In an interview with Germany's conservative daily "Welt", Henry Kissinger made some insightful remarks on the state of American-European relations:
(Translation by Laín Coubert)
DIE WELT: When George W. Bush visited Europe a few weeks ago, he spoke of a new era of transatlantic relations. Many Europeans were skeptical, suspecting more style than substance. Is this mistrust justified?
Kissinger: Anyone familiar with President Bush knows that he means what he says. This differentiation between style and substance is out of place. Bush made an honest attempt to improve transatlantic relations. Now the ball is in the court of the Europeans. A true partnership can only develop if both sides are willing to scrutinize their own positions and make concessions. But many Europeans in fact continue to insist that the US president demonstrate his good will every day - without themselves saying what they are willing to do in exchange.
DIE WELT: Why do Europeans dislike Bush?
Kissinger: The political and intellectual center of gravity in the US has shifted somewhat away from the
East coast towards the southwest. As a consequence, the political style, the thinking and lifestyle have also changed. Many Europeans are unfamiliar with this kind of thinking, this attitude towards life; they do not understand it. In addition, Bush has also made a number of tactical errors. Apart from this, Bush has become a welcome scapegoat for Europeans. (…)
DIE WELT: The Iraq war has significantly damaged transatlantic relations. Have these wounds healed?
Kissinger (after a long pause): I don’t think so. During George W. Bush’s visit to Europe, the European statesmen were torn between two opposing political tasks. On the one hand they needed to reduce tensions with the US and improve relations in order to avoid a political blockade. But on the other hand they could not improve relations too much, at the risk of frightening off those who oppose the US as a matter of principle. The German government in particular attempted to walk the tightrope between these two poles.
DIE WELT: Will the relationship between the US and Europe ever be unbiased again?
Kissinger: There has always been conflict between Europeans and Americans. But these differences of opinion were never taken to extremes, as is now the case. It will be difficult to revive the spirit of camaraderie that we have lost.
DIE WELT: The discussion of lifting the EU arms embargo against China has also been a source of conflict. Do you think it makes sense to end these sanctions?
Kissinger: In the US, I am one of the strongest advocates of improving cooperation with China. In my opinion, cooperation between China and the US, between China and the EU is very important. I am convinced however that the arms embargo should not be lifted under any circumstances. Especially Europeans should not be advancing this issue so aggressively.