimately, Barnes said, “we are going to have to give the people what they want.”

Both the fingerprints in his visa application and Fox News on his hotel’s TV reminded Martin Simecka of the communist regime in his own county some years earlier.  Nevertheless, he was as optimistic as Fred Barnes, for different reasons, based on the success of his own paper, Sme, with 10% of the readership of Slovakia. His focus is not on giving people what they want, but on educating readers and preparing them for times to come.  He said he guides his paper by one principle: getting it right. He said that for his newspaper, “until the last reader, it’s OK.”

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The Changing Shape of Today’s Media – Part 1

Today’s episode of the EU for You podcast is the fifth of a series of six podcasts, featuring unedited recordings from our November 2005 conference on Media and Politics. The conference took place in three sessions, each consisting of a keynote address, followed by a panel discussion. The recording you are about to hear is the keynote speech from the third session, The Changing Shape of Today’s Media. To hear recordings from the first session, Freedom Movements and the Press, and the second session, Transatlantic Media Wars, be sure to check out previous blog posts.

Introducing the third session is Irena Grudzinska Gross, former director of the Institute for Human Sciences. The keynote speech was given by Orville Schell, Dean, Berkeley School of Journalism. Panelists included Fred Barnes from The Weekly Standard, Martin Simecka, then Editor-in-Chief of Sme, and Eugeniusz Smolar, Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Relations, Warsaw. The discussion was moderated by James Hoge, Editor-in-Chief of Foreign Affairs.

The session addresses the question of journalism’s future in light of media concentration, the growth of the Internet, and declining circulations of regular newspapers. In his keynote speech, Orville Schell admits that he does not have an answer to the question how to react to these changes. He cites a conversation he had had with Peter Jennings during a dinner just before the war in Iraq, in which he inquired when the issue of whether America should go to war would be debated. Jennings looked at him, rather stunned, and said, adamantly, “It is not going to happen.“ Schell commented: “So there was the contradiction, right there, staring us in the face: of all the thousands of hours that the networks broadcast in a given week or a month, there wasn’t an hour and a half to put a debate on the air about going to war.” Later, he said, the BBC did the debate, “but it was our decision, our war, our policy issue, and nobody got to see it.”

James Hoge agreed that the concentration of power in media is a threat to democracy.  He said that the pressure to make money is more intense and coverage is “timid.” Eugeniusz Smolar said that fragmentation in today’s media market and the individualistic nature of media consumption will lead to the creation of two different markets: a truly mass media, entertainment-oriented market, and another, more “elitist” yet serving the public interest.  Good governments, he said, “require openness, transparency and public control.“  Unfortunately, he added, “the only thing we see in the serious media at the moment are financial cuts.“

Fred Barnes was less pessimistic, arguing that despite media concentration, there was still plenty of competition.  He noted that the major newspapers are giving their content away for free on the Internet.  It is a consumer driven market, and ultimately, Barnes said, “we are going to have to give the people what they want.”

Both the fingerprints in his visa application and Fox News on his hotel’s TV reminded Martin Simecka of the communist regime in his own county some years earlier.  Nevertheless, he was as optimistic as Fred Barnes, for different reasons, based on the success of his own paper, Sme, with 10% of the readership of Slovakia. His focus is not on giving people what they want, but on educating readers and preparing them for times to come.  He said he guides his paper by one principle: getting it right. He said that for his newspaper, “until the last reader, it’s OK.”

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Transatlantic Media Wars – Part 2

Today’s episode of the EU for You podcast is the fourth in a series of six podcasts, featuring unedited recordings of our November 2005 conference on Media and Politics. As we have mentioned, the conference took place in three sessions, each featuring a keynote speech and a panel discussion. Today you are listening to the panel discussion in the second session, Transatlantic Media Wars. Panelists included Sylvie Kauffmann from Le Monde, the syndicated columnist William Pfaff, and Jacek Zakowski from the Polish Polityka Weekly. The discussion was moderated by William Drozdiak, President of the American Council on Germany. Be sure to tune into our previous podcast to hear Michael Naumann’s keynote speech.

William Drozdiak, recalling images from Hurricane Katrina accompanied by the headline “Third World America” in the European press, said that “[w]e have to bear in mind the diversity that corresponds to our countries and particularly in presenting the news.” There is a lot of commentary in the European press about the United States, on issues such as the death penalty, but little criticism of China’s use of the death penalty, for example. Sylvie Kauffmann responded that this is because it is so difficult for Europeans to understand how in a country where the rule of law is so important, people can accept a process [what process?] that is so flawed. She noted that whereas American reporting on events in Europe, even when exaggerated or flawed, will typically generate a response by European journalists, European commentary on America is largely ignored.

William Pfaff insisted that the press is not at war: the conflict, he said, is between governments and ideological groups; the press is merely conveying the debate, not generating it. He said part of the problem is that journalists tend to accept the conventional wisdom, that is, the pictures people have about certain countries. What is essential to the debate, he continued, is “second order agreement,” which he described as the ability to say: “I can tell you what your position is on some controversial matter in a way in which you would say, yes, that is a relatively fair statement, and you can do the same about me.” Polish columnist Jacek Zakowski saw the “transatlantic media wars” on the order of a family quarrel, and suggested that one function of the media is to export internal tensions abroad.

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Transatlantic Media Wars – Part 1

Today’s episode of the EU for You podcast is the third of a series of six podcasts, featuring unedited recordings from our November 2005 conference on Media and Politics. The conference took place in three sessions, each consisting of a keynote address, followed by a panel discussion. Previous episodes featured recordings from the first session, Freedom Movements and the Press. Today’s recording is from the second session, Transatlantic Media Wars. Introducing the session is Irena Grudzinska Gross, former director of the Institute for Human Sciences. The keynote speech, which you hear today, was given by Michael Naumann, German politician and publicist. Panelists included Sylvie Kauffmann from Le Monde, the syndicated columnist William Pfaff, and Jacek Zakowski from the Polish Polityka Weekly. The discussion was moderated by William Drozdiak, President of the American Council on Germany.

The focus of the second session was on shifting perceptions across the Atlantic, and the role played by the press in the growing rift between the United States and Europe.  In his keynote speech Michael Naumann said the topic was only slightly exaggerated.  The Internet, for all its popularity, represents an amassment of political and informational power in the hands of one—American—nation.  He briefly discussed the growth of media conglomerates and declining quality of print journalism in the US.  He was critical of the US media coverage of Europe, the virtual absence of reporting on Germany, but noted that Europe is not the only thing missing from the pages of US newspapers.  He cited his own paper’s scoop that Collin Powell’s source on mobile chemical labs in Iraq was unreliable, a piece of information that reached the American public only a year later when the Los Angeles Times published the story.

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Freedom Movements and the Press – Part 2

Today’s podcast is the second of a series of six podcasts, featuring unedited recordings from our November 2005 conference on Media and Politics.  The conference took place in three sessions, each consisting of a keynote address and a panel discussion. The recordings were recently digitized and we are making them available to the public for the first time.

Today we continue the recording of Session I: Freedom Movements and the Press. Adam Michnik’s keynote address in that session was followed by a discussion, moderated by Jonathan Schell, Harold Willens Peace Fellow at the Nation Institute and Peace and Disarmament Correspondent at The Nation . Participants included John Darnton, Associate Editor, The New York Times; 
Jackson Diehl , Deputy Editorial Page Editor, The Washington Post; Martin Simecka, Editor-in-Chief, Sme, and Veton Surroi, Member of the Parliament of Kosova for the ORA Civic Group and 
Former Chairman, KOHA Media Group, Pristina.

There was agreement among the six journalists that a free media, the dream of Adam Michnik’s generation, continues to be, as John Darnton put it, “a catalyst for change, a vehicle for change, and even a guarantor of change.”  But as Jonathan Schell pointed out, “the press that existed in 1989 does not exist today” and the so-called “free media” has become a source of confusion and disinformation.

Much of the discussion focussed on the problems facing today’s media, namely corruption and the market forces that undermine the autonomy of the press, which should, according to Michnik, serve as a barrier against corruption.  Veron Surroi described how easily the media can be subjugated to politics, and underlined the necessity of media pluralism for the existence of a pluralistic society. Jackson Diehl, acknowledging the role of his own paper in supporting the cause of Polish Solidarity movement in the 1980s, said that Western journalists today “have to avoid becoming surrogate ambassadors and political actors in other countries.” Thanks to the Internet, he said, the role of the Western press abroad as surrogate source of information has grown enormously, giving rise to new challenges.  The more appropriate role for the Western journalist, according to Diehl, is as “watchdog of our own government.” Martin Simecka, recalling the case of Vaclav Havel, did not disagree but described how helping dissidents become well known can actually protect them from danger.  Corruption persists, Simecka said, because people are afraid to speak out.

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Freedom Movements and the Press – Part 1

What happens when you sit journalists from the world’s most powerful and influential publications at the same table with a Polish columnist or the editor of a small Slovakian daily? How does the dialogue between America and Europe change when voices from Eastern Europe are included? The Institute of Human Sciences at Boston University found out in November 2005 during a two-day conference on Media and Politics, held in conjunction with an exhibit (Poland on the Front Page: 1979-1989) of front page newspaper stories from US and Polish titles depicting the evolution of journalism in Poland and the role of the media in shaping public perceptions and as an instrument of democracy.

Over the next several weeks the EU for You podcast will feature unedited recordings that conference. The recordings were recently digitized and we are making them available to the public for the first time.

The first session of the conference, Freedom Movements and the Press, brought together three of the journalists featured in the exhibit (keynote speaker Adam Michnik, 
Editor-in-Chief, Gazeta Wyborcza; John Darnton, 
Associate Editor, The New York Times; Jackson Diehl , Deputy Editorial Page Editor, The Washington Post) with other writers active on behalf of freedom movements in Eastern Europe (Martin Simecka, 
Editor-in-Chief, Sme and Veton Surroi , Member of the Parliament of Kosova for the ORA Civic Group; 
Former Chairman, KOHA Media Group, Pristina). Opening Remarks were given by John Schulz, 
Dean of the College of Communication at Boston University. Jonathan Schell , Harold Willens Peace Fellow at the Nation Institute, chaired the discussion.

Today’s podcast features the keynote speech by Adam Michnik. Adam is translated by Elzbieta Matynia, Associate Professor of Sociology and Liberal Studies at New School University in New York. In two weeks, we will bring you a recording of the panel discussion.

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The US and Europe: Partnership or Competition?

On November 16, 2004, the Institute for Human Sciences at Boston University, in cooperation with the Duitsland Instituut at the University of Amsterdam, convened an international conference on the topic “The US and Europe: Partnership or Competition.”  The conference was organized in two sessions, each consisting of a key note speech followed by a panel discussion. This podcast is taken from a January 9, 2005 WBUR recording of the two key note speeches; we are grateful to WBUR for making the recording available to EU for You. Introductory remarks were given by John Silber, President Emeritus of Boston University, University Professor, and Professor of International Relations, who expressed his hope that the conference might mark the beginning of a “renewed and reinvigorated transatlantic partnership.”

The first session, entitled “American vs. European Perspectives on the Middle East,” focused on the diverse conflicts in the region stretching from the Maghreb countries to Iran, and on American and European responses.  The key note speech was given by former French Prime Minister Alain Juppé.   The panel was chaired by James Hoge, Editor-in-chief of Foreign Affairs and a member of the Institute’s Board of Directors. Rachel Bronson, Director of Middle East and Gulf Studies, and David Phillips, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations; Thérèse Delpech, Director of Strategic Affairs at  the Atomic Energy Commission in Paris; and Michael Mertes, former policy advisor to Helmut Kohl, joined Prime Minister Juppé for the discussion.

The second session, entitled “Instruments of International Cooperation,” focused on the changing forms, institutions, and structures which, as IHS board member Aleksander Smolar put it, are the foundation of trust.  The key note speech was given by Wolfgang Ischinger, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United States.  The panel discussion was chaired by Aleksander Smolar, Senior Research Fellow at the CNRS in Paris and President of the Stefan Batory Foundation in Warsaw.  Members of the panel included Maarten Brands, Professor of History at the University of Amsterdam; Charles Kupchan, Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University and Director of Europe Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Steven Walt, Belfer Professor of International Relations at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

In his key note address, Prime Minister Alain Juppé reiterated the importance of peace and stability in the Middle East to both Europe and the US, despite their differences over the means to achieve it.  He emphasized the multitude of geographic and historical ties between Europe and the Middle East, in particular, the huge numbers of people from that region now living in Europe, and called for a “courageous policy of dialogue and cooperation” with the US moving forward.  Neither side, he concluded, wants to view the conflict with Islamic regions of the world as a clash of civilizations.

Juppé outlined his main concerns: the unresolved situation in Iraq, where radical elements are endangering the security of the entire region; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where the components of a solution are already on the table but missing, on both sides, are the political determination and courage to implement it; Iran and the spread of nuclear technology throughout the region; and finally, the growing phenomenon of Islamic terrorism.  He expressed hope that the dialogue with Iran undertaken by France, Germany, and the UK would succeed, but said he felt the goal of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction was a utopian one.  As for terrorism, Juppé agreed it must be fought relentlessly, but stressed the need to understand the underlying economic, political, and social crises (to say nothing of the intellectual and moral crises) which fuel it.  There is, according to Juppé, “a genuine aspiration of people in those countries for democracy, human development, freedom, and social justice.  We must, however, refrain from attempting to impose our model from outside, risking offending the pride and dignity of the people concerned.”  It would be better, he argued, to support reforms already underway throughout the region.  He added that the recent death of Yasser Arafat has opened an opportunity to restart the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

At the end of his remarks, Juppé addressed the question of Turkish membership in the EU.  He listed the strong arguments in favor of accession, but cautioned that there are many other countries with ties as strong as Turkey’s to Europe.  Such enlargement, he said, “would fundamentally change the European project of a political entity sharing the will of carrying out our own foreign policy and building our own security force in the framework of friendship and frank partnership with the United States.”

Before introducing the panelists, James Hoge underscored the urgency of the “partnership or competition” debate in the Middle East, stating that how we come out will have deep and lasting effects on the transatlantic relationship.  Rachel Bronson agreed, saying “the transatlantic relationship will largely either founder or flourish in the Middle East.”  Bronson attributed the tensions in the transatlantic relationship to the changed international environment in the wake of 9/11 and to an administration which has taken the fall out in stride.  She blamed the failure of US policy in the Middle East on the Bush administration’s mistaken belief that given sufficient US resolve other countries would come along in the end.  She argued that while the US and Europe perceived the threat of terrorism differently, their agendas were complementary and not at odds.

Thérèse Delpech addressed Europe’s shortcomings, in particular the “narrowest vision of its strategic environment in its history.”  Particularly alarming to Delpech is that Asia, a region she believes will the center of strategic affairs in the 21st century, is “absent from the European radar.”   She argued that as Europe enlarges its territory, it should enlarge its strategic vision, accepting a more political role.

Whereas Rachel Bronson offered an explanation for a Bush policy gone awry, her colleague David Phillips was openly critical.  He worried that in light of Bush’s re-election antipathy toward the administration and its policies would now migrate toward the American people and American culture and said he hoped the trend could be reversed.  Echoing Alain Juppé, he stressed the need for a policy that addresses the injustices and inequities that give rise to terrorism.   He called for a strategy based on the “twin pillars of promoting democracy and human development as key antidotes to extremism.”  He disagreed with the former prime minister on the question of Turkish membership in the EU, however, arguing that a rejection of Turkey would compromise European security, “shifting the frontline of terrorism from Turkey’s eastern border closer to the heart of Europe.”

Michael Mertes agreed with David Phillips that Europe cannot afford to define itself against Islam, given its growing Islamic population.  The answer to the Turkish question, he said, depends on what sort of Europe one has in mind.  A “United States of Europe” would pose limits to expansion and might exclude Turkey.  A looser confederation or free trade zone could eventually include not only Turkey, but also Israel and the countries of North Africa.  Mertes stressed the need for the US and Europe to develop and coordinate a common strategy for democracy promotion in the Middle East.  Concluding his remarks, he cited a recent article by Anne Applebaum, recalling the lessons of East Germany’s transition to democracy.  Even where violence is averted, the psychological transition can take at least a generation.

There was general agreement by all the panelists that both the US and Europe should seize the opportunity created by Arafat’s death to push for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

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Opening the second part of the conference, Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger traced the turning points in the transatlantic relationship to the key dates of 11/9/89 and 9/11/01. While tensions have heightened, he said, the flow of ideas across the Atlantic continues unabated.  He expressed hope that going forward, the US and Europe might act in tandem, following the former German Defense Minister Volker Rühe’s advice “in together, out together.” He stated that Germany shared the US objective of a stable and peaceful Iraq and argued that his country’s decision not to participate in a NATO mission in Iraq should not be understood as a failing commitment to that goal or to the institution of NATO.  Germany is heavily involved in NATO peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and in the Balkans, and has established its own program to train Iraqi police officers.  The real problem in the transatlantic relationship today, according to Ambassador Ischinger, is one of trust.  He expressed hope that Europe’s diplomatic negotiations with Iran would succeed, leading the US to review its position.  He called for more strategic dialogue, using the institutions we have in place, and for the establishment of a contact group outside NATO, in short, for rebuilding international alliances.

Do international alliances still matter was the question taken up in the discussion which followed.  Aleksander Smolar questioned whether the breakdown in trust was a result of the weakening of the institutions established to safeguard it.  There is, he said, at least in Europe, a feeling of “rupture.”  He asked whether this was in fact, as Rachel Bronson suggested, a normal redistribution of roles and powers in the new situation created by 9/11.

Maarten Brands agreed with Ambassador Ischinger that the events of 11/9 and 9/11 have changed the world completely, but added that it is foolish to think the post-WWII alliances could be rebuilt as they were, noting Europe’s growing insignificance to US foreign policy.  Many Europeans, he said, have not absorbed the impact of 9/11.  He expressed alarm at the level of illusion regarding Europe as a coming world power, in particular, the idea that Europe, despite its formidable economy, might be better off without the US.  For his part, he cannot imagine European integration succeeding without the US.  There are situations, he said, citing Robert Cooper, where constructive engagement does not work.  Cooperation is possible, indeed essential, Brands suggested, but a so-called equal partnership between the US and Europe is an illusory goal.

Charles Kupchan argued that the re-election of George Bush marked the triumph of an “assertive nationalism” over liberal internationalism and end of the transatlantic alliance.  The result, he feared, was a return to balance of power relations between the US and Europe, a trend already underway, evidenced by the growing anti-Americanism and the weakening of “Euro-Atlanticism” in Europe.  He expressed hope for a renewed partnership between the United States and a united Europe.  Taking issue with Maarten Brands, he said he thought the EU could indeed emerge as a world power, citing the weakness of the United States in the years following the civil war.  He said the EU will have to become a more unitary entity with single voice on foreign policy and acquire defense capability to back it up.  He added, however, that it is vital for European politicians to resist anti-Americanism rather than capitalizing on it to win elections if Europe is to emerge as a geopolitical power “Euro-Atlanticist” in its identity and not anti-American.

Steve Walt noted that the whole idea of a transatlantic community was a historical accident whose demise should not shock us.  He attributes the breakdown in the relationship to structural changes and shifting power relations.  Europe’s resentment is understandable.  It is affected by US decisions in the Middle East, given Europe’s geographical proximity to that region and its own Islamic population.  In the US, ancestral ties to Europe are weakening, and a whole new generation is growing up with transatlantic friction, not harmony, as the norm.  According to Walt, the gap across the Atlantic is widening.  He cited the long list of issues over which the two sides disagree, and said that, in the future, Europe would be even less likely to defer to the US.   Walt did not agree that institutions could salvage the transatlantic relationship.  As he put it, institutions allow states to reach shared interests and common goals more effectively; they are less useful in resolving differences.  He suggested that rather than trying to recreate a partnership, we might lower our expectations, focusing on areas where we agree and where we can cooperate successfully, intelligence-sharing being only one example.

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