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Europe, “Rice is a Hard-liner…We Miss Powell”

Posted November. 17, 2004 23:01,   


“Punish France, ignore Germany, and forgive Russia.”

White House National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said as above last spring, targeting the three European nations who opposed the Iraq War.

As she was unofficially appointed to succeed Colin Powell as the new secretary of State on November 16, European press quoted the remark in chorus. It is an expression of the worry that the cross-Atlantic relationship between the U.S. and Europe could become more uncomfortable with the emergence of Rice.

The apprehension of Europe could also be read in the atmosphere of feeling somewhat excessively inconvenient to Powell’s resignation. Germany’s daily Die Welt commented, “Powell was John Kerry in the Bush administration.” Berliner Zeitung missed him, saying, “Powell was the only person Europe could rely on.”

Some European press nakedly expressed their disappointment on Rice’s arrangement as the next secretary. Le Monde, a daily in France, pointed out, “It is bad news to the European leaders that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is continuing and advisor Rice is emerging.”

Italian daily La Stampa reported, “The hope that the U.S. will become moderate during the second George W. Bush administration should be folded.”

The U.S. and Europe have been crashing into each other on every international issue including the Iraq War. Their positions crossed even on immediate issues, for example, in the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and the Iran nuclear programs. Although he was unable to reflect the European position actively, Powell was at least understanding.

Secretary Powell made clear early last week, “One of the major diplomacy goals of the second Bush administration is the resolution of the uncomfortable relations between the U.S. and Europe.” For this objective, Powell was scheduled to participate in the NATO, EU, and OSCE conferences one after another next month.

U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s idea in which Britain will take the initiative of serving as a bridge between the U.S. and Europe actively after the re-election of President Bush is also expected to hit a snag. This is because Prime Minister Blair has been using moderate Powell as the window for negotiation to accomplish the multilateral position of Europe, which opposed the U.S. unilateralism.

Meanwhile, some experts are making hopeful forecasts regarding the full emergence of Rice on the diplomacy stage. They point out, “President Bush turned a deaf ear to Powell, but he listens carefully to Rice. Rice is a realist and understands better than anyone about the U.S. position that is indispensable of an alliance.”

In other words, the forecast sees that Rice will reflect a “pro-European policy” in the U.S. foreign policy more substantially than Powell and immediately if she decides that an amelioration of relations with Europe is necessary.

Dong-Keun Keum gold@donga.com