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#39 - JRL 2009-41 - JRL Home
From: "Robert Harneis" <r.harneis@wanadoo.fr>
Subject: Comment re Item 31 in JRL 26 February 2009 #40 - Ira Straus' correction. [re: United States, Russia, Europe, NATO]
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2009

I wonder if I may comment on two statements in Ira Strauss correction of his much travelled interview. He says It is not a matter of America's superior virtue, but of its being larger and less scared of Russia, and its greater distance, which historically has made it able in many cases to take a larger and more objective view of disputes among European countries than the Europeans themselves, and to sponsor reconciliations among former enemies in Europe. The idea of superior American objectivity guiding masterly but distant US decisions in Europe does not quite seem to fit the facts. To take just one example, the constant US encouragement of President Sakaashvili of Georgia to play with fire in his dealings with the Russians, seem to have more to do with a concern for US sectional interests and an indifference to the welfare of Europe than any objectivity. The Kosovo saga would seem to be another.

Equally it was not just France that saw NATO as, in part at least, directed against Germany. It was all those numerous countries that had suffered from German expansionism over the previous 100 years. The fundamental change in French attitudes derived not from US insistence on having its way over German rearmament but from the genuine desire by General de Gaulle, the arch enemy of the German militarism, to bring about a reconciliation between the two countries when he famously invited Chancellor Adenauer to visit his family home, the only head of state to be so honoured. On the contrary US insistence on having its own way resulted in France leaving the military structure of NATO, developing its own nuclear weapons and ejecting NATO HQ and bases from France. Even today the idea of one German battalion being stationed in Alsace is supported by only 52% of the population despite the obvious economic benefits.

Robert Harneis
European journalist
Strasbourg