Richard Haass: The uneasy future of US and European co-operation

From a speech by the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, at Chatham House, London

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Trans-Atlantic co-operation remains highly desirable despite the passing of a context and a framework associated with the Cold War.Europeans and Americans alike would benefit greatly from working together - and pay as great a price if such co-operation eludes them.

Trans-Atlantic co-operation remains highly desirable despite the passing of a context and a framework associated with the Cold War.Europeans and Americans alike would benefit greatly from working together - and pay as great a price if such co-operation eludes them.

But I also realise that it will not always be possible to forge common policies no matter how extensive the consultation and how sincere the effort. In this case at least, Iraq will not be an exception. The fact that Europe is no longer the geopolitical centre of the world will make this task of maintaining a trans-Atlantic partnership both easier and more difficult.

I say "easier" because the resources of Europe will increasingly be available for use elsewhere. But it will be more difficult because it will be harder to build common approaches to challenges that arise in far-off places where stakes are valued differently.

Both Americans and Europeans will need to adjust their thinking and their practices if the trans-Atlantic relationship is to prove as robust and as relevant to this era as it was to the previous one. I believe that the United Kingdom can and must play a central role in this process of adjustment. My reasoning is straight-forward: A Europe in which Britain plays a central role (regardless of where the UK ultimately comes out vis-à-vis the euro and the constitution) is likely to be both stronger and more Atlanticist, one more able and more likely to be a significant partner of the United States, than a Europe from which Britain is distant.

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