- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2001

President George W. Bush confronted many preconceptions on his European tour last week, and triumphed. His accomplishments are not only a victory for the White House, but for the United States as well, because Mr. Bushs foreign policy is intrinsically American.
This is, of course, no thanks to the U.S. media elite, which has tried to portray the presidents policies as extremist. But Mr. Bushs concern with U.S. interests, his humility and his cooperative spirit resonate with American and, weve discovered recently, European values. In the end, European media and policy-makers were gushing (even the French). "Europeans were struck by how much the president wanted to show he really took them into consideration," said Prime Minister Lionel Jospin of France. Even Frances left-leaning daily newspaper, Liberation, said Mr. Bush was "manifestly not the superficial buffoon portrayed in the media. At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Brussels, he succeeded in making his European allies reservations about his missile defense plan look old-fashioned and from another era."
Indeed, Mr. Bush struck just the right chord on missile defense firm, but inclusive. While making clear the U.S. commitment to developing a missile defense system, Mr. Bush was careful to stress the partnership with Russia. "We want Russia to be a partner and an ally, a partner in peace, a partner in democracy, a country that embraces freedom, a country that enhances the security of Europe," Mr. Bush told Russian President Vladimir Putin, articulating very skillfully some areas which Russia could definitely improve on. In the end, the White House said it was able to win British, Spanish, Italian, Czech, Polish and Hungarian support for missile defense. And although Mr. Bush may have been too effusive in his praise of Mr. Putin, ("I was able to get a sense of his soul … Hes an honest, straightforward man," Mr. Bush said of the Russian president), the rapport is positive. Mr. Putin said Monday he forged a "very high level of trust" with Mr. Bush.
Also remarkable was the positive feedback Mr. Bush received from Europeans on a wide range of highly controversial issues, including the Kyoto global warming treaty. "The Europeans had behaved as if the fate of the world depended on it," the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote in an editorial. "To the outside, they offer a seemingly unified front, which was actually more involved with moralizing indignation than any real eagerness" to have the Kyoto ratified. Indeed.
Furthermore, Mr. Bushs clear support of expanding NATO to include Baltic and Balkan states earned similar respect for its principled, equitable perspective. And Mr. Bushs emphasis on the importance of NATO appears to have caught on. "Our Euro-Atlantic community of states is the most essential factor for democratic stability and economic prosperity across the world today," said German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Surely, Mr. Schroeder was cheered by Mr. Bushs support for an EU rapid reaction force, an initiative some U.S. legislators find threatening.
So although Mr. Bush may have been greeted by Europeans with rotten eggs, he left with accolades. Injecting new energy and trust into the troubled U.S.-European relationship is no small achievement.

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