Dennis MacShane: America and Europe need not be rivals

From a speech by the Minister for Europe, at the Royal Institute for International Affairs
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The Independent Online

Let me go back 154 years to a speech Victor Hugo made about Europe:

"The day will come when the idea of war between Paris and London, between Petersburg and Berlin, between Vienna and Turin is as absurd and as impossible as the idea of war between Rouen and Amiens, between Boston and Philadelphia. The day will come when the only battlefields will be those of markets open for business and the human spirit open for ideas."

Well, mon cher Maître Hugo, we have had to wait for that day, but here it is.

To be sure, Europe will never replicate the hi-tech or sheer military power of the United States, nor should it seek to do so. To talk of multipolarity, with its echo of Cold War blocs and 19th-century spheres of influence, is to take Europe is the wrong direction. I think we are moving out of the choppy waters of the Iraq conflict to an understanding that Europe and the US need each other as partners, not rivals.

Europe does bring something to the party. In the Balkans, EU member states have 22,000 troops in comparison with 3,200 from the US. Taken as a whole - the UN, S-For in Bosnia, K-For in Kosovo, Macedonia, Isaf and now in Bunia - EU members are deploying over 30,000 troops and the US fewer than 4,200.

Europe is moving ahead with a counter-terrorism strategy, including EU legislation like the arrest warrant, judicial assistance and extradition agreements, and sanctions against terrorist organisations. Not perfect, much still to do, but let no one say Europe is not accepting its responsibilities.