- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 10, 2002

Europeans and Americans who met at the World Economic Forum in New York and at the Munich security conference last weekend were confronted with a growing rift in their relationship. President Bush's State of the Union address which named a new "axis of evil" beyond Afghanistan was a wake-up call for Europe and the world. While Americans are determined to prevent another September 11, Europeans are hesitant to demonize any country that did not have direct links to September 11. Europeans feel left out of the United States' decision-making process. Americans are disappointed that the Europeans do not have the resources to support them. Europeans are worried about having to clean up after U.S. attacks. Americans are worried about waiting for the next attack.
What is being tested now is the commitment of America's European allies. On Oct. 2, our allies formally invoked Article 5 of the NATO charter. Yet the Europeans believe they are being dragged into a campaign beyond what they had signed up for. It is not that the Europeans are ignorant of the corrupt regimes in Iran, Iraq and North Korea. It is that they fear that they will be drafted into doing the peacekeeping once the American attacks are over. And they are not prepared.
"It is very hard for our government to imagine that we could participate in more, in additional activities. We believe that our own capacities have been stretched if not overstretched," German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger said in an interview. Since September 11, Germany has taken over the NATO mission in Macedonia, sent troops on AWACs to fly over the United States, and deployed soldiers to Afghanistan.
At the same time, Europeans are growing more frustrated with what they see as a unilateral war, in which NATO is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Danish Ambassador Ulrik Federspeil, whose country has special operations forces in Afghanistan, would like to see NATO expand its role in the campaign. Thus far, NATO countries individually have provided aircraft and manpower, but have not been asked to act together in the crisis. "From the German point of view, international instruments such as either the U.N. or NATO should be used in crisis or emergencies. These are proven instruments of consultation," Mr. Ischinger said.
Yet this is a war in which those "proven instruments" have been unable to address the threat of terrorism. Ultimately, Mr. Bush's reference to the "axis of evil" touched a wound not yet healed in Europe. Many who remember well the World War II Axis do not want to believe that the campaign the United States is now waging is a war. Such hesitancy is understandable, but September 11 called Europe to move beyond its focus on its past. America is asking Europe to recognize terrorism as a real threat that has to be preempted. The European-American partnership should not be divided by axis angst.

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