- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Today, Air Force One will touch down in Spain, carrying President Bush for his first visit to the capitals of Europe. Mr. Bushs itinerary sounds quite a bit like one of those 19th-century grand tours of the Continent, which were supposed to build character and allow American youths to sow a few wild oats along the way. Mr. Bush, however, will be no innocent abroad. His meeting schedule is ambitious, and the range of topics among the heaviest on his foreign policy agenda. During his five-day, five-nation tour of Europe this week, he will confront the challenge of asserting American power without alienating American allies. In this, he will attempt to reconcile two pledges which he made on the campaign trail regarding his conduct of foreign policy.
On the one hand, Mr. Bush promised to adhere more strictly to a policy based on national self-interest and thus to eschew humanitarianism, "nation building," and meaningless collective agreements. On the other hand, Mr. Bush also promised to conduct American diplomacy with greater "humility." Can he embark on a more unilateralist foreign policy while at the same time avoiding the recurring charge of American "arrogance"?
In the administrations recent dealings with Europe, American self-interest has been vigorously advanced. In light of an energy crisis and a weakening economy, Mr. Bush wisely refused to comply with the Kyoto agreement signed by President Clinton in 1997, which pledged the United States (and 100 countries) to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Also, the president is proceeding with plans for missile defense, despite the opposition of the Russians and the distinct lack of enthusiasm of the Europeans. In both cases, many European leaders are concerned about American unilateralism. Mr. Bushs rejection of Kyoto is perceived as a selfish regard for the American economy at the expense of international environmental goals. His adherence to missile defense has sparked fears that a new arms race might be ignited.
It will be Mr. Bushs task to persuade Europeans that both perceptions are wrong and that there are ways to deal with environmental concerns as well as missile fears that will benefit Europe and the United States alike. During his European tour, he must rebuild the bonds of kinship and trust with NATO members. They are not only indispensable allies, but their cooperation is needed to enact a further reduction of U.S. troops in Europe. Furthermore, in Mr. Bushs first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he must establish a framework of dialogue. This is necessary to encourage Russia in her struggles toward democracy, improve Russias abysmal record as a nuclear proliferator, lay the groundwork for further NATO expansion and address the question of genocide in Chechnya.
America is indeed the only superpower in a new post-Cold War era and her foreign policy must reflect this new reality. Strength and arrogance, however, are not synonymous, as Mr. Bush has taken pains to explain. Mr. Bush must walk the tightrope of diplomacy and fulfill both of his campaign pledges: He must carry the big stick with a gentle hand. No doubt he is up to it.

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